The river was about two hours’ drive away, so we got an early start. We stopped for breakfast at a diner a few miles out of town. I was halfway through my scrambled eggs and French toast when Misty touched my arm.
“Yeah,” I lied. “Why?”
“It’s just… Never mind.”
We finished the meal, and we continued driving. Misty took over about halfway through the journey. We played a word game and sang along with a couple of songs to pass the time. Paige had to call out Shawn for breaking his own rule when he mentioned a literature essay he hadn’t started writing yet.
For the most part, though, I was quiet.
We got there around half past ten. It was a nice little lodge on the side of the mountain. “Quaint,” Misty called it, and Paige said she was spending too much time with Professor Jones.
A man in a red shirt welcomed us, and we paid for the coming adventure. After we changed into out wet gear, A young woman drove us up to the river. Everyone else talked and laughed during the 5-minute drive.
When we got there, and I got out of the car, though, I froze.
The churning water roared at me like a beast in its den. It was completely opaque, forcing itself over whatever rocks were under the surface. I couldn’t help but imagine the worst.
“Tony?” Misty’s touch pulled me back to the reality. “I’ve been calling your name for— Is everything all right?”
“Y-yeah. Yeah, I’m fine.”
She looked towards the others and pulled me aside. “You’re scared, aren’t you? I’ve never seen you like this”
“What? No.” Why was I afraid? I wasn’t scared of swimming in or riding a boat on the calm water, but for some reason…
“Babe, it’s okay. You don’t need to do it if you don’t want to. We won’t think any less of you. I won’t think any less of you.”
She squeezed my hand, then turned to the others, who were strapping on their life jackets and helmets. The lady had already taken the raft from the truck and placed it in a sheltered section of water.
I leaned against the truck, going through what I had read that morning. The extremely low risk, how much fun people testified to having on their first whitewater rafting experience…
I’m going to regret this for the rest of my life if I don’t do this, won’t I? I thought. “Alright. I’m doing it,” I muttered.
Misty smiled up at me when she saw me reach for a life jacket and helmet. She nudged me gently and strapped on her helmet.
“Alright, guys,” the lady who drove us up there said, “who’s ready for some fun?”
Misty, Paige, and Shawn cheered. I just took a few steadying breaths and turned to the water. It seemed to transform before my eyes.
It didn’t look as rough anymore. Yes, there was foam, but it hadn’t taken over the entire surface of the water as I’d initially thought.
“This level of rapids is just for beginners, right?” I asked.
“Yeah, definitely,” the lady answered, handing us oars. “Pros would call this child’s play.” She held the raft in place for us to climb in.
And we were off!
The lady shouted instructions to us and guided us as the raft raced downstream. I felt my arms tiring as I paddled against the current. So much adrenaline rushed through me as the raft twisted and turned that I completely forgot to be afraid.
Misty screamed her excitement, Shawn laughed at me when I lost my oar, and Paige yelled, “We did it!” when we left the rapids.
Misty leaned forward, and said directly to me, “Yeah, we did!”
With everyone cheering, our guide led the raft to the bank of the river.