View Full Version : The Sound of Bicycles

December 18th, 2010, 10:03 PM
I'm trying to get this ready for a publishing submission and I'm rather desperate to get some objective critique on it. Would you be so kind to oblige? I'll try and reciprocate. just let me know what you think!

P.s. I'm dysgraphic, so if something makes no sense, or if I've terrifically bungled some word, pointing it out would be very helpful.

There is nothing like the sound of the bicycle.

Chattering happily, as though it hadnít a care in the world, this particular bicycle was a fair specimen in the art of talking. Mindless and happy, though even its bright red paint couldnít hide its grand old age (although that is likely what the old bike was clattering on about). However, the blistering sun glinting gaily off the tyres, scuffs and marks were hardly worth noting and the bicycle thought that it looked quite stunning as it bounced and jangled over the rocks and pebbles, who uttered not a complaint at all, but bounded down the hill in a huff, fleeing like shoppers on Tottenham Court before a mad taxi-Man.
Of course the bike paid them little mind, (that is, if he noticed them what-so-ever). Why should he? There was no more glorious feeling than the spin of tyres, the whirr of pedals, bounce of over-tuned suspension which threatened to through the Boy off his bare seat at moment. The feel of his feet stretching to pedal; pressing through the thin rubber of his soles which felt the worn steel of the bicycle in return; and both driving into the wind, until his worn out old chucks turned from white to brown with the dust. But the bicycle didnít mind. In fact, it would fair to say that he was the voice that clacked and clamoured at the Boyís attentions, driving into the sunset.
Full aware that he would catch it from mother for his tardiness, the Boy breathed in the dust, which glowed in the amber light. He didnít mind.

The bicycle was subdued. Rolling down the sidewalk. His own tyres, new and stiff, and overstuffed re-seating itched and pulled, but he uttered not a complaint. He could feel the stiff soles of the Boy, who rode the bike as stiffly as the bike carried the Boy. He could feel the sweat of palms, slippery against the cracked rubber handles. He could smell the hairspray, over sprayed against the wind. He could feel the slowness of the pedals rolling as the Boy fought to maintain his hair in the cool night breeze, the bike glancing up to check it under every passing of a street lamp. It looked fine to him. Very frankly.
Still. As they rolled to a stop and the Boy disembarked, the bicycle felt his tension, as if his own mechanisms had been tuned and over-tuned to the brink of stress (which, in fact they had). Still, as the Boy returned, picking up the bike and rolling it along, the bike felt all tension roll away. A girl climbed atop the back tyre, gripping the Boyís shoulders. The Boy and bike together felt stomach and sprocket clench, respectively of course (as any other way would be quite peculiar). The girl just smiled and breathed in the wind, laughing as the bike bounced beneath her.
Bike and Boy smiled together. He knew to be quiet, but the bike could hardly let the occasion go by unnoticed, and, as the whole trio rode along, neighbours heard nothing but the laughter of bicycle and Boy and girl all together.

The bicycle sighed in relief. He had not felt wind for some months. Hung against the wall for seeming-ages, in the snow of winter, he had watched in silence as the Boy went through the motions; as captive as the bike. Work and study for days on end, until he had almost raked out the last of his ginger hair.
The Bike had been silent in his suffering. Prisoner against the wall, smacked with the wicked edge of the door, who squealed in glee as he was flung careless against the poor bike, by the unkind flatmate who seemed a kindred spirit to the door; the door had almost lost the last of his paint as well. Surely enough it lay in chips around him as evidence of his age, abuse and sedimentary lifestyle.
But now...now! Now the Boy and he! He and the Boy! It was the first of spring and he was again free! Unsure how (or where), but regardless, happy to be so. The Boy was laden with his possessions and, at some point, his worries; but the wind had seemingly swept away the latter for both Boy and bike. Though Dorm-mate, and Door both warned the Boy and bike not to flee; and the tears of mother, curses of father over the mail-posts had spoke of consequences. The University seemed to care not a whit. It had gotten itís money, (which the bike really though couldíve been better spent on a nice pair of ice skates; but then he had never had much inclination towards higher learning, so what did he know)?
Now they were in a strange place (at least, it certainly wasnít the hills and moors of home), where a thousand bicycles clicked and clacked and chattered in a thousand different languages, cursing their ownerís for their weight or cheering the breeze, or sighing of heat; and the Boyís eyes were wide and happy and his checks were tan; and the bicycle could feel his wonder and joy. The Bicycle, too, felt wonder and joy. What a strange world! What a strange place!
Indeed the more he travelled the more he understood, and again, after so many months of withering silence, his rapture bubbled up again and he prattled and chatted as he had not done in sometime. Feeling the sun on his old paint (which, in comparison to his natty brethren, he believed to be quite striking), and the whirr of motion, and the brush of civilization, parting to let him through; he was alive again. Waking from an extended period of hibernation.
Then, as if from nowhere, they were swept up and out of the crowds. Looking back the bike could see the bustle, and hustle of humanity (and bicycles alike) to which neither he nor the Boy were tied. He could smell the drifting waft of chaat and chutney, as they ascended over the hills and bounds and the wind blew and the sun shone and the world was lovely. Quite lovely, really.

