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It's a Dad's Job

Story ID:2885
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Family Memories
Writers Conference:$500 2007 Family Memories Writing Project
Location:Cincinnati Ohio USA
Year:1997
Person:Justin
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It's a Dad's Job

Word count: 732 It’s a Dad’s Job

“Dad, do they have roller coasters?” Justin asked.
We passed under the sign, “Welcome to King’s Island!”
“They sure do!” I forced a smile. It’d been over fifteen years since I road a
coaster. The pounding of my heart equaled his – for different reasons.
He was only eleven, so I took him on an easy coaster. I wanted his experience
to be positive. We climbed into a middle car, barred ourselves in, and began the slow
climb up the first, relatively-small hill. Our car crested the top and slipped over the edge.
We both gripped the bar holding us in and screamed – him with delight and me with
horror.
We plunged to the bottom of the first drop and zipped over a series of small hills.
I gripped the bar holding me in with a death grip, as my body floated off the seat with
each drop. I held my breath and looked at Justin. His hands were in the air. A daredevil’s
grin split his face. We ripped around a 45-degree bank and braked to a halt. The ride was
over. Justin hopped out – I crawled.
“Yes!” Justin screamed and punched his left fist to the sky. “Dad, that was
awesome!”
He skipped down the steps from the coaster. “You liked it?” I grabbed the railing.
My legs felt weak.
“Oh, Man! What a rush! Dad, can we do more?” I saw my day spiral out of
control. The boy was hooked.
“There’s another one, Dad! Can we ride it?”
I looked at the sign. “The Beast – The World’s Most Famous Wooden
Rollercoaster.” According to the sign, it was the longest wooden rollercoaster in the
world – 7400 feet of track, two lift hills that spread out over thirty-five acres. It topped
sixty-five miles per hour and ended with a 540 degree helix.
“Justin?” I glanced at my son and then at the rails that towered over our heads.
“Are you sure you’re ready for that?”
“Come on, Dad! It looks like fun!” He rushed to the gate.
“Justin…” I began.
“Dad, hurry up! The line is short.”
I took a deep breath, looked up at the track again, swallowed my fear, and
trudged after him. “OK! OK! I’m coming!”
“This is going to be a blast, Dad!” He grinned and pulled the restraining bar
down over his shoulders.
Our train began to move. I listened to the clack-clack-clack, as the motors and
chains pulled our car to the top of the first hill. I looked around. The clouds seemed
larger. The temperature dropped – in my veins. The wind grew stronger. The curvature
of the earth came into view, just before we dropped from the mouth of “The Beast.”
My hands gripped the bars. A young girl screamed a pitch high enough to break
glass – it was my scream. The cords of my neck drew taught. My eyes popped from their
sockets. “Justin, we’re going to die!” I yelled. His lips moved, but the wind took his
reply away.
We slammed to the bottom, ripped up the next hill, and rounded the first turn.
The old wooden track was rough. The disks in my back rattled together as we ripped
through turn-after-turn. Justin and I screamed – for different reasons. Ahead of us, the
other passengers had their hands lifted in the air and yelled for joy. Behind us – my
screams of panic were left unheard.
We flew over the last hill, swerved through the last turn, and jerked to a halt.
Justin jumped out of the car, “Come on, Dad! Let’s try another one!” He ran to
the exit, as I staggered after him.
“Justin, are sure you haven’t had enough?”
“No way, Dad!” He punched his fist into the air again. “This is awesome!”
“I’ve created a monster.” I mumbled to myself.
We spent the day going from coaster-to-coaster. By the time we reached our car
for the ride home, my arms and shoulders ached from the extreme pressure I placed on
the restraining bars that held me in.
My son squirmed in his seat, as adrenalin pumped through his body. “Dad, can we
do this again sometime?”
“Sure!” I replied and meant it. In spite of the fear I felt, I knew I would do it again
for my son. It’s a dad’s job. Besides, it’s a lot more fun than going to the doctor to
get my heart checked.

Michael T. Smith