The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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My mom and aunt took 6 kids to Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s amusement park. The ride was Tennessee twister and the biggest rollercoaster I had been on was a (not at all scary) Scooby doo one, at the age of 6 that scared me out of rollercoaster’s till then. Sally is my sister, 10 at the time, the other girls are all my cousins, Kelbi 12- one of the conspirators, Keeli 11- the chicken, and Mackenzie 7. The sixth kid was my brother Peter 6 who was with my mom.  This is an important moment because it introduced me to a love of rollercoasters and helped me learn about defeating fear.

The wooden floor shakes, the beams groan and the coaster thunders past, the noise accented with excited screams. Looking up I catch the tail end of the train, as it goes around the corner.

“I’m not going to let her show me up. Mackenzie is seven, and she’s not afraid at all,” I boast, to no one in particular, trying to convince my sister and cousins and myself. In reality I am shaking and every minute longer waiting in this line is increasing the possibility of me chickening out by almost double.

 Rumble WOOSH AHHHH!!!!  The angst inducing noise is loud. The coaster is now moving past the other side of the line building. The crowd in front of our group moves up, and we take a few steps closer to the loading deck. Even though it was only slightly closer, the new spot opens up a view of more of the track. We can now see the loops

“You guys are being such babies!” My little sister teases. She enjoys watching my cousin, Keeli and I squirm at the sight of the train going around the loops. It races up the loop, almost pausing at the top, rushes down and goes again. Once, twice, a third time; Three loops, as tall as a ten story building stare down at me. My eyes open wide, and I turn toward Keeli. Her face looks paler than usual, washing out the sunburn from earlier adventures in the park today. Her sister and mine giggle at us conspiratorially, assuring themselves that they do not fear this ride, but I know them both well enough to see that they are scared too, and are putting on a mask.

 The only one of us cousins that is genuinely excited is Mackenzie. The youngest of the bunch means that she is the shortest, and can’t go on the ride by herself yet. This means her mom is with us, making us a group of six. We get to the front of the line and walk to the individual gates, my aunt with her youngest, next the two brave girls together, still snickering and lastly my scared cousin Keeli and I, also shaking.  Click-click-click, the rollercoaster train pulls in to the station. The previous occupants get out, hoopin’ and hollern’ and exit. It is finally time.  

Keeli heads to our row first, crosses over both seats and out the other side. “I can’t do it; I’ll wait with your mom.” She chickened out on me, but I will not be that scared, I can’t be that scared. I sit down and strap myself in. The attendant brings over a lady from the single riders line and puts her in my row. Overhead bars begin to lower and lock me in place. There is no changing my mind now, no stopping. Jerked forward, we start moving. Clikity- clackity up the starting hill, in panic I close my eyes. A tilt, a breath, a drop; my innards are left at the top of the hill while my body travels along the track. Ground, sky and ground again blur past, my lungs and throat raw from screaming.

Then Phssshhh, the car slows to a stop. It is over. The magnificent, terrifying and wonderful ride that I have avoided in fear is over, and I want more. 

Twister

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Summer 2004
Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, TN

My mom and aunt took 6 kids to Dollywood, Dolly Parton’s amusement park. The ride was Tennessee twister and the biggest rollercoaster I had been on was a (not at all scary) Scooby doo one, at the age of 6 that scared me out of rollercoaster’s till then. Sally is my sister, 10 at the time, the other girls are all my cousins, Kelbi 12- one of the conspirators, Keeli 11- the chicken, and Mackenzie 7. The sixth kid was my brother Peter 6 who was with my mom. This is an important moment because it introduced me to a love of rollercoasters and helped me learn about defeating fear.

Decade: 2000s
Rating:
Recorded by Emily Barth on June 8, 2014
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