Being shipped in a box, beaten, tossed about, thrown from continent to continent, well...it really is quite unpleasant. Of course, the bike was rather proud that he had the sort of constitution that could handle such viperous journeys despite it all. Yet, they had been on the road for some time, years, likely, and the bike had begun to feel it in his joints and his very core. He had caught a reflection of himself in Vienna (or was it Versailles?) and he could hardly recognize himself. It had been a long journey but now...well, it seemed to be coming to an end. His spokes were broken and his incessant nattering had really become more groan than gossip over the past few months and he feared his last legs were beneath him.
And mother had died.
Of course the bike was there when the Boy had received the news. And he had supported him as best he could, what with his own frame bent beyond recognition. And he felt the sorrow in the Boyís grip and pace, as they walked along. His wheels kept a slow dirge across the cracks of the sidewalk as they limped along. He could feel the Boyís weight.
Still, in such a time, the bike could not help but reflect. How old the Boy looked now! How like a Man! Of course, he had been present to witness the adventures of the Boy across time and worlds, but, just as he had failed to notice the changes in himself, he had not noticed how tall the Boy was now. How his feet reached so confidently the pedals and how strongly and evenly he rode.
What it was that his mother, who had scolded and chastised the Boy for his lateness, or inattentively and the bike for his noise; what that it was, if she could see him now. To see the Man had become. And despite the condolences and sorrows that the bike could muster, how the Man walked tall regardless of sorrows or strength.
Yes. The bike decided. The Boy would get along alright. They both would.

The bike laughed happily and happily and happily as the Man rode along. After all, such a momentous occasion could not be met with strict silence! He had not been ridden is such frenzy for some years; when the car had been late and the Man, tuxedo and all, looking rather like a penguin sweating despite the mild sun; had peddled over the moors and over the hills in such panic that he would be late and the Woman would think he had been untrue in his promises. They had arrived well dusted, both the Manís suit, and the bikeís new paint utterly spoiled by the mid-summer dust. And how later, in gleeful abandon the Woman had climbed on the bike tyre, as she once had, laughing merrily as the three rode about so that her white dress was as stained as the Man was, her blonde hair spilling out behind her; over the tuttings of every elder present. The bike had never felt a more perfect moment.
However that had been some years ago and life had been quite since then, but now! Now there was excitement and joy and happiness again! The Man, who had been missing for some months had burst through the door in a state of panic in the middle of the day, his uniform slick with sweat as his tuxedo had been all those years ago. The Woman, of course, had left some hours ago. But, though suddenly wide in girth and in some degree of pain, she had thought clearly enough to entrust the bicycle with the most important message of all!
Dearest Husband, Iím at the hospital!
The man had given a whoop of glee as he read this, flinging the paper aloft, and giving the bicycle a good shock as he snatched him by his handlebars and they began sprinting down the stairs and out the door. And as they pounded along the pavement there was the thrill of something wonderful in the air. And of course, it was wonderful. And the bike made sure to tell the Man that he thought it was so. And the Man seemed to understand, as he always had.

