The Cyclist

Rick stood up on the pedals and pumped them for a couple of turns. Even though his muscles were screaming, it felt good to be on a bike again, and to have the wind in his face. It had literally been years since he had ridden a bike, and this, his first time out, was a joy. He had been swooped by a magpie, swallowed a bug, and had forgotten to bring any water with him, but it didn’t bother him, he was having too much fun and it just felt so good to be in the outdoors again.

Fifteen years ago Rick had been an avid mountain biker. He used to ride his bike, a GT Karakoram, to work each day and to the shops any time he needed anything, and each Saturday and Sunday was spent on a trail somewhere breathing in dust or getting caked in mud as he made his way round the local trails. He had even entered a few races. He never backed himself to win or anything, but enjoyed the challenge, the atmosphere, and the camaraderie that went with it.

Then he had met Sarah, the lady that would eventually become his wife, the love of his life. She wasn’t much of a sporty type and gradually over time he began to spend less and less time on his bike. It wasn’t a conscientious move on either of their parts, it just kind of happened as time went by. Instead of getting his kicks from burning his way down a mountain bike trail, he began to enjoy the softer things in life; heading into the city with Sarah for brunch on a Saturday, dining out with friends on a Saturday night, watching movies together, long lazy sleep-ins on a Sunday morning, sitting on the patio reading a book on a Sunday afternoon. Life became a blissful mix of love from Sarah, time with friends, and chilling out more. In addition to this, after years of spending only one or two years in a job at a time, Rick had found work that he really loved. It offered the right amount of challenge, allowed him to have a good work / life balance, and it didn’t hurt that the paycheck was pretty good too.

Of course, the downside to this was that his waistline began to expand. Nothing overtly noticeable at first, but rather a gradual tightening of the shirt, a need to ease the belt out a little halfway through the day, and the fact that when the time came to buy new pants for work he had needed to get a size larger than before.

As he rode along now, Rick remembered that feeling he had had in the changing room that day. He and Sarah had gone to the shop to buy some work trousers, and they had picked a couple of colours in his usual size. In the fitting room he stood in front of the mirror with his jeans down and took a look at himself. They didn’t have a full length mirror at home so it was the first time in a long time that he had seen himself in full. Not too bad he had thought, but then he had put on one of the pairs of trousers and had struggled to button them up. At first he couldn’t understand it, but then it dawned on him that the ones he had been wearing over the past few months had probably stretched a little. This new pair however, told the truth. He had put on weight, and it wasn’t until he had tried on a pair that were the next size up that he had finally come to admit it. He was disappointed in himself for letting it happen. There was no-one to blame but himself.

That had been the clincher, and while talking over dinner that night Rick mentioned that he was keen to buy another bike and get back into riding. Sarah loved the idea and was keen to get a bike too so they could go for rides and spend some quality time in the outdoors together. After dinner they had looked at some bikes on eBay and had no trouble finding one the right size for Rick, but they struggled to find one for Sarah who was of a below average height. They decided to buy the one for Rick and keep their eyes peeled for a smaller frame for Sarah.

Four days later the bike had arrived, and this morning Rick had put it together in the garage. As it slowly began to take shape and look like a bike, he could feel his anticipation building. After lunch he clipped on his helmet, gave Sarah a kiss goodbye and rode out of the garage. They lived near a river with some bike paths maintained by the local Council, and it was toward these that he rode. He wanted to ride on them because it was safer than riding on the road; the paths were purpose built for easy family riding and followed the river to the beach and beyond – perfect for someone wanting to gently get back into cycling.

It was along one of these paths that Rick now rode, pumping the pedals for a couple of turns up a small rise. His muscles were screaming, but it felt so good to be out riding again. He was actually a little surprised that he wasn’t hurting more. It wasn’t even really pain that he was feeling, it was more like that feeling that you get in your legs when you stand up after sitting down for a long time. Like when you get up and out of bed in the morning, a creaky, stretchy, achy kind of feeling. Whatever it was, it felt good.

