I met Brandi.
Not literally. You might think I’m going crazy if I claimed to have literally met one of my fictional characters. But I came close the other day.
I was at a fairgrounds the other night and had just claimed a spot on a ride called the Sea Ray, a big metal swinging boat. Of course I picked the seat far on the end. While I don’t like the dropping feeling, I’d watched this ride for a while and it didn’t seem to go too high or anything. I thought it would be fun.
Shortly after I sat down, this young girl and her father approached the ride. They glanced at the two open seats next to me, and the little girl hesitated.
I smiled at her. “I don’t bite.”
She grinned, clambered onto the ride, and plopped into the seat next to me. “What’s your name?”
She repeated my name and smiled.
Since her dad didn’t look too worried about her chatting with a complete stranger, I asked, “What’s your name?”
“That’s a pretty name.” I told her, earning myself a huge grin.
When no one else approached the ride, the operator walked over. There was only the three of us on our bench and one other person all the way on the other side. The operator looked at Charlotte. “Do you want to go easy or go all the way up?”
“All the way up!” She shrieked and bounced in her seat as the operator nodded and pushed the buttons to lower the bar across our laps.
That’s when I started to get worried. The bar didn’t lower very far. I had to sit on the edge of my seat to brace myself against the footrest because I’m so short. How far was all the way up? We didn’t even have decent seat belts in this thing.
The ride began swinging back and forth. Higher and higher. Faster and faster. Until we left our seats at the apex of each swing, hung in the air a moment, and fell down.
I clung to the bar and squeezed my eyes shut. This was too much. Too much dropping. Too much falling.
“Higher!” Charlotte yelled next to me.
“No!” The word squealed from my throat. I could only imagine how terrified I must have looked, braced in my seat, my fingers white knuckled on the single bar holding me in place, my feet braced under the lip of the foot rest so tightly I gave myself a pair of bruises.
Still we whooshed up and up until our noses were level with the center pole from which the ride hung. Down we fell, a free fall lasting long enough to toss my stomach into my chest. I screamed.
Finally the ride began to slow. As we eased to a stop, I pried my fingers from the bar, swiped my hair from my face, and tried to pretend I had not just panicked on a kiddie ride at the fairground.
I turned to Charlotte and stuck out my hand. “It was nice to meet you.”
She took my hand, gave it a firm shake, and grinned. “Nice to meet you too.”
Then we all turned, left the ride, and never saw each other again.
(Picture from http://carnival-rides.com. If I’d seen this ride go this high while I was watching, I probably wouldn’t have picked it!)