The Ride

I don’t usually write flash. I think I only have three times, actually. Cathryn has a great site where she posts all her wonderful flash!

In my post Looking Back I mentioned how I wrote a short snippet (one of the three pieces of flash mentioned above 🙂 ) and how when I looked back I was very unimpressed. Well, that same week, I was looking for Canadian Literary Journals and came across Other Voices. They have a something called monthlies – they offer you a prompt once a month and ask you to submit your flash. I had a lot of fun writing mine, and when I looked back last night, I still thought it was an ok piece. Ok enough that I will post it for you here. It was loosely based on what I saw around me this summer (I am still awed by how our surroundings transforms itself into stories continually).  Here goes  (I’ve never posted my work here, but I do enjoy it so when you all do I thought here’s an opportunity to reciprocate.)

Prompt: “Our families are our greatest source of love and support. They are also the ones who are, statistically, most likely to kill us.” – Eric Weiner, The Geography of Bliss

The Ride

I have found freedom. In the movement of my legs, in the wind rushing over my arms that grip the handlebars. In the way I screw my mouth shut, and endure the bugs that fly into my eyes and nose. In a bike.

“Wow, mom, you are great!” my five-year-old son yells at me; my other children are inside.

He is not accustomed to seeing his mother ride.

I wave at him, and I know he stands watching, gripping his father’s hand, as I disappear from his view.

I reach a hill, and crest down, feeling my mouth turn itself into a smile.

I think of the baby at home, and I realize it has been years since I have been on a bike. So many, that my legs are burning even though it has only been minutes. I head straight, down to the water. It looks so different on a bike. Usually I drive by; a few times I have walked. The water is calm, only showing a few small white peaks, and the shore is busy. I feel a pang of guilt, and push it away. I do not have to share everything with my family.

I ride, watching a seagull. Both of us sailing. One in the air, one on the ground. Neither on water, yet somehow, it doesn’t matter.

I assess myself, checking my heart rate, my lungs. All is well. My hands grip tighter on the handlebars; my body remembering the panic attacks it had experienced all winter. Where had they come from? What had caused them?

I knew the answer for sometime before admitting it to myself let alone anyone else. I had isolated myself, and lost all form of identity except one, that of mother.

I force myself to feel the tide in my body, and the familiar panic ebbs away. The numbness stops climbing up my forearms and cheeks. My feet stop tingling, and the pressure on my lungs subsides. My legs struggle up a hill, and it is as though I am rising, catching the bird, until he dips and is gone.

It is time to return, or my body will falter. It has become weak, but I am replenishing it. Our house is quiet on the outside, and I place my bike against the garage door. I must slow my heart rate down and stretch my legs, so I walk, alone. I hear the sounds around me, and I see where I am. It has been so long since I saw.

I raise my arms up, towards the sky, and give them a pull. I stretch my calves, my thighs, and I am ready to enter.

Nobody is crying, nobody is fighting.

First I stop by the baby’s room. She is in her crib, eyes closed, chest rising and falling, arms by her head.

My boys are at full attention in bed, and their father smiles at me from behind a book, snuggled between them.

“Good ride?” he says.

I am home.

Sometimes one has to step away to see clearly, for awareness to preside.

“It was wonderful,” I say.

23 thoughts on “The Ride

  1. Great story Jennifer, with a gentle twist that’s just perfect. I really liked the opening, the bugs endured, it pulled me quickly into the mood of the story.

    And thanks for mentioning my flash fiction site.

    Happy Labor (Labour) Day. 😉

  2. I loved this post–your imagery is wonderfully vivid and the ideas/sentiments you express are complex. I’m going to check out the flash fiction site you mentioned, as well at the monthlies at Other Voices.

  3. Ahhh, Jennifer! I really want to say everything everyone else has said, but I think I’ll sound redundant. I agree, I really liked this sample of your writing. It was a good read, on both its surface level and its deeper one. Thanks for posting. 🙂

  4. Jennifer, I really enjoyed that! I could feel the wind and the joy of riding! What a fun piece. I don’t do flash fiction very well at all, but I really enjoy reading other people’s stories.

    Have you submitted that somewhere? I hope you do.

  5. In true redundancy, I reiterate the praise of every one else. It’s a story that says so much in a few words. I truly enjoyed reading you work.

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