I admit to being a speed demon. Adrenalin junkie on how fast I can go. It’s why I ended up in a full length cast after breaking my leg skiing. Swish. Zoom. Race to the mountain’s end. Cartwheel down instead.
But back to crashing my bike more recently.
Last summer I suffered a serious concussion and contusions when I swerved to avoid a pedestrian I had been calling out to quite loudly ‘On your left!’ But she decided to move into my path. I swerved fast. I flew through the air. My head and body slammed into concrete at 30 mph. My helmet split in two. It took me two weeks to fully recover. It took me a month to brave getting on a bike again.
I was so shaken and dizzy I couldn’t get up. I lay sprawled on the concrete struggling to sit up. The woman I had avoided hitting stood over me hands on hips. “You shouldn’t have been biking there,” she said, triumphantly. Then she turned around and continued her morning walk. Dazed, bleeding, and seeing double I stumbled home with my bike.
Later, when I recovered I realized:
1. How lucky I was to have survived.
2. I would never bike without a helmet again.
3. I couldn’t believe a human being would so disregard me.
And then I realized, besides being glad to be alive, that I was also glad to NOT be like that woman. That if I had caused a biker to crash I would have stopped. Helped them to their feet. Asked if I could call someone. Asked if they needed help home. I knew then that I was glad to be ME. And I was saddened that there were such people in the world as that woman.
And I knew I would never forget her. She would be filed away and used as a character in my next book. Friends couldn’t believe that someone would act like that.
Oh, yes. I know they do.
In real life.
I know what goes around comes around. It has to. I also never saw that woman before on my regular morning route. I have never seen her since. Perhaps she was a wake-up call for me to go slower, not be so invincible.
Then I had my second crash this year in the spring. Heavy rains came. I went biking one morning along a path that wound around a creek. Speeding along (helmet on) I came around a turn fast. The creek must had risen and crossed the path leaving a deep path of mud inches thick. I hit that mud and skid. Slammed into the ground, once again, sliding for what seemed minutes.
Stunned, I rose from the mud shaken. A lovely family of three witnessed my crash and came to my aid. Helped me up. Found my glasses in the mud that went flying. Asked if I was okay. Asked if I needed help getting home.
What wonderful folks they were. I felt cared for. I felt the world’s humanity pour over me. I knew I would never forget them too. They showed me that there are people that care. Like me. They cancelled out the mocking “evil one” who had stood over me as I suffered, arms crossed, and carried on her way. They gave me faith in the human race again. Not all are bad.
These folks too would be filed away. Used as characters in a book. Showing us our humble humanity. We all hurt the same. We all can heal the same; with words, with a caring response.
And I knew the encounters with both of these types of people would seem real in my writing. Because they were real. Good and bad. And both reside in our world. All kinds of people in the world fuel into making real characters in our books.
I have to believe that more of them are good than bad.