The Bicycle ride by Geraldine Flannery

geraldine2222Geraldine Flannery lives in Monivea, with her husband and two children. She can be sentimental about the past and reminds herself regularly to appreciate the simple joys of life like going for a cycle with her children. She is new to writing and wrote this short story to enter a short story competition. In the process, she realised that she actually enjoyed the experience of writing.

 

The Bicycle ride

By Geraldine Flannery

I went for a cycle with my son the other day. I stocked up on some bribes, for the journey in the form of chocolate biscuits, before  peeling him away from his latest computer game.  Ignoring initial grumbles we departed and were soon en route to the woods.

 I think back to another bicycle ride. It’s the summer of ’73. I sit on the cross bar of my father’s bike as he cycles to Loughrea. Perhaps it was a favour to my mother, to take a busy six year old away for an hour or maybe he just wanted the company. Either way, I readily oblige.  I cling to the bar to get my balance as we make our way along the road. The whirr of the wheels is accompanied by birdsong, a dog barking and the hum of an occasional car.

We near Loughrea. Suddenly more houses, cars, people on the street. First stop, the Abbey. A safe place to leave the bicycle and to say a prayer.   Minutes pass like hours. The sun filled stained glass window, a distraction.  Back on the street again, familiar faces nodding.   A hurling match to be discussed. I impatiently tug at my father’s sleeve.  A firm hand rustles my hair. ‘A bob for the little man.’

Finally we arrive at our destination, Sweeney’s hardware and bar.  I explore handles, buckets, nails. ‘Don’t touch them son’ a voice from behind the counter speaks. My father sits up on the high stool. ‘A half one, please’. As Mrs Sweeney pours the amber liquid, I climb up on the stool beside my father. ‘I suppose it will be red lemonade for you?’ I smile. At that moment I am the happiest boy in Ireland. Conversations  follow about the weather, prospects for the season and the price of cattle. I am lost in a bubbly sensation of fizz as I smack my lips. My father empties his glass with a final gulp. He pays for cabbage plants and seeds. We return to the Abbey and the bicycle and head for home….

I catch up with my own boy at the river. We stop for a break, take off our helmets and sit on the bench.    ‘Did you see me going down that hill, Dad?’ The mood has definitely changed since our departure. He munches on his chocolate biscuit.  ‘ I did, you were very fast.’ ‘Dad can we go back the long way?’ ‘O.K. if you’re up to it?’ Before he can answer, he’s back on the bike. ‘Race ya’ he yells.  I smile and am thankful for another precious moment.

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