Lane Change

from Richard
Our two cars entered the freeway at the same time, but rush hour traffic soon separated us. In an attempt to keep Eugene’s car in sight, I moved over to the fourth lane on the far left. Soon I spotted him about a quarter of a mile ahead, one lane to the right.

There were three car lengths of open space behind him, so I sped up to eighty-five miles per hour to move into the gap. As I came abreast of the car trailing his, I let up on the accelerator knowing that momentum alone would place me safely just where I wanted to be.

Before turning the wheel I checked the distances again. There was plenty of space behind Eugene, and in the rearview mirror I could see the trailing car already fading out of my peripheral vision. All clear.

I turned the wheel about two degrees to the right and felt the beginning of a smooth fade into the next lane. At the same moment I glanced into the right-side-view mirror. A pair of eyes, like a hunted animal cornered in a hollow log, stared back at me.

A fast-moving motorcyclist was heading for the same spot I was about to occupy. I was in the process of turning; we were milliseconds from impact. No time even to alert my wife in the passenger seat next to me. Death was at our side.

In that instant the steering wheel came to a hard stop, as if at the end of its turning radius. My eyes were fixed on the eyes of the motorcyclist reflected in the mirror, but now I could also see his silhouette outside the passenger window. Then the air around us began to fracture. It rippled like water in a pond, disturbed by a stone thrown into its center. The rippling air wrapped itself around the front of the car and pushed it back into the left lane.

The motorcyclist turned his body slightly as he pulled into the lane in front of me, our eyes still locked together. Silently we acknowledged that we had been miraculously spared. Then he turned his head away, sped off down the freeway, and I never saw him again.