Naked

Blue painter’s tape used to wrap around my bars. Someone stuck it there to protect me, I think. To make me a little less beautiful, a little less tempting, and a little more average in the eyes of potential thieves. It worked all year long, you know. The only one who ever touched my rubber arms was my girl– my partner in crime. She, and only she, was there through everything. Even as my brakes failed, my tires lost air, and my gears jumped, she came to me every day, jingling her keys from a ways off— ready to slip the lock out from around my legs. For her, I’d run forever.

But the blue tape is gone now. That extra layer of skin that stifled my shining red was peeled off by your fingernails this spring. I liked watching it go, you know. When I heard the keys coming my way, I never expected those big hands to be so gentle and so understanding. Within minutes, you had me running better than I had in years. I’d forgotten what it was like to truly fly, unimpeded by my old rusty frictions and misalignments. You spun me around and around and made everything right. You replaced my broken pieces.

And when you were finished, you grabbed the edge of the tape and peeled. One piece after the next, you revealed my glaring red nudity. I was hardly ashamed, happy to impress you with the paint job that lay underneath. I didn’t care that the thieving men looked twice at me now, that they saw how fresh and smooth I really was. I didn’t care, as long as you kept tinkering with me.

But then you left me in the basement. And three months later, she retrieved me with her jingling key and small, awkward hands. She felt my bare structure and knew that things had changed. She took me out to the sun, where everyone could see the nicks and scratches on my paint that had been covered up. I was naked, and she couldn’t understand why.

You walked by the other day. I heard your steps and wondered if maybe you’d come and fix me again. Of course, a bike like me has a lot to do— I never wanted to just wait around for you and your wrenches. But when I heard your step, I’ll admit I held my breath. But you walked by, leaving me in my vulnerable, flagrant, damaged nothingness. You didn’t even slow your step. You didn’t even recognize the machine you created.

I didn’t ask for you. I’m not even asking for you now. I’m happy with my girl, even if she’s slow to pump my tires and quick to bounce me over curbs.

All I’m saying is that I wish you’d look a little closer at the bike who lost everything just to feel what it was like to fly.

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