This is my 100th post! I never thought I would make it this far. It feels weird, but I’m happy the desire to write is just as strong as when I first started. Hope you guys enjoy.
From Bike Ride to Father
It’s been a long time since he’s gone on a bike ride. He bought the bike just for this occasion. Last time was when he was little, and he and his friends would go on all day excursions through various neighborhoods, through the bike trail, and along major roads, nonstop. That youthful energy came back when he picked up the bike from that seedy guy on Craigslist with all kinds of bikes piled in his backyard.
When he got home, he scraped off all the rust, repainted the frame, bought new tires and better breaks, and replaced the seat with an old one he had lying around. He takes its out for a test run around the block. After, he goes online and looks for trails.
He finds a fairly secluded trail that runs close to the border, but far enough away from the gangs and drug mules. The thermometer reads ninety-eight degrees. Weather channel says it feels like a hundred and five. Typical summer day. He goes anyways, bringing only one bottle of water.
She’s the only one left in her group. They abandoned her when they found out she was drinking the water while everyone else was sleeping, even her boyfriend. Twenty-three and alone in the desert.
They left her with the bottle they caught her. There wasn’t much left. It’s not enough. She knows that. She knows she’ll be dead in three days if she runs out. If it were really just her, she’d wait every other day to take a sip; sleep through the day, travel at night; catch scorpions and spiders and roast them over a fire. It’s too risky, though. The sooner she crosses, the better.
The bike couldn’t ride any better. He realizes halfway through the ride that the gears need to be replaced as well. Not a big deal, he thinks. The ride will be just a little bit tougher than usual.
At the edge of a cliff, he stops his bike to rest. He takes a sip from his water bottle and takes in the view. The fence, just a chainlink fence with razor wire, is the only sign of civilization in the area for miles.
As he goes to take a picture on his phone, he hears and feels a large crack underneath his feet. The cliff was never meant to be stood on, it being made of sandstone. Luckily for him, it’s not a straight drop down, but down he goes.
She hears a scream in the distance. It’s hard to tell how far it came from. Sound travels for miles in the desert. Assuming it’s the group, she heads towards it. They won’t let her back in, but they have the coyote who knows the way. Even if they catch her, what are they going to do? She takes a sip and follows.
Her stomach is desperate for something to eat. She can’t remember her last meal. Either just rice or just beans. Not both. And that was around four or five days ago. When she crosses, finds a job, and makes a little money, she’s going to roast a pernil and eat all of it herself.
No more screams come from the distance, but at least she has a direction. She knows it could be trouble, but maybe she can help, if anything.
He wakes up and realizes he’s on the floor covered in rock and sand. His lungs are so full of dust, he can’t even speak. Over to the left, the bike is laying on the ground, partially crushed by a boulder. He tries to pat the dust off himself, also checking to make sure he’s in one piece. Only one arm is working, the left one. The right, however, has a bone sticking out through the skin.
The sight alone makes him throw up. He looks again and the pain makes its presence. He tries to scream, but his lungs are filled with dust. The more he coughs, the more he moves; the more he moves, the more pain he feels. It’s a vicious cycle.
Oddly enough, the pain goes away as quickly as it came. He sees it as a blessing. His brain is telling him to move or he’ll die. There’s no time for pain. He can’t climb back up the cliff because of his arm, so he has to go around. The problem is that the cliff goes in both directions for miles. He chooses East.
Night is coming fast. There’s no place to hide around here. Before she was abandoned, they found a small cave where they could all huddle up and keep warm without a fire. The desert gets too cold at night to be without a shelter. If she stops moving she’ll risk hypothermia, so she presses on, using the colder weather to her advantage. If she keeps traveling, she’ll catch up with the group.
She only stops in the morning when she thinks she sees frost on a small patch of grass. It melts cleanly on her tongue and builds her confidence. For a split second, she believes she can make it. A small mountain appears just over the horizon. That’s where she will go. There, she’ll get a better sense of where she is.
Half way through the walk, the pain came back. He throws up again, wasting precious body fluids. Never before has he experienced pain where it literally knocks him to his feet. Every fifty feet or so, he rests to avoid collapsing again.
The sun is at its highest point right now. He rests on a rock near the base of the cliff. He looks around and tries to find a place to make his climb. An old cattle path appears in the distance. He follows the sun-baked tracks up the cliff.
When he reaches the top, he finally heads back West. Up ahead, he thinks he can see the spot where he fell. From that point, it’s another ten miles back to civilization. He hopes someone is out on the trail with a phone to get an ambulance. Another ten miles with only a couple ounces of water left will be the death of him.
As he gets closer to the spot, he feels a subtle breeze, the first in a long time. He wonders where it’s coming from. A little further and he nearly falls off the cliff again. He is totally isolated. The rock collapsed on all sides. He can tell it was all attached at one point. The breaks at the edge of the rock match the ones on the other side. Again, he screams from the shock of almost dying, but also out of anger. How could it get any worse? He stares into the distance and sees something moving.
The second scream is encouraging. She managed to stay on the right path through the night. She begins to move a little quicker, knowing exactly where it came from this time.
On the cliffs, she thinks she sees someone looking at her. It has to be the group. She waves her arms, but gets no reaction. Doesn’t matter. She tries to yell, but her throat is too dry. There’s only a little water left, but she needs to get that person’s attention. That’s her ticket out. She drinks the rest and yells for help.
The sound of another person surprises him. What he thought was some kind of animal was actually his ticket out of here. He calls back and yells for help.
Twenty minutes later, they meet up. She doesn’t speak a word of English. He can only understand Spanish. He was never able to make the right connections in his head to transfer what he thinks in Spanish to actual words.
Immediately, he notices her stomach is bloated. She hasn’t eaten in over a week. She looks at the bone sticking out of his arm. The skin around it is already infected. She tries to smile like it’s not so bad, but she ends of bursting into tears instead. He tries to hug her, but she pushes him back. She doesn’t want that arm anywhere near her. He doesn’t blame her.
They find a path up ahead, but she’s in too much pain at this point to go on. He tries to encourage her, but there’s no use. She’s mumbling to herself. He can barely make out mother. He carries her to some shade and tells her to wait.
He climbs the rest of the way himself. When he gets to the top, he actually manages to find someone and wave them down.
“There’s a woman down there in a lot of pain,” he says. “Follow me.”
On the way down, they hear her screaming. They both rush down to find her. The ground is covered in blood. Her arms too. But in her arms she’s holding a baby. The cries are from the mother, though. Nothing from the baby, there are no signs of life.
They check to see if the mother is okay. Blood is pouring out of her. They try to stop it with their shirts, but it’s no use. There’s no way an ambulance will make it in time. She knows this, too. Her eyes give away her hopelessness. She hands him the baby. Muerto, he says. She never heard him, but the baby did. It woke up as if to prove him wrong, to give him a reason for all this trouble. He will not just be a hero. He’ll be the father he never had.