Thursday 20 June 2019


by Sarah Leavesley

bitter lemon

Trish feels the sun on her bare shoulders as she steps out of the front door and gets onto the cycle she’s not ridden for months. Why? Just as she’s questioning her own intent, she realizes she’s forgotten her helmet. Returning with her helmet, she remembers that it’s almost as uncomfortable as being squashed in the marriage counselor’s pokey office with her husband Raoul, both nodding sagely in agreement with each other even though they still know each other well enough to sense the lies in every statement.
She tries to remember the sun on the Las Vegas strip seven months ago, the music and fountains, the flashy neon and glitz nothing to the sparkling in their eyes and their long afternoon siestas. What she actually re-lives is blinding sunlight, her day-long migraine and the fatigue of the unrelenting heat. She knows she should accept that some things are best forgotten; that things do happen without a reason, and no reason not to stay together isn’t enough to smooth over the lackluster nature of their love now where once there was fizz and wonder. She knows this but she cannot quite feel it.
Freewheeling downhill now, Trish finds the pedals spinning happily without her. But she’ll have to stop at some point. Or start pedaling fast again. She wonders what it would have been like if she’d met Raoul at Niagara Falls instead of Vegas…it’s all about what they’re used to, their expectations from the start. If they’d taken things slower, not married so soon. She’s been here before though. Or if not exactly here, similar. With Mark it was a year after Vegas. With Craig, she managed 4 months. The worst was Pete, three weeks. Love has always been a head-rush; she doesn’t need a counselor to tell her she’s addicted to the thrill and risk of both Vegas and marriage, though she feels her chances should have improved with practice, the odds tipped in her favor. In their favor. Now it’s looking too late, she tastes lust on her tongue as she recalls an image of Raoul in his tuxedo, a hint of muscle rippling beneath his shirt. If she could just get him to drink less, to talk about more than his mates, and enjoy binge-watching Dexter.
 This hill is steeper than most, though the slope should be evening out. Instead of letting muscle memory take up the slack, Trish forces her feet off the pedals. She needs to brake before she reaches the bottom, hold her arms braced ready, legs out to the side, almost like wings. Then her front tire hits the inevitable pothole and she finds herself flying,
                                               until suddenly it feels like falling.

About the author 

Sarah Leavesley is a poet, fiction writer and journalist, who loves people-watching and daydreaming. Flash publications include pieces in EllipsisJellyfish ReviewThe Fiction PoolFictive Dream, Spelk and Litro Online. She’s also author of two companion pocket novellas: Kaleidoscope and Always Another Twist (Mantle Lane Press).

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