A Drastic Turn

By Emily Rogers

Photo by Dreamstime
 
We left on a bright beautiful June day. I beamed with excitement as I buckled my helmet and slid on my sunglasses. Earlier in the year, my dad had promised we would take a motorcycle trip. Now it was happening! It would be an understatement to say I was overjoyed as we took to the back roads, winding up along the lush green land surrounding the Puget Sound.

The first half of our trip was perfect. The bright blue sky and sun made the Sound sparkle. But by the fifth day, the weather had changed to a perpetual sprinkle. The drizzling rain kept my clothes damp and gave the wind a sharp bite. It didn’t matter though, I loved the smell of the rain and the feeling of gliding down old country roads.

We had been cruising through the rain all day when I noticed the warm kiss of sunshine on my back. Glancing behind us, I saw the sun peeking out of the gloomy grey ocean of clouds above us. I tapped dad’s shoulder, excited to show him.

“Right on!” He yelled over the sound of the bike.

We turned back to the road and my body tensed. My feelings of happiness drastically changed to knots of fear. Less than 30 feet in front of us stood a brown Dodge truck at a four-way stop. We had been going along at over 50 mph. We wouldn’t stop in time. I couldn’t even react before my weight shifted automatically following my dad’s, as he leaned the bike hard left, in a desperate attempt to avoid the truck. The sound of our screeching tires and the burning rubber assaulted my senses. Our bike lay nearly on its side. I could feel the edge of my boot on the foot peg, being eaten away by the chip-sealed road.

I always thought in a near death experience my whole life would come to me in a flash, but it didn’t. Everything just stopped. Smells and sounds faded. The earth muted. In slow motion our bike skidded horizontally towards the Dodge. I remember seeing a distorted reflection of the black bike and two riders, on the bright rain-washed chrome bumper. Then, in a flash, the world pressed fast forward like we were trying to catch back up with our time-line.

We had barely straightened our bike after dodging the bumper, before we swerved hard left again. By inches, our helmets missed the big tow mirrors as we passed the cab of the truck. But our maneuvering pointed us straight for a car sitting on the other side of the intersection.

“This is it,” I thought, “a person only gets lucky so many times.”

Later my dad told me, “I was ready to aim for the stop sign and block you from most of the harm with my body.” He thought we might be more likely to survive crashing through the wooden post of the stop sign, than by hitting the metal grill of the car. But then we jerked to the right just enough, narrowly squeezing between the stop sign and car. We finally rolled to a stop in someone’s grassy lawn. Tears started to blur my vision and my heart was pounding in my ears.
 
“Are you ok?” my dad asked.

Not trusting my words, I gave the thumbs up. Down the road we took a break at an old white church on a hill. My dad laughed from adrenaline as he took off his helmet. He said we cheated death with our two guardian angels guiding our bike through the only safe path. For me, that’s the only view that makes sense of our gravity defying, real life game of Frogger.