Hetty liked Professor Billmore in spite of his quirkiness. He biked around the grounds with his cape billowing and any student foolish enough to get in his way was treated to a peremptory bark and a flight into a nearby bush, but if you gave him space, he always acknowledged with a wave.
It wasn’t until Hetty’s train home was late one day that she learned more about Professor Billmore’s eccentricities. She was on Platform 9, willing the engine to appear, when she heard the familiar shout. She turned to see half the bicycle disappearing into the wall behind her.
Riding through the countryside was Owen’s freedom. Nobody asked him anything and if they had, their voices would’ve been drowned out by the roar of the engine.
If Alan was out for a morning ride, he wanted to hear the larks; the gentle burn in his thighs wasn’t just a price worth paying, it was part of the experience.
Pulling up outside a café atop the hill, the two men stared, uncomprehending. Then Owen peeled down his leathers, revealing his shirt.
“Don’t see many United fans round here. D’you see the game Saturday?” Alan smiled at his new best friend.
I have a shirt for the Red Bull Formula 1 team. It wasn’t cheap but it’s comfy and I love it. More than that, I find it evokes a fascinating response. Formula 1 fans are not as widespread as soccer or hockey fans, but there are more of them around than I realised, and my shirt almost always results in me finding one! Instant friend. Or rival, depending who they support! 😉
“Pixies?!” My nephew spun towards me. He’s used to my scientific answers: refraction makes the sky blue, bites itch because of histamines, etc. When he asked how the dispenser gives him soap, he was probably expecting light beams or heat sensors.
“Pixies,” I said. “They sit in the machine and whenever they see a hand coming towards them, they panic! The Watching Pixie calls up to the Defensive Pixies and they fire soap!”
His eyes lit up. “But soap isn’t a weapon!”
“Makes the hand go away, doesn’t it?”
A full minute later: “Is soap pixie poop?!”
If you enjoyed the science in this week’s Friday Fiction, check out this old Inspiration Mondays story about how fridge lights work.
It’s my photo this week. The picture shows part of the Rouge River near Toronto Zoo. It’s a beautiful place and feels a lot like freedom on day trips from the city. We take the kids often and let them paddle, climb and explore. It’s one of those places that is wonderful in every season. We went a lot this winter, when there was nothing else to do and nowhere else to go, but this particular story takes place back on the city streets, inspired by those bleak ‘eyes’ staring out of the image.
Toronto has had the longest lockdown in North America (one of the longest in the world; depending how you measure it); as we gradually lift restrictions, it’s clear that lives have been saved, but you only have to talk to a few people to learn the cost of the lockdown. I’m not saying we shouldn’t have done it, I’m just saying we need to acknowledge the losses and find ways to minimise their effects.
It’s our designated hour for walking.
I remember the first weeks, when we skipped in the Spring sunshine, enjoying the freedom and the fresh air on our faces. We’d take chalk and leave trails for friends to follow. After our hour, we’d retreat inside, draw rainbows and paste them to our windows.
The rainbows are faded now. The sun’s shining, but we trudge. I catch a glimpse of a face pressed against the glass. His eyes are empty; he is young enough not to have known the Beforetimes. I wonder if he’s young enough that he will see the After.