The Bucket List

I don't like to think about death. I never have and never will. So when my best friend Laura insisted we make bucket lists and work together to complete them, I was very hesitant. We were sitting in my room on my bed, staring at the posters plastered all over the sickly green walls (Mom painted them because she heard green was a calming color. That rule doesn't apply when your walls are the same color as dried pond scum!). She suggested the idea to me after we had been sitting in silence for a while. When I refused, she insisted. I knew there was no use arguing with her, so I relented. In the six years I had been friends with her, I had never won an argument. I grabbed a pink notebook and tore out a page for each of us. It was easy to fill out most of it. After five minutes, I stopped and glanced at Laura's paper. Our lists were about the same length.


My list:

1. Ride the Super Duper Looper Coaster

2. Hike a new trail

3. Join a protest

4. Climb a mountain

5. Sail on the open ocean

6. Visit a foreign country

7. Meet a celebrity

8. Play a concert

9. Ask my crush out

10. Learn first aid

11. Adopt a kid

12. Ride a horse


Laura's list:

1. Learn karate

2. Ask my crush out

3. Go to Hawaii

4. Write a song

5. Forgive someone who has wronged me

6. Help an animal get adopted

7. Go skydiving

8. Go scuba diving

9. Invent something

10. Go on a church mission trip

11. Try sushi

12. Own an unusual pet

13. See a solar eclipse

14. Save a life


"Good choices," I commented.

"Thanks. Your list isn't bad either. So should we start on number 1?"

"Yeah, but can we wait until tomorrow? It's getting late."

"Yeah, and the amusement park and karate dojo will probably be closed."

Laura headed downstairs, her brown curls bouncing with every step. Her hair looked strange because it was lighter than her skin. The sound of an engine backfiring showed that her mother had pulled into our driveway. Her old green van had all sorts of problems. When Laura left, my mom started working on the laundry. Dad was on a business trip and would return tomorrow, and Mom was going to surprise him by doing all his chores. Mom was big on the designated chores thing.

"We're working on our bucket lists," I said. "I just wanted to tell you, because I might need your help on some of these things."

"Is that so? Well that's very nice that you two are so motivated to do things before you die," Mom smiled. She dumped the soap into the washing machine and started it. It was clanging loudly, so we moved away from it so we could talk without shouting.

"Yeah, she really wants to do it. She must have watched a movie or something." Whenever Laura watched a movie she always got crazy inspired to do something. When she watched The Lion King she really wanted to go to Africa to see lions. So she started saving up her money. But she realized that going to Africa would cost thousands of dollars. It would take her years to save up enough money for the trip, so she went to the zoo instead. Don't get me started on what she did after watching Spiderman. She was in a cast for half the school year.

"What did you put on your bucket list," Mom asked.

I told her, and then I asked if I could go to the amusement park tomorrow. Please say no. Please say no, I pleaded. I had heard rumors that a grandmother lost her dentures on the Super Duper Looper, and it's the fastest coaster in the state. Just looking at it makes my stomach churn.

"Should I get Dramamine," I asked.

"It wouldn't be a bad idea," Mom replied as I went upstairs to my room.

The next morning, I purposely got ready really slowly. I was jittery with nervousness about riding the Looper. I ate a small breakfast and brought money to buy motion sickness pills. I threw up on a merry go round once when I was little, so I always avoided going on intense rides or spinning around too fast. I only put that item on my bucket list because all of my friends said it was fun. I know peer pressure is bad, but I really felt like I was missing out on something. It wasn't like it was a drug or something bad like that.

When we arrived at the park, Laura was already there. She was waving at us. I waved back and stepped out of the car. The sun beat down on us, and there were only a few puffy clouds in the distance. It was a beautiful day.

We entered the park and immediately headed for the Super Duper Looper. There wasn't much of a crowd, so we got to sit in the front seat. Lucky us, I thought sarcastically. The harness-like restraints held us in, and I had the sudden urge to jump out of the seat and run. But it was too late for that. I took deep breaths until I felt light headed. Laura held up a bolt and said, "Hmmm… I hope this isn't important." Sweat beaded on my forehead. I started hyperventilating. Then the coaster ratcheted up the hill at a very steep angle, and I was pressed into the seat by the force of gravity. I glanced over the side of the car and immediately looked forward again. Wow, we're really high up! I thought of the bolt that Laura discovered and hoped that the car would hold up against the high speeds. Images flashed through my mind of the car falling apart in the middle of a loop and all of us plummeting to the ground.

Whoosh! We flew down the first hill and the wind swept my hair back. I closed my eyes and screamed, holding onto the restraint with a white-knuckle grip. I could vaguely hear Laura laughing beside me. I opened one eye to see that we were going into a triple corkscrew. I got dizzy as we spun upside down three times, and then zipped into a banked turn. I felt like I was going to fall out of the car. I was sure I left my stomach somewhere near the corkscrew. The rumble of the car going along the track was deafening, and I could tell we were going very fast. I vaguely remember that I started laughing as we went through two loop the loops, three dips, and up and down another hill. We finally stopped at the same place we started, and my breath was coming in ragged gasps. I pried my stiff fingers from the metal restraints. I felt…giddy. Laura high-fived me and giggled with mirth.

"That bolt was from my dad's toolbox," she said with an evil grin. I playfully punched her in the shoulder.

"You're demented," I teased.

"Did you have fun," she asked.

"Actually, yes," I admitted. After I got over the shock of how fast we were going, it was kind of fun.

"Do you want to go on it again?"

"No!"

"Oh well. At least you went on it. That's the important thing."

"Yeah, you're right. Well, now it's time for you to learn karate."

Our next stop was the karate dojo. I considered staying to the side and watching my friend, but the teacher-I'm sorry, the sensei- told me that one more person was needed for sparring. Apparently at the end of every class the students got to test their new skills out on each other. Getting kicked in the face and knocked onto a sweaty mat was not the way I wanted to spend the first day of summer vacation. I decided to watch from a distance as the sensei showed the class how to kick, punch, and block. I made a mental note of a few of the techniques; they would come in handy in case I was ever in a fight. Then it was time for the class to spar with each other. The sensei paired the kids off based on skill, but Laura was left standing alone. The sensei looked around, and then remembered me. She waved me over. She supplied me with a padded helmet and instructed us to shake hands and take two steps back.

"Remember, this isn't an actual fight," she said to the class. "If you hurt anyone on purpose, you're out of the class." Every bowed to each other, so I followed suit. Then I held my fists up, trying to remember what I had seen. Laura's foot came out of nowhere and tapped me on the shoulder. Then she threw a fake punch at my stomach. I was shocked at how fast my friend was.

After a few minutes of sparring we went home. The sun was still pretty high in the sky.