With October came the annual county fair and carnival. Edna Mae wanted to peek at the year's selection of cakes and pies and insisted that I "tag along," according to Mom's instructions for her to look after me. When we arrived, my sister gave me some money. This was the first time I had ever been to the fair. The smells of cotton candy and cinnamon rolls mingled with the odor of fresh hay that carpeted the various barns. The Spider ride lit up the sky around it, and set off screaming from the thrill- seekers spinning in the little cages.
"Come and get your stuffed animal here!" shouted one vendor. I momentarily stared in puzzlement and walked on.
Another looked at me and waved vigorously for me to come closer. He stood on a plywood ramp in front of a dilapidated trailer with a large, heavily curtained window pane. "Come see the world famous five-legged goat!" he said loudly.
I paused a moment, then paid my dime and peeked. A single light bulb lit up the poor animal inside, a goat with a small extra appendage hanging next to one of its legs. It stared nonchalantly at me. I gasped. Didn't it bother him to be a carnival attraction, to have humans gawking and snickering at him. Maybe such attention had gone on for so long that he no longer cared. I felt empty. The thought crossed my mind that perhaps I was a freak as well. Maybe I would always be. I had never heard the term autism, and was not aware that there were others like me. I felt numb. After staring a bit into space, I finally sighed and left in search of my sister.
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