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​Sideways

By Caroline Barron

Angelique Kasmara
© Angelique Kasmara

All day, feeling sideways. But it’s not until ten minutes before the school bell, when I’m zipping up the North Western—and glimpse a white hull cradled on the Waitematā, which makes me think of Dad, and how he used to fish out there in his orange and white Fi-Glass Fireball—that I realise why: today he’d have turned 73.

Hello sideways, I whisper. I should have known to expect you.

I’m approaching the TeAtatu off-ramp when, in slow motion—as if the clocks are half-asleep—a fencepost-sized log of wood flings off the back of a blue truck up ahead, and bounces down the asphalt towards me, end to end, my windscreen its bull’s-eye. Fingers claw steering wheel, throat gulps down heartbeat. I do what I can, slow down, pull left. But it’s unavoidable: life is about to end, to end.

But then, like a cast spell, the post freezes mid-air, then plummets, and instead of smashing through the windscreen it clatters against my front bumper and, impossibly, tunnels through the clear space between my tyres.

And I just drive on.

Fingers release, drum-thumping heart sinks to chest.

I do not know, then, that the driver will duck from my camera. Or that, seconds later, I’ll be so flustered I rear-end a ute at the lights. Or that, later that day a deluge of truck-company-owner platitudes will drizzle down the phone. Or that, the following day, their insurance company will write: We do not accept liability unless you have photo evidence of the pole coming off the truck.

I do not know, then, but overcoming days my anger will dissipate—ocean swell to barely a ripple—as it dawns on me that, perhaps, Dad had something to do with what I come to realise, was a miracle.

About Caroline Barron

Caroline Barron is an award-winning writer, and developmental editor. She is a Master of Creative Writing graduate of the University of Auckland. Her debut, RIPIRO BEACH: A Memoir of Life After Near Death (Bateman Books) will be on shelves May 2020.