He’s nauseated before he even sets foot inside. The entire ride there Jake complained so loudly that Dad almost turned the car around, but an elbow from his sister shut him up. No way she’d let him ruin her fun.
They pass through the archway as Jake’s having flashbacks to last year’s debacle. Dazzled by the lights of the midway and high on funnel cake, he’d rushed alongside his sister to the battleground where he met his nemesis—and lost.
This time, Mom has to bribe him with cash to get him to cross the row of food trucks that provides the last safe barrier between him and another round of shame and defeat.
“Just try. That’s all I ask,” she cajoles. Momspeak for “do it or else.”
Face hot, he shuffles forward, eyes on the dusty ground.
The man in the candystripe jacket chuckles when Jake bumps into him. “Whoa, there, son. First thing’s first.”
Jake groans but lets himself be guided to the gate. He squeezes his eyes shut, preparing for the fatal pronouncement.
“You’re good to go. Hop on.”
Jake’s eyes snap open. “Wh-what?”
“C’mon, kid, the line’s backing up.”
He looks from the ride operator to his smiling mother to the vertical ruler behind him: four feet on the dot.
Brimming with sudden adrenaline, Jake screams with delight as he leaps into the rollercoaster’s front car and doesn’t stop until long after the ride ends. Victory!
This story is part of No Novel November, a daily microfiction challenge. If you'd like to know more and/or join in, click here.