The Roller Coaster
As I entered the park that sunny afternoon, I was immediately confronted with the towering hills and startling drops of the new roller coaster. Never before had I encountered a machine that promised such exquisite terror and heart-stopping excitement simultaneously. My eyes fixed on the crest of the first hill, I did not feel my feet drawing my body ever closer to the hearkening line of apprehensive yet energized people. Then, suddenly, I was one of them, one of the many contemplating the death-defying acrobatics that awaited us at the end of the endless line.
Finally, I was on the coaster, secured tightly in the car by an enormous harness engulfing my shoulders. My head and torso flew forward into the foam padding as the train abruptly jerked forward. I heard each clank of scraping metal as the powerful chain pulled the heavily-laden cars slowly, so slowly up the first daunting ascent. As the train mounted, so did my excitement. A smile spread across my face at the same slow pace of our climb.
Clack...clack...clack...then silence. For one timeless moment, we hung between flying and falling. At the peak of the lofty hill, I looked down at the tiny toyland of dolls and dollhouses below. People scurried like ants from attraction to attraction, seeking new thrills and new giggles. I felt butterflies tickle my stomach as I stared down from the dizzying height, and I laughed as the coaster finally went over the top.
Faster, faster, gravity pulled the cars down the hill, the wheels screaming on the tracks. The steep descent gave me the impression of freefall, and my newly-light body struggled against the harness. Joy fled my heart to make room for invading fear--overpowering, overwhelming fear. I grasped the harness tightly, forcing the blood from my knuckles. I screamed, but my voice was drowned in the rushing wind. I felt powerless against the falling.
Relief flooded my body when we reached the bottom of the hill, and I felt a rush of adrenaline. The train then whipped around several corners, taking me through a maze of supports that seemed to reach for my exposed head. I ducked to avoid a collision, but the sense of danger was more exhilarating than frightening now. The cars danced through a series of corkscrews, scrambling our limbs and our stomachs. I felt lightheaded and discomposed, but I could not resist the delightful queasiness of the twists and turns.
The train shot out of a blind corner into a quick drop. Gravity violently pushed me into my seat and suddenly, I was upside down. I looked up and saw the ground instead of the sky, and I looked down and saw my feet touching the heavens instead of the earth. In one disorienting moment, my whole perspective on the world changed. I felt pulled into the clouds by an unseen hand, and gravity, which once imprisoned me, now neglected to pull me back. I closed my eyes and let go of the harness to enjoy the sensation of soaring through the loop.
Brakes halted the speeding train with a sickening screech. The cars stopped,
but my body wanted to continue careening forward. My shoulders hit the
harness with a thump; my organs hit my abdominal muscles a split second
later. The train then glided gently into the loading platform. My limbs
trembled violently and, as I tried to steady them with my hands, I realized
my palms were sweaty. To steady my wobbly gait, I clutched the railing
of the ramp leading back to the earth. As soon as I reached the ground,
I collapsed into a quivering heap. I struggled to keep down the cheese
fries and chocolate malt that I ingested only an hour ago. I managed to
stand after a few minutes of feeling sick, and I walked away, weaker but
Copyright © 2002 Colleen Fischer | Last updated October 7, 2002