Friday, April 2, 2010


It is one of those rare days when I can leave the office early. Midday sunshine and traffic is light as I snake my way out of the city. Life is good when your job is done, the customer is happy, and you are on your motor bike to spend the afternoon at home.

I turn the Honda left into the long run up to the fork at the station and check my rear view mirror. Nothing following me and the road is clear ahead. I relax and shift up through second and third. It will be a clear run past the station and up the hill to the heath.

A car in the distance approaches the fork from the left. It slows down and stops as it should, and I can see its right indicator flashing. I’m still quarter of a mile away, so there’s plenty of time for it to make its turn across my path. Except it doesn’t - it just sits there, indicator flashing.

It’s a fork junction with my right of way. But I’m cautious and double check that my left indicator is off. It is. No problem then. Strange the car hasn’t moved.

I’m passing across the front of the stationary car when it moves out and broadsides me. There is a fraction of time before that in which my left leg reflexes up out of the way. The lights go out.

My eyes open. I’m on my back, motionless, feeling nothing, waking into a dream. There is an ambulance close by, back doors wide open, casting a shadow over me. A paramedic is cutting the strap of my helmet. It’s too late to tell him no, don’t do that. I’m coming around, slowly moving my toes, my fingers, lifting and relaxing each knee, and raising my forearms. I’m working, but my head has a soft buzzing sound that isn’t unpleasant.

I’m told to lie still. My helmet is removed by someone else. I’m all right, I say. Let me try to get up. I start raising myself. It works, I’m sitting up. Let me stand up. They help me to my feet and want to know if I am feeling good. Yes I’m OK, no problem, and no, I don’t want to go to hospital for a check up. I look around, and see onlookers, the crumpled wreck of my bike, and two policemen talking to a man by the car that hit me.

The police walk over, take my name and address. Everything is happening so slowly. The ambulance moves away as the policemen drag my bike off the road onto the pavement. Then the police aren’t there anymore. The crowd dissolves, and I am alone with my buzzing noise and my bike. I walk into a shop and ask to use the phone to call home.

A neighbour answers. She is baby-sitting. She says she will get someone else to look after the kids and come pick me up. I’m in a dream, sitting on the kerb by my bike, not thinking about anything, waiting. She arrives in that big estate of hers, big enough for me to haul my bike on board.

We arrive home. The kitchen door in from the drive is wide open and the room is crowded. I see my wife and kids, my mother, the neighbours, their kids, and good friends who should be at work now, but have rushed here. And my dog is jumping up on me.

I sit down at my kitchen table, and big silent tears start pouring out of me. Because I know what might have been, and because I’m home, where I’m not alone.

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