Flash in the Pan
A Quarterly Posting at Tiny Lights
5 A.m. Revival
by Paige Kaye
I heard the engine die below me. I held on fast to my partner, now, I hoped, my savior. Ahead of me, the five-lane freeway climbed steeply.
It was five a.m. Monday morning; we were headed north on Interstate 101, in the heart of Los Angeles traffic. Moments ago, we flowed with it, my driver in front of me, his red helmet occasionally dropping back and clinking my own orange one. I knew we clashed, but that no longer mattered. Our Japanese 350cc Moto Morini had just run out of gas.
We were one lane from the inside divider, three from the side of the road. On my right was a semi, the top of its tires were eye-level and rolling fast. I turned to look behind me; a huge twelve wheeled delivery truck was inches away. I saw the driver's brown face, startled and angry. But for the paralyzing fear, I could have reached out and touched hood ornament. With the heat of the engine singeing the ends of my long hair as it flowed out from my helmet, I felt my life slip away from my control. Actually, I knew I was dead.
As yet another semi rolled by to my right, I heard a voice in my head, absurdly calm like the eye of a storm, "Well that's it, hunh?"
It was amazing how quickly death had leapt from its corner of heaven to grasp us. Just two dare devils on a small motorcycle in the wee hours of the morning.
In that longest split second of my life, and in virtually the same nanosecond, the driver of that death wish, Dan, pulled the bike parallel with those slashed white lines that act as lane dividers. Now they symbolized hope, separating us briefly from death. There was a screeching whine and the smell of brakes as the mammoth truck behind me roared by us on our right, I would have fainted but I heard Dan yell, "Jump off."
My body jumped. It did. It hopped right off that bike without my willing it.
"Run to the next divider," he miraculously managed to communicate as cars and trucks whizzed by on either side.
My legs didn't hesitate, as still another truck careened past a girl running across the freeway. Still two lanes from safety, I followed as he directed over the rush of morning traffic, somehow pushing the bike with him. I only remember watching from somewhere else, a small calm part of my mind noticing the outline of distant mountains against a blue sky breaking out from a pink dawn.
Paige Kaye is a semi-retired English professor, yoga teacher, software developer and mother of two sons. She has published several articles in educational magazines and is currently working as a freelance writer based in Santa Barbara pursuing characters in her new Middle Grade novel. She can be reached at Paige@yogabynumbers.com.
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