V.P., Part 4

Because I wear poplin shorts and sandals, the plastic smacking at my skin. My shirt tied up like a ninja mask over my face. Revolutions of the pedals, the turning of the gears; moving forward I return to where I start. I have to think like this, like a metronome in my mind, because otherwise he’ll get in–and then who knows what the Moon will do. So I chant routes and distances to the rhythm of the chain, careful, now that it occurs to me, that my baby toe should not get caught.

I tell myself: mind those teeth, Boy. Mind them as you mind the claws. Oh god, I’m even starting to sound like him.

I’m pedaling. I won’t let my mind slip–not like what happened the other day at the beach. How I wish I could blame that day on the Moon, but no–I did that.

And he knows.

So I pedal. Every day since then, more and more, further and further.

I crossed the bridge to New Hampshire when the sun was still out. Azure summer sky and the heat making mirages over the blacktop. How crossing that link between the two lands, the brine and the steel and the creaking sway of pylons all mixed to make a sugary light that glinted off of hoods. And I’m pedaling, reflectors ablaze, the faculties of higher thought and reflection in mid-day heat dulled in favor of instinct and autonomic response. Quick shifts in weight as I lean into bends at top speed.

At the junction the traffic forced a crossing of the curb. So then it was up on the sidewalk, and the tires are rippling over the seams in the pavement, and suddenly he’s in my mind, reminding me of the dead things in the muck in the river—

I have to stop thinking. I’m almost there. John Smith awaits.

—those dead things reaching up from the pilfer of lobsters and other scavengers deep, through trash, weeds—

Almost there, keep it together, just down this next hill!

—those dead things reaching out for my throat and pouring along with their tomb into my lungs, just like the other day when I let—

Get out of my head!

I’m the Boy and I focus, I pedal, I remind myself to breathe in through my nostrils and push out through my feet, ohmygod, I’m not going to make it, the Moon hangs triumphant over the crest, he knows because—



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