22 April 2016

The Russian Mountain

I took a deep breath and stepped forward. I had to find balance between wanting to take in the complete moment and wanting to calm my nerves.

I sat in my place and fumbled for the right straps. Suddenly I was grateful for the box they had offered to keep my belongings in, even though the teen I had given my phone and wallet had looked a little shifty. I had tried to remember there were some six other employees nearby that wouldn't let the kid get away with anything. I kept pulling on the lap bar, hoping to hear it click into place one more time. Even as a jaded-looking twenty-something pulled on it, I wasn't 100% certain it would hold me in place.

I looked down to make sure my sandals still appeared to be strapped properly into place. They would be fine. Would I?

The car carrying me along with eleven other people lurched into motion. As it pulled forward, I could hear drums from the dark room in front of us. My heart fluttered, trying to keep pace with it. It seemed to hit the rhythm just right as my surroundings melted into the dark room. Another lurch, this time to move us upward. I tried not to focus on the light at the top, instead letting the dark tunnel close around me. The whirs and clicks of machinery fought in my chest, simultaneously calming and exciting me.

Finally, the light was unavoidable. My heart pounded faster than the drum music that was fading into the dark pit from which I was about to emerge and I tried to sit tall in my seat, fighting against the lap bar I had forced so tightly against my thighs just seconds prior, hoping to catch a glimpse of the upcoming drop when I remembered it would be invisible, even from the front row. Whoops and screams found their way out of the people surrounding me, but I was silent. I considered what I was putting myself through--unknown loops and bends awaited me, but I didn't know how long it would take for the car to be released over the 116° drop.

In that moment the whirring fell away and the clicks stopped. My heart pumped against my rib cage so tightly I was afraid it would bruise. The adrenaline hadn't kicked in and I considered in that standstill moment what I was doing to myself.

No lurch this time. Imperceptibly, the car slid out into the sun. It moved like molasses and every function in my body ceased, even my thoughts.

And I fell.

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