"Finally, shielded from the socially-distanced masses, we plant our bikes under a tree and beneath a slither of afternoon sunlight."instagram/alliesullberg

I never knew how close your house was to mine. After practically no time pedalling up the Upper Richmond Road, I reach the Tesco that we used buy wine from. Maybe my skewed perception of this distance was perpetuated by sluggish bus journeys, or perhaps it’s my perception of time which has been warped by the contemporary compulsion to desperately fill every minute, hour, and day with activity.  I overtake a 33 bus (now empty) which I now miss waiting for. I wish there were more ways to waste time. On a sunny Saturday afternoon, the bustling junction near you looks emptier than it looked at 2am back then. 

"We confide in the past and await the future; the present is of no interest to us."

I’ve never been afraid to go down your road. Now, I fear that you might be coming up it, towards me, and that I might not have time to steer away from you. I’ve always trusted you until now, when your closeness could be breaking the law which aims to keep millions indoors, or even killing my family.  Sheepishly, I edge towards your front door with a firm grip on the brakes of my near-broken bike and then you emerge, beaming and beautiful on your own bespoke bicycle. You seem almost normal, normal enough that in a second, I’m prepared to risk everything just to get within 2 metres of you.

“You look healthy”.

That’s the first thing you say. Unbelievably, I know it’s true; it seems that pandemics agree with me. We cycle in file through the maze of backstreets that we used to roam in packs. For the first time I acknowledge every ripple in the road, every slight incline, the pattern of parked cars. We dismount when we get to the common, dragging our exhausted tires through the unkept grass, leaving a curious trail as we make efforts to dodge heedless children who can’t help but act as if everything were still normal. Finally, shielded from the socially-distanced masses, we plant our bikes under a tree and beneath a slither of afternoon sunlight. You’re so far away from me that even if we both extended our legs our feet still wouldn’t touch.


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Mountain View

An ode to the George and Dragon

I want to talk with you for hours but there’s nothing to say. Every statement is a lamentation, loaded with the painful remembrance of how things used to be. We confide in the past and await the future; the present is of no interest to us. Time passes and our slither fades into darkness; it’s time to go back. As we each prepare to move, I’m once again overwhelmed with dread at the thought of returning, of having to sleep again before the next opportunity for a temporary escape.

We drag our bikes back through the common, through the thinning crowds and the unruly grass. As I climb back onto my saddle, we make eye contact for a final time across the distance. I’ll see you soon, but next time will be two dimensional, artificially, through a computer screen.  Upon this half-goodbye I start to pedal off through those familiar streets, now haunted by the relentless echoes of recent memories.