Her mind raced with possibilities, keeping pace with the spinning of her legs as she cycled along the foreshore. The city was just coming to life as the family picnics packed up and the revellers started descending on the pubs.
Weaving through the floral skirts and dress pants of a group of 20-somethings, she dodged broken glass from the night before. A puncture now would be the worst kind of pain in the arse.
While she loved the freedom of her trusty pushie, the sweat trickling down her back and the slimy feeling in her shoes were starting to make her anxious. This was no time to look flustered so she slowed her legs.
Across a bench slumped an elderly gent looking worse for wear and the whiff of spew off his dusty jacket gave away his drunken state. Another day she might have slowed to check he was breathing, but today she couldn’t be late.
The flowers perched across her handlebars were starting to show the effects of the bumpy ride and she began to wonder whether they were over the top. Then she remembered her gym instructor’s sage words of the previous night. Encouraging the class to do the twist as if they were trying to impress on the dancefloor, she suddenly let loose, arms flailing, and declared in her Aussie drawl, ‘Oh who gives a stuff, just be yourself I reckon’.
Easier said than done.
Over the rise she could see her destination and her mouth dried up as she attempted a mental list of conversation topics. The inner panic that was overtaking her usually phlegmatic self meant she didn’t see the child dart out across her wheel. Their eyes met as she swerved into a lamppost. As the flowers flew into the water, the petals suddenly bedraggled in their watery grave, she lost the fight to stay upright and felt the sting of a graze as her knee scraped the pebbly path. The child wailed and a frenzied mother dragged him off, leaving a scowl in her wake.
She took a deep breath and pushed off, trying to ignore her shaking hands and the bloody sting of her injury.
Turning the corner, she saw a blur of faces as the early sitting filled the cafes. She swung her leg over the seat, pulled the bike against a rail and locked it in place. This was it, no turning back. She peeled the helmet from her over-heated head and tried to ruffle her dishevelled bob into something resembling fashionable bed-hair.
As she walked to the rendezvous spot she looked around for the agreed outfit by which she should recognise her. Then there she was, a picture in plaid skirt and white top. She swallowed her heart as it lurched to the back of her throat and said, ‘Hi.’