On Her Own
by Anna G. Joujan
Heat radiated from the exhaust pipe, and Helen swore preemptively. It was an automatic response, but a valid one: she knew better than to give in to the thrill of the ride, and wary of letting her senses, or her limbs, forget the inherent risks of this ride.
But then her practicality was lost to a vivid memory, and Helen found herself reliving that night . . .
It was a father-daughter date, allowing for a rare occasion, in a family of 6, to have Daddy's undivided attention. They were going to the village hospital for movie. But what she remembered was the ride, on their motorcycle. It was the family’s prize possession, the only mode of transportation they owned.
That night was cold, as African evenings were, and they were alone on the dirt road. Helen had shut her eyes and focused on the feel of her father. With her arms wrapped tightly around him and her cheek pressed against his back, his body kept her warm from the wind. Daddy could protect her. But of course he could not. He could not prevent an accident on that same road. He could not prevent his own death, or the paralysis of his wife, or the splintering of his family . . .
Tonight Helen was alone. But there was an odd sweetness to the solitude, as if all the junk of life had heightened her awareness of its joys. Yes, she was on her own—and all was well.