As the path curved around to the left slightly, Rick could see a main road ahead. This part of the path cut through a large residential block and then carried on from the other side of the main road. He was thinking about how he was going to cross this busy road when he spotted some movement to his right. Sitting down by the river with their back against a tree was a person in a green hooded jacket. They had the hood over their head so he was unable to see their face, in fact from the angle he was on he couldn’t even tell if it was a man, woman, boy or girl. They were just sitting there with the river gently flowing by looking at the ducks and swans that were milling around on the water. Looks like a great spot to chill out he thought as he went by, might have to do that myself one day.

The path went up for a little rise again, and it was then that he could see that he didn’t have to cross the main road, but that once the path met up with the footpath alongside the road he could make a sharp right turn and follow a path that looped under the main road and then joined up with where the bike path continued on the other side. That’s well thought out Rick thought It means cyclist don’t have to cross the main road and that they don’t even have to dismount. It was a good design.

He popped out from under the bridge and again felt the sun on his face as he left the shadows behind and continued along. He rode for another hundred meters or so and then pulled up at a bench seat that was set in next to the path. He got off the bike, sat down on the bench and took out his phone. As he was only just getting into biking again, he was not at all familiar with where the paths went in this area. His map app soon found his location and as he scrolled around the bird’s eye view, he was able to make out where he was. Based on the map it looked like he could continue along this path for another two kilometers before coming to the next main road. He settled on that as his plan – he would ride on to the next main road and then double back and head for home. That would be a pretty good ride for his first time out. Not bad at all for an office monkey getting back in the saddle.

‘Hi there.’

The voice came so unexpected that Rick jumped with fright. It was the person in the green hoodie, someone who he could now see was a young woman that he guessed was in her early twenties. He had been so engrossed in his map that he hadn’t even heard her approach.

‘Hello!’ he replied back in a friendly tone. ‘Nice day for it isn’t it?’ She stood there in her green hoodie with it zipped all the way up to her chin. Auburn hair peeked from under the hood and fell as a fringe above her black rimmed glasses. She had her hands buried with an awkward shyness in the pockets of the jacket, and she hovered nervously in black skinny jeans over the top of boots.

‘It is nice out here today. Sorry if I gave you a fright.’ she said quietly, only making momentary eye contact as she spoke. She seemed to have a kind of introvertedness about her, like she wasn’t used to talking to people, but rather preferred to spend her time with her nose in a book or, as he had seen earlier, alone in her own company by a river watching the world go by. But that was contrasted with the fact that she had approached him when she could have easily walked on by and not said a word.

Rick didn’t think too much about it as he was by nature friendly, even with strangers, and enjoyed a good chat. ‘It’s no problem at all, I was just engrossed in trying to work out where I can ride to. I didn’t hear you coming that’s all. Looks like you had a nice spot back there.’

‘Oh,’ she said looking down. ‘You saw me there? Yeah it’s a nice quiet spot that I like to come to most weekends, just to chill out for a while. You know, get away from it all.’ She was standing far enough away that her quiet manner of speaking meant that Rick had to lean forward to make out what she was saying. From time to time she shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot.

‘Yeah I know what you mean,’ said Rick standing up. ‘It’s nice to get away from the rat race and to get outside for a while. It’s good for the soul. Hey look, it’s been nice talking to you, but I best be moving on, I hope you enjoy the rest of your afternoon.’ He and Sarah were going over to their friends place for dinner so he didn’t want to be out for too long this afternoon, it was after all supposed to be just a test ride. He gave a friendly smile and swept the kickstand with his foot and swung his leg over the frame.

She was still standing there with her hands in the pockets of the jacket and looked like she wanted to say something. As Rick went to move off she suddenly blurted out ‘I’m Amy.’ Rick applied the brake after not even completing a full revolution of the pedals. They graunched in protest.

‘Oh, right, yeah, sorry, I’m Rick, nice to meet you.’ He held out his hand and she paused a moment before quickly taking a step toward him. Her hand flashed out of the pocket, gave his hand a quick squeeze and then shot back into the pocket, like it was some kind of safe haven. When their hands had touched, hers felt warm and dry, and it felt light in his hand. The squeeze had been soft and furtive, like it was something that she was not used to doing. Rick felt a little sorry for her; she was good looking in a cute way but it seemed that her awkwardness might the kind of thing that meant she didn’t get to meet a lot of new people. He got a feeling that most people would be put off by her introverted appearance but if you spent a bit of time to get to know her you could talk with her for hours about whatever subjects interested her.

