I find my place in line
behind a woman and her two sons.
The throng of people stretched out before me
in a row defined by two red metal bars.
The tension in the air is palpable
anxiousness, excitement grows.
For some, it’s fear and hesitation
and distractions are needed for them.
The line moves slowly forward
we take only a few steps at a time.
Drawing imminently nearer
to the gate and that 48” sign.
The boys in front of me are arguing
pushing each other back and forth.
The taller one telling the smaller one
you’re not big enough for this!
You can see the trepidation
the dismay on his face.
The mother hushes the two of them again
and tells them to stand up straight.
As we move forward again I just listen
caught up in the many ways people pass the time.
Telling stories, laughing, joking
some just staring into space.
The nervous ones you can pick out of the crowd
they usually look a bit sick.
Or they’re having arguments or tense conversation
with the person standing next to them.
I, again, am just waiting
here in my place in this line.
Another step forward and the moment nears
the anticipation builds.
Soon we are at the platform
and the boys in front of me scream!
The taller one was right and the smaller one
will have to wait another year.
His mother takes his hand
and leads him down the stairs.
The other boy jumps into the front seat
and I step in next to him.
The safety latch is lowered
low and snug across our laps.
I wrap my hands around it
ready to hold on tight.
The boy looks over at me
at my hands clutched around that bar.
He says, “No, you have to raise your arms,
like this, up in the air!”
I’m not sure about this as the car begins to move
and we start the climb up the first hill.
Click, click, click, click
as the climb seems to have slowed time.
I feel the fear rising and my stomach
rises up into my chest.
A few more clicks and we’ll be at the top
ready to descend.
As we reach the top the car stops
and begins to teeter back and forth.
Then with a slight tip forward it feels
as if the ground has fallen away.
The feeling of being weightless
of falling freely through the air.
Fills me with a feeling of terror
and I hold again to that rail.
The boy is screaming, hands in the air
and he looks over at me and says.
“Don’t be afraid, you won’t fall
just LET GO!”
As we fall at a breakneck speed
I take my hands off the rail.
With a noise I’ve never made before
I raise my hands in the air and scream.