Rayann Abbott
Short Story Final Draft

Ride of a Lifetime

Standing in line was hard, and it became even harder when that line led to something  scary, like a drop ride. She may have been an adult, but previously when going to amusement parks, she avoided these types of rides. 

“I’m so excited!” she squeaked out, tears welling up in her eyes. “I may look scared but that’s just my anxiety. Trust me, I’m very excited for this, so keep me in line so my body doesn’t move without me making it.” The screams of people going down the ride did not help prove these words to be true, she flinched with every loud noise that came her way sending multiple shivers through her body.

A hand grabbed onto hers, her best friend staring right into her eyes with a calming look on her face. The girl had short, colored hair that stood out brightly against her darker skin. With that calming look came with a calming voice and a squeeze of the hand.

 “I know, I know.” the girl spoke with a small laugh. 

The two had known each other for over a decade now, they met in middle school because one was too pushy in sharing her interests with anyone who would listen, and with her being too polite to interrupt- she knew that the laugh wasn’t meant to be mean, but instead was there because the girl herself knew the two of them wanted to go on this ride, only one was handling it better than the other. 

“You said you wanted to experience all the rides you were too afraid to go on as a kid. So, you are going to experience them and I will be here with you along the way.” She was like a very supportive mother, all of her other friends came to her for advice even if she didn’t know how to give it. She carried a large bag that contained both their umbrellas just in case as well as about twenty to-go wet wipes among other cleaning necessities and just-in-case emergency items such as a to-go sewing kit. The girl liked to be clean, washing her hands and making sure her friends washed their hands before eating as well as after touching items such as money or railings. With her little siblings, she knew all of the precautions she had to take when going to places like these, even if she was just with a single friend who took care of herself pretty well.

“Thanks, Amelia,” the words mumbled under her breath. Her eyes were now glued to the ground as she tried to pay all her attention to her knees, making sure they wouldn’t give way with each step. “I’m so ready for this ride.” the words escaped her lips as she drew a sharp breath. She wasn’t trying to convince her friend of this, or even the people around her with their eyes piercing at the tears that streamed down her cheeks. No, she was trying to convince herself of this every time the mumbled words left her. This was whispered quite a few times as they continued on the slow walk. She had gone to this park many times in her life, always avoiding these types of drop rides and always regretting it after the vacation ended.

Amelia, on the other hand, had only been to this park once in her life. Every time she told the story, everyone around her questioned why she was even brought there in the first place. Amelia was too small to go on these types of rides and her mother was pregnant, so the two of them would brood outside the exit sign or take pictures of their family members having fun on the drops while they waited for hours in the searing sun. So going on this ride would be a new experience for the both of them, even if the two expressed it in very different ways.

The heat didn’t help either. The sweat on their skin made them sticky as the sun beat down. The disgusting smell of lotion surrounded the two girls from themselves and the others around them. Just like every other ride, the people behind them didn’t have any idea what boundaries were and would sometimes bump or rub up against them. These actions would only make things worse, close spaces around sweaty strangers was disgusting. It raised her anxiety, she never considered herself claustrophobic, but when it came to situations like these it got her wondering if she actually was. Or maybe she just disliked people who knew nothing of personal space. Her arms would loop around Amelias, giving a squeeze as her friend gave her a pat on the head for reassurance. The heat and the sweat didn’t matter, she needed someone to lean on at the moment.

With these older types of rides, the hand railings during the walk to get on aren’t what they are now. There aren’t any stops or benches along the way to give people a break from the hour long waits. It’s just standing in the heat while waiting for a popular ride that everyone around seems excited for.

Looking around, she found that there are children bouncing around with joy in line. She swallowed hard. How could she be so scared of something that little kids were excited for? They were practically dancing where they stood while she, a grown adult, was clinging to her best friend for dear life with shaking knees and teary eyes.

“Alright,” A woman’s voice came out of nowhere, making her break out of her trance. The woman stood there, staring blankly at the two girls. This woman, a park worker, probably had to deal with this situation with children all the time, but not with adults.

She felt like the woman was staring at her, judging her as if trying to take in every scared moment to share with her coworkers next time she went into the break room. That was just the anxiety talking though. She knew that these workers don’t even care. They just wanted their day to be over with or for their break to come as quickly as possible. 

“How many?” The park worker continued to look at the two girls. 

She opened her mouth and tried to speak, but nothing came out. Amelia picked up quickly on this; usually she didn’t talk to people. But, with her best friend acting this way, she quickly replied to the woman. “Two.”

No more was said from the worker, just a small nod of the head as she led the two towards the ride. A quiet “Thank you” was exchanged from the two girls and the worker, which in return replied with a small smile and a nod of the head before leaving.