The Man and the Child rode together often on the bike. He was proud to bear this load as he had been to bear every other that the Man had ever asked him to. The Child was happy, and the Man was, if possible, even happier. And more than anything, the bike loved the boy, and the boy loved the bike. Soothed by the sound of the bicycle, the Man and the bike had spent many a long night together in the darkened nursery, the Man softly coaxing the bike to rock back and forth, so that the bike could lullaby, where the Manís own voice failed him.
And the Man would rest his head on the seat of his beloved bicycle and the bike would rest his own weight against the Man, until the three of them were all sleeping. And when the Woman walked in, and clucked at the Man, still in his working clothes, and his impracticality of bicycle-turned-music-box and she would stand in the light of the door way and smile and smile.

The Man crashed out of the doors of the place-where-he-worked. It was markedly too early for him to be leaving, but the clench of his jaw, the vigour with which he kicked the bicycle out of his stand, and the paper crumpled fiercely in his fist; all begged the bike to ask no questions. So, in angry silence they rode far and away from the place-where-he-worked. The man, (who, admittedly, had grown rounder in the passing years) looked older than he normally did. His eyes were worn, behind their fire. And his face was lined. And his pedals were unsure. And his hair had been torn out with the stress many years ago.
But, the erratic nature of the Manís feet, and the distracted nature of the bike were not meant to combine, and soon the bike found itself flying, end over end, and the Man end over end until they came to their eventual (but natural) conclusion.
The Man, his face more lined than ever, and his arms and kneeís bloodied, did what he had never done. He picked the bike up by its middle (who, with flat tyre, and bent spoke, was hardly able to defend itself) and flung it, hard, into the quarry into which they had fallen. The bike felt the unnatural bend of metal, as the man cursed and curse and cursed; kicking the bike over and over again.
The bicycle shrank into itself. What had it done to deserve such punishment? What wrong had it committed after so many years of faithful service and love and devotion?
Of course, it had done nothing. The-Man-to-whom-the-Man-reported-to; at the place-where-he-worked had caused the Man some great injustice, and the bicycle had only been the poor target for such fury. The bicycle understood, as the man (who limped painfully) slowed in his abuse. Eventually he dropped to his knees beside the bike, resting his head in the crook of the seat, and he sobbed and sobbed. And the bike moaned forlornly as the man cried. And for all the world he wished he could comfort the Man.

It was some time before the man rode the bike again. Of course, he was in repair for some months, as a great deal of damage had been accrued upon the bicycle (and the Man, who limped and staggered about now, more often than not).
But, one day, the man took the bicycle out of the shed, where it had lain for some time. Slowly, and with more ease than he had ever taken before, he pedalled up, over the moors and hills and along the dirt paths to where the sun was setting and the dust glowed amber. The Man stood for some time with his bicycle. His joints pained him, and he could no longer travel as far as he once had. The bike and the man stood together for some great time, watching the sun. Looking down on the house far below them.
The Man held the bike, and the bike supported the man and together they sat in a rare silence.
Then, with an air of finality, the man turned, slowly (and painfully), and together they rode home.

The bike had been asleep for what seemed like an eternity. Indeed, it was a hibernation that exists for mortals only in the realm of storybooks and fantasies. He was awakened by the sound of a creaking door, and the sliver of light that had not illuminated him for some time. The bike blinked, his tyres rolling slowly. It was the wind! The sweet wind, that he had not felt for a great deal of time. He had not even realized that he was missing it, but there it was!
Then, hands, soft and gentle, removed him from his sleeping hideaway. Strong and firm, but soft and loving. Familiar, and unfamiliar. And there stood the Man. He was old now. His hair had long since turned grey, then white. His face was lined and rough. But it was him. There was no mistaking the fire in his eyes and the memories of sunsets and dust and bicycles.
The bicycle emerged into the sunlight with a cry of delight. Greeting the sun and the wind and the Man. The Man smiled at the bicycle, and breathed in the wind with him.
This is my bicycle. He spoke softly, running a hand over the seat and the handlebars, through which he had lived so much. I canít ride it any more. I am old. Ride it for me.
A Girl, with strawberry hair and freckles stepped forward, running her hand over the seat and the handle bars. She looked up at her grandfather and smiled. The girl tottled as she reached for the pedals. Yes. The bike decided. She would get through this. They both would.
Together she and the bike rode down the dusty road, clattering happily as though it hadnít a care in the world, skipping over rocks and breathing in dust.
But for a moment, it looks back at the Man and his wife, and their son, grown tall and strong. And the bike says goodbye.
And the man understands, as he always has.

There is nothing like the sound of the bicycle.