In front of me, the sky is clear and blue. I am getting closer to it by the second. My heart is starting to beat faster and my entire body is a knot.
Why did I do this, I am asking myself, as I clutch the safety bar.
We climb toward the top of the first hill and the nearly vertical drop-off angling slightly to the left. I do not want to believe that, in seconds, I will be screaming down that incline. I tell myself to calm down. It’s just a roller coaster; perfectly safe. No way this bar is going to come loose and let you fly out of this seat.
The track responds with a moan. I wiggle the safety bar to be sure it’s solid. I realize there is nothing I can do to stop what is about to happen. I made the decision minutes ago when I let them clamp me down and the train lurched forward. This hill did not look so steep from the ground. My mouth is dry.
I look at the twelvish kid sitting next to me. She looks at me and yells, “You Ok, Mister?” She looks forward, eyes wide, and assures me,
“This is gonna be so cool.”
The car ahead mounts the peak; we follow.
For a millionth of a second, I hang there, wishing time would stop. Now I am looking down at the track and ground beyond it. No time to close my eyes before …
I feel as if I have been shot from a gun. The girl next to me screams. I am a grown man. I do not scream. I yell, “oh shshsh.” I manage not to say the word in deference to my young companion.
Free fall pushes me back in my seat. We hit a whip turn. The car snaps to the right, then to the left and we’re climbing again. My eyes are closed and there is a sound in my ears. Is that laughter? Is that me laughing? We loop. We loop again.
I had no idea a twelve-year-old girl could scream so loud. I look her way. Her arms are raised over her head. I pry my hands from the safety bar and throw them in the air. We soar through a curly-cue and …
I am flying.
We plummet toward the sky again and now we are upside down. I am laughing so hard that tears are running down my cheeks. Our train hits the final straight-a-way. It’s over.
Oh my, so soon?
We coast to a stop with a hydraulic whoosh. Safety bars release. People in line waiting, looking at us, their faces asking, was is fun, was it scary?
I look at twelvish. She offers me a high five.
“Yeh,” I say, patting her hand.
“I gotta do that again.”