Flashes of Life

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 3 (v.1) - The Bicycle

Submitted: August 07, 2019

Reads: 24

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Submitted: August 07, 2019

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I looked around and found myself at some shopping center. I must’ve passed out again and now I’m dreaming just like the last time. Everything was wet from a passing storm, including the boy. I could see cumulous clouds receding in the horizon with sporadic flashes of lightning. Although the boy was older, he still looked pretty much the same except his hair was a little longer. He was wearing a New York tee shirt and some jeans which were covered with splotches of mud.

He was standing soaking wet in front of his dirt bike with the studded tires full of wet dirt. The back tire appeared to have a flat and the boy was trying to open a package with a bicycle tire repair kit. As he peeled the plastic away, all the contents spilled to the floor. He quickly bent down and started gathering all the items. He walked up to me trying not to drop anything.

“So, can you help me? I don’t know what to do,” he said offering me the contents of the kit.

I absently held the items in my hand still looking around in confusion. Everything seems so real. The sounds of traffic, the smells of fresh fallen rain, the customers coming in and out of the stores, the fresh breeze against my face – this is too real to be a dream. I started rubbing my thumb against the metal tire scraper and I could feel the slight pain. This must be the effects of my cancer. It has to be. Nothing else makes sense.

The boy looked at me waiting for an answer. I decided to try my luck at getting some more information out of him. “Hey, do you remember me playing with you in the park not too long ago?”

The boy thought for a moment. “Yeah, but that was a long time ago. I was only like five. Now I’m already ten.”

“Well, I didn’t get your name that last time. Can you tell me your name now?”

“Why do you keep saying name?” he asked in frustration. “What is name? I don’t know what that word means.”

I closed my eyes tight trying to figure out where this so-called dream was trying to take me. “Alright, let’s try this. The last time I saw you, you said that you were me, right?”

“Mm hmm,” he said nodding.

“So, if you are me, then you should have the same name I do. Your name must be Julian too.”

“I don’t think so,” he said shaking his head. “How could I be Julian if you’re Julian?”

“This is so confusing. Well I have to call you something other than little boy. Um, how about if I call you Jules? Can I call you Jules?”

“Jules … Jules,” the boy repeated sounding out his proposed new name. “I guess it’s all right,” he said shrugging his shoulder.

“Okay, cool. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, do you have any idea what I’m doing here?”

“Didn’t you come to help me fix my bike?”

I shook my head in frustration. I don’t seem to be getting anywhere with this kid. At least we agreed on a name for him. I must be here for a purpose. Maybe it’s psychological or maybe it’s something spiritual. Whatever this is, I decided to just start playing the role that my mind was having me play. And it sure felt good not to feel the constant pain all over my body.

“Alright, the first thing we need to do is flip your bike upside down,” I said grabbing the handlebars of his bike.

“I wanna do it. Let me do it,” he said eagerly. I released the bike into his hands and watched with amusement as he kept dropping his bike as he struggled to flip it over. After the third try, he managed to balance it on the wet sidewalk with a proud smile.

“Now we’re gonna need a wrench to loosen these bolts.” I looked around the parking lot to see if I could find someone who might be willing to lend me some tools.

“Why don’t you look in there?” said Jules pointing down.

To my surprise, there was a small red toolbox in front of my feet. Of course – this is a dream so anything’s possible right? I pulled out a ½ inch wrench and knelt down next to his bike.

“Wait, let me try. I wanna do it?” he insisted.

He was so full of enthusiasm that I just handed over the wrench and pulled back. Jules went about clumsily and impatiently trying to loosen the bolts with no success. “Jules, you’re turning the wrong way. Wait, you’re positioning it wrong. You need to … you need to straighten it up and put your weight on it. Here, let me show you.”

“No!” he said pulling the wrench away. “I can do it.”

Jules had finally figured out how to position the wrench correctly and was straining himself trying to loosen the bolt. His face started turning red with exertion. Suddenly the tool slipped causing Jules to hit his hand hard on the metal stem. His face twisted in pain as he staggered around holding his fingers. He fell to his knees and bent down as he started to cry.

Aw jeeze – what do I do now? I’ve never had to deal with a crying child before. I quickly ran to him and knelt down. “Jules, are you okay? Let me see your hand.”

“Go away,” he cried. He picked up the wrench and threw it at his bike in anger.

Seeing his tears and hearing his soft wails was breaking my heart. I gently put my hand on his shoulder to comfort him. “Hey, it’s okay. Your fingers are gonna be sore for a while, but you’re gonna be okay,” I said rubbing his back.

Jules started wiggling his injured fingers. “I’m sorry I yelled at you,” he said a little bit calmer. I reached into my back pocket and pulled out a handkerchief for him to use. After wiping his tears and blowing his nose, he held it up pinching it by the edge. “I don’t think you’re gonna want this back. It’s full of boogers,” he said in disgust.

“No – it’s snot,” I joked with a smile. “Get it? It’s snot.”

I could see his shoulders shaking with laughter. He turned to me teary eyed and started giggling as he tried rubbing boogers on my face with the handkerchief. I couldn’t stop laughing as he continued trying to smear snot all over my face as I tried to hold his arms back.

After our moment of playfulness, Jules picked up the wrench and handed it to me. “I give up. I’ll let you fix it from now on.”

“Hey, this is not about giving up. It’s about learning from your mistakes.” I positioned the wrench on the bolt and demonstrated the correct way of loosening it up. “Once you’ve got it positioned right, you start tapping it with the palm of your hand like this until it loosens up. See how easy that is?” I tightened back the bolt and handed him the wrench. “Now you try it.”

For the next few minutes, Jules watched attentively as I demonstrated the different steps of removing the chain, pulling off the tire and removing the inner tube. After each step, I put the parts back the way they were and allowed Jules to repeat what I had shown him and learn from the experience. He wasn’t as impatient as he was before.

“Now we need to fill this tube with air so we can find the hole.” We rolled the bike to the edge of the shopping center where there was an auto parts store with open service bays. One of the attendants was kind enough to help us out. He filled the tube with air, submerged it in a barrel of water and marked the hole with an ‘x’. Then he allowed me to take over by me demonstrating to Jules how to apply the patch over the hole on the tire tube.

Jules felt confident enough to reassemble his bike under my watchful eyes. I have to admit he did a pretty good job. I started reflecting on how gratifying it felt to teach a young child something useful and to see the fruits of my efforts. He listened to my instructions and observed my demonstrations with interest. He seemed to have enjoyed the lesson as much as I enjoyed teaching him. I had never had the opportunity to teach a child anything in my life. I didn’t realize how easy it was for me.

Jules walked up to me and gave me a hug with his head on my chest. “Thank you for showing me how to fix my bike.” The expressions of content and gratitude on his face was so endearing. He looked up at me with a crooked smile. “You wanna go for a ride?” he asked playfully.

The next thing I knew, I was riding the dirt bike with Jules sitting on the handlebar. It had been a long time since I’d ridden one, but like the saying goes, once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget. Jules closed his eyes as the air was blowing his hair back and tickling my face.

Jules turned to me with a wide smile. “This is the best time ever Julian.”

His joyfulness was so contagious that I started laughing. I can’t even remember the last time I’ve felt this playful and this happy. I still don’t know why I’m here or what all of this means. I only know one thing – I don’t want to go back. I want to stay.

Then Jules’ expression changed to one of concern. “Julian, when are you gonna die?”

The question was so unexpected that I suddenly started losing my balance. Why would he ask me that and ruin this moment? The bike started wobbling wildly and I felt ourselves going down.

And then I woke up at the hospice center lying down on the examination bed once again.

No.


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