That’s my bike over there. Uncle Calvert, who I had a girl crush on in middle school, painted it white for me, and my sister Jessie twirled blue satin ribbon around the frame till it looked like a barber pole. It’s parked next to the pink and white oleander I love, with flowers that smell like bubblegum, look like pinwheels, and now poke vine-like through the rusting spokes.

I rode it when it was mousy brown, reliable transportation, nothing folks would want to steal. Rode it down the street right across from me, where it dumps onto University Drive at the signal, which had turned green, my luck was holding. I’d hit all the lights like clockwork that morning.

The old Dakota pickup came rocketing through, hell-bent on squeezing a lemon from a hundred and fifty. I’ve done it myself. I sailed through the autumn air like I was moving through water, I could paint a scene for each second I floated, until I hit hard and sudden against something, couldn’t tell you what, call it end of road.

I sit high up on the light standard across the street, looking down on the traffic island, first sun casting a warm glow on the altar of my Schwinn, which is chained to the traffic sign and festooned on either side by mother’s lovely planters.

Here she comes, clutching her translucent caddy in one hand, crammed with spray cleaners and dust cloths, and a milk jug full of water in the other. She crosses the still-deserted street from the parking lot, old hips slowing her to a waddle. She wipes and primps, stands back to inspect, kisses the bike seat and handle bars, things I’d touched, with the lingering lips of a parting lover, the same sweet ceremony every Sunday morning.

 

by Ronald Jackson

Ronald Jackson writes stories, poems, and non-fiction. His work has appeared in Blue Monday Review, The Chattahoochee Review, Firewords Quarterly, The Gateway Review, Kentucky Review, North Carolina Literary Review, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and in anthologies and online venues. Recognitions include honorable mention in the Doris Betts Fiction Prize competition in 2012, third prize in Prime Number Magazine’s 2014 flash fiction competition, honorable mention in the 2014 New Millennium Writings short-short fiction competition, and runner-up in the 2016 Lamar York Prize in Non-Fiction.

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