Silently, in the dark of night, unearthly white bikes appear on city streets. Sometime, when no one was looking, a ghost cyclist deposited what was left of a corporeal life.
On a street corner, a milky metal frame leans against a gray pole, covered with flowers and signage reminiscent of its owner. Once, that waxen skeleton of a bike traveled freely, wheeling down steep hills, rounding corners on the edge of a flattened rubber wheel. Those were carefree days when both rider and bike were of this world.
Then, one day, a meeting with fate brought that rider to the borderline between life and death. There was a moment when she saw her life flash before her eyes and she wondered how many more minutes, hours, days or years she had left.
She never imagined that life could end so abruptly, without warning, and without a hint of what was to follow. As she rode into a hollow of time, where a slow-motion scene of cars whirring around her played out without full consciousness, she sensed that something was terribly wrong.
A car was too close. Her bike and the hot metal wall fused into one with a blast of speed and the sound of clashing steel. Slowly, in an instant, the brevity of her life became a reality.
There was so much more to do. So many places to see, so many people to meet, so much more living ahead. But, a moment’s inattention can draw life to a close, unfinished and unlived.
The rider floated above her bike with a body devoid of sensation. Looking down from on high she watched the car decimate her bike and what had once been the shell of who she was.
All the days of joyous pedaling were behind her now. She could almost taste the sweetness of spring air, feel the wind whistling through her hair and sense the pressure of her delicate foot pressing on a pedal, calling for acceleration. Gradually, those sentiments faded into the past as she succumbed to what followed.
People gathered around the accident scene. They were frantic. They were scared. They were saddened. A rider had been taken from us, in the prime of life, in one moment of carelessness – and no one knew what to do.
So they took what was left of her bike and carried it solemnly from the wreckage. Nursing it back to life, they ceremoniously covered it with a ghostly shade of white. Then it was transplanted to the very spot where she last stood, a devoted rider.
Flowers were arranged around the ghost bike with cards bearing condolences and grief. Her biking shoes and helmet were locked with her frame so that she could ride when she came looking for her trusty steed.
Who is that shadowy woman who walks on the wind searching for a place to ride? She is looking for her bike and can’t find it. She remembers riding these roads. Everything is so familiar, yet no one seems to know her.
Don’t they remember how she used to glide past, eyes laughing with the bliss of swift, effortless movement? Where did everyone go?
As she drifts down familiar streets, no one is aware of her.
Finally, she spots her bike. Its pallor matches her own. They share the same sallow sorrow. Running her hand down the top tube brings back memories of existent times full of rosy warmth. Her amorphous body aches to ride just one last time before her fate is sealed. Part of her believes that she will never ride again, while part believes that she will ride for eternity. The possibility soothes her disquieted mind.
Unlocking the ashen bike, without a key, she mounts the familiar saddle to take it for a spin. Dutifully, she places the helmet on her head, even though she has no need for it now.
Pushing off, she feels the familiar ground beneath her. But then she notices an absence of bumps and unevenness. It’s as if she’s floating through infinity. The bike skims fluidly across the ground without the necessity of pedaling. Something magical is propelling it through a resistance free environment.
Darkness is all around her. In the blackness, her vision is perfect. No need for light now. Through the night she undulates along empty streets, devoid of the sounds of sentience. Silence cries out in a stentorian voice.
For once, she longs for the roar of cars, the abrupt words of impatience, the bustle of the living, even though she no longer shares their domain. Nonetheless, she is destined to ride alone – just one rider with a ghastly white bike.
A crack of sunlight reminds her of the approaching time. While all the world is awakening, she is destined to drift off into disembodied sleep, only to return again under the harbor of darkness – the immortal ghost rider.