Uphill or downhill, biking was the only thing I could ever best Jimmy at but since he wasn’t there I walked my bike up the steep trail that led off the old quarry road, didn’t bother to mash the pedals the whole way, to arrive triumphantly weak kneed and exhausted at the spot where I would have waited for him to catch up, where we would have both had to walk up to the ledge overlooking the dry quarry.
His bike was still there where he’d left it, where I had left it, chain side down, like I’d told him a hundred times not to do. I avoided even looking at the trails, the one going up to the top of the quarry, the other winding to its bottom; I would never take either of those trails again, I never wanted to see that place again.
But I would retrieve his bike, didn’t want to leave it up there, so I pointed both bikes down hill, mounted mine to coast down the trail one handed while steering his with my left hand, a feat that Jimmy never mastered, rode like that all the way to his house.
I wonder what it would have been like to have gone to Jimmy’s funeral, but his mother, she said she couldn’t even look at me, said she didn’t know how I could have let that happen to Jimmy, and I had no answer for her, so here I was in his garage during the service, cleaning up his bike, lubing the chain before putting it up on the wall rack, the place where Jimmy’s bike was always kept through winter.
Then I pedaled home in the hot summer sun, taking the long way to avoid the church, taking the long way to put distance between me and that silent garage.
Thank you Denise of girlieontheedge for this week’s Six Sentence Story prompt, “exhaust”.