Happiness and the Times in Between

The bicycle would not leave him alone. He was made to ride it in his dreams, relentlessly and powerfully, then in the morning there it was, leaning against the wall in the hallway pointing to the door, gloves on its handle bars, pedals itching for his feet. He had to use it to go down to the shops for milk and paper. Off it went with him on it, perfectly happy, perfectly joined to his body, only impatient for him to have his breakfast out of the way so that he would ride it to work. It was, after all, a machine, and machines have their purpose, their being, their direction and identity only secured when they have one of us fitted to them. At work he doodled bicycle profiles while he listened to complaints or gave technical advice on ways to make a router work or set up a new mobile account. When asked what he did for a living, he would say, I peddle accounts over the phone to unsuspecting customers. At the end of the working day he pedalled home to lie in bed and dream of pedaling up endless hills in drizzling rain just to keep his dream-bicycle happy. God knows what psychic pain the actual bicycle must have been going through every night, unable to sleep, unable to relax one molecule of its frame, unable to move one link on its chain, unable to release itself from its desire to go, irritated beyond imagination by the night-long kiss of cold pine floorboards on its beautiful black tyres. 







Professor Kevin Brophy teaches creative writing in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. From 1980 to 1994 he was founding editor of the national literary journal Going Down Swinging. In 2005 he was awarded the Martha Richardson Medal for poetry. In 2009 he was co-winner of the Calibre Prize for an outstanding essay.