Did You See Me, Dad?

by Regis Boff

Glimpses of mortality always seem to interrupt otherwise perfectly fine days.
I was pushed westward on a hospital gurney towards an open window that let in a good mouthful of late afternoon-sunset. I loosened my hold on the sides of the hurried bed to raise my arms again.
The rhythm of the massive, clanking chains began to hesitate. The machine was straining to pull the cars up and over the first plywood mountaintop on The Thunderbolt roller coaster ride at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh.
I could hear more than one rider in the front seats coaxing the machine to try harder. Their fear seemed to pour backward over the cars. I was in the very last car.

The first two wagons achieve the peak, then slowly the third creeps over the top. Everyone was silent or screaming. Then the coaster began to drift back toward where my dad and I had stood with my ticket, skipping turns to get me into the very last seat by myself — the most fun car.
The cotton candy breeze blew on the back of my neck. My father had told me, “if you want to be brave, let go of the bar on your lap as you go over the top and wave your hands above your head.”

I shot backward down the hill, I closed my eyes and raised my arms into the air.

The wheeled hospital stretcher stopped short of the yawning afternoon window and curved left into the operating room. My arms stretched high and straight. My dad stands next to me, wearing a white mask that does not hide his eyes.
“Did you see me, did you see me?” I said. My father raised his arms above his head and started to cry.