That Blue Bike

November 27, 2009
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I rode on the seat behind him as the bike engine roared down the street. Although the raincoat guarded every part of me, I still felt the rain pelt my entire body. That salty, humid rain smell seeped under the thin lining and filled my nostrils. It made me sick. It made everything worse. My head rested on his warm back while my arms wrapped tightly around his strong torso. The speed of the motor below me created a sense of security that his vehicle would take me away. I no longer saw the scenery around me because the coat hindered my sight, but I knew the oppressive city still existed. The buildings, erected so close in proximity, squeezed out all forms of life between them. This overpowering city with its constant neon lights and never-ending roadways sucked my soul dry. I began to feel suffocated as the infinite number of buildings towered over my head. This place consumed with only superficial life and hoards of ungrateful people ignited the burning desire in my chest to get as far away as possible.

“How much longer?” I pleaded for an answer, but he did not hear me through the wind rushing past us. Constant, fast-paced movement of life hurried around me while I watched in seclusion. This vile feeling ate at the pit of my stomach imminently waiting to escape. I must get out I kept telling myself, but as the buildings blurred together, I still felt trapped as I rode in that God-forsaken city while the virulent air slowly blackened my mind as it had since that horrific accident.

It all started two years ago when I still lived with my parents in the country. Bucolic scenery outside my window constantly reminded me of this caged life I lived drowning under the rule of my mother. She always acted like some authority, but she did not know everything. The fact that there might be other ways to live life other than her own never crossed her mind. Her oppressive parenting style after the accident drove me further away. She just did not realize that pulling me closer created the opposite effect. Lectures followed by fights filled my days which usually ended with the punishment of being forced to stay home.

“Who are you going with? Where are you going? Raine, I need to know!”

She never knows where I am really at. She only knows the lies. That is all she has to hold onto are these lies.

With no response, she continued, “Well, fine. I want you in before ten-thirty then.”

“Yeah, that’s not happening.”

“Oh, you test me, and you will see!”

“See what?”

“You just wait,” she hissed.

“Whatever. I’m leaving.” As I headed toward the door, she retorted.

“That’s it! You’re staying home tonight!”

“What? NO. That is NOT fair.”

“Don’t make me go get your father. Go to your room for God’s sake!” She yelled as I started angrily walking down the hall.

“Don’t worry, Mom,” I boasted under my breath. “I will find a way out. You just watch.”

I quickly retreated to my sanctuary. I devised a plan to secretly escape the house that night. My band, Yellow, lined up a gig at the bar three blocks away and needed me to perform with them. I knew just what I needed to do. After leaving the house through the window in my bedroom, I arrived late at the bar because of the little roadblock at home but instantly felt relief when I emerged on the stage that night.

I remember that night. The band played every note in tune never missing a beat, and I sang better than ever before. I loved the feeling and wanted to be a singer for the rest of my life. The minute I turned eighteen, I intended to leave my life at home for good and move to the city with my band, Yellow. But first, I needed to sneak back into the house without being noticed.

I quietly opened the door to reveal the dark, barren kitchen. I sighed in relief as I started nonchalantly walking back to room, but before I took a step on the tile floor, the room illuminated in an instant. My mother stood in her flannel pajamas at the entrance to the hallway.

“Where have you been and what is that in your hand? I told you the guitar is NOT allowed in my house! You are not supposed to sing and play anymore, Raine!” Screaming she made her way across the small kitchen to rip the guitar out of my hands. Her eyes, brimming with fury, portrayed more than her words.

“Mom, STOP! What are you doing? Have you lost your mind?”

“You stop it, Raine. I told you NO MORE MUSIC! You are not going to be like those grungy musicians. Do you know what happens to these people? DO YOU KNOW?”

“You can’t control my life! I’m not going to let you! You controlled Lauren’s life and look what happened to her! She ended up like those grungy people you talk of! She did that stuff because of YOU.” The second it slipped from my mouth, a blanket of guilt flashed over my face. Never has my mother’s porcelain face turned so baleful in an instant.

