Cyclist & Avenue

(originally written for featherproof’s Triplequick app)

Right now the cyclist is elevated, his head ten feet above pavement as he pedals north. I can see him from here: he looks effortless, poised atop the welding and the pipes that terminate at his seat. I pass him on the avenue now and then, never at a time when cars predominate. I wonder whether he fears power lines and low-hanging branches, whether he wakes from awful dreams of high-altitude collisions.

I see the elevated cyclist pass and think of a dream that keeps coming back to me: I’m on the state highways of my youth, passing a shopping center and sitting on top of something like a phone booth joined to a go-kart. The steering wheel is jutting out at me and it handles as awkwardly as a middle-school dance. I know I’ve got to get somewhere, I know there’s a destination in mind, but I’m certain that my vehicle will crash long before I arrive. In the dreams I never crash; the fear of impact is enough.

I botched it, is what it comes down to. I botched it and I wish I could take it all back. Instead you walked away and I walked to take mass transit and I’ve been walking down the avenue ever since. I’ve been retracing my steps, muttering the old clichés about the scene of the crime and hoping that if I do this long enough, we’ll get the chance to replay that scene, and I can do it right.

I walk down the avenue again and again. I spend my Sunday evenings here. There’s a shop where I buy a coffee, sometimes two. I try to save taking in the details for a better time. But that’s the thing: you’re not here, and I know you’re not going to be here. The only thing familiar right now is the elevated cyclist, ten feet high, watching for cars.