Roger looked at the bike leaning against the railing. He tried to remember a time when he was young enough to ride. He tried to remember the feeling of the wind on his face. The gentle way the world spilled by as he rode, like he was on an awfully slow train and the ribbon of the world was pulled past him. He touched the handle and the metal was cool and smooth. He shook his head.
He turned walked up the heavy stone steps, slowly, one at a time. His feet dragged as if weighed by rocks. Anyone would think it was due to what he faced inside but his feet were like that always now, had been for years. No matter how light hearted he felt his body had become something heavy, something to be dragged around. The effort of getting out of bed every day increased. It was as if each day he got heavier and heavier—one gram and then two until he became his own millstone around his neck.
He leaned heavily on the railing. One, two, three, he counted in his head. Then, gathering his strength he breathed in and lifted his concrete feet again. Finally, at the top, he took the hat from his head and held it to his chest. He exhaled and walked inside.
Roger was in there an hour, maybe more. There was nothing new they could tell him. They checked his heart, his lungs, his blood pressure. Things were slowing down, his blood was like the slow gurgle of water at the bottom of a dried-up river bed. They had poked him with needles and he had felt the cold curl of the stethoscope on his chest. It was like the ice of it was seeking out his heart. There was nothing new they could tell him. They gave him another bottle of pills which jangled in his pocket. He began his slow walk out the door.
When he got outside the bike was still sitting there, leaning against the railing. No one was around. It was not locked. Roger looked from left to right. He thought about the cold stethoscope, his slow blood, the pills in his pocket.
He pulled the bike away from the railing. With difficulty, he hoisted his leg over the seat. He stood there a moment, straddling the bike and wondering. He looked around again. Finally, he pushed down on the pedal and sat back. He wobbled a moment but soon found the old saying was true, you do not forget. He pushed the pedals one after the other in a great whirr. His feet were suddenly light, and he powered forward with a kind of grace. He pedalled through the quiet streets and looked all around him. The breeze on his face was soft and cool.
The ribbon of the world was pulled before him. It was just as he remembered it.
This story was inspired by a photo prompt – iamvickiroberts.com