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  • Writer's pictureAmr Abbas

A Long Ride Along

“Follow me,” I said as I walked down the flight of stairs. There were two doors once we got to the ground level. The first led to the street where the large fast-food restaurant was, the other led to a park. I took the other one, the one to the right when we got off the stairs. Ahead stood rows of bikes parked next to each other. Quickly, I approached my red bike. Squeaky, we called her. And I untangled the heavy lock from around the wheel. I think a couple of rows away from my bike, there was a lonesome wheel of the stolen bike that used to park there.

I directed the bike so that my apartment building was to the right and peddled away down the road. I saw next to me the back of the fast-food place which stirred some sort of hunger within me. I peddled away and crossed the street to the bicycle lane where we headed left. To the left was the street and to the right was some sort of a playground. I suspected that there was a school there given the noise of the children playing, but I never cared to glance further than that. A few hundred meters away, we took another right so that the buildings were to the left, albeit the backs of the buildings and we didn’t see much of what was going on in there, and to the right were the parks where people walked their dogs in the morning, and sometimes in the evening. However, this morning was far too cold and frosty for a walk in the park.

“Keep going,” I said as we rode for another half a kilometer or so, then we took another right, then another, not fifty meters after, and then a left at the first crossroads. There we were, at the graveyard. Of course, during that time of the day, it was rather empty, but there was a strange sense of serenity there. It wasn’t until nightfall that I dreaded biking there, even though I was hardly superstitious. It only felt like I was disturbing the peace.

There were flowers blooming, even in the dead of autumn, and it was always strange to go through that road. At moments, it felt like I appreciated the dead more than the living, at others, it felt like we all did. I rode for another 800 meters or so before getting on the road. The buildings to either side looked far less cheerful than the graveyard. It was worrying. It was strange.

And then, right after crossing the road, we found the abandoned site to the right of the street, where the biking lane was. There was too much graffiti to think of it as anything else, and it was too chaotic to think of it as spectacular street art. To the left of the abandoned site was a construction site that looked even more dreadful.

Six or seven hundred meters later, we were met by a red light that took far too long for an empty road. Perhaps it was the perception of time that bothered me, with the lack of company. To tell you the truth, you are far less interactive than I had hoped. But then, the red turned yellow and the yellow turned green and I peddled fast and hard. I skipped until we were right before the park. That’s when I stopped and got off the bike. I pointed to the right and shrugged my shoulders, “That’s my favorite spot in the city.” And then I walked, dragging my bike by my side until we reached the fourth bench on the right side. In front of it, there were the trees of the park, and even though the day had not been the most welcoming, nature was a nice site. I pushed down the kickstand and parked the bike there, pulled my gloves off, and pulled the cigar from my heart pocket. I lit it up and took a long drag. I stayed there for a few moments, enjoying the silence you made and the cigar. A few minutes later, I stopped, put off the cigar, and rode the bike yet again.

I went back the same way, left, then right, where we met another red light, but that one didn’t last for long. The canal was to the left then and one police station was somewhere to the right. There were buildings that didn’t matter, a pizzeria that was still closed, and then we headed towards a roundabout. We could have taken the left earlier, but I chose to go straight. That was my preferred route anyway.

When we got to the roundabout, we went straight and then left. The railway was to the right then, and the canal remained to the left. I biked slower, enjoying the cold breeze that hit my face. It was a smooth ride for the most part, except for the dreadful silence you created. I stopped, looked back, and then ahead. For a moment, I thought you were going to stop me. Alas, we were nearing the end of our journey. There was this feeling inside of me that I needed to get out, perhaps the journey was not so bad, perhaps your silence was not too bad. You’ve been observing, and following, but I have led you here. I stopped and sighed. Either way, this couldn’t work.

I walked slower, prolonging the unnecessarily long ride and walk until we reached the station. I stopped the bike by the entrance and locked it in. I was going to see you off.

“Well, you’ve been a good reader. But perhaps another story will be more suited for you. Maybe a different author. Regardless, I do appreciate you.”

I turned and walked back to my bike. You are still looking; I can feel your eyes scanning me. I waved and headed off, leaving you in the station where, perhaps, you’ll find a better story or a better storyteller.

Written by Amr Abbas.

Cover photo by Christin Hume.


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