‘Okay Amy I’m going to head off now, maybe I’ll see you around sometime here on the bike path.’ In reply Amy just looked down, nodded, and walked off back toward the way that she had come. Rick rode on toward the next main road and when he got there he turned around headed for home.

He descended under the bridge and looped around back up to the footpath by the main road before making the sharp left to continue on along the riverside path. As he rode along he again came up to the place where he had seen Amy earlier. She was back in the same spot, in the same position as before with her back up against the same tree, and was again just sitting and watching the river flow by. Rick gave the bell on his handlebars a ring and Amy’s head jerked around, not in fright, but as if she was annoyed by the interruption of her reverie. In the same instant though her face registered recognition that it was Rick and the softened into a brief smile before she quickly turned her head away.

Rick just chuckled to himself and rode on. She sure seemed nice, but she sure seemed weird too.

*

The following weekend Rick woke up around 9.00am and after reading for a while decided to get out of bed and have some breakfast. Sarah had had a big week at work so he was careful to be quiet and tip toed around the bedroom. He sat down at the kitchen table and opened his laptop and logged into Facebook but only scrolled for about a minute before closing the tab and switching to Reddit. God he hated Facebook and the way people overshared, these days it seemed to be thousands of baby photos, crappy motivational pictures – usually posted by people with no motivation – and people whinging about the mundane things of life. He felt like his soul was drained a little every time he logged on.

He looked up from the table and looked across the room and through the hall to the spare room. From where he was sitting he could see all the way through to where his bike was leaning up against the wall. He hadn’t wanted to leave it in the garage in case it got stolen, so the spare room was its new home. He wondered if he could pop out for a quick ride before Sarah got up. After his initial ride last Saturday, he hadn’t been able to get out on the Sunday due to some plans that they had, so he was itching to get out again. They didn’t have any concrete plans for today apart from some shopping in the afternoon, so it seemed like an ideal time to have a quick cruise.

He tip toed back into the bedroom and picked out a pair of shorts and a t-shirt and jumped in the shower. It wasn’t until he was in an under the water that he thought that should have just gone for a ride and had a shower when he got back since he would then be all sweaty. Duh he said to himself. He had a quick scrub, brushed his teeth and then, as quietly as possible, wheeled the bike out the front door and closed it behind him.

Outside, the morning was fresh. It was looking like it was going to be a nice day and Rick gave himself a pat on the back for making the choice to head out. There were a couple of crows on the overhead power lines and light breeze Yephe thought Good day for a ride.

He followed the same path as the weekend before and tootled along at a good pace. Last Sunday he had felt the effects of Saturday’s ride a little bit, so his plan was to just cruise today and not do too much, just ride along and enjoy the fresh morning air. As he went along and he came to the left hand curve that would lead up to the first main road, he recalled his meeting with that girl last week. It was just past this corner that he had seen her sitting by the tree next to the river. He hadn’t thought about her at all during the week, and it was only now that he was in the vicinity again that she came to mind. As he hit the curve he was surprised to see her there again, same spot, same clothes.

Rick gave his bell a ring to attract her attention, and as she turned to look, he gave her a wave. Just like last week, initially she frowned at the interruption but when she recognised that it was Rick, the frown turned into a smile and she lifted her hand in a small wave. ‘Morning!’ he said has he went past . She didn’t reply, and as Rick had carried on down the path he did not see that she kept looking at him as he rode on. Her face did not show any expression, just a slightly vacant look, but on the inside her mind was racing and she could feel her heart beating in her chest, like she had just been given a shot of adrenaline.

Because of the ride last weekend, this time Rick knew where he was going so when he came across the bench seat where he had stopped previously, this time he rode on toward the second main road. He had a bit of a light sweat on his brow, and he felt like his legs were handling it all pretty well. There weren’t any other people on the path, and it felt like he had the whole world to himself. When he reached the second main road he leaned up against a lamp post and took a few swigs of water. He had remembered to pack some this time, and it still had some of the chill on it from being in the fridge over night.

