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Stuck on a ride at an indoor water park, the narrator panics

“Fine! Let’s just get it over with.”

I let out a sigh as I listlessly dragged my body toward the slide.

It was a cold, unforgiving winter day five years ago. My sister, two friends, and I were at an indoor water park at Great Wolf’s Lodge somewhere in Pennsylvania, voting on which slide should end our little adventure. I had voted against a daunting and unnerving slide named “Twist & Turns,” which I absolutely loathed because of my nyctophobia, but everybody else wanted to give it a try due to its engrossing appearance. My redundant protests went unnoticed, and I felt trapped. But with no other choice, I just went with the flow.

As we settled into our raft, I shut my eyes, not wanting to see the darkness swallow me up. It had only been a few seconds, but I was already sweating profusely, despite the cool air that drifted through the tunnel. Emotions violently swirled around inside me while the raft swayed gently. Expecting to plunge into the next section, I squeezed the handles tightly. But . . . nothing happened. There was no swoosh accompanied with a floating sensation, nor was there a splash followed by the shaking of the raft.

Huh? I thought. What’s happening?

I opened my eyes and blinked. It was completely dark except for some muted shades of purple around us. If not for the sloshing sound of water and our breaths, time might as well have stopped.

No, we had stopped.

Trying to calculate what was going on, my mind ran wild attempting to come up with possible answers to this predicament.

“Are we stuck?” someone called out.

Probably, I thought. We reached over the raft and tried to push the walls, which was futile, since, except for some water getting splashed around, nothing happened. We screamed for help, hoping for someone to hear us. During the mayhem, my mind raced, imagining all sorts of scenarios: the lifeguards using extensions, someone coming down to push us, even getting out of the raft. But nothing happened.

If only I could share how I felt: stuck, boxed in, trapped with nowhere to go, with desperate screams serving as my only solace.

I was only seven that year, so I felt extremely hopeless and frantic. I felt lost as I clawed the edges of my rationality to stay sane, to devise a way out. There must be a way, some way, for us to escape.

At the precipice of giving up, a thought floated into my consciousness in the midst of the turmoil; it whispered to me a path, a way out.

“Hey, how about we shake together?” I spoke up. I heard a ripple of murmurs of agreement, along with some invisible nods of consensus. Three, Two, One!

Slowly, amidst the silent tension, the sound of rubber on plastic could be heard. And we slowly relaxed our bodies as the raft made a small woosh and fell down into darkness.

It worked! We were free!

Sighing in relief, I leaned back and enjoyed the rest of the ride. After all, moving is much better than not moving. Still a bit fearful of pausing midway in some other awkward place, we smoothly glided along the current until we saw the light at the end of the slide.