The dream I had when you left me

It was such an old bike that it was hard for me to get it into the air by myself. But with two of us pedalling together, it took off easily enough. And once we were up it handled well.

We started out for a spindly cloud bank sitting pink on the horizon. A school of rainbow coloured fish below us piloted us westward. Above us a wheeling flock of starlings tracked our course. Both fish and birds in expanding and contracting masses—dances of shapes where nothing was as solid as it seemed.

As we approached the cloud the starlings flew around us, guiding us down. We leant the old tandem against a bank of white and unpacked our basket. We fed the birds scraps as we ate, and dropped crumbs through a puffy hole to the fish below.

With my belly full I fell asleep.

When I woke I was alone on the cloud. Just me and the birds. Through the hole I watched you swimming with the fish. You were one of them and I knew we would never be together again.

With thread spun from the cloud I tied six starlings to the front handlebars. I mounted and began to peddle. The starlings carried me up. They steered me further west to a place I’d never been.