He waited there for a few more moments to catch his breath and watched the cars whiz by. Everyone has somewhere to go and something to do he thought to himself, glad that he had taken the chance to have a ride while Sarah was still asleep. He hoped that they could find a bike for her soon because he knew that she would love this just as much as he was at the moment. He wondered if she was awake yet and thought that maybe it was time to start heading back.

He pushed off from the lamp post and steered the bike down from the footpath down to the bike path and pumped the pedals a few times to get some speed up. He could hear a dog barking off in the distance, but it was nowhere near enough for him to worry about it chasing him. He was keeping a careful eye out for magpies too, but there seemed to be none around today which was a relief.

Once again he came up to the bench seat where he had stopped the previous weekend, and as he approached, ahead of him he could see a figure walking away from it. They were wearing a green hooded jacket, black skinny jeans, and boots. It could only be that girl from last week, the one he had seen again by the side of the river earlier. What was her name again? Annie? Amy? Amy, yes that was it. He rode on toward her and gave his bell a ring when he was a few meters back so that he wouldn’t surprise her. She stepped to the left to let him pass, but he pulled up to say hello.

‘Hello, it’s Amy isn’t it? How’s it going?’ He asked.

Her hands remained buried deep in her pockets, and because her hood was up she had to turn her torso to see him properly. ‘Hi,’ she said quietly and stopped walking. ‘I’m fine, how are you? Your name is Rick isn’t it?’

He replied in the affirmative and an awkward silence that passed between them, and Rick remembered that when they spoke last weekend she had seemed somewhat introverted. ‘You got much on today?’ he asked.

‘No, not really. Just walking around. I came to the bench there to see if you had stopped again, like you did last weekend.’ Her voice didn’t carry much tone, and her words came out in a matter of fact way. He was a little surprised that she had gone to the bench with the specific intention of seeing if he was there. It seemed like a really odd thing to do.

‘Oh right, yeah, I stopped there last week because I wanted to check where I was going. I have my route all sorted now so I rode past it today.’ He paused. ‘Were you, um…looking…uh specifically for me?’

‘Yes. I just wanted to say hello and wondered if you had stopped there again.’

Okay then, a little odd, but who knows. ‘Well, here I am ha ha!’ He laughed as he said, it but didn’t feel like he meant it. He was sure she is nice, but she did seem a little…different. ‘I have to keep going, but it was nice to see you again Amy, take care.’

She opened her mouth as if to say something, but he had already pushed off and pedalled away. She stood there with her hands in her pockets looking at his receding back and blinked a couple of times. That pounding in her chest was there again, and she blinked a few times as thoughts and ideas ran around her head.

*

A crazy week at work meant that time just flashed by, and before he had time to think about it the weekend had again rolled around. Rick enjoyed his work, but this week had been an extra challenge as they had a number of deadlines falling on the Friday. Across the team they had managed to meet all of them, and by the time he logged off he felt like his brain was made of mushy peas.

Sarah was up before he was on the Saturday morning and he awoke to the smell of coffee and, if he was not mistaken, bacon and eggs. Heck yeah, she’s a good woman, I married the right one there! He rolled out of bed and stumbled into the kitchen rubbing gunk from his eyes. His blonde hair was pointing in all directions, and Sarah stifled a laugh when she took in the state of him.

They ate breakfast and talked over what they might do this weekend. Sarah had a book that she wanted to return to the library in the city, and a movie they had been waiting to see had been released during the week so they thought they might stay on in the city and watch it there. That wouldn’t be until later on in the day, so Rick thought he might go for another ride and make the most of the good weather. Sarah said that she was going to be doing laundry and cleaning the house during the morning so they agreed that it would be a good chance to hit the bike path. ‘Then you can be out of my way,’ joked Sarah. He was happy to help with the chores, but Sarah insisted that he go out and soak up some sunshine before they took a train into the city later.

With the dishes all packed in the sink, Rick changed into a t-shirt and shorts and laced on his shoes. He would have a shower when he got back, learning his lesson from the weekend before.

As he rode down the street, he put some thought into which way he would go today. For the last two weekends he had turned left and headed toward the path that ran through the neighbouring two blocks, but so far had not gone to the right which would take him through the neighbouring suburb and eventually to the beach. The beach certainly felt inviting, but given that they had plans later, he decided to head to the left, to follow the path that he was familiar with. He would investigate the beach path on another occasion when he could take some time to work it all out.

