His Ride or Die
Tony couldn’t wait to leave the hospital.
He had always been repulsed by the stench cloaking the entire building and marveled at the irony that such a place of healing could also be so sickening. He was sick, alright; sick of this place, and the growing tumor in his brain.
As he rode his Hero Ranger 6 bike, all he could think about were the words the doctor said: “The tumor is growing rapidly, and it’s spreading to different parts of your brain.”
He knew what this meant. He expected it, sooner or later.
“So, what, doctor? Am I going to die?” He asked, even though he already knew the answer.
“No, don’t think like that. There are many survival cases. The sooner you start radiotherapy, the better f…”
The impact of the collision returned Tony’s mind to the present moment. He looked down at the person he’d crashed into.
“I’m really sorry. I guess I was a bit distracted,” he said, genuinely remorseful. Tony reached down, helped the gorgeous young man up, and beat the dust off his body.
“It’s fine. Wait! Is that a Hero Ranger 6 mountain bike?” The man asked with uncontrollable enthusiasm. “I was hit by a Hero Ranger 6! This is going in my diary tonight.”
“Are you alright?” Tony couldn’t hide his confusion.
“More than alright. I’m bouncing!” the guy said. “By the way, my name is David, but you can call me Dave.” He gestured his hand forward.
“Tony.” He returned the gesture in a warm handshake. “If you love the bike so much, I can give you a ride to wherever you’re going. You can tell me all you know about it along the way.”
“Sure, why not?”
That was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Tony would pick up David on his bike, and they would spend the day together in places like the mall, and the natural and amusement parks. They rode around town repeatedly, and it was something Tony could never get sick of. They were in love, and even if they didn’t say it, they saw it in each other’s eyes.
On one of the nights, they decided to stay out late, they lay on the lawn, shielded from the cold in each other’s arms. They said nothing as they enjoyed the melodious song of the lonely night. Dave spoke first.
“This is nice,” he said, trying to be vague.
“The night sky?” Tony asked with boyish ignorance.
“No! I meant us, silly.” He laughed so hard he made Tony blush with embarrassment.
“Yeah, I wish this moment could last forever.” Tony paid attention to see if David got the hint; he didn’t.
“Well, maybe it can.”
Before Tony could respond, David went in for a kiss. It felt like an eternity, wrapped into a minute. The universe stood still, and it felt like they were alone, together, in the dead of night, with no one around to destroy what they’d made for themselves.
“Ahhhh!” Tony screamed as he withdrew from David’s kiss.
“What is wrong? Did I do something?” David was alarmed and frightened.
“Pick up your stuff. We’re leaving,” was all Tony could mutter through the painful pounding in his skull. As he motioned toward his bike, David followed suit, confused. The ride to David’s place was awkward and quiet, with only the noise of crickets and fireflies as compensation.
Days turned to weeks, weeks into months, and David saw no sign of Tony. He stopped coming around to pick him up, and he no longer answered his calls. David worried and blamed Tony’s sudden disappearance on the night of the kiss. After careful consideration, David decided to confront him.
It took courage to knock on the door, but when he finally did, it wasn’t Tony who answered.
“You must be David. Anthony has told me so much about you,” a middle-aged woman said. Her voice was welcoming, but flattened by too much crying. “Come in!” She said.
She told David how Tony fought cancer for the five weeks following their nighttime encounter, before finally going into a coma and giving up the ghost.
“He would always talk about you and the times you spent together, on his dying bed.” She said with droplets escaping her ducts. “You were there as he was fighting, David. You were his hope to live. Thank you for that.”
“I didn’t know,” David said as he cried profusely. “I would have been by his side.”
“It’s okay, dear. You were with him, either way,” she said, consoling him.
“Your memories kept him going. Come, I have something to show you.” She led him to the garage and brought out the bicycle. “Take it.”
“I can’t!” David declined. “It was way too important to him.”
“I’m clearing the place out, and planned to give it away, anyway,” she persuaded. “Besides, it would mean so much to Anthony if you were the one that kept it.” With a tearful heart, David hugged the woman, and they cried together, silently.
The bike was everything David imagined.
As he rode home, he reflected on the lessons he learned during his time with Tony. Yesterday was buried in the past, and no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get it back. Today was a gift, one he wasn’t ready to let go.
All that remained was move on, and ride safely onto his tomorrow.