For my twenty-first birthday, my friend got me a shitload of balloons and shoved them all in the backseat of my car. I drove home from her house experiencing the comfort of their presence and the fear that one of them would pop. The squeaking sound that the rubber made as the balloons rubbed against each other fostered a fantasy in my mind as I sped at seventy miles per hour down the highway. At any given moment, one of the tires on my thousand-year-old Corolla could break, the car would fly off California State Route 60 and I would die. One slit was all it would take, one milligram of extra pressure built on just one tire, and it would burst, like a balloon. In an instant, my life would be over.
It would be on the news. The police would come to investigate the scene, open the car door, and be greeted by an army of colorful balloons. And a corpse that had just been celebrating life a mere 20 minutes ago.
As the Grim Reaper led my soul away, I would watch the scene unfold as they haul my body from the driver’s seat of the car, and I would smile. Finally.
The scariest part about riding a roller coaster isn’t the twists, the turns, or even the deadly drops, but the anticipation of it all. Gripping the handlebars as the cart makes its way up to the sky at a snail’s pace, and knowing that at any moment you could start plunging headfirst into the ground is far more terrifying than the drop itself. I await death in the same way: I grasp onto life and hold my breath as I wait for it all to end. When the worst of it is over, I will breathe a sigh of relief, and if reincarnation is real I’ll pump my fist in the air and shout, “That was fucking amazing! Let’s do it again!”
However, fortunately and unfortunately, my tires did not burst that afternoon. I am here, in my room, with what is left of the deflating balloons from my twenty-first birthday. Every time I look at them, I become hyperaware of the echoing ticks of the clock on my wall. Each clack reminds me that the End of Everything could be tapping on my door, waiting for the perfect moment to take me away. For now, all I can do is count the seconds with him. One…A serial killer could be outside my window…Two… A plane could fall from the sky…Three… If I fall asleep now I may never wake up…Four…