MEATLOAF

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Sarah was sitting quietly downstairs, a little dree, a little thoughtful. It was a quiet afternoon, but all of a sudden she heard a tremendous din: a motorbike ridden at full throttle, with all exhaust pipes roaring. Surely it would slow down? But it seemed to accelerate on approaching her house, and suddenly there was a huge explosion. The bike crashed through Sarah’s frail wall, leaving bricks, mortar and plaster and a little gate-legged table in smithereens. Throbbing and smoking, the huge Harley came to a halt just in front of her sofa.

The rider was as big as Meatloaf, though rather soft with it: more loaf than meat, Sarah thought. He wore black leathers and gauntlets, and high boots that buckled right down the side. His helmet and visor concealed his face, an he looked like a sinister outrider on a presidential motorcade. Sarah said “who the fuck are you? And what about my wall?” He pushed up his visor, removed the black cloth covering his mouth, and said “I’m your cousin.”

“Cousin, what cousin? I’ve never had a cousin.” This was a fib. She had, in fact, had a younger cousin who was killed on his motorbike at the age of 18. He was the only creature who had ever resembled Sarah physically: they had the same facial structure, the same colouring, the same stocky build. He looked like her male self: and when she had had to identify him in the morgue, it was like saying goodbye to the half of herself that she would never see again. And yet here he was once more.

He cocked his thumb towards the pillion: “climb on, then.” Sarah did, and as she sat akimbo with her arms around his waist, the bike roared and then tore through the opposite wall, across her neat garden and onto the road. They were on their way.

They seemed to be going very fast indeed, and Sarah couldn’t see the landscape that they tore through. She tapped him on the shoulder and he drew to a halt. She said “look, I’m frightened, I can’t see where we’re going to.” He laughed and replied: “it’s not where we’re going to that matters. It’s what you’re leaving behind that is important. Turn around, sit with your back against mine, and spread your arms out as we gather speed. Then you’ll know.”

Sarah wedged herself into the pillion seat, with her feet hooked under the fender, and faced backwards. As the bike gathered speed, she spread her arms and understood what he had meant: it was like flying. The road, the houses, the people were what she had known: but they were from another country now. They had been familiar: but now she had freedom from them. Freedom.