“Let me go first.” She spoke to Amelia. “So I can help you out of the ride. It’s not fair that I’ve been leaning on you this whole time.” She had no idea how she was able to say so much while freaking out internally so badly.

Amelia nodded “Why thank you.” Her voice was as cheery and wam as the sun, not like the sun they were just standing in, but like when the snow finally melts from the ground to reveal the green grass and flowers littered across Spring and the sun is feeding them the nutrients they need to survive. With a small bit of movement, Amelia let her on the ride first and held out her hand to be helped down onto the ride.

With the bar going down on their laps quickly, this was the moment where she knew there was no chickening out. There was one more thing that she hated about these types of rides. The fact that even though there are drops, it almost never feels like there’s something comfortable to hold on to. Amelia held out a hand, and while she did take it, she still felt uncomfortable. The event itself just added onto the feeling of anxiety. When one’s anxious, having something comforting wrapped around tends to help, making the person with anxiety feel more secure and safe. This was the total opposite. 

She didn’t even notice that the ride had started until they leaned backwards, the sensation of going upwards making her heart beat a little faster than before. Most people start breathing rapidly when having this bad of anxiety, but instead she faced another issue- not breathing enough. Holding her breath and reaching out to cling to the bar in front of her was bad, but the fact that the tears welling up in her eyes making her unable to see made it even worse.

“You’re okay.” Amelia reassured. She glanced over quickly, not wanting to keep her eyes off the bar in front of her for too long. Amelia was smiling, she was living out her childhood dream of never being able to go on these types of rides. She wanted to feel happy for her, but there was too much pressure being put on her chest. The ride was leaning upwards, the weight of her body was crushing itself. She felt as if someone was sitting on her chest, just trying to make her uncomfortable. 

“You’re okay.” She heard Amelia pipe up again. Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed the girl glancing at her every now and then as the ride continued its a long way up. This was taking forever. This was horrible. She was shaking as tears welled up, she just wanted to cling to something that felt safer than the death trap of a rides bar in front of them.

Light breached the top of the dark tunnel, the blue sky was replaced by a blinding white light. It would inch closer and closer as the noise of the ride creaked in her ears. Her heartbeat was blasting through her brain and she could feel every pulse in her skull, yet everything got silent when they reached the top. It was like time had stopped, and there was a moment to actually breathe if you were able to get the chance. A beautiful view of the park, something to take in. A beautiful moment before plummeting to death, and that’s all she could think about. Yes, she knew she wasn’t actually going to die, but apparently her body and reactions didn’t get the memo.

The feeling of going down was horrible, her lungs suddenly felt like they had no air in them. It only lasted for a second. Her mind wasn’t able to process the situation she just went through, it was so horrible that she didn’t even remember going down. It was almost as if she had blacked out. She knew her eyes had been open as the ride fell, and even though it was moments ago, it seemed to have been erased from her brain, but the shaking of her muscles and weak joints still took effect on her body.

“Wasn’t that fun?” Amelia’s voice was full of joy. She had wanted to go on this ride her whole life. “Just like the other rides right? Want to go back on again?”

They had tried multiple previous rides at the park, ones she had never been on before and she had ended up liking them all. The girls ended up going on them again and again if the lines were empty.

“The line’s not even that long. Isn’t that great? Let’s go on again!” If Amelia was standing, she would have probably bounced up and down like the children standing in line from minutes ago.

“No.” She spoke in return. Short and simple. Her legs wobbled as she stood up. After getting out of the ride and helping Amelia out, she found it hard to walk with her legs almost failing beneath her with every step. “I never want to do that again.”

Amelia’s smile wavered, her head tilting to the side as her brows furrowed in worry. She knew that with all the other rides her friend was happy at the end. This ride seemed to have crossed the line though.

“Well at least you have a picture! Pull it up on the app already!” Amelia still sounded pretty happy, her facial expression changing quickly as if to change the subject. They couldn’t get on the ride again but at least she was able to ride it once.

The two of them walked towards the exit that was labeled in many places. The dark tunnel led them into the blinding sun once again and the heat struck them as quick and as hard as it did before.

She did as Amelia suggested, reloading the app a few times until the photo appeared on the screen. “Noooo,” she whined. “I hate people so much!” They could have gotten it framed. It could have been a nice memory of torture that they could laugh at in the future. But no, not with this in the way.

“Dang.” Amelia whispered. “Guess we will have to go back on again.”

It was a joke, but a glare was sent her way in return.

“Kidding!” She laughed. “We can just deal with the rude teenager flipping a double bird at us then. Unless you feel better later and go back on again. That could work too.” The last part was whispered, a joke, but some hope was still lingering in her voice.