As I stood gazing at the monstrous contraption, I shivered as though ice had replaced my spine. The cold air that blew into my face engulfed my entire body. The multiple layers of clothing could not protect me against the swish of frosty air. The walkway leading up to the helipad was newly paved; I could still feel the soles of my shoes sink into the cement just a little as I walked up the path. It’s ironic how my heart did the exact same thing. It now felt like it was forcibly pressing against my lungs as I struggled to breathe; asphyxiated by terror.
Weeds, dandelions and wild flowers were being blown helplessly about by the gargantuan blades. I knew how they felt. I was a small 7 year-old and this helicopter made me feel like a bug on a windscreen, hanging on for dear life. My mother must have been squeezing my hand too hard because I yanked it away from her as the pain finally registered in my central nervous system; I looked down at my hand just in time to see the blood rush back down my veins. Red roses grew wildly in thick batches by the entrance to the show grounds; the place where I was going to have one of the most memorable experiences of my life.
The moonlight cast a ghoulish glow on the surrounding landscape, and the screeching of nearby cars pulling away to the highway made me realize how alone ourfamilywas; after all, we were the last people to go in the helicopter that day. The big metal structure shone a bright white under the moonlight, and the splotches of rusted metal hinted at the machines maturity, which wasn’t comforting at all. The spinning of the blades was deafening as we hurried towards the little “ hobbit” door to enter the craft.
The first thing I felt when I was hauled up into the craft was the constriction of my pupils, and then my eyelids wired shut. It was very bright in there. As soon as I regained visibility, I looked around and saw all these lights that were sourced by many buttons, switches and levers. The dashboard smelt of black coffee and cigarettes, and the floor of the helicopter was littered with cigarette-buds. I turned my head to look at my mother. I could see that somebody had made an attempt to scrub out a vomit stain on her seat.
The earthy colours were at sharp contrast with the charcoal seats, and a thin layer of bleach had been used to try and remove it; like a criminal trying to remove blood splatter at a crime scene. Was it an omen, perhaps? My mother reached over and tightened my seatbelt, uncomfortably tight. However, with the sounds from the pilot’s radio headset combined with the humming and buzzing of all the small machines in the chopper, I was too frightened to care about the seat belt. All that was going through my mind was how my life was now in the hands of rows upon rows of illuminated buttons and do-hickeys.
It was probably two minutes after buckling up that the craft began its slow ascent into the cold and seemingly insidious night. I could feel all my organs getting pulled down by gravity. In that moment, I became completely oblivious to the sound of the rotation of the massive blades above me, and only heard the ‘’lob-dup’’ of my heart. The light had been so bright as to temporarily blind me. The warmth of my mother’s reassuring smile contrasted the coldness of the night outside. As I peered through the window, I could see my father and little brother about to board the second helicopter.
Their clothing was fighting violently against their bodies as the wind from the rotors blew over their heads. Slowly they started for the craft, with their mouths covered, as if walking into a big sandstorm. I could see them take very short, reluctant steps towards the door of their helicopter; as though they were trying to delay the jaw-dropping experience that was to follow. We started rising and rising until I caught a glimpse of the starry cosmos, and at that very moment, I was lost in my very first helicopter ride.
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