Fiction: The Bike Ride


February 2016 Blog Challenge: Blog 19 of 29

As a child I was happy to create stories and loved the escapism that they offered.  As an adult, I have now returned to the fiction form and have embarked on writing my first novel (of a trilogy). It’s a blend of semi auto-biographical and fantastical elements, which feels to me like arranging a giant patch work quilt of my life: There are some favourite scraps of my own old clothes, which I am adding to, embellishing and turning into a brand new pattern…

Part of my blog challenge this month is to boost the content of this first fiction book.  Each excerpt, which will stand alone on this blog – will eventually be woven into the larger fabric of my book design.

The Bike Ride

As time went on Daddy grew less protective of her and during the next couple of summers let her out of his sight more and more; so that when at Tregorwick she would disappear into the gardens or run away down to the beach for long, deliciously lovely hours.

At 10 years old, as much as Ariel was used to spending time on her own, she also loved company, so fell easily into playing with the three Tregarn children living down at the Keepers Cottage – when all their respective chores were complete each day. Sharon was a couple of years older than her and Janey was the same age, but Luke was the oldest at 14.

All the Tregarns had dark curly and olive toned skin, though Janey had an extra scatter of freckles across her nose, which, along with her short bobbed hair and mumbling soft voice, made her the youngest of them in all in sweetness and attitude, as well as by birth date. Sharon was slow and mature in her ways, but always went along with whatever games the other 3 “chits” came up with. Somehow, she always seemed to be the oldest, with her motherly ways, patched dungarees and hair pulled back in sensible pony tail; though her elder brother Luke, really was her big brother too, since he towered over her by a good 4 inches.

Luke was usually on the fringe of the gang. Tall and of medium build, Auntie Sarah said he had the dark Celtic looks of a “good Cornish lad”. When they were all together, he said very little and never seemed to laugh or else be especially serious either. He was just around and about, either taking part or taking off. He would sometimes join in, when they were crabbing or digging for lug worms or other pseudo grown-up activities. But when they played games of mermaids and monsters or collected shells and strings of seaweed to furnish their den (in the fern cave at the end of the far beach); he would disappear off to go fishing or read his comics.

One day, in the middle of the summer vacation, Ariel was dawdling around the shingle beach alone, seeing how many pretty pebbles she could balance one on top of the other. She knew the Tregarn girls were away on the big island visiting a relative and their brother had chores on the mainland, so she had to occupy herself. Ariel looked around for flattened stones and stroked their surfaces to check their smoothness. Down on her knees, absorbed in her task, she found that she could gently build her pebble pile in to a precarious edifice, placing each stone slowly and carefully, one on top of the other, until she had a tower of stone nearly 6 inches high.

“Hoy, Angel Ariel!” Luke shouted, as he made his way down the path towards the jetty. Ariel slowly moved her hands away from the stone tower and shuffled carefully away from her creation. “I thought you were on the mainland” she said.

“Just off” Luke replied. “Wanna come? Your Aunt says you can.”

Ariel wondered which of her three aunts had actually given permission, but rapidly accepted the invitation anyway, as an unexpected adventure.

They clambered into the smallest boat and Luke took the oars, setting off across a smooth, easy sea, skimming the waves; whilst he half hummed and half sang what seemed to be lilting folk song: “Hum um, the sea will see, the maiden rise, the wind hum hum and the horses ride, the horses ride…”

His halting humming precluded any conversation, which Ariel was glad of, because she really would not have known what to say. She had suddenly become aware that he was a boy and she was not and that they were alone, but for a few seagulls gliding close by, hopeful of a free fishy snack.

When they reached the mainland shore, Ariel jumped onto the jetty first, waiting for Luke to throw her the rope, so that she could tie the boat off.

She could see that Luke had bought two parcels with him, so guessed they were going to the Post Office to despatch them. “We going to the Post Office?” she asked.

“Yup!” He responded.

“How we gonna get there”?

“C’mon” he said and marched up the rocky slope to the Keep Cave. He produced a small key from his trouser pocket and marched solidly past the large garage door, to a smaller door at the farthest end of the rock. When he turned the key and prised the door open, Ariel peered round him to spy a small storage space, filled with flower pots, wicker baskets and a large rusty bicycle.

