The first time I went to the restaurant, I noted a particular desert on the menu. Cotton candy, spun maple sugar. But, the menu noted, it was only available when Miss Dingle was working, as she was the only person who knew how to use the machine. I opted for something else instead, though, an unglamorous chocolate cake, perfectly serviceable and unmemorable.
The second time, I ordered the spun sugar. A woman carried it out, Miss Dingle I assumed, wearing a winter hat with earflaps and a flannel shirt dusted with flour. She held it up high, at shoulder level, and it floated towards us through the tables. The few remaining people eating made little sounds, sighed as the desert passed them. She set it before me, a great mass of sunset colored cloud that swayed with the little movements of the air. I pulled a bit of the fluff and ate it. And I remembered the last time I had cotton candy, nearly twenty years ago. At an elementary school fair, with the little booths staffed by parents and older students, the plastic games that they had played when they were our age. Easily won, the prizes cheaper than the cost of the ticket to play them. After collecting numerous worthless little treasures, a plastic elephant with a slit in its back for coins, a tiny cup holding even tinier monkeys with interlocking arms, most of the gamestands were being taken down, the blacktop being swept.
The man, some father of a child or retired teacher, who brought the cotton candy machine every year still had a long line before his big metal cauldron. It was late, so much later than I had ever been out before. I joined the lined that extended up the grassy slope behind the playground, and the sky darkened above us as we waited. The stars burst out in tiny explosions of light, covering the sky with a brilliance. The cotton candy was spun around and around in the machine, wrapped around the coiled paper handles, tiny wisps of pink fluff caught in the air and floating away, flying up in the sky towards the stars.