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The sun shines five times brighter then it ever should. It seems to be hanging over just my head, even though there must be a hundred people standing in the line with me. Every time someone moves, it starts a chain reaction, and then everyone in the whole line has to start moving and bumping into me and making me hit against the metal railing that is trapping us in the horror. That’s what it feels like to me. Being caged in. I didn’t even choose to get on the line. Josh made me because he swore that I’d love this ride and after I go on it once I’ll want to ride it again and again. I told him that was doubtful since I’m scared of rollercoasters. But either he couldn’t hear because of the roar of the Monster, or he didn’t care.
I’ve taken to calling this thing the Monster. I know the coaster has a name, I’ve seen it on signs all over the place, but it was just like a jumble of letters before my eyes. I didn’t want to ride, I just wanted to go share a smoothie and ride the Ferris wheel. But yet here I am headed straight into the mouth of the Monster where it’s sure to chew me and swallow me, and then spit me out all shaken and messed up because scared girls aren’t the Monsters favorite meal. Okay, maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but look at how the cars drop straight down like that! And it looks like I’ll be lying flat on my back the entire time. Oh my gosh, see that turn! How about if it just went flying off and that would be the end of me wouldn’t it. I call up all the news reports I’ve ever seen about rollercoaster malfunctions. I can count them on one hand, but still, what’s the percentage?
I hear the shrieks and screams of the poor tortured souls already doomed and riding the terrible Monster. A chain of cars pulls up at the entranceexit and the riders get off, mostly laughing. They survived, but here go the others. They’re shrieks make my stomach turn and I try to turn around or climb out, whatever it takes, but Josh grabs my waist and tells me to stay put cause we’re almost at the front of the line. I struggle, but he holds me tight and says something about how silly I’m being to one of the guys standing behind him. The guy laughs and says something to me, but I’m not really paying attention to him right now.
There are awnings overhead, but they’re black and see through and I don’t really see the point. I’m still sweating buckets and the sun is still beating down on my poor face. Or maybe I’m just sweating cause I’m nervous about almost being at the front of the line. What is he talking about anyway? We’re no closer to the entrance to the Monster then we are from the beginning of the line; all the way in the back where there’s no danger of flying off the track or whatever else could go wrong on a rollercoaster, because I’m sure there are many, many ways. I sweat some more and the chain reaction movement wave sweeps through the line again and the girl next to me bumps into my side and laughs as if it’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened.
How long have we been waiting in this torturous line anyway? Josh checks the time on his cellphone and tells me that we’ve only been waiting thirty minutes so far which is exceptionally good considering the popularity of this ride. We go around one of the bends of the line, and I wonder why they make the path go in a winding way. It would have been just as easy to make it straight. But I suppose they did it so we could get up close to the ride as it dips and turns just like the point we’re at now. Or maybe they did it just to drive people like me crazy. I’m sure if someone took my pulse right now, my heart rate would be through the roof.
There are water fountains strategically placed throughout the line. They’re so far apart, that after you drink from one, by the time you come to the next you have to stop and drink more. When the person stops to drink more, the line stops for a few moments and then surges ahead again, making it seem like the line is moving fast. And even though the fountains are far apart, since someone is always drinking, the line is always stopping and starting again. I bet the designers didn’t think anyone would be nervous enough to notice these little details, since the most people are caught up in the excitement of the ride.
I look to either side of me and see little coils of black barbed wire atop the fences from here to the ride entrance. The rational side of me says that it’s for safety purposes, but I think of it as the Monster roping in its unsuspecting prey. There’s a little gate up ahead that says “Last Exit” and reach out my arm to pull it open, but then Josh pins it to my side hard, and I whimper a little bit, so he whispers that he’s sorry into my ear and leaves his lips lingering there for a long time and rubs my pained arm. We pass the last exit and he thinks I didn’t notice because of his lips and the pain in my arm but he’s wrong, I noticed, and I’ve resigned myself to my fate. Now there’s just one flight of stairs between me and the dark that is the Monster’s mouth. We’re climbing and my feet are dragging but there’s nothing I can do now.
At the top of the Stairs of Doom, there’s an attendant standing there in a blue uniform that’s way to cheery for the Monster’s keeper. She asks us how many-as if it wasn’t already obvious-and Josh eagerly tells her two. She says that if we split up we can get on this ride, and he nods his head enthusiastically. I almost start to cry and cling to his arm and tell him no, and he reluctantly tells her we’ll wait for next ride. Two people willing to split go on ahead of us and Josh makes a face at me as if it’s going to kill us to wait two more minutes before the Monster actually kills us.
Actually, it wasn’t even two minutes before the cars pulled up and empty and we get on and I take the middle between Josh and the guy who was laughing at me before. I pull down the heavy bar above my head and click in the strap around my middle and then the one that comes up between my legs wont strap and I’m starting to panic. Laughing guy tells me to calm down and then clicks that one together too while rolling his eyes at me. I promise myself that I’m going to slap them both once we get off here…if we get off here.
Why are there so many seatbelts? Not seatbelts, restraints. Trapping us, holding us down.
We were upright and then the seats slowly lower us down until we’re lying on our backs. I grab Josh’s hand and Laughing guy’s hand too.
We lurch out of the loading station and immediately begin climbing a mountain that seems to have no end. My chest is moving up and down, up and down. We’re still climbing, climbing, climbing…and then we go down. For a moment, I cant breathe. And then I have the most incredible feeling of flying and everything…it’s impossible to describe. But it’s not over. We go around and around and up and down again and we dip so low I could touch the ground, but it pulls back up right before we would hit it. Around once more, and then…we’re back. Everyone sits there silently for a moment, and then someone starts a slow, nervous giggle that quickly spreads from person to person. Even the more experienced riders are giggling, even Josh and Laughing guy. We disembark and I wobble for a second on my feet. Josh looks at me, waiting for my reaction.
The sun is shining five times brighter then it should, and I’m flowing with adrenaline, waiting for the line to move faster so I can get that amazing rush that only the Monster can give.