Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2321339-A-Bicycle-Built-for-Two
by IE
Rated: E · Short Story · Relationship · #2321339
A boy. A girl. A bicycle. Writer's Cramp entry 913 words
“Seriously?” Hands on my hips, I stare at the gift Curtis has brought.

“What?” he replies with a sheepish expression on his face. “I thought you’d like it. Love it, even. It’s a tandem bicycle, you know. For riding double?”

The bicycle is yellow. There’s even a jaunty red bow fixed to the wicker bike basket. I stare at it some more.

With a glance back at the closed front door, I walk quickly down the steps. No need to get Papa riled up. If he discovers a suitor with this “gift,” Curtis will be banned forever.

If there’s one thing Papa is adamant about, it’s finding me a husband. The list of names he has drawn up of potential candidates does not include the man that stands before me.

“You want me to ride this? With you? What if we get a flat tire?”

Curtis’ expression brightens. “Elizabeth—Beth,” he begins. “I would like nothing more than to ride this bicycle with you. Just think, soon we can be in the park, gliding downhill. It’ll be glorious!” He windmills his arms enthusiastically.

Turning the situation around and around in my mind, I come to a decision.

“If we’re going to the park, I’ll need to be dressed properly.”

A smile splits Curtis’ face. He lets out a yelp of glee, which he immediately tamps down after a hasty look at the front door. He knows as well as I that Papa would never agree to the two of us riding off unchaperoned.

I take another look at the bike. “You’ll have to meet us there. Hattie can help me dress and I’ll have her come with me. Where will you be?”

“At the entrance to the park,” Curtis says promptly. “One hour?” I can hear the pleading in his voice.

“One hour,” I agree. “Go now. Before Papa comes to investigate.” It’s a Saturday morning. Papa will be at loose ends.

Without another word, I disappear into the house, running quickly and as quietly as possible up the stairs to my room.

Hattie is there. The doors to my armoire are wide open and she’s in the process of going through my gowns. It’s a constant job for her, I fear. There’s always a button missing or a hem that’s been stepped on.

“Hattie,” I whisper. “The pale yellow? It’s cleaned and pressed? And we need to do my hair. I want to wear the hat with the white ribbon that matches the one on the dress.”

She looks at me, bemused. “Miss?”

I giggle. “I’m going out and you’re going with me. To the park. Curtis has bought me a bicycle built for two and I mean to ride with him.”

I start to unbutton the cuffs on my sleeves. “Hurry, Hattie. Papa must not see us. He’ll be at breakfast now. You know how he likes to dawdle over coffee.”

“Yes, Miss.” Not one to quibble, Hattie finds the dress I want and helps me into it after first dressing me in a chemise and corset, plus white stockings and underskirts. Dressed, I sit on the stool for Hattie to do my hair.

She affixes the final hat pin and glances into the mirror with me. Our eyes meet and I smile. “It’s just what I envisioned,” I tell her.

Together we steal down the staircase. Once out the door, though, we burst into a fit of giggles, broken only when she hurries me along. “Mr Humboldt will hear us, Miss. And you don’t want to be late.”

It’s not far to the park. The walk takes just minutes. At the entrance, I look around for Curtis, spotting him kneeling next to the bicycle. He wipes his forehead with his handkerchief and tugs at his tie.

“Curtis? Is something amiss?”

He’s on his feet in an instant, brushing at the dust on his knees. His eyes light up. “Beth. You do look lovely.”

“Thank you.” There’s no point in denying it. The dress is like a breath of fresh air on this wonderful day. “Is there a problem? With the bicycle?”

He goes to his knees again and tugs at the chain that secures the bicycle to the lamp post. No matter how hard he tugs, the chain does not give. “Broken lock,” he mutters, tugging violently at the chain again. “Just my luck.”

“Perhaps you need a hand, young man.” A familiar voice booms from behind me. Hattie lets out a squeak. Curtis stands hastily again, brushing at the knees of his trousers. He has the look of a man wishing to be anywhere but here.

I whirl around, the color draining from my face. “Papa!”

Ignoring me, Papa stands next to Curtis. “Fancy bicycle, young man. You mean to take my daughter riding? Without the permission of her mother or myself?” Papa’s brows are drawn together, his voice gruff.

“Sir,” Curtis gulps. “With your permission? I just wanted to give your lovely daughter a day she will remember.” He glances at me, then returns his gaze to my father’s glowering face.

With a sigh, Papa bends over and takes hold of the chain. With an almighty yank, the lock gives way. He hands both chain and lock to Curtis.

“Hattie and I will walk alongside, as chaperones.” He looks to me, his expression softening. “Perhaps your young man will join us for tea this afternoon.”

I dip my head, curtsying slightly. “Yes, Papa. I’m sure he will.”

913 words

June 3 is World Bicycle Day - so write a poem or story with all of the following, BOLDED:

flat tire
riding double
broken lock
bike basket
gliding downhill

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