He pushed off from the intersection and was soon on the bike path heading along the now familiar track. The weather had turned out nice again, and all above him were clear blue skies. It had been a good decision to get the bike, and he made a mental note to have a look online again later today and check to see if he could find a bike for Sarah as he knew that she would enjoy this as much as he was.

He approached a left hand curve in the path and came across the spot where he had seen Amy the previous two weekends. He glanced over at the tree where she had been sitting the last couple of times, but she was not there, and he briefly wondered where she was, but at the same time figured she would not necessarily be in the same place at the same time every weekend. The thoughts flashed through his mind in an instant but blew right through as Amy, whoever she was, was far from high on his list of things to think about that day.

He came up to the first main road and took the sharp right turn and headed around the loop under the bridge. The path was bathed in sunlight, but under the bridge was in shadow, and as Rick went underneath, in the split second when his eyes began to adjust to the dark, he thought he saw something detach itself from the rest of the murk. His eyes hadn’t fully adjusted, so when the bike impacted on whatever it was that came out of the shadow, it was entirely unexpected. One second he was upright on the bike, and the next he was hitting the ground and skidding on his knees. He could feel his skin peel off and the minute roughness of the sand and detritus as he slid along the concrete. He thought he felt something in his ankle pop when hit the ground and he put both hands down to arrest his travel. He felt a crack in his elbow and he went down further, landing on his shoulder. His t-shirt was no protection, and he could feel his shoulder graze as small pieces of gravel ground their way in. After what felt like an eternity, he came to a stop.

There was a burning, stinging sensation in his hands and knees, his forearm and elbow both had an intense throbbing pain, and his ankle felt like it was on fire. His instinct was to try and stand up immediately, but when he put his hands on the ground to push up a burst of pain shot through his nerves and he winced from the pain. Was his arm broken? His wrist? His elbow maybe? His ankle throbbed when he tried to put weight on it, and in the end he just slumped down and took a breath. It took a minute or two, but soon he was able to move so that he was sitting on his rear and propped himself up against a low concrete wall that ran alongside the path under the bridge.

It was at that point that he noticed the shadow.

In the gloom and half light caused by being under the bridge, Rick could make out a shape, the form of a human. As things came into focus, he recognised the shape.

It was Amy.

She leaned over him with that same blank look in her eyes that she had the last couple of times that they had met. Rick wasn’t sure what to do or say. ‘Uh, Amy, are you okay? Did I run into you?’

She kept looking at him intently, still with her hands buried deep in the pockets of her green hoodie. ‘I’m okay,’ she said quietly.

‘I think I’ve busted my ankle and my arm, can you please help me up?’ Rick looked up at her, forming the question with his facial expression, but in return he got the same blank stare.

‘Do you love me Rick?’

What the hell? He thought to himself. What the hell is going on here?

“You have been so nice these last couple of weekends. So nice to me when so many others treat me like I don’t exist.’

Rick dry swallowed and his mind raced.

‘I feel like we have a connection,’ she continued, and then crouched down as she finished speaking.

She was just a couple of feet away from him now, but for some reason still seemed hesitant to come any closer. Rick squirmed as he tried to shuffle his way into a standing position, but the pain in his ankle forced him to let out a little yelp and he slid back to the ground. It was agony, and he wondered if it was broken. He was fairly certain that his arm or elbow was, and if his ankle was too, then he was going to be going nowhere without assistance. He looked to either side, out from under the bridge to see if there was anyone else around, anyone that might able to help and get Amy away from him. Had she deliberately knocked him off his bike? He couldn’t think why anyone would possibly do that.

‘I think you are really nice Rick. I’ve been thinking about you since we first met. Do you think we could…’ she paused and looked at the ground. ‘Do you think we could be together?’ She looked him straight in the eye as she said this.

I need to get out of here. I don’t know what is going on. This is crazy. ‘Amy,’ he began. ‘You seem like a really nice person, but I am in a lot of pain now, and I really need some help.’ Given the situation and his suspicion that she had knocked him off on purpose, he thought it untrue to say that she looked like a nice person, but he didn’t want to say anything to upset her. She continued to look at him blankly, and shuffled forward toward him while remaining crouched down. She reminded him of a lioness staring intently at her prey while silently stalking them.

