Previous: part 2
He was leaving the park behind now. Memories of Kate's voice echoed in his mind. Slowly he peddled. Then fast up the hill, then a leisurely coast down it's far side. His knee throbbed now. He focused on his riding. It would not do to fail now. Home. He would be there soon. Safe. Kate had been so kind. He mentally reviewed everything he had said to her. He weighed and judged her every response. A laugh here, a smile there. The awkward silences when he did not have a response. Why had there been so many of those?
He closed his eyes and took a ragged breath to clear these memories. When he opened them again, he realized he was still riding his bike. Pay attention! He was coming to a crosswalk too fast. The light hadn't changed. Brakes! There was a terrifying screech, and arms and body tensed and fought the front wheel as the entire bike bucked and twisted under the strain of the sudden stop. Time slowed as the bike surged off the curb. No! Yesterday had been so perfect. With massive effort, the bike was dragged onto the curb as horns blasted and angry voices shouted in frustration.
On shaky legs, he stumbled back. Blinding sweat burned and clouded vision. Hacking, labored breathing echoed beneath the raging wall of sound pouring from the busy road. Another man, waiting for the light to change so he could cross, glanced at him occasionally, but made no move to interfere. With a shudder he dropped to sit on the warm concrete, with his bike laid out beside him. He put his head between his knees and struggled to control the panic.
So close, came the thought. Too close. He remembered Kate. He stood again and composed himself. In his mind, he could see her. She was standing in the sun. He picked up his bike. She was giving him her number, in case there was any issue with the bike. The light changed, and he started to walk the bike across. He would never see her or talk to her again, he knew. On the far side of the road he climbed back on the bike. There was no chance. She was gone. He knew he wasn't strong enough. Burning pain lanced through his knee as he began peddling. He would replay their meeting over and over again in his mind. Up ahead he could see his street. Some part of him trapped deep inside raged and cried at the loss. He peddled faster. It swam in darkness, drenched in it's own tears. He was home. Safe. At last. Yesterday had been perfect.