Summer Bike Rides

Day 2 of the February Flash Fiction Challenge. Today’s prompt is to take something usual and have it do something unusual.

Summers in Minnesota are hot and the days are long, with the last rays of sunlight sticking around to nearly 10:00 PM at the end of June. It was one of those long evenings that I found myself staring at our cordless phone, trying to decide if I should call 911 or not.

Like most weekends, my parents had joined a few friends on a bike ride, “the loop” they called it. They would go down the highway in front of our house, cut across on another highway, and then come back up our highway from the other direction. Generally, it takes an hour or an hour and a half at most. This evening, though, they had been already been gone three hours.

My stomach was a gnawing monster of worry and I paced back and forth across the tiles by the front door. My teenage brain was giving me a glimpse of the mother I would one day be.

Where are they? Did they have an accident? Is someone hurt? Worse?

(Remember, this is before cell phones in a rural valley in Minnesota. Hence, the cordless phone.)

My younger brother, seemingly immune to the horrible scenarios that played out in my head, was off playing in the backyard or pecking away at the keyboard to the tune of the “Imperial March” on his Star Wars computer game. Why am I the only one that is worried? Am I being totally irrational? 

In my damp palm, I held the phone. It was a nondescript beige-gray-white with gray keypads, a phone I had become intimately familiar with thanks to nightly phone calls to my friends. My thumb worked itself over the 9-1-1 countless times but this time I punched out the numbers and my thumb hesitated over the call button.

They never take this long. Something is definitely wrong.

I hit call.

A dispatcher picked up, a normal, calm male voice. “911. What’s your emergency?”

Was I really doing this?

“Um, yeah, my parents went out for a bike ride and they haven’t come back yet. They usually are back by now.”

“I see. Do you know where they go on their ride?”

I didn’t. I just knew it was “the loop.” “Well, no, but we live on Rural Route 3.”

“Ok. I’m sure they are fine. We will have a patrol car keep an eye out for them.”

“Uh, ok. Thanks.”

So much for making my nerves calm down. I hung up after saying goodbye and kept pacing the tiles. Minutes ticked by. I looked out the window into the late evening sun and suddenly, a bike pulled into the driveway, followed a few seconds later by a second. My chest swelled with relief and I ran out the front door yelling, “What took you guys so long?! I was so worried! I called the police!”

My parents stumbled off their bikes the way cyclists with road-weary legs and cleated shoes do and walk them over to the garage. “What? You did? Oh, sweetheart, I’m so sorry. We decided to take a longer route today,” my mom replies while removing her helmet. It made sense. The weather was perfect, the sun was still shining. Minnesota, after all, only has ten perfect days a year. “We should have told you.”

Yeah, you should have.

The phone rang inside the house. It was the dispatcher, asking to see if my parents were back. I handed the phone to my mom and let him do the scolding.

Published by Leah Abbey

I write about nature, parenting, and fiction from my home in the San Diego area. I try to keep this blog updated at least weekly. If you haven't heard from me in a while, it's probably because I've been working on my novel. (Or, just trying to stay sane while my three-year-old runs over his baby sister with a toy school bus.)

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