“How dare you … Get out of my sight,” she ordered. Her eyes, connecting with mine, allowed the hate to flow. My heart almost stopped from the evil escaping her dark eyes.

I stumbled back until the shock of the protruding door handle reminded me where I was. Immediately, I flung open the door barely able to keep my bottled emotions inside and sprinted out to the back alley behind my house. I fell after my foot caught the edge of the rusty fence. I quickly rose but no longer held my emotions inside. I opened my mouth and released everything to the darkness.

“Lauren, are you happy now? Is your life okay now that you killed yourself? Are all of your problems solved? You see what you left me with! I’m here to pick up these pieces of your broken life. Did you ever think of that? No, I didn’t think so. And Mom? Yeah, I can no longer be a musician. What’d do you think of that? I can’t do what I want to do! I’ve dreamt about this my whole life, Lauren, and now guess what it’s over. It’s all over. Your life. My life. Our parents’ lives. All Over. Does that make you happy, you selfish victim? Does it? Does it? ANSWER ME!”

Suddenly without warning, my eyes welled with hot, salty tears until they completely took over my vision. They filled the brim of my eye until that too no longer held them in. Rushing down along the grooves of my face, they flowed. They flowed like never before.

I never felt pain like I did that day. Her stale memory still looms over head like a dark cloud in a usual bright, blue sky casting a shadow on my past, present, and future. That night still haunts me to this day. The memory healed and turned into a scar, constantly reminding me of what happened to my sister. That tragic decision to end her life tore apart my family. She believed her actions might end all of the pain, but in reality it caused quite a bit more.

I needed to leave this country and escape this jar that enclosed my life and this horrific memory. I would never have been able to go on with my life if I stayed. When my birthday finally arrived, I secretly packed my things and headed out in the night with only an impersonal note taped to the refrigerator as a goodbye. Audra, another singer in Yellow, already leased an apartment in the city, so we were set. I lived on Ramen noodles and coffee for two years in between inconsistent gigs. Our best guitarist, Ryan, finally got us a meeting with a big record company in April of that year. Everyone prepared. Our big chance lay before us waiting to be taken. We played amazing from the adrenaline rush, and the company then asked us to sign. We quickly signed and then headed back to the apartment before going out that night. We celebrated by staying out longer than ever before. Upon returning back to the apartment, everyone retreated to their separate rooms. The drowsiness overcame me, and I quickly drifted into a deep sleep around five in the morning.

I awoke the next morning to the strident screams of Lucy, our drummer.

“Rainne! RAINNNNE!”

It took me a few seconds to realize her tone signaled not a dream but a horrific nightmare.

“What is it?” I questioned hurriedly, but she did not answer between her God-awful sobs. Faintly aware that terrible truth lie ahead, I quickly rose out of my bed to race around the corner wall to the bathroom. Lucy’s violently shaking body hid my vision for a split second until I pushed her aside to unveil Audra’s lifeless body strewn on the floor with her head uncomfortably resting between the metal cabinet and the foot of the toilet. The white linoleum floor, tainted by the cherry-red blood seeping from a gash in the right side of her head, displayed a collection of various prescription pills scattered like little crème marbles.

“Rainnne, how could this happen? It had to be an accident! She’s not breathing, Rainne. RAINNE.”

This is not happening, I thought to myself. THIS IS NOT HAPPENING. Overwhelming emotions filled my entire body. Numbness overcame me as the sight of Audra’s limp body on the ground propelled me back to that image in my own house of my own sister lifeless after taking her own life.

I had to get out. The jar that I escaped from by coming to the city quickly returned. It completely enclosed me, taking away the only source of oxygen, and all I could do was savor the last few breaths.

Sprinting out of the room, I found Ryan in the hall and histrionically explained I needed him to take me away. We made our way through the apartment building to the parking lot. There it was. That blue bike lay before us. He threw his leg over to mount that vehicle while I hopped on the seat behind him, and as I wrapped my arms around his muscular chest, I knew I must get out.

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