It was cold and our laughter billowed out in whispy cartoon clouds, mixing with the tart aroma of candied applies and mustard slathered pretzels. My fingers were almost frozen and I kept tap-tap-tapping my boots on the wooden steps trying to keep warm.
Half way up.
We laughed harder. More on purpose. More out of silly make believe fear.
The wooden track wobbled, shook, seemed to tilt in the air, as if the faintest breeze would topple the entire roller coaster over on it's side, and spill it into the boardwalk, a mangled erector set, glowing in the dark. The music stopped , or maybe it didn't, and up ahead of us, the white faces of instant ghosts climbed from their seats, teetering for just a moment to gain their strength, to breath again, and then the tentative laughter of those surviving this trip began again as they descended the other stairs. Free and Alive.
"Next" he shouted, gruffly arming Kimbies and I into the first seat, alcohol breath tucking us in. He started at the back.... one, two, three, twelve, thirteen, running the wooden track, slamming the safety arms down into lock, lock, lock....his dirty fingers barely grazed us, and the little train began to climb. We gave the arm a little wiggle. It bounced straight up. We slammed it down. It bounced again. We screamed. And screamed again. And went higher and higher in tiny rickety bursts of strength. We rounded the highest corner and snapped to the left. And began free falling. The two of us, elbows locked, parachuting. Choking. Huge fists on our necks, faceless fingers twined into our clothes, our hair, holding onto us by Angel's breath. We hit the bottom and slammed hard to the right, left, and I forget now, if we were shaking from the inside or the out, but I remember dying. Just before the next climb.
That was 25 years ago.
The first of many, many "never again"s.....
I woke up this morning with cotton candy in my hair. Two tattered ticket stubs stuffed in the back pocket of the crumpled jeans on the floor.
I woke up smiling.
You gotta love the fair......