Luke grabbed the bike and reversed it out, brushing off cobwebs and dust as he went. Ariel tried not to squeal as a congregation of bewildered black beetles ran out of the shed space and into the sunlight towards them.

He locked the door and hopped easily onto the bike. “Grab them parcels and hop on” he commanded. “You can be the basket. Hold on tight now.”

Ariel picked up the parcels and awkwardly manoeuvred herself onto the cross bar of the bike, side saddle style; clutching the parcels to her body with one hand and grabbing a section of handlebar with the other.

Luke cheerfully started to peddle and Ariel nearly lost her grip a few times as he sped faster and faster up the lanes towards Houndsal Village, humming away. The hand she had grasping the handlebar started to sweat and so she squeezed tighter to stop herself from slipping off and tumbling away.

After a few minutes she got used to balancing herself and carefully cradling the parcels, started to enjoy the sensation of the air rushing by them, as she had an open air view of the countryside around her. Along the hedged lanes they sped, and occasionally she would glimpse fields and solitary houses beyond their herbaceous boundaries, accompanied by the refrains of Luke’s humming half song.

Gradually he stopped his humming and the world around them became markedly, awkwardly silent. Suddenly Ariel had that awareness again. That exciting oddness because they were so close. She had never been in such intimate proximity to a boy before, and she wondered if this was how it all started – when man and woman got together; with this new feeling growing in her solar plexus, mixed up with a secretive self-consciousness.

The big wide Cornish world narrowed down to just the two of them, moving along smoothly on the bike together and she observed the feeling, keeping her eyes on the lane ahead; whilst being acutely aware that he was just inches away from her.

She wondered if he felt it too. But of course she said nothing and did nothing except cling on and pretend to peer ahead. She could only go with the moment and explore this quiet new sensation, this evolution of feeling…

Luke continued to pound away at the peddles and suddenly they turned the corner onto Houndsal High Street, where Ariel clambered off the bike just a little too hastily, nearly tripping over and almost losing the precious brown paper parcels. She maintained her balance, if not her dignity and handed the parcels silently over to Luke. She dawdled round the village shop whilst he queued and managed the despatch of their cargo. He joined her in the shop and bought himself a new comic and several strings of red and black liquorice. When they got outside, he quietly handed her the red liquorice and kept the black for himself, wrapping it around his index finger and pulling off a section to chew on. He rolled the comic rolled up and stuffed it into the back pocket of his trousers, then he purposefully pulled out the bike, swung one leg over ready to ride and motioned for Ariel to sit on the front of the bike, in the centre of the handlebars, by patting them encouragingly.

She looked at the handlebars uncertainly. “Turn around” Luke said patting the handlebars again “and hop on. I’ll steady you.” As she backed up to the bike he reached forward and scooped her easily onto the handlebars, then before she could even settle, they were off, racing away.

The route along the lanes back down to the mainland beach sloped gently downhill. Luke whooped and peddled furiously away, pacing hard and breathing deliberately and heavily.

Ariel gripped on with both her hands. Luke suddenly started to swerve from right to left, zig zagging them along, with deliberate, cocky verve. Ariel shrieked in scared delight and they wove along, laughing loudly; getting faster and faster the further down the lanes they went, until she could see the sea stretching out ahead of them.

“Watch out” Luke shouted as the road ran out, “it’s time to stop!” He braked suddenly and Ariel flew off the bike and landed, bottom first, neatly onto the soft sand of Hounsal beach.

“Luke!” she yelled. “You pig!”

“You’re alright” he said breezily and wheeled the bike away to its dusty hiding place, whilst Ariel stood herself up and brushed herself down, huffily.

They boarded the boat home, saying little on the journey back, then disembarked and parted company on the castle path without a word. He lifted his hand to signal good bye and turned to walk down the path to the cottage, whilst she trudged her way back up to the castle alone.

~ Sandra Peachey ©

PS: This blog post is a fiction and yet I also write about my own experiences.  In fact a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, exploring all the facets of my ‘real’ life in all its’ badness, banality and beauty. This is love seen in every aspect of the life that I live.  In it you will find the dark and the light of love in every facet of existence, in a way that will make you think, entertain you and let you know that you are not alone in life, whatever it holds for you. You can buy ‘Peachey Letters – Love Letters to Life’ by Sandra Peachey, from book websites anywhere in the world, including on Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

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