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It is a scorching hot July summer day in Michigan. The sun raiding down from all directions. I can feel the sweat dripping down my face and my clothes sticking to my skin as I throw the ball to my dog. It’s halfway through summer that followed our Junior year of high school. That school year took part in many panic attacks, tearful nights, and stressful testings. My hard work and determination got me through the toughest school year. Senior year is right around the corner, I have some big decisions to make in a small amount of time, I only have one more year with the people I’ve grown up with, this is our last year to make high school memories, I felt on top of the world, or so I thought.
I stumble inside and stomp upstairs into my warm bed that catches me as my phone lights up,
*Message from Noah
“Hey everyone the Oakland Country Fair is tonight anyone wanna go?”
“Yes count me in!” I replied.
*More in the group chat respond,
“Sure but what time?” Natalie questioned.
“How about 6:00?” I asked.
“Okay, 6:00 see everyone there!”
I am darting around my house trying to find something to wear, I throw on black running shorts and a yellow crop top, I hurry to put on my makeup, and I scramble as I brush my frizzy hair. I hear my phone buzz.
*Message from Carol,
“I’m here! We don’t want to be late! Let’s go!”
I bolt down my stairs, grabbing my wallet and shoes, almost tripping over myself as I rush to her car.
We drive for what feels like forever, the trees surrounding us as we drive through dirt roads. The bright green trees full of leaves. The birds chirping as we throw our hands out the window singing to music. On our way to the fair I get this queasy feeling that something isn’t right. Did I eat something weird? Am I scared of the rides? Are my feelings coming back? Noah and I have had a very complicated relationship this past year. Could tonight be the night something happens? I try not to think about the fear in my stomach as I feel the car slow down and turn into the parking lot. We made it to the fair.
We all gather around a car as we decide what our game plan is for that night.
“The fair closes at 9 so we need to manage getting on as many rides and we can,” Noah and Emmett say jumping up and down.
“Okay then let's go!”
We all start walking towards the entrance when I suddenly feel a pulling on my neck. A pulling leading back to the car. I get a worried look in my eyes.
“Carly are you okay?” Mia questioned.
“Um yes! I just saw The Ring of Fire and I got a little scared.” I exclaimed, even though I am intimidated by The Ring of Fire, a ride that takes you back and forth until it manages to get enough speed to go a full 360 degrees, I couldn’t tell them about a strange feeling in my stomach, this is the last fair of the summer, nothing is going to ruin this.
We make it into the fair no problem, we purchased our purple bands and are ready to have some fun.
“Alright, let's start with Ring of Fire,” Noah and Emmett say excitedly.
Kayla and I look at each other with nervous looks.
“I think we should save that for later, let's do a less scary rides first.” Kayla suggests.
We run to the swings, then make our way over to the Himalaya ride that whips you around in a circle. I look at Noah and he can tell I’m scared. I have never been a fan of fair rides, especially spinning ones, but I was trying to step out of my comfort zone.
“Carly over here.”
I looked up and saw Noah saved a seat for him and I in a cart. I blush a little and walk towards him. We get strapped in and the ride starts moving, the feeling is back, I shake it off and let myself have fun, I throw my hands in the air and let the ride carry me.
“Time for Ring of Fire.” Noah expresses.
My heart drops to my knees.
“Yep let’s go!” Emmett says pushing us towards the line.
Carol, Nataile, Kayla, Noah and Emmett and I walk towards the line, the dirt on the ground piling up at the front of my shoes as I scrape my feet to the entrance. I look up at Noah who I can tell I am unsure about this ride.
He looks at me seriously, “Carly you don’t have to go if you don’t want to.”
I knew that but in the back of my head I knew I would regret it, this is finally a time where I can be with him and prove to myself I can do it. Mia and Nova look at me with serious looks, but I turn around and walk onto the ride. I stepped up on the creaky steel platform and nervously sat down next to Noah. I pulled the safety bar over my body and strapped myself in tight. The pull bar warm from previous users. Tears forming in my eyes. Why did I do this? I look over and Noah is studying my face and gives me a high five. I try to calm myself down. I look at Kayla and Emmett across from us and they smile. Kayla has the same fearful look in her eyes. We both start to shake our heads in disbelief that they got us on this ride. Having them with me makes everything a little better. The worker from the ride walks over and checks our safety bar,
“Is this ride scary?” I asked jokingly
“For me no, for you probably.”
I looked at Noah who started giggling. All of a sudden I feel the pull. But this time it is everywhere. I close my eyes and take a deep breathe, the ride starts, the pulling gets stronger. What’s happening? I try and shake it off but it’s not going away.
I spin to the side.
“Ready?” Noah says excited.
I grip the bar as hard as I can. The ride moves back and forth building momentum. I start to scream louder and louder. Closing my eyes and tensing every part of my body, the ride is about to go upside down.
I grab onto Noah’s arm. I didn’t mean too. It just felt like I should. I feel my body jolt towards the ground as we go upside down. The ride starts to slow down along with my heartbeat. I jump off the ride with smilies on my face.
“You guys did it!” Emmett and Noah exclaimed to Kayla and I.
“That was so fun!!” I said surprised.
“What do we want to do next?” Nova questioned.
“What time is it?” Emmett asked
“7:30.” Nataile said.
We all walked around the fair being goofy teenagers and enjoying life in the moment. We took funny pictures, ate cotton candy, played fair games and laughed so hard we cried. The lights flashing in all directions, screams of happiness, smell of elephant ears from every which way, it was a night that was unforgettable. Time starts to fly by and before we knew it, it was 8:45pm.
