This is a draft of an excerpt of a short story I have been working on. Enjoy!
The bike looked like a scoop of banana pudding. It had white handles, a tan basket and yellow frame. Its tires were even white with the rims painted a happy pale yellow.
The woman walking alongside the bike had her scarf pulled up over her nose and mouth. The light tinge of her pink cheeks just barely peeked over the fabric. Her grey hat was pulled low over her ears and eyebrows.
Waiting until the woman gotten far enough of her that she wouldn’t hear, Jackie snorted. It wasn’t quite that cold. It was 18 degrees Fahrenheit not below negative 15 or something. She adjusted her own hat and kept walking.
The next morning the woman with the yellow bike walked past again, dressed in the same outfit. The only difference this time was that she had a yellow water bottle in her bike’s basket. Of course, it was a different shade of yellow than the bike, a much brighter, vibrant one.
Jackie nodded at her first this time. The woman nodded back, rapidly blinking in surprise as a cold breeze rattled the empty branches above their heads.
Jackie watched the woman walk along next to her bike for a moment before moving on. What was the point of owning a bike if you just walked next to it rather than rode it?
Each day, the woman with the yellow bike walked by her during her morning walk. Sometimes they crossed paths at different spots and at different times. But wherever the woman was going was apparently wherever Jackie was coming from.
Helen had told her not to go out today with the snow, but Jackie had shrugged off her partner’s concerns. The doctor said she needed to walk everyday, so she was going to walk. Besides, it was her one moment of personal time a day. As much as she loved Helen, she need a break from the woman on occasion. She talked nonstop about work, not letting Jackie get a word in edgewise.
Tugging the collar of her coat up, she started trekking along her usual path. She lived at the bottom of a hill, so she always started her walk going up the hill and then ended it going down, so as to be easy on her old legs. From the top of the hill, she saw the woman with the yellow bike, riding down the road, riding rather than walking, dodging snow piles along the sidewalk.
When she reached the bottom of the hill, she hopped off her bike and began walking alongside it. When she took a step though, she slipped, her bike’s handlebars escaping from her gloved hands and falling to its side as she collided with the ground.
Jackie winced. Poor girl, she thought to herself. The woman stood, lugging her bike into an upright position and placing her bag, which had fallen out of the basket back where it belonged. She grabbed hold of the handlebars and started walking. As she passed by Jackie, the older woman called out from across the street.
“Saw you take a spill down there, you alright?” Jackie asked. The woman nodded.
“Just hit a patch of ice. All good.” She spoke through her scarf, leaving her voice muffled and low.
“Be careful out there.” Jackie said, nodding. Why in the world was this lady out riding her bike in weather like this?
“Will do. Thank you.”
With that, the woman kept walking. Jackie shrugged and headed back to her house. Opening the door, she sighed in comfort at the warm embrace of the air given off by the heater. She hung her coat on the rack beside the front door and headed into the kitchen. Helen had taken off for work already and had also, apparently, drank all the coffee before doing so. Jackie refilled the coffeepot’s water and turned it on before heading into the bedroom to get ready for work herself.
Later that month, another snow storm hit. This one nearly blanketing the city. All school was canceled. When Jackie got ready for her walk, Helen rolled her eyes.
“You’re going to slip on some ice and break your neck.” The woman said, shaking her head. Jackie snorted.
“Thanks for your vote of confidence.”
“I have to get to work.” Helen sighed, adding creamer to her coffee. She mixed it in with a spoon and then tossing the utensil into the sink without bothering to wash it off. Jackie rolled her eyes and walked over to the sink.
“The roads are horrible. You should call in.” Jackie said, rinsing the spoon and putting it in the dish washer along with Helen’s bowl from her cereal that morning. The news, which Helen had turned on around 6 this morning when she’d gotten out of bed, had said that almost all the roads where impassable, the result of their winter vortex blizzard or something like that.
“You don’t have to do that. I was about to,” Helen said, gesturing to the sink. “And why miss a whole day of work for a couple flurries?”
“You’re the one telling me not to go on a walk cause of the weather.” Jackie said, leaning on the island counter, facing her partner of twenty-three years.
“That’s different.” Helen said, rolling her eyes. Jackie took a breath and sighed.
“How?” She asked, tucking a strand of hair that had escaped her ponytail behind her ear.
“It just is. Besides, one of us has to make money.” Helen responded, setting her travel mug down and busying herself with doing the buttons on the long black peacoat Jackie had bought her for Christmas last year.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Nothing.” She paused a moment before continuing “It’s just, your not-for-profit work doesn’t pay the bills, Jackie. I appreciate all that you do for the community and everything, but if you want the heat to stay on, one of us has to have an actual job.”
“Since when has the fact that I work for a nonprofit ever been a problem? I still take home a paycheck.”
“It’s not a problem. It’s just,” She paused. “Look, I don’t have time for this. I have to get to work.” Helen picked up her mug and walked by her partner, kissing her on the cheek as she went.
Jackie sighed and sat down on one of the island stools. She’d walk extra tomorrow. For now, she was going back to bed.