jeanine fritz

I t was Thursday. I'd awoken before the alarm, I had no intention of hitting snooze, and I was in a good mood. Something was terribly wrong.

I lay there for a moment, thinking pleasant thoughts. Since I was up early, I had time to ride my bike to work. I could make coffee, I could pack a lunch, I could pour a big glass of ice water for the ride! Why not wear that darling dress today too? I could strap my retro travel case to the back of the bike -- adorable! -- and zip along the bike trails. I would see birds and trees and prairie dogs, instead of gas stations and Starbucks and traffic. Maybe I would say hi to every person I saw. Maybe I would say hi to every prairie dog I saw. Maybe I would name them. Maybe we would become friends and they would sew me dresses like Cinderella's mice. I lept out of bed and headed to the shower. Goddammit, I was in a good mood.

Despite all these ominous signs, within a half hour I stood near the front door trying to decide what I needed for the day. Obviously the lunch and coffee and water. Probably my purse. Maybe a jacket for after sundown. Oh, maybe the big wool coat. Shit, and maybe those extra glasses. Probably I should bring that cardigan back to my friend. Minutes later, I had a basket piled high and another travel case packed so tightly I had to sit on it to fasten it shut.

I lumbered down three flights of stairs to the parking garage, fished my red cruiser out of the back of the pickup truck and realized I'd forgotten the zip ties I needed to attach the basket. I grabbed bungee cords from behind the seat of the truck and strapped the basket to the handlebars. It didn't look pretty.

Again and again, the travel case sat nicely on the back fender for only a moment before flinging itself on the ground. That's when the cursing started. Once it was finally attached, I straddled the bike and popped my enormous cup of ice water in the front. With all the crap bungeed to it, the bike screamed "Hobo Riche" but I reminded myself this was gonna be awesome.

I pedaled once, and twice, nearly making it ten feet away, before the basket slumped to the side and threw the water on the ground. All of it.

"I'm really starting to get pissed off here," I hissed as I set it straight and tucked shards of broken plastic cup into the basket. My neighbor averted his eyes, got in his car quickly and sped away.

I got back on the bike, sans water, and rode. Within seconds, I was riding past signs with coyote warnings. The travel case was listing to the side dangerously. There was no one around. The travel case would fall, I'd dismount to fix it, and a coyote with eyes like two rubies would eat my face off and leave me to be finished off by crows and those goddamned prairie dogs who never make anyone dresses ever.

Suddenly the trail ended. The ride would be over after these last few city blocks. I wanted to sigh with relief, but my mouth was already too dry. Maybe I'd pushed myself too far. Maybe the universe can only handle me at a certain level of delightful before needing to shut it down. Next time, I'd either get up early and use the extra time for donuts, or I'd wait until I'd definitely be late to work to ride my bike. Just then, a gross old dude in a white van waved and honked. The back of my dress had ridden up and was now resting near my waist.