An old bike. Something not quite rusty, but wears an aged paint. Greyed by a lifetime of dusty garages and the sunlight of days like today. The tires smooth, only three or four of the gears are working. You weave off down the packed dirt road, the first few turns an act of remembering the steps to the dance.
The sun is lower in the sky than it was a month back; the sharpest of the summer heat has passed. The road is fraught with hills, and a car happens by once every dozen minutes. A wave, and wide leeway. Tradition. The arms of trees cover all but the middle of the road; a green shade cooling the bugs.
Dirt yields to a stretch of pavement, less covered than its brother; the black concrete radiates agreement with the sun. The tires hiss their song , another taste of yesterday.
The paved road cuts right, growing a pair of lanes, and a painted face. Drizzled over the Canadian shield, you remember how this highway weaves and winds its way along dozens of paths, parks, and corners.
This hill was always tough, younger you must have been stronger. You walk the bike to the top, and rest at the summit. June bugs buzz in the nearby field, a flattened barn cresting the landscape. You’ve been there too.
The feeling, the experience of the sunny road, never changes. But the ends of the means always do, a new surprise always awaits. But those are not for you, you’ve had your chance. You’re here to take what you can, too old to be greedy.
The hot road brings you to that little town, the one always so odd. Perhaps a dozen houses, two shops, but a bursting cemetery, a church straight from a fiction. The video store had long since closed, but you remember the folks who owned it, their neighbours.
The same bike, the same street. The same sun, the same paths. A lot of time, you feel like the last thing left. But, you’re hardly you anymore; it’s hard to blame for doing just the same.
Someone walks along the road, a sandy shoulder, with a ditch on the opposite. Wispy yellow grass, afternoon sun battered by the enormous maples. You let yourself think, only for a split second, that it might be her. Again, the same road. On her nostalgic walk, remembering the same atmosphere, those summers.
Would we recognize each other? Would we find the same things in common? Would we be two strangers, two people so distant, complete and incomparable memories of the same events? Adoring different versions of the same lackluster truth?
The fire wanes, encroaching darkness winning an inevitable victory over the circle of dancing light. You stare at the stars, not at all aware of the fading of your source of heat. Your own flame numbs you to the world.
The bugs are sparse, and your family drifted off to the dark. You bask alone in your victory, under a blanket of cosmic fire, and a sweater of cotton. You don’t know, but you dream.
But fear is there. The fear that the feeling you held, that myriad of flavours, will dull, dim, and grey with time. Memories become pictures, and while it may be the favorite in your collection, a still frame from a film tells nothing of the story, and can only hint.
You fear forgetting, it won’t be the first time.
You stare at the stars, and know you’ll remember them.
The water sang under your paddles, and clumsiness with the tool echoed around the dark shoreline. Tired, the small boat is allowed to drift with the cool breeze.
“Will you bring me one?”
You both recline. Legs propped up on the front edge of the boat, a stereo squeaking a song you barely hear. A bowl of distant light covers your world, and reflects in the still, black water around you.
“Yeah, one day.”
And you sit. Under and above the same thing that has awed humanity from the first day of breath, beside and with someone. The places, the people, they all change.
All but the stars.
By: Eric Norris
Section Editor – Opinion