Heights

It's New Year, 1979, at Funderland in the RDS in Dublin. 
In the cold calculation of the January air, a young girl tries to talk 
her father into coming on the roller coaster with her. 
It isn’t that she's mocking his fear, far from it,
the reason she asks is for the sheer thrill of hearing the story
of why her father is so utterly petrified of heights. 
He closes his eyes and goes that little bit paler just at the thought of it. 
She asks, ‘What happened, Dad?
‘I don’t like to talk about it.’
‘But what happened, Dad?’

Well it was several hundred years ago, 
back when he was a small boy, 
and his father, her grandfather, took him to Funderland, which was a lot smaller then with no bumper cars. 
But there was this one huge monstrosity of a spider with eight legs 
and at the end of each leg there was a kind of bucket 
where they strapped you in. Then the spider would swish 
his legs at a faster and faster speed 
and the buckets would toss and turn and spin you 
completely upside down, but it was just about okay 
because of the straps.

But this one time, just as her father and her grandfather 
were hanging upside down at the highest possible point, 
the spider gave a terrible groan and froze. 
The entire machine shuddered to a complete stop, 
and her father was trapped, suspended upside down 
for several eternities while somebody ran to get an engineer.

Her father swears he can still hear that spider breathing 
and how the world was completely inverted 
until they got a ladder and helped him down. 
He says, ‘I know you must think I’m an awful coward.’ 
She reassures him, ‘No, Dad, if that happened to me 
I wouldn’t want to get on a roller coaster either.’
And it’s good to know he has at least one fear 
he’s prepared to admit to.

Why not try...
  • talking about your fears. Have you had an experience like this?

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Heights

Aoife Mannix - Heights