Tag Archives: romance

Race You, Part III

Continued from Part II.

Pierre stared, wide-eyed, his own smile growing to match hers. Then he slammed his right foot onto the pedal, shoving it downwards, his left foot gripping and dragging the road into movement beneath his tyres. The back wheel scraped against the road, then the bicycle launched forwards.

Once more he pumped his legs until his ankles became a blur, rotating rings of muscle transforming the bursting chemical power of nature into the mechanical efficiency of the machine. Again, the wind began to pinch against his cheeks, again his shirt began to billow, again he crouched low over the handlebars. No longer the boundless mind wandering into song, now he was focussed, alert, the goal central in his concentration.

The bike picked up more and more speed, his breathing joined the rhythm of the rest of his body, his spine snaked from side to side in rapid motion. The noise of the chain whirring around the gears reached his ears, and then another sound pierced through the canvas of wind and breath and spinning metal.

The banging of a drum.

A rapid and terrifying staccato.

The hooves of a majestic and powerful beast thundering towards him.

Out of the corner of his left eye he saw a large, dark shape loom by his side. He kept his head forward and low, and willed his legs to move even faster, but it was no use.

A beautiful composition of muscle and hide, legs pounding the road, breath hissing and snorting, rider and beast in a dance of speed. The horse drew ahead of him. Pierre gasped his tragedy into the ground. The rider yelled her victory to the skies. The horse ran on.

His legs slowed, then stopped. The bicycle continued to spin, the world whirring underneath, but then it too slowed, soon to a calm, gentle crawl. Then he slapped his feet on the ground and brought his metal steed to a stop. He fell gently sideways, the bicycle clattered to the ground. He lay on his back, pulling and pushing air into and out of his lungs. His head spun.

Minutes passed, then he opened his eyes. Blonde hair fluttered in the air above him. He saw a helmet held loosely between fingers. He saw blue eyes. He saw a triumphant smile.

“My name’s Marie,” she said. “What’s your name?”

The End

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Race You, Part II

Continued from Part I.

Pierre gripped the bicycle brakes hard and skidded to a stop, screeching along the road until standstill. He dropped his feet to the ground on either side, and looked forward, pretending not to hear the clop, clop, clop of the horse approaching him.

He looked idly at his fingernails as the horse drew up and came to a stop next to his bicycle. His heart beat loudly in his chest, but whether from the exertion or his impending new acquaintance he knew not.

“Good morning,” said a calm, firm, feminine voice.

“Good morning,” he replied, as neutral as he could muster. He looked up, and his gaze met blue eyes and yes, a delicate nose, framed by smooth skin and a helmet that almost eclipsed the sun. Most of all, a frown. Not a real frown. A frown that hid a smirk, and an amused twitch of the lips.

“Did you like my song?” he asked.

“No,” she said.

“Oh,” he said.

“A gentleman exerting himself fully on a bicycle would not be able to sing,” she explained. “Therefore the song was a signal of underachievement.”

His eyebrows hiked upwards. “I see,” he said. “That sounds very serious indeed. You believe I am capable of more?”

“One should always aim to excel oneself,” she said.

“Do you bet?” he said.

She sniffed, perhaps hiding a chuckle. The horse grunted quietly.

There was a pause. Then a genteel finger extended, pointed down the road, circled like some winged fairy, and returned to the reigns. She took a breath, then let it out in an exaggerated sigh, and Pierre imagined himself floating on top of the sea, drifting in and out with the tide.

Then, at last, a true smile. A smile of challenge.

“Race you,” she said.

To be continued…

Race You, Part I

Pierre pedalled as fast as he could, his legs purring with satisfaction as the road opened up into a long, straight stretch. This road would take him all the way through the town and on to the sports field next to the river beyond.

His bicycle gathered speed. The ticking of the wheels through the gear mechanism became faster and faster. He began to feel the wind against his cheeks. His short, dark hair began to flutter and his smile grew wide.

He laughed out loud, then again, louder. His legs pumped as fast as they could, fingers loosely gripped the handlebars, and he leant low. Then as the road under the tires became a blur, he stopped pedalling. The bicycle carried on, gaining yet more speed from the road’s downward slant.

Joy flooded through Pierre’s veins. He held his feet flat, then pushed down through his legs, lifting his body upwards, standing on the pedals, wind whipping his shirt and exuberance billowing up his throat.

He burst into song, sending loud, deep syllables spiralling outwards in front of him.

“/Free is the man who lives at speed, flying along without care or need, singing the song for his brothers in arms, seeking and praising a young maiden’s charms!/”

Up ahead, a beautiful dark brown horse had pulled onto the road. Pierre saw a rider perched atop, blue jacket tapering at a narrow waist, golden hair flowing down under a black helmet.

Pierre lowered himself back onto the saddle, and pedalled hard again. His bicycle gathered speed once more and he shot past the horse. He turned his head and caught a glimpse of the rider’s smooth skin, and perhaps a delicate nose.