He started again. “Amy I need to you to help me. I…’

She cut him off. ‘Do you like me Rick? Do you love me?’ A slight furrow had begun to form in her brow, and Rick felt like he was losing the tiny bit of control he had over the situation.

‘Amy, you seem like a lovely person, but I think we should talk about this later, I really need to get home to my wife and get my ankle and arm and scrapes looked at.’

Her face darkened at the mention of Sarah. ‘You’re married?’

Rick’s mind raced as he tried to think back to recall if he had mentioned Sarah at all in the two brief meetings they had over the last two weekends. He had no idea what he had said, it had all been so inconsequential at the time. He had no idea what information had passed between them.

‘Why did you flirt with me if you are married? Why would you make me feel like you loved me if you had a wife at home?’ The furrow increased, and there seemed to be a slight break in her voice.

‘I’m sorry, Amy, you seem to have misunderstood,’ he struggled to find the words. ‘You seem very nice, and I am sure that you are a wonderful person, but yes, I am married, I have a wife, and right now she is at home and might be wondering where I am.’

Amy’s face darkened even further. ‘I can change that,’ she said quietly.

Oh god, is she going to do something to Sarah? No, she can’t, she won’t have any idea where we live. But my address is on my license which is in my wallet. Did I bring my wallet? The thoughts flashed through his mind at a million miles an hour.

Amy rolled forward off her haunches and knelt on the ground. She shuffled forward and put her hand on Rick’s crotch. She seemed hesitant at first, as she had been with everything else. Rick tried to move to stop her touching him, but jolts of pain forced him to stay where he was. ‘This is how people do it isn’t it? They touch each other?’ she asked.

‘No Amy, this is not what people do. They respect other people, and don’t touch them.’ He tried again to move but the agony in his ankle and arm was intense. ‘You need to get away from me. This is not okay.’

He tried to stare her down, but the blank face had returned, and she looked him right in the eyes without flinching, while at the same time feeling through his pants for his penis. ‘I’ve never done it before, is this how you like it? Am I doing it right?’ The blank stare changed into an almost plaintive look and Rick realised that she was genuinely looking for approval, that she really believed that what she was doing was okay, that she was so inexperienced in life that this was how she thought these things happened. He wondered if all she had ever learned about sex and relationships came from TV shows, movies, and the internet.

‘Amy please, I’m sorry if you have misunderstood, but what you are doing is not okay, I don’t want you to touch me like this. Please, stop and let’s talk.’ With his one good hand he tried to grab the hand that she was using to rub his penis through his shorts. She swatted it away and continued rubbing. Rick’s brain was battling between remaining focused on getting her hands away from him and trying to stop his penis from getting hard. He was losing the battle though as he could feel his penis stiffening, and every time he reached for her arm, Amy just moved it away. Any little bit of movement was causing him a world of pain, and resisting was getting more and more difficult. One part of his brain was intent on resisting while the other was trying to stop him from doing anything that would cause more pain.

‘Amy, please, don’t do this,’ he pleaded with her and tried again to take a hold of her arm and get it away from his now semi erect penis. His shorts were starting to rise like a tent. It wasn’t getting hard because he wanted all of this, it was just a natural reaction to being stroked and try as he might, he could not reverse the process.

This time, instead of lightly slapping his hand away, she took hold of it and put it on the ground and pressed her weight down on it pinning him in place. She then took one of her shins and leaned on his good leg and this way had him in such a position that he could not move. His right leg was immobile due to his ankle being wrecked, and his right arm could not be moved without intense jabbing pain either. With his right hand pinned down with one of Amy’s hands, and her weight on his good leg, she had complete control of him.

With her free hand she unbuttoned the top of Rick’s shorts and pulled down his zipper. ‘Amy, don’t!’ Rick yelled. Through a clenched jaw he said it again. ‘Don’t do this Amy.’ She ignored him, and with the same blank look on her face she freed his now erect penis from his underwear and began stroking it up and down. She leaned even further forward like she was going to put it in her mouth, but when Rick yelled at her again she pulled back and after a quick look at him continued stroking and transfixed her gaze on his penis.

