A Short Ride
I tried to forget her, but found myself going to places we used to frequent, eating foods she liked, and listening to her favorite songs. I wasn’t doing a particularly good job at it, and that was my conscious effort at work. My dreams were haunted by her smell and smiles.
Sometimes it felt like she was always on my mind, while there were some days or even weeks where I would stop and realize I hadn’t thought of her at all recently. And then I would think of nothing else. What I said, what she did, and vice versa. Replaying conversations and events, trying to conceive of alternate paths while only rehashing the same old arguments again and again.
One day I finally grew tired of seeing my old mountain bike in the hallway. The tires were flat and it was more dusty than dirty from use. I pumped life into its wheels, cleaned and oiled the chain, and tried to adjust things as best as I could. I was never good with maintaining it. I hadn’t thought of her yet, but the bike had been a common source of argument. Namely that it just sat there unused and in the way. She would hit her shin because she was not paying attention and for some reason it was my fault.
I rolled the bike down the stairs and out the door. I gave it a light push and hopped on the seat, slowly coasting with an inelegant wobble of the front wheel as I found my footing. No one was looking because I was alone, but I felt heat rising in my face nonetheless. I could hear her voice mocking me, shark sensing blood in the water.
I pedaled down the street before switching to a light trail nearby. I felt free for the first time in ages. The packed earth below fading into the background as I took in the grass and trees around me.
The trail ended not long after; it was more of a shortcut through a small park than anything. I slowed my pace and found myself on a quiet side street. I let the bike swerve, serpentine. It was fun. I might have smiled.
I didn’t have any destination in mind, but my options were fairly limited given where I lived. I ended up at a park beneath a neighboring dam, field oddly devoid of people. Sometimes it was jam packed with picnickers and sun bathers, other times not. I let the bike fall to the ground and sat on the grass. Cars occasionally worked their way onto the nearby parkway, but other than that I was left alone with the birds.