Teens & Young Adult Coming of Age Contemporary

Luke swerved on the next turn. He leaned dangerously sideways in his green Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R motorcycle, his gloved hand gripping the handles tightly. The wind was whipping violently against him while he endured pelts of rain that thrummed against his helmet. It's too late to slow down now. He thought his balance will fail when suddenly, the motorcycle righted itself and he sped away from the other racers. He was only five meters from the tail of the dark blue Ducati motorcycle but it seemed light years away.

I must not lose here. Not here, not again.

He was back in the Snetterton track for the second time. He was sixteen the first time, and he failed miserably. Two years later, it was the same slippery and dangerous track because of the constant rain. Sports headlines say, "wrong place, wrong time" with a black and white photo of him tumbling from his destroyed Yamaha motorcycle. It could've been the end of his career, early retirement at sixteen, he thought drily. The fall hurt but his pride could not take it, he brooded for months in his bedroom without saying any words to his parents. His little brother tried so many times to cheer him up with his silly antics. Any words having to do with racing, motorcycles or his accident were banned during those bleak months. His mother became desperate enough to get his grandmother. That ended his sulk.

Luke's grandmother is a force to reckon with. She was never afraid to say "Rubbish!" or "Bollocks!" when she doesn't believe in something and when she's outraged, she becomes dangerous. In fact, Luke would prefer a tumble from his motorcycle than facing the scary woman. Unfortunately, when it rains on him, it pours on him.

"What's this I heard about a crash?" his grandmother poked her head in his bedroom. Luke sat up his bed, alert.

"I lost, Grandma." he tried not to sound whiny. His grandma sat on the bed and looked adamantly at the posters on his bedroom walls.

"You have been crashing on motorcycles and bikes since you were three, not once you cried. No grandson of mine is a quitter." Luke swallowed. He accepted long ago that his grandmother was not soft like how his mates' were, she's a hard candy. You have to melt the hard exterior before getting to the soft center. When you get there, the efforts are all worth it. The woman may be tough, but he loves her nonetheless.

For other grandmothers, a kiss or a hug comes naturally but for Luke's grandma, it's strictly reserved for a really aggravating, emotionally-draining day. Like when he lost his favorite plush toy when he was five, his grandmother hugged him tightly then made him cookies that tasted strange. Or during his grandfather's funeral, when his grandma held his hand tightly while holding back tears and keeping up her strong appearance. Luke felt that they needed each other's presence during their most vulnerable times.

"I know grandma. I'm sorry, you've taught me better." He initiated the hug between them and he smelled the familiar scent of lilacs and talc. Grandma always smelled of those no matter what the occasion. It reminded him of the old Victorian house where he used to spend his summer vacations. The garage which contained his grandfather's vintage Vincent Black Shadow, one of the only 1,700 ever made in Britain. The first time Luke mounted the bike, he knew he would forever love riding one. His grandfather taught him the basics but it was his grandmother's persistence that made him adore motorcycles since he was five. His grandparents own a shop in town and Luke would always play in the garage when both of them were gone. When they come back, his grandma will scold him lightly for neglecting to watch his little brother.

His first motorcycle crash happened when he was twelve. Angry welts covered his face and his leg was broken. His father rushed him to the hospital while his mother was very furious because of his recklessness. Since then, he vowed to never get defeated from a chase. Adrenaline still flows in his veins and the pain was unfelt.

The same adrenaline of that day is surging right now inside of him. The thrill that he gets from racing and riding motorcycles adds fuel to the flames of his passion. There is no other thing more exciting than being in the track, performing his best and always pushing forward. Sometimes, he will push the limits and he outperforms himself every time by breaking his own records.  There are times when he felt like he was inside a video game, just in there for fun without a threat of pain during accidents.

He can hear the roaring motors of all the motorcycles in the track and the muted screams of the people in the sidelines, but his heartbeats pound the loudest in his ears. Luke wondered if he's getting a heart attack for a second.

It's the last lap. Luke is almost there, side to side with his contender. He was leaning forward in his motorcycle, already at full throttle. A glimpse of neon #28 caught his eye and he pushed forward, propelling himself with sheer will. He was sure the woman holding it on the sidelines was his grandmother, although she never watches his matches. It was his number, the same neon green that he knew was plastered all over his gear.

On the next turn, Luke curved his body and the vehicle lurched. His eyes automatically closed in anticipation of a crash. A moment passed and when he opened his eyes again, his blue-clad competitor was nowhere to be seen. Then he heard the rumble behind him. In front of him is the finish line, beckoning him every second to the championship.

I have to make it. I'm almost there.

The exhilaration he felt when he crossed the finish line left Luke heaving with exertion. His family was suddenly beside him, cameras were aimed at them and he was led to the stands. As he drew closer he cannot believe what he saw.

His grandmother was crying! Tears of relief and joy were streaming down her face. Luke knew then and there, as long as he's living, he'll always be chasing his dreams.

July 17, 2020 14:10

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RBE | Illustrated Short Stories | 2024-06

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