He continued to try and wriggle out of her control, but in his painful state and her dominant position over top of him, all he succeeded in doing was wracking himself with more pain. He could feel the heat rising in his groin, and knew that he would soon ejaculate whether he liked it or not. Sure enough, after a few more strokes, with Amy intently watching his penis the whole time, he felt a shudder rise through him and even though he tried to resist it happening, his penis spurted semen out in three or four surges. His body had tensed at the moment of ejaculation and as his body relaxed he could feel a small warm pool on his belly.

‘Fuck you Amy, what the fuck are you doing? Are you fucking crazy? What the fuck?’ he yelled, his anger intense. She was still looking down at his penis, which had begun to shrink, a dribble of semen attached to the end and fluttering in the gentle breeze that was blowing through the tunnel.

‘I’ve never seen that up close before,’ she seemed fascinated.

‘What the fuck are you talking about you crazy bitch! Get the fuck off me!’ Whereas before he had hoped talking calmly would stop her from her course of action, the time for that had well and truly passed. ‘Get the fuck off me!’ he yelled again with an intense rage. He wanted to punch her in the face and crush her skull to make her pay for what she had done. ‘You fucking psycho, get the fuck away from me!’

Amy blinked a couple of times, like she was snapping out of a trance, and took her eyes away from his penis and looked him right in the eyes. ‘Don’t call me that! I’m not crazy, I’m not a psycho!’ She took her weight off his leg and leaned in close to his face. ‘I thought you were different to everyone else, I thought you liked me, that you wanted this!’ She slapped him and stood up.

After all that had happened, he was still shocked to have been slapped and raised his now free hand to his face. Small bits of stone were still attached to it after being pressed into the concrete for the last few minutes. He looked up at Amy, a little worried about what she might do next. She was now standing over him, and with his penis still sitting outside of his pulled down underwear, he felt exposed and vulnerable.

‘I’m not a psycho,’ she said again quietly, her voice returning to the level it had been at when they had spoken previously. ‘Don’t say that, don’t say that to people.’

Rick no longer cared and his anger was building to such a point that if he had been able to stand he would have kicked the life out of her. He was usually a mild mannered type, but now, after what had happened, he felt such an intensely humiliated rage that he thought his heart was going to pound right out of his chest. In a calm and as controlled as possible voice he said to her ‘You need to get the fuck out of here. If I ever see you again, I will make you pay for this. I will fucking destroy you.’

‘This is your fault!’ she screeched. ‘You are the one that led me on. You’re an asshole, just like the rest of them!’ She turned away from him and ran off. He thought he heard a sob as she did so, but no longer cared, he just wanted to get home.

He reached down and pulled up his underwear then fumbled to zip up and rebutton his shorts. He rolled to the left, on to his good side, and after an effort that took around ten minutes managed to get himself up. He was sore all over but glad that it was all over. Everything that had transpired was so completely unexpected that he was reeling from the experience. He was utterly shocked and shook his head in disbelief.

At that moment he heard the bark of a dog and the voices of two people talking as they approached the tunnel.

*

Amy ran all the way home, tears in her eyes and the shame of being rejected by Rick burning in her mind. After leading me on like that the last two weekends, how could he treat me like that? How could he talk to me like that? How dare he call me crazy. She had been positive that he liked her, that he maybe even loved her too, and could not understand why he had reacted like he had. This was exactly why she usually stayed inside and avoided contact with people. She just didn’t understand them and how they could say one thing but mean another. She had always had trouble trusting people, and every time she tried to talk to people they called her weird or crazy. She had had enough. That was it, it was the last time she would ever try and talk to anyone. The whole world could go to hell. She was done with trying so hard and only being laughed at in return.

She came along the path and then stepped off it and climbed a short rise to where some fences ran along a similar line as the path. The dark green fence was the one at the back of the section of her house, and she climbed over it. She walked through the back yard and took a peek down the side of the house to see if her parents car was in the driveway. It wasn’t and she breathed a sigh of relief because right now she could not deal with them and their inevitable questions about why she was in the state she was.

She opened the back door and stepped into the house. She stood there for a moment and listened to see if anyone else was at home.

There was no noise, the house was silent.

She went into the kitchen, that was where she would find what she needed.

In the top drawer specifically.