Pythian Games

put on your track shoes and write the miles

Fairy Floss

with 11 comments

*This little fragment is something I wrote out of my own experiences of making and selling fairy floss with my husband years ago. For our friends in the US, fairy floss is the Australian name for Cotton Candy.

Sideshow Alley was in full swing. A long queue snaked down from the fairy floss stall, waiting with money in hand for a fluffy pink stick.

Imelda brushed stray wisps of hair out of her eyes, remembering too late that her hands were covered in fairy floss. A fine film of pick sugar extended up her arms and was now stuck to her forehead.

“I gotta wash this off,” she said to Jake, He was manning the other fairy floss machine, standing over the spinning bowl, catching the mist of spun sugar on a stick.

“Wait ‘til we got these people served,” he said. He leaned so close to the bowl that his face and hair were covered in fairy floss too.

Imelda handed her customer the stick of candy, slipped the money into her apron pocket and grabbed another stick. The smell of hot sugar was overpowering on this hot February night.

When the queue finally thinned out, Imelda lunged her arms up to their elbows in the bucket of water at the back of the stall. She swished her hands luxuriously, watching the water turn pink. Jake refilled the sugar bins, mixing a few grains of red coloring powder with the bags of sugar and stirring with a stick until the sugar turned the required light pink. Then he filled the containers in the middle of the fairy floss machines, ready for the next customers.

“Hey, we’re doing great,” he said, dipping his hands in the bucket.

Imelda splashed him playfully. “I’d be happy if I never saw another stick of fairy floss,” she said.

“You’ll be even happier when we have enough money for a proper eats joint,” he said. “Hot dogs, Dagwood dogs, hot chips – I can’t wait for that.”

Imelda smiled. Jake was a dreamer – when he got his eats stand, he would be dreaming about getting a set of dodgems, or a tiltawhirl, or even a roller coaster. He wouldn’t stop dreaming until he had his own carnival, right on the seafront, and a beautiful house overlooking the beach – she smiled, and shook her head. No, that was her dream. No more traveling, no more dusty country shows. No more fairy floss.

At closing time, Imelda washed the sticky residue off the machinery and the counter. The crowd was drifting away now, even the dodgem cars were silent. A family passed on their way home, a couple with their arms around each other and two poorly dressed kids at their heels.

Imelda called them over.

“Hey,” she said. “I got a couple of sticks left over. OK if I give ‘em to your kids?”

The kids were delighted and the parents smiled their thanks as Imelda gave them the fairy floss. Jake would have put it in a plastic bag to sell next day. But Imelda had known enough hardship to know a random piece of good fortune could really make a difference.

When the family had gone, she locked up the stall and made her way back through the carnival to the trailer. After a day spent with sugar, she longed for something salty and savory. Jake was cooking chops tonight.

She hugged her dreams as she walked back to the trailer. Dreams were like fairy floss, they were made of air and melted away too quickly. But the taste was so sweet.

Written by Gail Kavanagh

May 31, 2008 at 1:10 am

11 Responses

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  1. Love the name of fairy floss – much nicer than cotton candy. Your final paragraph of “She hugged her dreams as she walked back to the trailer. Dreams were like fairy floss, they were made of air and melted away too quickly. But the taste was so sweet.” was so lovely. Great story.


    May 31, 2008 at 2:49 pm

  2. What a sweet (pun intended!) story! I have noticed how the spun sugar gets stuck on those working the pans – great detail!


    June 1, 2008 at 12:36 am

  3. Really brings up the feeling of being there, Gail. Great description and study of people’s dreams and situations.


    June 1, 2008 at 2:15 am

  4. Snapshot…isn’t it Gail?
    And a good one.
    It is a REAL circus story..we both know that.
    anita marie

    Anita Marie

    June 1, 2008 at 5:14 am

  5. And now I know—always did wonder why fairy floss was pink! Fran


    June 1, 2008 at 5:43 am

  6. Such a delightful story. And I agree with Thalia’s comment that fairy floss is a much nicer name than cotton candy.



    June 1, 2008 at 1:23 pm

  7. Oh what a lovely story, thank you.


    June 1, 2008 at 3:51 pm

  8. Sloppy stuff, isn’t it, lol? What a delightful story, thank you.


    June 1, 2008 at 5:24 pm

  9. A beautiful vignette. I enjoyed this very much.


    June 2, 2008 at 11:24 am

  10. This was a lovely story.


    June 2, 2008 at 6:53 pm

  11. I’m with Thalia on the last paragraph! Great play on words. Excellent story!


    June 3, 2008 at 1:26 am

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