SHERPA - jesse bradley

You stand at the foot of Space Mountain, or as close to the foot of Space Mountain as this minute’s line will allow. When you were younger, your mother always stayed with you when your stepfather and half-brother made their ascent. She hated roller coasters but never explained why. You survived your childhood by selectively adopting her fears as you own.

Your ears perked up whenever the local news talked about a roller coaster accident, usually out of town. You wrote down where, when, and how in a spiral bound notebook. You wondered if your mother loved someone who was maimed or murdered by a roller coaster, maybe your father. You wanted to show her all of your notes and ask: was it one of these that did it to you?

You started giving up each fear you adopted once you were old enough for your mother to not care as much about you. After your first knifeful of peanut butter, you waited for your tongue to swell, your trachea to close. You couldn’t chew the aftertaste out of your tongue. You flinched less when the neighbor’s dog charged at you, the chain link fence saving you each time. You were surprised to still have all of your fingers after you finished petting him through the fence. Your mother hated when you were behind the wheel of your stepfather’s car. She screamed about how you were going too fast or too slow, how you could have killed everyone in the car by rolling through that STOP sign. You knew the slap to the back of your head was coming when you asked her to stop being a backseat driver.

You couldn’t shake the terror of roller coasters: the roller coaster crash that killed three in West Edmonton, the roller coaster malfunction at Six Flags Kentucky where a snapped cable severed a girl’s feet, the roller coaster in Sandusky, Ohio that killed a man while he was looking for his wallet and keys.

You stare at a future that someone else imagined: hopeful, bloodless.

Jesse Bradley
Rion Amilcar Scott