There it is. The bike. The red bike she promised you all those years ago. She hadn’t forgotten, and as soon as she learned you were an avid cyclist, this was the one thing of which she never let go. It’s red, and sturdy, and also aesthetic. Probably European, if you know her at all.
She knows what the bike means to you. Libertad. Velocidad. Desafió. Reto. The power to contract the ciudad down from a giant, sprawling, carnivorous beast into a network of paths and canals by which the angry, polluted metropolis might become your own to navigate and bend to your will.
The bike is a promise. Independence. Exertion. Exercise. The bike is red. The bike is fast. The bike is brand new, striped with her colours. It's trips to the local feria, or the nearest caleta when you stayed by the sea. It is half-hearted attempts to coax her across a busy cycle path in Buenos Aires. It is the weeks spent in the mountains with visions of the tour de France.
The bike is memories of your first trip to see her, and this part of the world you’d never known. A single frantic phone call was all it took and you were on the first plane out of there. Those few days, (or were they weeks?) in the mountains in mid-june. The green grass, the crisp air. The tears, and laughter, the healing silence. The impulse to imitate all the tourists around and buy a bike. Her thinly-veiled frustration that no shop in the entire pyrenees had any tricycles in stock.
That first tumble down into a ditch. It was next to nothing- a few scratches here and there. But you’d have thought it had been a train accident for all her fussing.
“I warned you!” She said, once she had calmed down from the indignity of it all “if I get on a bike, anyone within a mile’s radius will get hurt.”
It was a tiny thing, a tiny tumble, but something in that moment had given you the courage you needed. Lives apart, miles removed, but you remember that very day making a decision that would change the rest of your life.
And though you had to leave that rickety, well-worn bike behind, here, leaning against the oak that splits the driveway rather unevenly in two, is its forebear, in every sense except the date of manufacture. Beautiful, fresh, and red. And all yours.
She always said she just “had” to buy you one…