She didn’t like him. She knew she didn’t like him. It wasn’t that she was trying to convince herself that there was something between them, or even that she thought she would find something in him in which she could fall in love. No, she wasn’t fooling herself.
She liked his clothes and she liked his bike. She liked how she felt when she was sitting behind him and they roared away down the street. Of course, at these times, they both had helmets on so she couldn’t hear him speak, but that wasn’t why she liked it. She wouldn’t be able to hear him speak if she just stopped meeting with him. It was being on the bike she liked, being on the bike faced with nothing but the grey fabric of his suit.
When she had been a little girl they had lived next to an older man. He had probably been in his mid-thirties at the time, but from her perspective he had seemed ancient. She had liked him. She had liked him because he had a bike, and the bike looked cool. At that age you don’t need much more than that to form an opinion of someone. The bike was cool, so he was cool. That was the way her world worked.
She would wait for him by her window everyday and watch him come back home from work, his dark grey suit flapping in the wind as he cruised his bike onto the driveway. He’d wave to her, nothing more than a friendly hello, but it was enough to make her smile. He always seemed happy. She never saw him shout or raise his hands in anger. She certainly never saw him drink. He always looked so happy.
Almost always, anyway. When her father had gone to speak to him in the evening one time, he hadn’t looked too happy. Nor had her father. Hypocritical anger threw a few fists and, shortly afterwards, a ‘For sale’ sign had appeared outside the man’s house. She’d felt guilty, he had clearly blamed her because he didn’t even look at her as they packed his final things.
She’d cried when he had moved away but, then again, she had cried a lot in those days. When she closed her eyes, she could still see him driving off on his bike behind the removal truck. Oh, how she had wanted to be on the back of that bike. How she’d wanted to press her tear sodden cheek against his back as they disappeared off together.
That is why she liked sitting on the back of this ghastly man’s bike. She could close her eyes and she could imagine being nine again. Disappearing off into the sunset, and she would have been free. She wouldn’t have been there. She wouldn’t have been here.