Summer Flight

drtackett By drtackett, 5th Nov 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

A child's memory the summer that she experienced her first roller coaster ride.

Summer Flight

Screaming children burst through the heavy school doors exclaiming freedom—hands held high praising God for this day—throwing into the air useless test papers and graded assignments that had accumulated in their desks and that would eventually drift to neighboring lawns. G. Mennen Williams Elementary had closed its doors. Summer had officially begun.

I walked home alone, happy it was summer but a bit sad that I would not see some of my friends again until fall. My family lived across the street and several houses down from the school. Most of my friends lived farther away. Since my brothers and I were rarely permitted beyond my mother’s line of vision, I would not see them again until the beginning of the next school year. At least I had my brothers to play with. But what pains in the ass they are. Today they ran past me, taunting me with threats of watching Spiderman and The Hulk and leaving me to walk alone. So I take it back—you can’t count brothers. That left me with my next door neighbors Matt and Sandy to play with. But Matt didn’t count either. His family headed to Virginia every June and didn’t return until mid-July. By that time summer was almost over and my parents were getting ready for change-over, which meant we would soon be heading south ourselves.

“Hey! Wait up!”

I turned to see Sandy running up behind me, her shoulder-length, brown hair dancing in waves behind her head. She was a year older than me but much smaller, and fast. When she ran, she left behind a blurred trail of colors—like a female version of The Flash or something.

“Wha’ juh get on your report card?”

I held up the folded paper. “Four As and a B. Wha’ joo get?” I almost didn’t ask that question. I was afraid of the answer. Last quarter, Sandy brought home two Ds. Sandy’s mom threatened her within an inch of her life if she ever brought home a D again. The threat worked. She got all Bs.

“I can’t wait to show my mom,” she smiled. And then, a different thought popped into her head.

“Is your pool open?”

“I don’t know.”

“Let’s go see.”

We dashed to my house, threw back the gate, and ran past our garage. We didn’t have to go all the way to the back of the yard to see that thick black vinyl still covered our pool. My father had not gotten to it yet.

“Aww, man.”

“Maybe he’ll fill it tomorrow?” Sandy hoped.


“Hey, are you going to Cedar Point this year?” A new hope had popped into her head. It was the same hope that she had every summer—the hope that she could go, the hope that her parents would have the money to take her and her siblings, or even the hope that her mom could somehow afford to let her go with us. I held onto that hope, too. I wanted my best friend to go. Every year I wished that she could go and every year I was disappointed—and Sandy, heartbroken.

Mom poked her head out the side door. “Sandy, honey, your mom wants you to come home. Debbie?” she called to me, “Come on in the house.”

Sandy hung her head. She looked scared.

“Honey, it’s okay. You can come back in a little while. Your mom wants to talk to you, that’s all.”

Sandy looked up at my mother, eyes wide and fearful. Mom leaned over a bit, “You’re not trouble, sweetie.”

Sandy’s face brightened. “Okay.” I watched her open and close the gate. She waved at me and then, in a flash, she bolted down our driveway, across the neighbor’s yard, and was gone.

My mother and I stepped into the house. “Dad called. He picked up tickets for Cedar Point. We’re leaving tomorrow,” Mom said. She sat down at the kitchen table and lit a cigarette. I slid into the chair next to her and hung my head.

“He bought six tickets this year.”

Six? I perked up a bit.

“Well if Sandy’s going, she’ll need one, too.”

My mother’s words didn’t hit me right away. I was nine. It took a little time. And then—I heard it. Those two words: Sandy’s going. I leapt from the chair, threw my arms around my mother’s neck, covered her with kisses, and damn near choked her to death.

“I gotta tell Sandy!”

My mother stopped me. “It’s not your place to say anything, it’s her mother’s. Her mom said she can go only if she brought up her grades. That’s why I sent her home.”

!!! She got all Bs.

I was gone.

I darted from the kitchen and flew out the door. I saw Sandy running toward me, arms in the air. We collided, arms locked around each other, and bounced up and down from the grass to the sidewalk then back to the grass again.

“I can go!”

“I know!”

That night we could hardly sleep for the excitement. Sandy had spent the night and we sat up making plans for the next day. We agreed that the first ride would be The Blue Streak. We couldn’t wait.

The temperature had reached the 70s by the time my dad pulled our Country Squire station wagon into the parking lot. It was a perfect day. The sight of a red flag perched high over a cone-shaped black dorm with blue tracks underneath, arched high in the air made my heart pump faster.

“The Blue Streak! Let’s go, Sandy!”

We glided through the turnstiles but were stopped momentarily by my father’s large hand on my shoulder. “Meet us by the double ferris wheel at ten.” He handed us five dollars each. “Don’t forget.”

We nodded, gave a quick thank you, and we were gone, leaving behind us blurred trails of colors of our own. We weaved in and out of large groups, breaking up couples bound by each other’s hands, and even jumping over a few wagons that held a small child or two. We were free. Uncaged. No fences. We came to the long line that would free us from the boundaries of gravity. Breathless, we waited for our turn to ride.

Sandy and I reached the platform and headed to the front cart. It was a longer wait but we didn’t care. Finally, our turn had come. We stood behind the thick yellow line as the mechanical blue caterpillar approached the covered platform. A young man across the tracks pulled back on a long wooden lever and metal screeched against metal, grinding the cars to a halt.

The voice of God echoed over the intercom, “Please stay seated until the ride comes to a complete stop . . .”

The lap bar went up, riders exited to the right, and we entered the cart from the left.
Sandy jumped in first. “There’s a seatbelt.”


“. . . keep hands inside the cart at all times.”

I didn’t care. I grabbed onto the steel bar in front of us and pulled it down. “It’s okay.”

The young man pushed the wooden lever forward and the blue caterpillar jerked in motion and then smoothed out for a bit. It hit the first hill, a lurch forward, then CLICK! CLICK! CLICK! up we went. Slowly, clicking our way up toward the sky. I looked over my shoulder. Hundreds of arms and hands reached for the clouds.

“Put your arms up, Sandy!” I shouted.

. . . keep hands inside the cart at all times.

We laughed in defiance and stretched our arms up even farther. Our hearts pounded. The cart peeked over the mountain. It hung in the air like a spider from its web. We paused briefly, our bodies leaned forward against the lap bar, which gave way just enough so that we were almost standing, our hearts stopped and then—the release.

Wind and small insects hit our faces and entered our opened mouths. We were tossed and jerked from side to side, our screams volleyed with bouts of laughter. We floated on air. We defeated gravity. We went first and defied the laws that were laid out for us. And when the ride ended, we got in line to do it all over again.


Childhood, Childhood Memories, Essay Writing, Essays, Memoirs, Memorable Moments, Memories, Roller Coaster Emotions, Rollercoasters, Short Short Story, Short Stories, Short Story, Short Story Writing

Meet the author

author avatar drtackett
Currently, I am a Journalist and Screen Study student at U of M, with a concentration in film and screenwriting. My writing will focus on short stories, poems, and some articles.

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