It’s about 7.45am on a Saturday morning in September. It’s light but hazy, colours faded and vapid: the sun is not yet showing its teeth. I’m jogging and well into my stride. Random thoughts swoop in, wheel round, are gone. There are many cyclists. I am not moved. But then a pair of riders emerge through the mist.
At first, I’m confused. Adults often cycle in pairs but the second one here is freakishly….Mrs Jimmy Krankie-small? Perhaps it’s just the second racer’s horizontal stoop that creates too much space between them? I try to decipher it until they are upon me……
Like a Big One emerging from a muddy river, the boy shines into my vision. He turns, looks up to his father and his face is unfettered joy and admiration and pride and lightness and rightness and love!
The next moment, they are gone and I am inspired. Theories and plot lines rush into my head. Searching for a “twist” leads me to cynicism though. The boy must die or the father is dying or the father is not really his father, he’s his uncle and the brother / real father was a loser – the rebel of the family who left the mother, but the boy doesn’t know and the “father” doesn’t want to tell but the evil brother/uncle/father is back and thinks he should. Or the boy does know but his “father” doesn’t know he knows and the boy loves him just the same, would bike anywhere early morning with him because kids are better at accepting those complicated adult messes than we think aren’t they?
But none of this feels right. It’s too mawkish. (Like the image of a fully grown male: tall, white, navy, black flanked by his identically lycra-ed and helmetted little mini-me boy so….)
It’s just about his face. And the beauty in that. I don’t want to twist and taint it into story. I want it to stay beautiful. A moment in time. And for that to be enough.