The Color Of Forever(6)

By: Julianne MacLean

Both riders’ bikes began to wobble, and my heart exploded like a fireball in my chest.

Time stood still as the rider in front of me became tangled in a jungle of spokes and wheels and went flying over his handlebars.

In a panic, I squeezed my brakes and tried to swerve around the pileup, but everything was happening so fast, it was impossible to avoid it. Another rider went down in front of me and suddenly I was catapulted through the air, over a sea of carnage and mangled bicycles and spinning wheels.

In that instant, everything went silent and still as I flew toward the guardrail and steep cliff beyond. My husband’s face appeared in my mind, but strangely, it wasn’t Mark’s face I saw. It was another man I didn’t recognize, and yet I knew him intimately. He was a good man, a faithful man, the father of my child, who loved our son as deeply as I did. Our boy’s name was Logan, and he was the most beautiful baby imaginable. After a long, hard labor, I held him in my arms and wept tears of joy and love, while my husband kissed the top of my head and told me how much he loved me.

Moments flashed by like shooting stars—incredible moments that filled me with exhilaration, euphoria and hope. Our son took his first steps at eleven months; my husband put together the swing set in the backyard; I said good-bye to Logan on the first day of preschool, went home and cried over the loss of his sweet presence in the house during school hours.

We spent summers in Maine, where Logan played on the beach and caught hermit crabs with his cousins.

My husband—his name was Chris—gave me diamond earrings for our fifth anniversary.

I was hesitant to have another child. A part of me was still searching, longingly…for something. I felt lonely but I didn’t know why.

There was another man named Joe.

Chris was angry with me. He shouted and made threats on the phone.

My son seemed more tired than usual. Was he coming down with something?

Constant hospital visits…needles…blood work…medications…

Suddenly I saw myself here in this very place, flying over the guardrail into the ravine below and waking in intensive care the next day, confused and in pain. My back was broken. I was paralyzed from the waist down, concerned about how I would care for my sick child.

No….it can’t happen like that. I have to be there for him. For Logan.

Somehow, with unfathomable strength and agility, I twisted my body downward and collided with the guardrail, which sent pain shooting into my skull but that shift in direction prevented me from tumbling down the steep rock face into the wooded ravine below.

When I opened my eyes, I was staring up at a rescue worker.

“Can you hear me?” he asked, shining a penlight in my eye. “Do you know your name? Do you know what day it is?”

While others writhed in agony on the road beside me, I managed to speak a few words. “Am I dead?”

He grinned with relief and sat back on his heels. “No, ma’am, you’re just a little banged up. You fell off your bike and hit the guardrail. Your star must have been shining this morning, because you just missed going over the edge.” He leaned forward again. “Now, can you tell me your name? And what day it is?”

“It’s Friday,” I said. “And my name is Katelyn Roberts.”

“Good. Where do you live?”

I gave him my current address in Seattle—the house Mark had left to me in the divorce—then wondered suddenly if that was indeed my house, because all the images I’d seen as I was flying through the air had me living in a different house entirely. With a son named Logan and a husband named Chris. I could still see their faces vividly in my imagination.

“I must have blacked out,” I said, trying to sit up and get my bearings, but the paramedic urged me to remain on my back.

“You sure did,” he said. “You were unconscious for about fifteen minutes.”

“I was dreaming, then.” I glanced around at all the mangled bicycles and riders lying on the side of the road with cuts and bruises, then pressed the heel of my hand to my forehead. “Am I okay?”

“You’re better than you were five minutes ago,” he replied, “but you’ll need to get checked out at the hospital. Another ambulance is on its way and we’ll have a stretcher here in a minute or two. Just stay put, okay?”

Dazed, I blinked up at the sky. A part of me feared I might have broken my back, not because I was in pain, but because I remembered my wheelchair from the flashback—the black leather seat, the texture of the rubber wheels in my hands as I insisted upon rolling myself down the long hospital corridor in the recovery unit, rather than have someone push me.

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