Copyright© 2011 Angharad
All Rights Reserved.
We stood the bikes up on the path, leaning against each other and then just waited for the storm to abate. I felt the wet oozing down inside my shorts and was pretty sure the others must have been in similar positions—uncomfortable.
“I wanna go home, Mummy,” said Meems now wet through and crying.
“We can’t, sweetheart, we have to wait for the storm to stop.” Another clap of thunder happened, slightly further away.
“I’m code, Mummy, an’ I’m wet—wanna go home.”
“We can’t leave the bikes, Meems.”
“Stupid bike,” she cussed, “doan wanna wide no moe.”
I think we were all getting a lesson in reality. I stood up and felt my shoes full of water, my feet were cold and I felt thoroughly miserable and I’m an adult—sort of—so what the kids were feeling I could only guess.
“C’mon the rain’s easing, let’s head for home.” I said showing my leadership qualities.
“I’m all wet, Mummy,” declared Trish echoed by the others.
“So let’s get home then,” I directed them to get back on their bikes and got loads of grumbles and groans. I clipped into my pedals and my saddle chafed on the wet shorts, my feet felt cold and miserable and all I wanted was a hot shower and cuppa. I set off and they reluctantly followed, I hoped, hearing my caution about brakes with wet rims—they don’t work so well.
There followed a migration of damp velocipedes the hissing of the wheels accompanied by the whingeing of the riders. We hadn’t gone that far but by the time we’d got home, I began to understand why women sometimes murder their own children. However, trying to explain that I felt as wretched as they were didn’t seem to cut any ice. I’ve done some long rides in my time, sixty mile audaxes and so on, but none felt as long as that day.
Once home, I made them help me wipe down the bikes, which brought more grumbles, but I felt they had to learn the responsibility of looking after their equipment—which they wouldn’t if I did it for them.
Finally, we hit the showers and the hot water was heavenly, in a double sense for me—whenever I have dreamlike visits to heaven or wherever I go, I’m in hot water—just thought I’d share that with you. After warming my chilled marrow, I washed my hair and dried off, patting my hair to damp and then wrapping it in a towel until I was dressed—warm dry clothes—bliss—I began to realise what shipwrecked survivors must have felt like after rescue.
I dried my hair and did it in a French plait, tying it off with a small ribbon, which matched the velour top and corduroy pants I was wearing—a sort of deep pink.
Danny was first down, he was in shorts and tee shirt and I gave him a drink and a chocolate biscuit, he went off to watch something on telly—cricket probably. The girls came down in various combinations of clothing. Billie had a summer dress and leggings, Trish was in jeans and a tee with a hoodie on top, Meems was in a dress and sandals, Livvie, like Billie was in leggings with long sleeved tee and pair of short shorts. They’d done each other’s hair which I only needed to adjust a little. They were fed and watered after which I could sit down and drink the tea Jenny made for me.
“So you pissed off the gods of the weather as well did you?” Stella joked as she sipped her tea.
“Yeah, thankfully Thor’s aim was off a bit today.”
“The sun’s shining now.”
“Good, it’ll help to dry the cycling kit I’ve got in the machine, though my shoes will take days to dry out.”
“What about the children’s shoes?” asked Jenny.
“I’ll leave them by the Aga, they’ll dry over the next day or two—fortunately, they all have more than one pair of play shoes or trainers.”
“The machine is on the final rinse,” observed Jenny, “mind you, you all looked like drowned rats when you came in.” She laughed and Stella looked triumphalist at me.
“Yeah, I didn’t know rats could squeak so loud when they’re drowning,” I smirked.
“I nearly came to look for you,” said Stella, “I usually manage to find you in thunderstorms.”
“Yeah on passing through me.”
Jenny looked strangely at us, “I’m missing the point here,” she said.
“When we first met, I was on a bike and Stella was in a car. She hit me off the bike and into a hedge.”
“I didn’t, she rode out in front of me in the rain and with no lights on.”
“It was daylight—she simply didn’t see me.”
“Well it was difficult visibility.”
“So you should have been driving more slowly.”
“Yeah—for you that means under mach one.”
“So, the sonic boom should have told you I was coming.”
“I was on a country road, where was I supposed to go.”
“You went into the hedge eventually,” she smirked.
“Upside down, watching my bike bounce from under me.”
“Whoa—sounds like there’s some unfinished business between you two.”
“She scratched the front of my car.”
“Scratched your car—you scratched all of me and the bloody bike.” I was beginning to get angry—we’d never really talked it through and Stella was in wind up mood. I slammed down my mug breaking the handle off it which I flung on the table. “I’ll be in the workshop.” So saying, I stormed out of the kitchen and across the drive to the garage I’d converted into my workshop.
I slammed the door shut behind me, regretting it a little later because it was so warm. I wiped down the bench and greased the vice, rearranged the tools and spares—I keep a stock of tyres and tubes, plus all the bits and pieces I’ve accumulated over the years—half a dozen saddles, spare wheels, chainsets, mudguards—you know the sort of stuff—most people’s garages have a box full of it—I have a garage full along with a dozen or more bikes, some in various stages of dismantling or rebuilding.
“Wotcha doin’ in here, Mummy?” asked Trish.
“It was tidy already, wasn’t it—it’s always tidy in here.”
“Has the cricket finished?”
“Dunno—got bored—’s’not the same as watchin’ Danny.”
“I know—gi’s a hug.” She waltzed over and wrapped her arms around my waist.
“Sorry I moaned so much.”
“It’s alright kiddo, I felt as fed up as everyone else.”
“Of course I did, I don’t like thunderstorms anymore than you do, and I hate getting wet.”
“That makes me feel better,” she said and snuggled into me.
I held her to me, “The warm shower was nice, wasn’t it?”
“Lovely,” she said hugging me tightly, “Were you scared, Mummy?”
“A bit,” I answered without explaining that I was more scared for them than myself.
“So was I, ‘specially when that tree got hit.”
“That was frightening wasn’t it, did you smell the pine afterwards?”
“It was a pine tree, and when you burn the wood of the tree it contains tar or resin and it smells—that tree smelt the same as a pine fire.”
“The lightning burned it?”
“Gosh yes, it would boil the sap in a moment—it’s the equivalent of firing a laser into it.” I knew she had some idea of lasers because the school took them to a laboratory where they were using one.
“Wow, it gets that hot?”
“It’ll melt steel, which requires a thousand or two degrees I believe.”
“Crikey, thank goodness it didn’t hit my bike—that would have made me cry.”
If you’d been on it kiddo, it would have made you fry, a communication I didn’t pass on to my daughter.
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