He’d let himself go over the years. No girl would look at him. So for his thirty-fifth birthday Tyson bought an exercise bike.

Tyson loved that bike. He could watch TV while he worked out, pumping imaginary miles in front of game shows and Oprah. His weight came down.

But in spite of his fitter physique had the girls at work continued to treat him like a portly uncle. The conversations he’d imagined never eventuated.

One morning the exercise bike’s handlebars snapped. Tyson recalled the old bike hanging in the shed. He hadn’t ridden for years. But the wobbles passed and soon he was peddling hard along the nearby riverside cycle path.

He hit a pot-hole. His front tyre deflated instantly. ‘Stupid idea,’ Tyson dismounted. He was two suburbs from home with no option but to walk. He’d be late for his 11 o’clock meeting. He wanted to throw the bike into the river. He wanted never to ride anywhere again, other than his lounge room.

Then a woman on a smart road bike pulled up. ‘Puncture?’

‘First day out,’ said Tyson ruefully.

‘Jenny.’ She held out a hand.

She produced a repair kit and as she worked they talked.

Tyson still missed his 11 o’clock. They rode to a café for coffee.

His exercise bike would remain unrepaired.


2011—Richard Holt / small stories about love (