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Rated: E · Short Story · Family · #2218366
One family's adjustment to social distancing.
It was just a day in April… to everyone else. To ten year old Jeremy Pike it was the most magical day of his life.

“Jeremy. Quit rubbing your nose against the front window. It’s not going to make Amazon bring it any faster and I’ll never clean the grease off it so anyone can see out of it again.” Jeremey’s mother couldn’t keep her youngster still. She’d tried putting all that energy to work. It ended up taking more work to keep him busy than it did to just let things ride.

Speaking of rides, there was the brown box of an Amazon delivery van wheeling in front of the house. “It’s here, mom.” Jeremy’s nose became that of a pointer dog, quivering at the now open front door. The wail coming out of his mouth could have belonged to a banshee, “Mom. Why’s he going next door?”

Everyone was quarantined for weeks now. Having their kids home all day from school and dad’s working at home took every resource each neighborhood family had. Martha Pike took the rag dangling like a white flag from her son’s hand before it fell on the floor. “We’re not the only one’s living on this block. Maybe Timmy Smith got a bike today, too.”

The shouts of amazed glee coming from his best friend’s yard were impossible to ignore. Jeremy craned his neck following the progress of the red racer he’d dreamed of forever disappear past the Smith’s white picket fence.

How often had he talked up the ten-speed racing bike in microscopic detail with Timmy over the phone. The SHIMANO DURA-ACE DI2 RD-R9150 REAR DERAILLEUR alone cost $650. Jeremy eyeballed the bike trophies on the fireplace mantle his father had won over the years. The racing stories attached to them had been bedtime stories since he could remember.

“Sorry, son.” Michael Pike, two time winner of the Pikes Peak Race with his $4300 Bianchi Oltre Xr3 CV Disc Ultegra Road Bike peered out over his son’s head. The two had been gearing up for a local long distance race over Ogden Canyon when the governor shut down all state wide events.

“I’ll be in the garage,” Jeremy slipped under his father’s hand. There was something soothing about taking his Schwin apart and putting it back together again. He could do it in his sleep. It was better than riding practice runs with his father and watching him easily speed ahead.

“Son? How about helping me with the Bianchi?”

That never happened. Jeremy wasn’t allowed to touch the masterpiece of engineering. “You mean it, dad? What’s wrong with it?”

“The seat needs adjustment. Think you can handle that?”

“Sure thing.” It felt like his head was floating in a cloud.

“Hey. Watch it. Don’t trip.” A fatherly hand stopped Jeremy from sticking a shoe in the famed bike’s spokes.

From the garage door, Martha Pike looked on, “He’s not coming down with something is he? Jeremy looks faint. He’s had tears in his eyes lately he couldn’t hide from his mom.” The white rag dangled and fell at her feet. It’s cleaning properties now a lost cause.

“Timmy called. He wants to know if you can see him riding around in his backyard.”

“Show off.” Jeremy felt new tears erupt down his cheeks. “Dad? I can’t do this. My hands are trembling too much.”

“I have some bad news, son. Michael Pike looked more than embarrassed. His voice sounded stuffed up like he was coming down sick like the news was filled up with. Martha stepped forward to comfort both father and son.

“Dad’s work at home means we had to cut back. He had to stop the order for your bike. It’s not his fault.”

The floor dropped out from under Jeremy’s feet. He found himself sitting on the cold cement garage floor not knowing how he had got there.

His dad poked a wrench at his son’s nose. “It’s not the end of the world. Better start fixing the seat on your used Bianchi.”

The love in his father and mother’s eyes were wet with tears. “Was it worth it?” Martha asked Michael, arm in arm.

“I haven’t lost a son. I’ve gained a racing rival. I wonder when I’ll get a turn riding that bike again.”

Jeremy and Timmy crowed and whooped at each other as they passed each other in greeting. The white picket fence keeping their social distancing in tack was only a blur.
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