The line moved rapidly and my sister and I soon stood behind the yellow line awaiting our turn on the loading platform. As the coaster ahead of us departed, I gently tugged my sister into position for the last car. Some coaster connoisseurs mistakenly believe the first car is the most exciting. But I, a coaster expert in my own right, know the last car is by far the most chilling. That sense of being pulled off the edge, maybe kicking, definitely screaming, that extra bolt of adrenaline hitting the bloodstream as you watch everyone in front of you crest the big hill and disappear on a wave of screams, just does the body good.
A young couple eyed our spot jealously, then smiled and took the position in front of us to await the ‘cane’s return. A warm breeze gusted across the platform as the coaster rattled its way through a series of hills and curves, carrying with it the laughter and screams of its passengers. Then a second breeze and I felt my knees weaken. I did a 180 degree spin on my heels and grasped the bar behind me.
As I stood there, struggling to stay upright, I was reminded of my recent dinner – one Pronto Pup (aka corndog) with mustard, two tacos, and an elephant ear topped off with an orange slush and a SMALL tropical fruit Dippin’ Dots. Strangely, this was not a fond memory.
Just as I stabilized, my sister, in an almost identical replica of the fancy maneuver I had executed a moment before, spun around and grasped the bar I clung to.
“That man in front of us hasn’t had a bath in a least a week,” she whispered.
“I think it’s been closer to a month,” I replied.
As the coaster rumbled to a stop beside us, and the giggling gaggle of passengers unloaded, I heard my sister’s whining, choked voice say, “What are we going to do?”
“We’re going to ride. Let’s just pray he’s a white-knuckler,” I said as we climbed in.
Unfortunately, the young man in front of me was anything BUT a white-knuckler. Before the coaster had even left the platform, he had his arms raised, slightly bent at the elbows and was flapping them like a chicken. Did I mention he wore a sleeveless muscle shirt? You could literally see the putrid smell just before it hit you in the face.
Just two feet behind him, my sister and I were hunkered down below breeze level, fighting for a place out of the danger zone. Then we were off. He flapped…we ducked. We tried breathing through our mouths, but the bug factor convinced us otherwise. By the time we slowed through the final curve back to the platform, we were laughing hysterically at our predicament. I then realized it was the first time since my Dad’s departure that my soul had laughed. I owed the young muscle man a debt of gratitude.
As my sister and I climbed down from the platform, having paused long enough to avoid a decent directly behind our riding companion, I heard my dad once again whisper sweet reassuring works in my ear.
“Life goes on, honey, and you’re going to be just fine.” I was.
Copyright © 2015 Patra Taylor
The complete story is in my book!