“Guys the fair closes in 15 minutes!”
“Oh no! We need to go on the Ferris Wheel!” Nova said.
My head starts to pound, my palms are sweaty. Its back. I am so over this! Why is this pull in my gut against me having fun? It’s a Ferris Wheel, nothing could go wrong. The pulling get stronger as I walk closer to the ride. I feel like a prisoner limited in every motion. We sprint to the Ferris Wheel line and manage to be the last of the riders.
“Yes! Just in time.” Nova says enthusiastically.
“Only 3 to a cart.” The worker demanded.
“We have 8 people how are we going to split this up? I questioned
“Nova, Emmett, and I can go in in a cart,” Kayla said looking at me with a smirk.
“Yah and Mia, Natalie and I can go in the other.” Carol looks at Noah with a side eye. I roll my eyes and realize what they just did. I look at Noah as we are the last ones waiting for a cart. I look around and almost everyone has cleared out of the fairground.
We enter the cart and Noah and I sit on opposite sides. I can see our friends over Noah’s shoulder giggling and smiling as they look up at us. I try and take my focus away from them but as I start making that transition I get a piercing pain in my side.
“Ouch!” I screamed.
“Woah, woah what’s wrong?” Noah said worried.
“I-I don’t kno-” I stuttered with pain, but just as I started to finish that sentence the ride comes to a heavy stop. I release my side with my hands and look at our friends who are showing confusion on their faces.
“Guys what was that?” Carol said.
“I don’t know can anyone tell if the worker of the ride is still down there?” Emmett asked.
I leaned over the side of the cart and find the control station, no one is there. I look back at Noah with panicked eyes, heart racing, palms sweaty, knees start shaking.
“Ouch!” Another sharp pain strikes my side as I’m leaning over the cart, I lose my grip and lose control of my body. I slam my hand on the top of the cart and Noah quickly pulls me back to safety.
“Carly what is wrong?” Noah asked
“I have no idea I have been getting weird feelings all night, anytime before a ride started or even when we were walking away from our cars. I kept feeling this pulling and now it is growing,” I stated worried
Not even a second later our surroundings go dark.
“Oh my gosh,” Natalie screamed
“No one is at the control station,” I yelled breathing through the pain in my side.
Not even realizing Noah is still holding my arm to comfort me, our eyes meet and I receive a warm feeling throughout my body. I shift my weight closer to Noah. As I lean my head on his shoulder our cart jolts to the side. I scream. I look up at the top of the cart. I spot where I hit my hand.
“I must’ve knocked the screws loose when I hit the ceiling, oh my gosh Noah I’m so sorry.” I said shaking in fear.
“Don’t apologize just stay still okay! Guys Carly and I need to get down now. Carly knocked the screws loose and our cart is not safe.”
Our friends now deaf to Noah because they are too busy fighting over a solution.
“HEY!” I scream.
They look over,
“Noah and I need to get down before we fall out of the sky. What are you going to do?” I start to tear up.
Afraid to move I slowly turn my head to make eye contact with Carol. We have been best friends since preschool. She always seems to know what to do but I can see the fear in her eyes.
“Everyone call your parents now! Someone must still be here we just got on this dumb ride!” Carol demands with a shaky voice.
I sit in shock staring at the yellow bottom of the cart filled with tons of dirty footprints. Shaking. I know that one wrong movement could cost Noah and I’s lives. Noah means the world to me I can’t be the reason for his death. Why do I have these stupid feelings? It’s not like anything is going to happen anyways. I blink back a waterfall of tears ready to stream down my face like the Amazon river. I look up at Noah. I know he is trying to be strong but I can read his face perfectly.
“My mom is on her way and contacted the rest of our parents. They are calling the police and will be here any min-” Carol stopped when she looked up at the top Noah and I’s cart and recognized there is not much time before it breaks. “Car, Noah you need to stay still.” She turns at Mia and Natalie with swollen eyes.
I feel my cheeks get hot as I look at my friends, I feel a tear string down my face. Noah reaches out and grabs my leg, I look at him with a quivering smile and look down at his hand placed on my lap.
“Thank you for everything,” I whisper to all my friends.
“Car everything is going to be fine don’t say that,” Kayla says seriously.
I can see the horror on their faces, they all mean the world to me, and the fact that my life is holding on by a loose screw… that doesn’t make me feel confident. The cart starts to thrust. I grab onto Noah's hand. I can hear sirens in the distance. Carol, Mia, Natalie, and Kayla all start to scream for help. Suddenly my life goes slow motion. I hear a ping noise fall from the top of our cart. I feel the cart being pulled down to the ground. I squeeze Noah’s hand and hard as I can. I glance up at my friends screaming down at us. The sirens are closer. I close my eyes, everything goes black.
I shake my head side to side as I slowly opened my eyes. I look around, my friends and family all gathered around.
“Where am I?”
“The hospital honey, the paramedics got there right on time!” My mom softly says as she sits down next to me.
“Where-where's Noah?” I mumble.
“He’s in the room next door,” Carol answers.
“Is he okay?”
“Yep he’s doing great Carly don’t worry.” The doctor states as he walks in.
I rotate my head to try and recall what happened that night, it went from happy screams and bright flashing lights of fun, to darkness and screams of terror. I guess I needed to listen to the pulling sensation all along. Afterall, a gut feeling is never wrong.