He waved over his shoulder.

She waved back.

To be continued…

Idle Companion

Conrad was working hard on the latest set of figures when he noticed his good friend Anna attempting to tell their boss something important. She looked good today, he thought, smart yet understated. Those ferocious brown eyes were glaring to emphasise her words, but only Conrad noticed. The boss walked on. Anna walked over to Conrad’s desk, fuming.

“Did you see that?” she said. “He just ignored me, walked right past. Why doesn’t anyone recognise me? Why doesn’t anyone pay any attention to what I’m trying to say?”

Conrad smiled at her and sat back in his chair with a heavy sigh.

“I’m sorry Anna,” he said. “It’s because you’re not real. You’re just a figment of my imagination. You’re how I keep myself happy when things get tough. You’re my companion when I’m working late and the office is empty and lonely. I picture you interacting with my colleagues, but it’s late and they’ve all gone home to their families. It’s just you and me here now.”

“I feel quite real,” she said. “I have a pass, they let me in through the door.”

“I imagined they did. Of course I made sure you fit into the surroundings. In many ways you are my greatest creation, not that anyone will ever know.”

“If I’m not real,” she said, “who are you talking to? Do other people think you’re crazy?”

“They probably do,” he laughed. “But no, I’m currently staring at a spreadsheet and my mind is wandering.”

“Do you have a family, Conrad?” she asked, tilting her head so that her hair coiled distractingly on her shoulder.

“You know I don’t,” he said.

“Why not?”

He shrugged.

“Never found the right girl.”

“So I’m a substitute for a real woman?” she looked disgusted. “You know, I would have thought I had a problem with non-existence,” she said. “But I think the one without real existence is you. It’s nearly midnight, Conrad. You shouldn’t be here working. You should be out there, maybe somewhere warm and cosy with,” and she lent forward to whisper, “a real companion.”

“You’re probably right,” he said. “Perhaps you come from the wiser side of my nature.”

“I do,” she said. “And you don’t listen to it enough. Now go find your soulmate.”

“Where?” He said. “Where could she possibly be?”

“On a train,” said Anna. “Just pulling into South Widsley station.”

Anna broke from her daydream as the train pulled into her station. What a strange series of thoughts. Maybe there was a man like that, out there somewhere, thinking of someone like her.

Not Meant To Be

Every Wednesday afternoon she came in to the library, the one with brown hair with blonde streaks and little golden earrings. Her name was Clare, according to her library card.

Max stood, fraught with anticipation, near the Returns section. Any moment now. She always arrived at a quarter past four.

She came through the door, and walked towards where he stood. Green dress today. She was carrying a large purple hardback book, with gold lettering on the front. Max felt butterflies dance inside.

“Hey Charlie, what’s up?” she said, tossing her book rather carelessly on top of Growing Bananas Without Going Bananas. Max winced.

“Um,” stammered Max. “Who’s Charlie?”

She stared at him for a long moment. “I thought you were Charlie.”

“No,” said Max, his cheeks now a bright crimson. “I’m Max.”

“Oh,” she said. “I’m sorry. I always thought you were Charlie.” She turned to walk away.

“Err… hey,” said Max.

She turned back, and smiled. Max’s stomach twisted itself around into a tight knot. He remembered flicking through The Big Book of Knots. This one was probably a clove hitch, he decided. Then he realised she was still looking at him.

“You hurt the books,” blurted out Max. “Don’t crack the spines. Don’t do it. You hurt them. Please stop. You understand?”

“Okay,” she said, taking a surprised step backwards. “Alright.”

She left the library and never came back.

Every Wednesday afternoon Max felt strangely empty and a little sad.

The books, however, were quite relieved.

Quandary Wall

One night, many years ago, an archaeological team partied late, celebrating their recent discovery. When the drink flowed and few remained standing, Kurt and Mary snuck away. On Mary’s mind was a reference in an ancient text, to a mural of some spiritual significance. On Kurt’s mind was Mary.

He followed her through the tunnels, lighting where she pointed, digging where she instructed, brushing away layers of dust with utmost care. When the mural emerged, the quandary wall, embossed with advice-giving symbols revealed after lonely centuries, she giggled with excitement, and kissed him.

Later, they married.

Now, they have returned, because Mary faces a dilemma beyond her experience. Her path is unclear, the options unfathomable to even the wise: Family? Truth? Justice? Salvation? Discretion? Right and Wrong never felt so far from her grasp. So Kurt suggested she do as her ancient heroes did when faced with such impossibles: consult the mural, the quandary wall.

They fly, they land, they trek. He follows her through the tunnels, they find once again.

As she deliberates, memories flood back to him. Tears and a tightening of the throat. Then he brings himself back to the present and looks upon his wife again. Her hair may have turned grey, the brilliant mind fraying slightly and forgetting, but the spirit remains. She touches the embossed symbols, reads the stories, finds solace and comparison. As she reaches a decision, she giggles with excitement, and kisses him.

Later, their children buried them side-by-side.