Fortune in Fear

Cassie fled her Upper East Side Penthouse for the dream of Coney Island. She wanted to stroll the boardwalk, bite into a Nathan’s hotdog, and, most of all, ride “The Cyclone” roller-coaster. So, she saved up her allowance for seven months, storing each and every penny in her Chinatown Kitty Bank.

It was after-school on Thursday, when Cassie jumped on the Q train, and took to the very last Brooklyn-bound stop.  When she set foot on Mermaid Ave., she knew her dreams were about to come true, but the closer she came to the park, the more nervous she became. Strolling the boardwalk was easy enough, but she didn’t want to eat before going on The Cyclone. She found it hard to even look at the rambling wooden structure without being terrified by sights and sounds of screaming riders.

Cassie had almost decided just to go home when she happened by a tent with large painted signs of a bug-eyed woman peering over a crystal ball. The signs read, “Madame Matilda’s Fortune-telling Forum.”

The signs scared Cassie, but she had questions that required professional answers. So, she took a deep breath, and stepped inside the tent. She entered a blanketed room shrouded in darkness save for a glowing orb that shed light on it’s owner, Madame Matilda.

“This’s a beautiful day for you, child,” said Madame Matilda. “Please sit down.” Matilda pushed out a chair for her guest, and Cassie accepted. “Before I can answer your questions, I will require five dollars to please the spirits.”

Cassie was young, not stupid, but she handed Matilda the five dollars.

“Very well. What is your question?” Matilda said, looking into her crystal ball.

“Should I go on The Cyclone?”

“Why not?” said Madame Matilda. “You meet all the necessary requirements.”

“But I’m not sure I really want to go anymore. I’m scared”

“You wouldn’t have come in here unless you wanted to go on the ride. Being scared can have it’s advantages. In this case, fear will make the ride more fun, because the coaster poses no real danger. It’s a thrilling illusion.”

“Will I enjoy it?” Cassie asked. Madame Matilda stared closer into the ball, making her large eyes appear twice their size.

“I see you feeling proud of yourself,” said Madame Matilda, “Just traveling here on your own has been a major achievement. Don’t forget that. The coaster will merely be an added bonus. Is that all you would like to know?”

“Will my parents be angry with me when I get home?” asked Cassie hesitantly.

“Bring home some flowers, and Nathan’s fries. You will be forgiven,” said Madame Matilda.

Cassie exited the tent feeling greatly relieved. She bought a ride card at the ticket booth, and headed confidently towards The Cyclone. If a nervous thought entered her mind, she would simply remember herself that the danger wasn’t real. When Cassie was up, an attendant secured her into the roller cart, and she was off. She, and her fellow riders, traveled slowly up a long steep hill, before dropping swiftly down the other end a second later. From there, the cart was propelled up and around. Cassie had hardly enough time to analyze every which way her body was being tossed and turned. She screamed happily throughout the entirety of the trip. This course repeated several times, before the ride sadly came to an end.

Cassie rode The Cyclone two more times that day, and she left the park dizzy, but proud. She returned home with Nathan’s fries in one hand, and flowers in the other. Her parent’s were too impressed by her thoughtfulness to be angry. They spoke of how their “little girl” showed “initiative.” Madame Matilda was right. Doing something that scares you can be surprisingly rewarding.

__________________

Written by Alex Schattner (8/13/12)

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