The last time you heard about BICYCLE she had just left the garage in the worst flood in 50 years. The flood waters carried her out into the creek along with her new friend, FISH.
Faster and FASTER spun her tires. Bicycle’s pedals spun around too. Bicycle rolled over and over. She had never been upside down. It seemed that every part of Bicycle moved. Even her handlebars jerked from side to side as she jolted from one rapid to another. “OUCH!” she complained to the swirling waters, but they didn’t listen.
“I’m right HERE with you,” Fish tried to assure her, but Bicycle couldn’t hear him.
Fish swam out in front where Bicycle could see him. Being a fish, he could sense what was around him without even touching anything. His eyes allowed him to see right and left at the same time and keep clear of dangerous objects crashing through the angry creek waters. Fish knew better than to swim between Bicycle’s spokes now. They would tear him right in two as her tires turned rapidly to and fro in the raging current.
Bicycle swirled around and around in the thrashing waters. She hit trees and rocks along the way that had also been dislodged by the flood “OUCH, OUCH OUCH! You’re hurting me water. Put me down! SLOW DOWN!!!!”
Water didn’t know any better. It didn’t care. It just churned and crashed along its widened course. Every once in a while Bicycle could look forward. There was FISH. She felt comforted by his presence.
Fish had never seen so many moving parts. It seemed that Bicycle’s parts NEVER stopped moving. Fish drifted along in the agitated creek as best he could. He glanced back often to make sure Bicycle was still following, and didn’t get herself STUCK in a fallen tree. Fish knew he would be swept downstream, and would lose her if she got caught, and he knew she was terribly frightened. Fish watched as Bicycle bounced against rocks, tree limbs,denting her pretty fenders. He felt sick to his stomach just imagining her fear as she bounded from the bottom to the top of the water. SWIRL went the creek. Up went Bicycle’s front tires clear out of the water. Fish could barely see the tire as kept spinning crazily above the water. Then SPLASH, the front tire dove under the roiling water, and the back tire went airborne.
The days wore on, the waters became calmer and calmer as they spread further onto the dry land. Bicycle had no idea where she was. There were no roads in the creek. No familiar landmarks, only water. The rain had stopped. Sunlight sifted down through the muddy waters during the day.
Now that the creek had become gentler, Fish dared to explore Bicycle’s many movable parts. He glided nimbly from Bicycle’s front to her back, and even between her chain. He would NEVER have tried that a few days ago when the water raged angrily blazing out a new path for itself. There were all sorts of hiding places for Fish. Peeking out from between Bicycles’ coiled springs under its seat, sun splashing through the murky waters down on to Bicycle’s handlebars reflecting rays of light into Fish’s eyes. Fish had no eyelids to shield his delicate eyes. Caught unaware by the unusual display of glittering metal, Fish dashed behind Bicycle’s seat coils. Fish had never seen Bicycle sparkle. Fish was dazzled. But Bicycle’s pedals had stopped spinning. Fish pushed on them to make them turn, but they didn’t move. He didn’t know it, but the sun’s rays made him sparkle, too. His scales sometimes orange, sometimes silver, shone like sequins on a prom dress.
Finally, Bicycle came to rest on a rock at the bottom of the creek. Bicycle saw many fish swimming by. Even a turtle floated along with the water’s current. The waters eventually began to abate, but Fish stayed and kept Bicycle company through the long dark night. He didn’t swim off with the many schools of fish that swarmed by. Bicycle was far from home in unfamiliar territory, but she felt safe. Fish was with her, brushing away the sand that was settling on the new indentations in Bicycle’s fenders with his strong tail fin, soothing Bicycle. Fish blew bubbles in Bicycle’s face making her laugh. Fish turned flips, imitating the funny way Bicycle had looked when she was tossed by the flooded waters. Things were changing. Bicycle could no longer move her parts. They stuck in the mud at the bottom of the creek.
As the waters subsided, more and more land appeared even in the center of the creek. Fish reluctantly had to move on, needing water to live. He felt Bicycle feeling her presence one last time with the special long distance senses that fish have. He felt the cool creek-water rinse his eyes and try to wash away the sadness that threatened to overwhelm him.
Bicycle sank into the mud at bottom of the creek, and sand and silt filled in all her parts. Even a few tiny gold nuggets lodged in the springs under its seat. Bicycle felt her handlebars, spokes, and chain begin to tingle. She looked at her handlebars, tiny red spots began to appear. She had always been proud of her appearance. Now nothing mattered. Bicycle’s heart was broken. FISH, who had been with her day and night, comforting her through the scary ordeal, swam away that morning. Bicycle knew somehow that she would never see her beautiful fish again. Fish’s silvery fins would never again brush Bicycle’s fenders. Bicycle would never again laugh at Fish’s silly under-water antics.
Weeks later Mr. Stingward found Bicycle as he was driving to work. He picked her up, put her in the back of his pick-up and took her home. Before Gloria got home from school, Mr. Stingward cleaned the mud and sandy grit off Bicycle’s paint, pounded out Bicycle’s dents, and made Bicycle shiny once more. He oiled Bicycle’s rusty chain and handlebars. Bicycle looked as good as new. He hung Bicycle from the ceiling so she could never be swept away by a flood again.
“I have a surprise for you,” Mr. Stringward announced when Gloria came home from school. Together they went to the garage.
“Oh Dad! Bicycle is back. And she’s not all tangled in your junk! You’re the BEST DAD in the WORLD!”
Gloria and her father never knew about Fish, but Gloria could tell that Bicycle was not the same as before. Bicycle moved stiffly. Bicycle’s brakes were not responding to her as quickly or enthusiastically when she wanted to stop along the road to admire the flowers. Bicycle could barely make it up the steep hills even when Gloria got off and pushed it. Gloria put Bicycle back in the garage, and hung Bicycle upside down safe and sound. Once again Bicycle’s parts were still.
The tears that stained the garage floor each night were always dry by morning, and Gloria and Mr. Stringward never understood the little circles of crusted salt on the floor. She swept them out every six months or so when she cleaned the garage and dusted Bicycle’s fenders and handlebars. And Bicycle dreamed about FISH.
I hope you like the story. This story started with the quote by Gloria Steinem, “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”, but it evolved into this children’s story about the loss of a friend. In this case two friends that could not possibly exist together.
Thanks for reading and making comments. Gloria Bicycle and Fish still desperately need an artist to become a real book. I stole some of these pictures from the internet and altered them, but the story needs “characters” with more personality. :)
- Bicycle Needs a Fish (tchistorygal.wordpress.com)