Friday, October 14, 2005

Several Weeks Before the Book Tour

Several weeks before the book tour, we were walking home, after midnight, from the movie, Sin City. This was a balmy night and the streets were empty and quiet. Two girls rode by on their bikes, heading north while we walked south. They rode at a leisurely, winding pace, and one was saying, “I think I can, I think I can,” to illustrate a point.
Colin said, “They’re riding the wrong way up a one-way street.”
“And no lights on their bikes,” I said.
But in Montreal nobody has lights on their bikes.
There was a scream, a crash, a thud, and another scream.
And there was an SUV standing in shock in the middle of the road, and a girl and a bike on the ground.
There was a moment of this stillness, and then the SUV startled into movement and sped right by us down the hill. We shouted, “STOP!” and Colin began to run after it.
I ran in the other direction, towards the girl, but I didn’t want to see a dead girl.
And, in fact, as I watched, she slowly unfolded and stood up. Her friend helped her over to the sidewalk.
Colin was still sprinting down the centre of the road, while the SUV skidded away from him. I saw that Colin was going to throw himself in front of the SUV, and that it would run him down.
So I sprinted after Colin, shouting, “It’s okay! She’s alive! Come back!”
Eventually, I saw him turn and begin to run back to me, breathing heavily, saying, “I got the plates”.
We reached the girls together. They were both sitting on the sidewalk with their bicycles. They were pale, and were swearing about the driver of the car. The girl who’d been hit had blood streaking down her leg, and the leg was swelling up, but she didn’t want an ambulance. Her voice was shaky. Colin said he had the numberplate. He wrote it on a small piece of paper, and his hand was shaky.
I was trying to say, “Are you sure you’re okay?” but my eyes were clouding over. I held onto a telegraph pole. Black shadows were crossing my vision. I could not believe that I, not the girl who’d been hit by the car, not the girl whose friend had been hit by a car, not Colin who had sprinted after a runaway car, but I, the girl who had run around in circles – I was the one who was about to faint.
Eventually, we left and I sat down on a fence.
I was ashamed, because it meant that I was the movie character who would be no help in a crisis.
At the same time I had a secret thought: maybe there’s another reason I feel faint.


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