The words came to me in and in an instant I was there again,
Thin shoulder length hair, a young child filled with excitement and fear,
Holding her hand yet begging to be free, to let me move about on my own,
To let me go exploring this grand color filled place.
I was told it wasn’t safe.
We walked some more down the midway,
the scorching black pavement causing pain in thin rubber sneakers,
Feet and shirts dampened with sweat from the hot summer sun.
It stood so tall before us and she said lets go there.
I stared up into the bright blue sky at the top of the rickety metal staircase,
Feeling the fear rise up within my small frame as she pushed my shoulders forward,
Propelling me towards the big wavy plastic slide.
“This will do, cheap enough” she said and again pushed me forward towards the endless sky high staircase.
I think I cried.
I must have, I think, for I had never gone so high before.
One step after another, I kept looking back for the safety I craved
She smiled and waved her hands to keep going.
“Don’t look down, just keep going,” I heard in the distance
I did as I was told.
A man stood at the top of the staircase holding a stack of thin dirty rugs,
“Come on honey, you’re almost there” he said tiredly.
I wiped my dripping nose and reached the top finally,
I didn’t look down
I looked up at the birds flying above me.
He handed me a rug and motioned me to the slide.
“Here, just sit down on this and keep your feet on the rug or it will stop you”
I wanted it all to stop.
I felt him give a gentle push from behind me and my body started to move downwards.
Over the hills I rode this carpet,
Feeling myself move sideways then straight again
My eyes still closed.
As I hit the ground below, gliding to a bumpy stop I opened them up and looked behind me,
The colorful strips shining in the sun.
I was alive,
This didn’t kill me after all and I didn’t fall.
I realized I was holding my breath and I began to breathe again.
I grabbed the corner of the rug and handed it to the other man who waited down below,
He motioned to the exit and she stood there smoking a cigarette.
“I did it” I said with excitement in my voice
“of course you did,
You are brave after all”.
“Let’s go now” she said as she ground the butt into the pavement.
“I want to do it again” I said in a slightly petulant voice, “I had my eyes closed”
But she grabbed my hand and looked into my eyes
“No, you will learn that this slide is like life. You can’t go through with your eyes closed,hiding away from what may or may not happen, you have to charge in and just do it. That’s how you kill the fear.”
I took one last look at the slide behind us, “It wasn’t so big after all” I muttered with a smile.
I never did ride it again. There was no need. I was brave.
Just a story I made up. I rode the slide many times in my childhood, perhaps to prove to myself that I was brave. It took many lessons. But I am happy to say I am. Would love to ride it again someday while I can still climb all of those stairs. Fun days indeed.
Don’t call the grammar police, they already have my address.