Drifters - mini series

a collection of drabbles that managed to weave themselves into a series of short stories / romance / oneshot type things.


1. Freewheeling

oneshot/romance/story/drabble thing no. 1


In the past, I've always felt like I've been racing with someone. Racing ahead to the finish line to prove that I'm capable of loving, of being loved back, that I'm capable of making everything fine again. But in fact, in those races, they always end too quickly. I reach the finish and then suddenly it's all over, and glory doesn't really feel like glory at all. It feels worse. Love isn't what love feels like.

But with you I'm not racing. There's no constant tension, no worrying over who will get ahead, who's better, whether it will last. There's no racing because you're always right beside me, cheering me on, and I'm doing the same to you. I like it better that way.

But right now I really am racing with you, not even figuratively; on this rickety little blue bike you found in your shed. The paint is peeling from its frame and I'm almost certain it hasn't been ridden in more than a decade.

You said it suited me. I said I can't ride.

But I can. At least, well enough that I haven't fallen off yet. We look ridiculous, riding alongside each other: Me on my tiny blue bicycle, and you on a professional road-bike, gliding across the cobbled pavements so effortlessly that I am envious. It's laughable, undeniably ridiculous; but you make me love it, and maybe that's why I love you. You make me feel reckless; spontaneous, even. With you I'm different. I'm better. I'm fearless.

We're snaking through the endless lanes and alleys that surround this hopelessly normal suburbia, passing row after row of picket fences and red-brick houses. I follow the ticking of the spokes on your wheels and find myself emerging from dull streets to a dim clearing, shielded by trees. And ever so slightly above me is a hill. A big hill.

A groan weaves its way from my parted lips. "I don't think I'm going to make it up that very large hill. It's practically Everest to inferior cyclists such as myself." I say, referring to the obvious difference between my attitude to cycling and yours. You just grin, hazel eyes sparkling, strands of sandy fringe snatching at your eyebrows. "Trust me. You'll like what's coming."

A smile tugs at the corners of my mouth. "What's coming is a trip to hospital because I pass out trying to make it up that hill." I loosen my grip on the handlebars to gesture at the slope, and nearly lose my balance. That, I decide, will not be happening again. My hands will stay fixed to the handlebars unless they are required to shield my face from getting smashed if I fall off. And, let's face it. That's not impossible.

"C'mon," you roll your eyes at me. "Be adventurous." I raise my eyebrows. To me, this is already adventurous. But your definition of adventurous is significantly different to mine.

Eventually, of course, I give in. You slow down until we are right beside each other and then your gaze hardly leaves me as we ascend the steep hill. I am slow, but you don't seem to mind; I can see the sparkle in your eyes, I can sense it, that one giveaway which tells me that you're happy. I'm happy too. As happy as you can get, climbing an unconquerably steep hill on a bike that feels like it's about to fall apart. But I'm doing it with you, and that makes it feel alright.

Your eyes get brighter as we reach the top, and you tense, waiting. I wonder what's down there; what the prize is for going all the way up.

And then suddenly I feel it, the great rush of air as we descend, as I'm pushed forward by some unimaginable force that's screaming 'go, go, go' and all I can do is obey. My hair is flying out behind me and I'm laughing and there's some kind of look in your eyes, as if there is only this moment, this moment of pleasure and speed and anticipation, merging into one mass of something indescribable, something good. We're freewheeling; lost in time between the future and the present. We don't know what'll come next- hell, we don't even know what's happening now. I realise that forever is composed of nows: of uncertainty and confusion and frustration. But there's joy there too, and excitement, and I know we can figure this out. I want it to last forever, whatever this is.

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