2008 Contest Winner
Behind the Bars
by Isabella Bender
I twisted one of the thin spaghetti straps on my yellow dress. People around me spoke excitedly, and my friend, Alice, bounced eagerly in place. How I had let her talk me into a roller coaster, I didn’t know. My eyes were glued to the wooden deck as I tried to focus on anything but the dreaded thing which had come to a halt in front of us. The coaster of six cars was completely black except for the outer detailing of yellow fire.
Alice squealed. She bounced forward, cutting off three people before us, and spread her arms protectively in front of two seats. I took a deep breath as I stumbled forward, my eyes cast downward. I was about to criticize her rudeness but I couldn’t speak. I should have expected she would go after the very front seats. Alice giggled, grinning at me. I managed to smile weakly back. It was amazing how good I was at hiding my fear.
My hands fumbled as I reached above my head for the black vest that would be the only thing holding me from impending doom. I squirmed in the shiny slippery seat feeling claustrophobic and awkward. My clammy hands clutched the steel handles where I vowed to keep them for the entire ride. Or, should I not survive, the rest of my life.
Alice was giggling and ranting about something but my brain wouldn’t—couldn’t—focus. I could only hear the nervous patter my feet made against the steel floor.
All too soon we were inching forward. Unprepared for this slow start, I glanced around. The ride was enormous and the train clashed harshly with the white and pale blue track. I could make out at least two large drops, one loop and various twists.
The narrow track seemed to disappear in front of us. We plummeted downward against a fierce gush of wind that knocked my breath away along with the panic which had been burning a hole in my chest. My eyes were watery as the coaster twisted eagerly through smaller, shorter drops. My hair whipped harshly against my face.
I eagerly reached forward pedaling my fingers in the breeze as the coaster spiralled 360 degrees. The flip was over almost instantly and the ride transitioned to a steady climb. It inched forward slowly, building the anticipation of the final menacing plunge.
I stole a glance at Alice. Her knuckles were white, her body tense. She turned slightly in my direction but her bulging eyes never left the track. Between her furrowed brow and comical frown I was unable to control myself, laughter spilling over. My laughter turned into a scream of delight as we lurched forward once more. Other hoots echoed behind me. The drop was so terrifyingly steep, yet exhilarating at the same time. We eased to a steady pace and creaked to a stop at the platform.
“Let’s do it again!” I exclaimed.
I love roller coasters but my family doesn’t. I thought it would be interesting to experience a different perspective. – Isabella Bender