*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
Everyone loves an amusement park ride—well, almost everyone. That's why my mother and my father went to the local amusement park to enjoy themselves one Sunday afternoon when they were dating and child-free.
They walked around the park for hours. My father would point out the different rides and ask my mother, "Do you want to ride that one?"
"No, not that one," my mother replied. "I don't think I'd like that one."
My mother thought the rides were terrifying, but she wanted to impress my father. So she gamely agreed to ride on the Ferris wheel. To my mother, it seemed like one of the least threatening rides at the park.
"I felt scared at first," she told me. "Then I figured at least it moves at a slow rate of speed. I probably won't fall out of it. What's the worst thing that could happen?"
They got on the landing and waited to board alongside the other prospective passengers. According to my mother, even the boarding process was terrifying for someone with a dislike of amusement park rides and a fear of heights.
"People got on the ride one seat at a time, you know. So as the ride fills up, you get lifted into the air and then stop at various positions around the ride while more people board from below," my mother explained.
"Finally, the ride was full, and we started moving around and around. What a treat," she said sarcastically.
"I didn't like it one bit, but I wanted to impress your father. So I tried not to complain too much or to, you know, scream or pass out. The ride on that Ferris wheel seemed to last forever and a day." My mother laughed.
Finally, the ride came to an end, or so she thought. The amusement park ride operator began allowing passengers to disembark. Once again, the seat carrying my mother and my father made its way slowly around the circle while people got off on the landing below.
When it was my parents' turn to disembark, the amusement park ride operator grinned and shouted, "It's your lucky day. You get one free ride on the Ferris wheel," and he did not stop the ride for my parents to climb down onto the landing. Instead, he restarted the ride, lifting them back into the air on the half-empty ride.
When my parents neared the top of the Ferris wheel again, the ride suddenly ground to a stop. "What's happening?" my mother asked.
The ride didn't move. Unfortunately, for my parents—especially my mother—the ride had chosen the exact moment they reached the top of the Ferris wheel to malfunction and stop.
"I don't know how long we were stuck like that," my mother told me. "Could have been an hour. Could have been forever. I wasn't wearing a watch, but I'll tell you one thing. I never went on a Ferris wheel again."