As usual, I wake before the alarm goes off at 6am. Half asleep I dress myself; bra, tshirt, shorts, socks, before bumbling around half trying to find the dog’s lead, half not quite knowing what I’m doing yet. As I sit down to tie my shoes the dog plonks itself right in front of me, just in case I forget what I’m doing.
We walk and I slowly wake up. The air is fresh and cool, our shadows are stretched out long before us like the promise of a never-ending summer. I breathe deeply. The dog sniffs in the long, dewy grass and chases rabbits, it’s our favourite time of day.
I get home, eat my muesli while reading the news, then brush my teeth. Like clockwork I feed the dog and pack by bag for work. Lunch – double-bagged in its tupperware container to prevent leakage, macbook, keys, phone.
Donning my backpack, I head to the garage where I clip on my helmet, slide on my gloves and wheel my bike outside. The sound of my wheels crunching on the gravel driveway cuts through the sleepy morning air soothed by the steady buzz and hum of cars and trucks in the distance.
One moment you’re asleep the next you’re awake. But as usual, you’re wide awake before your eyes flicker open. And in those few wakeful moments before opening your eyes, you mentally chalk up a to-do list on the back of your eyelids.
Dress. Put a load of washing on. Feed the cat. Feed the dog. Put out the recycling. Water the basil. Eat breakfast. Brew coffee. Brush teeth. With your typical efficiency there’s even time to hang out the washing before leaving for work.
You use the 12-minute drive to think about the day ahead. The radio blares loudly, Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB, chewing gum for the ears. You drive on auto-pilot in a steel cage of air-conditioned introspection.
Outside, the temperature is already rising, I’m sweating before I hit the Woodbourne airbase, about five kms into my 12km trip. The road is busy with commuters, I try to breathe deeply and calmly when trucks barrel past, leaving me wobbling in their wake.
You pull up in your little car at the intersection of Jacksons Road and Middle Renwick Road. I see you sitting there waiting for a gap in the traffic to turn right. You look right, left, right. Right past me, I’m sure of it, despite my bright fuschia singlet. I draw nearer, I can see your blonde hair and your made up face.
There you are again, glancing right, left, right. Surely you’ve seen me, I’m right there I could call out to you, but your window is up, you’re in your own little bubble. I’m crossing the intersection now, and I hesitate, you’re still not looking at me, I brake slightly, I’m about to bike past you when you pull out.
Everything slows down, I hit the brakes hard, yelling out in fear, my face is right outside your window when you finally look at me. Your expression mirrors mine, mouth forming a perfect O, eyes wide in alarm, and then a blur of white as time speeds up again, and you stomp on the gas as I steer the handlebars to swerve around the back of your departing vehicle.
Trembling with fright I continue pedaling. Glancing behind me, I see you hesitate for a moment before driving off smoothly as if with a flick of your hair you shrug off that moment we shared, when our worlds almost collided.
You, protected entirely in your bubble of steel and glass. Me, utterly vulnerable, exposed and yet completely invisible. Lucky, lady.