"Ryan, cut it out!" I playfully nudged my date, "You’re being mean again!"
"I’m not being mean, babe!" He retorted with a chuckle, slinging his arm around my shoulders, "It’s just embarrassing. Dating a girl that’s too scared to ride a roller coaster!”
It had been his idea to take me to an action-packed theme park for our third date.
It was going pretty well, but something about Ryan kept me on edge, like I always had to try and prove myself to him, impress him.
Sometimes, I was nervous to act myself in his presence. I left all the goofy and nerdy quirks that made me Adriana Verde at home, because I was scared that he’d reject them.
"Uh!" I scoffed, escaping his embrace, "I’m so not scared! It’s just… those rides they’re…. dangerous! They could… break! I could get stuck up there!”
I peered upward at the towering wooden rollercoaster, swallowing a cowardly large lump in my throat as I watched a cart full of screaming people plummet down the tracks at such a high velocity it made my stomach curl.
"You’re scared," Ryan sang insistently, shaking his head with smirking disappointment, "Like a baby!"
"Scared?! I’m not!" I lied, feebly attempting to hide my childlike irrational fear of heights.
"Prove it," He challenged, raising an unconvinced eyebrow at my claim.
"Fine!" I gave in, pouting my lips, "I’ll prove it!"
I folded my arms defiantly across my chest, a sudden wave of bravery sweeping over me.
I stuck my tongue out playfully at my date before stomping away from him and grabbing a place in the line for the ‘Whirlwind’ roller coaster, by myself.
As the line proceeded forward, I began to doubt myself.
I was deathly afraid of roller coasters, nothing could change that.
Why on Earth would I do this to myself? And alone?
Because my date had basically peer pressured me into it, labeled me a coward.
I second-guessed everything, a small battle going on in my head as to whether or not I should go through with the ride.
No, I was going to ride.
Not for Ryan, but for myself.
I could do this. It was just a stupid ride. Right?
Nervous butterflies wrestled in the pit of my stomach as I took my seat in the cart of the coaster and pulled the harness tightly over my shoulders.
The crackly voice of the announcer echoed throughout the line, causing my skin to get clammy, “Please make sure all your loose belongings are secure, and enjoy your ride on the Whirlwind!”
The coaster moved forward, and my heart began to race with fear.
Several paranoid scenarios flashed through my nervous head, most of which ended up with me in the hospital with fatal injuries induced by this ride.
Oh, shit. I was going to die, I knew it. My first and last ride on the Whirlwind.
My breath began to get loud and uneven, and I shut my eyes, attempting to block the view of how high I was off the ground.
The coaster began to put along, the wood creaking as it began its ascent up the tracks.
"You alright there, love?" An amused male voice asked from beside me.
"What? Uh, yeah," I said breathlessly, squinting one eye open to glance to my left.
I was met by a bushel of perfect brown curls and twinkling emerald eyes.
His mouth turned upward into a large smile, adorable dimples emerging out of his pink cheeks.
"Are you scared?"
"Yeah," I admitted finally to the stranger, exhaling, regretting my stupid choice to ride.
"Don’t worry, I’ve literally ridden this loads of times," He comforted me, never breaking his warm eye contact, "It’s actually quite fun, promise."
"You sure? Because right now I’m considering wiggling out of this harness and just jumping off right now," I chuckled nervously, feeling slightly more at ease as I conversed with the handsome curly haired boy.
"Promise," He confirmed, shooting me a sly wink.
But I still wasn’t convinced out of my fears.
The coasted putted upward, nearly reaching the top of the steep slope.
Oh boy, here we go.
"My name is Harry," He told me quickly, just as the cart prepared to plummet down the tracks, "Do you trust me?"
"What?" I squeaked, adrenaline of a mixture of excitement, fear, rebellion and self-fulfillment swirling in my brain.
"Take my hand!"
He held it out to me, and I grabbed it without a second thought, squeezing it like it was life support. I heard him chuckled beside me.
"Trust me," he added with a smirk, as the coaster hung over the edge, about to take flight.
I never wanted to let go of that boy’s soft hand. It was the only source of comfort I had as the coaster soared through the air, the wind tackling my hair as it underwent flips and sharp turns and stomach-churning loops.
I was doing a combination of laughing and crying as we rode the tracks, my hand protected gently by Harry’s as we flew like rockets through space.
It felt like I was a hawk, diving down to the earth below me from such great frightening heights.
I was dancing around the empty air that was the sky, swooping down the tracks at record speed.
It was equally absolutely liberating and terrifying.
I could hear his musical laugh from beside me as the cart spun, tasseling our bodies back in forth in the constricting plastic harnesses.
"You’re brave," He nodded with a chuckle as the cart slowed to a stop.
I did it. I’d actually conquered my fear.
Ha! Ryan could suck one. Screw him.
"Eh, I don’t know about that," I chuckled softly, attempting to fix my disheveled hair with my free hand, "But I know I’m Adriana. Lovely to meet you, Harry," I smiled, "And thank you."
"Anytime, babe," He winked with a cheeky smile.
My cheeks blushed a bright pink as I realized our hands were still embracing each other.
But it felt so comfortable… so natural that I didn’t dare to let go.
He didn’t let go either.
"So… do you wanna ride again?"