by Ryan Neave
Before it happened, Jade was completely comfortable around people for the most part. Now of course, if there was a character that looked completely out of left field, she would naturally be a bit weary of them. After all, she was just eleven at the time.
Jade is a one of a kind girl: loving, fun and realistic. Yes, believe it or not while most girls her age are often oblivious to the harsh realities of the world, and have just started their in their developmental stages, Jade seems to be ahead of her years. She knows life is not all peaches and cream. If not for her grandmother, who recently passed away, she probably would not be so insightful. Yet there is one place where she feels nothing could go wrong, and that is the beach.
It is a combination of everything that makes the trip to the beach such a pleasant experience. It is a place where she felt most comfortable, around everyone. Even that moment that everyone dreads when they have to struggle to get as much sand off of their bodies in order to be comfortable on the long ride home, Jade remained that subtle smile on her face. She is a rather stoic character. Nothing really bothers her about the experience, and she feels she will have this attitude about the beach until she is gray in the hair. It is also where her grandmother grew up.
On this day, Jade and her family are laying on the beach. “Sometimes when something happens to somebody, it not only affects one aspect of someone’s life, but other ones, too.” Suddenly, as the fresh salty air continues to flick her lips, this quote enters her head. This happened to be the last quote of her grandmothers. She feels close to her especially when she is here, and thinks of her often.
Towards the end of the day, the family goes to the amusement park on the board walk. They have done this every time they have visited so far.
The doom-omater is arguably the best ride in the park, at least to Rich and Jade. The roller coaster is a highly terrifying experience that never, in all its ten year existence, failed to emit high-pitched screams, and the workers would be the first ones to attest to that. She remembered last summer, when she first rode the doom-omater, for she was not tall enough before, feeling her palms sweat as she clutched the safety bar. The ride started and she got absolutely scared, however that is why sgot absolutely scared, however that is why she enjoyed it so much afraid some She replayed in her mind the moment.
This time at the park was going as smooth as usual. Jade and Rich stood in the line for the doom-omater, while their parents stood on the side joking and teasing them while sharing a rather large bucket of cotton candy. The line was long as it always is, and Rich tells Jade that he needs to run to the bathroom real quick. Jade assures him she will save his spot, and he exits the line heading to the men’s room, which is not exactly far, but not that close, either. She would normally be put in the same seat as rich, giving their tickets to the person in charge of the ride at the same time. Both made sure that she would sit next to the person with felt most comfortable riding with. If a seat could only fit jade in, rich would find an empty one or wait until the next ride. Even him, though he loves his little sister they don’t always see eye to eye, know’s it means alot to her that she felt safe. However, that is not the way it went down today. Her parents do not ride, but they are right there watching, which is fine.
The cart she is assigned to has a particularly strange vibe to it. The polyester seat has deep tears in it, the dashboard has deep carvings in it, with obscenities written into it. Usually she would not notice something like that if Rich was there with her Hoping that Rich would come up the ramp soon to claim the empty seat beside her, she is suddenly approached by a fellow rider. Barely making out the person climbing into the seat, expecting it to be her brother, she turns to the back and sees the ride operator motioning with his hands for the person to sit in the seat next to Jade.
With just seconds to go before the ride starts, Jade looks the person over to her right in just one glance and realizes it is not Rich. Instead, it is a tall, hippie looking guy, most likely in his mid to late thirties. He is quite obnoxious and loud.
Jade begins to get very annoyed, with her head facing the direction in which Rich should have appeared. She props it up with her clenched fist, as if she is ready to fight somebody. She starts thinking to herself “Come on Rich, why do you have to do this? You waited all that time before finally deciding to go to the bathroom?” Her thoughts are quickly interrupted with the loud ramblings of the man next to her. He is talking about how awesome this ride is, not to mention how much better it is if you are drunk or high. Now, Jade could not detect any smell that would indicate that he has been consuming marijuana, but she was certain that he was drunk, because she certainly smelled a strong aroma of alcohol coming from his direction.
Suddenly, the ride operator manages to get the elated passenger’s attention on him, so that he can breeze through the safety rules. The ride is filled to the brim with people, so even if Rich came in the next thirty seconds or so, he would not just be unable to ride alongside of Jade, but to ride at all.
The coaster has finally gotten to the top, and sporadic shrieks from the female passengers are quite audible through the silent breeze whistling through the steady air. In a flash, the coaster barrels down the track like a meteor headed to earth then immediately send the riders arms flailing from left to right in a bizarrely fast motion. The ride acts as a pinball for a good twenty seconds, bouncing in every direction. Everyone loves it though. Jade is then suddenly reminded of that feeling this time last year, that rush and natural feeling everybody gets when they are scared. Yet things are about to take a bit of a turn, no pun intended, on this ride. The drunken man is keeping it together at least it appears that way. He is shouting with glee, like all the other passengers. Jade actually seems to be having fun, too. She has seemed to forgotten all about the person next to him, even with all his obnoxiousness, and is enjoying herself. She was not going to let something as stupid as that get in the way of such an anticipated event. Then, out of nowhere, the man’s hand swings over to her side and lands on her chest. Whether it was originally an accident, it did not matter much because he held it there for several seconds, which felt like eternity to jade. The man even shot her a glance while he was doing it. He then retreats his arm, causing it to slump on his lap. For the remainder of the ride, Jade becomes as still as a lily pad on a calm lake. The only part of her body that seems to be making even a bit of movement is her eyes, wanting to get off as soon as possible. The safety bar lifts up, and Jade removes herself out of her seat without a hint of hesitation. The man looks at her one final time before their departure, in a confused, dazed kind of way, and leaves.
Today, Jade still thinks about the incident from time to time, even when not at the beach. Perhaps the most perplexing fact about the situation in which she cannot understand about herself is, why is not riding an intense ride for the first time “scarring,” but what happened with the drunken man is?” She ponders this question from time to time, unable to come to a realistic conclusion. She knows herself, and therefore knows that she is quite tolerant, but being felt by that creepy guy, accident or not just really left a mark on her psyche, making it almost impossible from now on to go to the beach and have a good time as she is always used to having. One thing that is certain is that she does not have the same attitude around strangers any more. That girl who was outgoing and friendly with just about anyone is gone.