By Kyle Dubensky

T he kids went to the amusement park because someone told them about it. The suggestion came from a friend’s older brother, or sister, or neighbor, or their own parent.  They all gave it great reviews and how the kids would love it.

Once there, inside the amusement park, the ride closest to the entrance looked mild  and fun. Simple. Usually free of charge. The kids loitered about in indecision, thinking  the whole thing over. They had heard that somewhere in this place was the dragon  rollercoaster, but that it is way in the back someplace far off.

The kids get on the ride. It’s a small ride, but some of them end up sick, and a few of

them leave the park. The others have such a laugh that they do it again. When they are  on the ride, they don’t think much of anything. “It feels good to spin around and feel  alive,” they say. The ride operator reminds them they can leave at any time. The kids  say, “We’re having such a good time. Any other fun rides here?” The ride operator smiles and sizes them up one by one. He tells one to check out the gun blast game, one to check out the dancing lady show, and one to try the next ride.

The kids go their way. They are a bit nervous and a bit excited.

They go deeper into the park. They can leave at any time, but now they don’t want to.  They stay all night. One ride after another. One show after another. One game after another. They meet for some cotton candy and swap stories. They boast and belittle  each another’s feelings. Then more rides. Different rides. They stick together now  because they have heard stories about this place. Bad stories. But those bad things  only happen in the very back of the park, usually on the dragon rollercoaster.

“We will only go so far as we can still see the exit gates of the park,” they vow to one another.

They do the biggest ride they can find while still remaining in sight of the exit. The ride proves frightening. They decide to leave.  As they get closer to the exit, they find the gates are locked.

“Well, no matter. We’ll hang out on the first ride like we used to until the gates open,” one of them says.

And so they spin on the ride, but it’s just not as fun anymore.

They ask the ride operator, “Is this all the ride can do?”

The ride operator says, “Yes, but the rides in the back are where the real fun is at.”

“Isn’t that where the dragon rollercoaster is?” they ask.

“Yes,” replies the ride operator. “But you kids are probably too young and yellow-bellied for that.”

“No, we’re not,” the kids reply. “And besides, if we don’t like it we can always leave.”

The ride operator smiles.

Morning has come and the gates to the amusement park are now open. However, the kids are now thinking about the rides in the back.

“Let’s stay awhile longer and try the remaining rides. We might as well do them all before we leave,” says one of the kids.

“All except the dragon rollercoaster for me,” says another.

“I’m going home,” says the third. And he does. But as he walks away through the exit, he hears over his shoulder the ride operator say, “You’ll be back. They all come back.”

A few years pass. The kid who left the amusement park grew up. He had gone to school and had saved money by working an honest job.

One day, he received a call. It was one of his old friends.

The old friend said, “Remember the three of us, long ago, having fun at the amusement


“Yes,” he replied.

“I wish we would have left with you that day,” said the old friend.

“I wish we never went there in the first place,” he replied.

“Remember our other friend?”


“He’s dead. He wouldn’t get off the dragon rollercoaster, and now he’s dead.”

“And you? How are you? Did you ever make it out?”

“Sort of. I am a ride operator now, but I don’t go on the rides. There are always new

rides coming out and lots of new kids in line for them.”

“You should tell them to go home to their parents and do school and work.”

“I never tell them anything. I let them do as they please.”

“But kids don’t know what’s best for themselves. We didn’t. We thought we did, but we didn’t and now one of us is dead.”

“Are you ever coming back?”


“Not even for a visit? Just one ride?”

“No. I live a good life today and it started the day I left the amusement park.”