Frostwriting

My bike fell in the river

by Samantha Memi

Share this:
  • Email

My bike fell in the river. I couldn’t get it out. I could see it in the water, wobbly in the ripples. I shouted, “Help! Help!” and clambered down the bank.

A farmer came over. I said, “My bike fell in the river, I can’t get it out.”

“Oh ah, he said. “There’s many bikes fell in that river, in’t there Seafield. “

“Moo,” said a cow.

“You won’t get it out now. You’ll have to walk home.”

“I can’t go home without my bike. My dad will kill me.”

“No he won’t. You’re Clyde McMemi’s daughter in’tcha. So he bought you a bike did ‘e. Tha’s nice, init. Your mum in’t from the village is she? Wha’s ‘er name?

“Mum,” I said.

Some fish swam along. “Bubble bubble,” they burbled. “Stop throwing your rusty bits of metal in our nice clean river.”

A sheep wandered over. “Baa,” said the sheep.

“I’ll tell you what I’ll do,” said the farmer. “You introduce me to your mum and I’ll get your bike out for you.”

“Alright, I said.

“You tell your mum my boy Arthur’s asked you over for a picnic on Sunday and her as well. Alright?”

“Alright.”

And he waded into the river and pulled out my bike all dripping wet and muddy.

“There y’are,” he said, and wiped the saddle with his sleeve.

“Thank you.”

“Now don’t you forget to tell your mum Arthur invited you to a picnic.”

“I won’t.”

“And don’t tell your dad.”

I cycled home. When I got home my dad was really angry.

“Where have you been?” he said. “Your mum’s really worried. We wondered where you were.”

“My bike fell in the river.”

“I told you not to go near the river.”

“I didn’t. I was on the bridge.”

“How did your bike fall in the river?”

“I stopped on the bridge to look at the fish blowing bubbles and my bike fell off the bridge.”

“Did it indeed. How did you get it out?”

“Farmer Tom got it out for me.

“Farmer Tom don’t do nothing for no one. Why’d he do that?”

“I don’t know,” I said.

Then my mum came through and asked, “Where have you been?”

So I had to explain everything all over again. Then we had supper. It was a fish and it looked at me with its dead eye as if to say, It’ll happen to you one day.

When I went to bed my mum came up to read me a story and I told her what the farmer had said and she said, “Don’t go near him; he’s a dirty old man, and don’t you go near the river no more neither.”

The next Sunday I went for a bike ride. I met my friend Maisie. She was going shopping with her mum because her mum wanted to buy a new coffee maker. There was nothing wrong with the old coffee maker but her kitchen had just been decorated and the old coffee maker was the wrong colour. I wanted to ask her what she would do with the old coffee maker because ours was very old and their old one was newer than our new one, but I was too shy.

Maisie’s mum said, “You can come too, Sami, if you like. I’ll treat you to a waffle and a shake.”

So we put my bike in the back of her car and drove into town.

I told Maisie about my bike what fell in the river and the farmer and the cow and the sheep and my angry dad. And Maisie whispered that she’d heard that the old farmer has a magnet under the bridge and when a bike is left there the magnet pulls it into the river and when the girl—the magnet only works with girls’ bikes—goes down to see if she can get her bike, the farmer jumps out from under the bridge and chases her across the field into his barn.

“What happens in the barn?” I asked.

“No one knows,” she said, “but the girls are never seen again.”

We giggle.

In a shop Maisie’s mum said to an assistant, “This is a nice shape but I wanted an orange handle and base.”

“I’m sorry, said the assistant, “but this model only comes in black or white or red.”

We went to another shop. Shelves of coffee makers.

“I’d like orange or lime green,” said Maisie’s mum.

We went to another shop, then another. I swore to myself I would never drink coffee and that way I would never need a coffee maker.

Eventually we bought a coffee maker. It was orange and white, very similar to their old one but a different color.

Maisie’s mum phoned my mum to say where I was and said she’d bring me home. She said, “I know… I know… I know…” and laughed. “You’re so right, I know… I know… I know…” Then she hung up, stopped laughing, and we all had waffles.

When I got home I said, “Thank you Mrs. McIntosh.”

The following Sunday Maisie and me rode our bikes to the bridge and leant them against the rail. We crossed over the road to the other side and waited for our bikes to fall in the river. Nothing happened. We left the bridge and clambered down the bank to see under the bridge. There was nothing there, some weeds, an old bucket, no bike, no farmer. We went back to the bridge. Our bikes were still there. We waited a few moments. Then we cycled home.

Samantha Memi lives in London. Her stories have been published, or are forthcoming, in Fiction International, Gemini Magazine, Cortland Review, Thrice Fiction and Birkensnake. She is the author of Kate Moss & Other Heroines (Black Scat Books, 2012). Find more of work at her personal site.

Issue 12 contents

Poetry