It’s only two miles, I tell myself as I deposit my dilapidated sandals in the trashcan in front of the post office.
The streets are eerily empty as I begin my barefoot march home. Really, it shouldn’t be a surprise. There aren’t many people who want to be out and about after the last bus has left deep into the wee hours of a Monday night. The white glow of the moon, the stark yellows of the streetlights, and the resonant heat from the day mean it’s hardly unpleasant save for my personal issues.
My feet ache. The cold mottled cement of the sidewalk wears into my heels. The granules of asphalt scrape the bottoms of the my toes as I cross the street. Needles, twigs and organic debris press into the balls of my feet as I plod through the night. The weight of my baggage lilts me left or right as I trade hands trying to keep my shoulders fresh. I focus on each step, tired, annoyed, determined to make it home, knowing I need to be up in mere hours for a long day of work.
I’m halfway home, in a darkened corridor of trees on the sidewalk, when I notice the bike lying in the small stretch of grass between my cement carpet and the street. Without thinking, I lift the bike on to two wheels, sling my suitcase onto the handlebars, and continue walking, my load lightened.
As I cross to the next block, the light from the streetlights casts my shadow on the road in front of me. I blink slowly as I realize that I’m holding the bike, walking slowly home. I look down at my right hand, cradling the handlebars, my bag hanging to one side.
I stole a bike, I think with surprise. I’m stealing a bike, I correct. I glance over my shoulder at the block I just left, wondering what the fuck I’m doing.
And then I start walking once more.