Cycling Stories

The Crimson Envelope

October 23, 2020

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The Crimson Envelope

Carrying a pile of mail and grey envelopes, I left through the post office door and prepared myself for the first tour of the day. Balancing myself on the bicycle, I tidied my postman’s uniform. It was this livery which, years ago, had changed my life for the better. By now, my life had been defined by it, and I’d never felt the need to change.  

After inspecting the wheels, I pressed my foot onto the pedal, ready to experience some of the best rides. Most days, I set to work in a very good mood on the finest mode of transport. Throughout the years, it saved me from squandering on diesel or petrol. Even though I pampered my bicycle, it was rugged enough to bear serious wear and tear. 

I had a great route planned, with only two breaks. I knew my way around the village like nowhere else, so I no longer slowed or stopped to admire the landscape, as these beautiful images were already etched in my mind. I’d become used to the historical spots and the wonderful panorama that greeted me and my bicycle every day.  

Even some treacherous spots welcomed me joyfully. As I rode out in that winter weather to deliver the mail, I saw a crimson envelope delicately nestled in my mail bag. Having served in the postal service for a decade, I sensed that it must be direly important.  

In a trice, the wind changed direction and blew from the south. And off went the crimson envelope … . 

I rode at breakneck speeds whizzing through the air on my bicycle without thinking or leaving time to gather my wits. The sound of my tires interrupted nature’s calmness as I followed the envelope, which continued floating along the gusts. As an avid cyclist, I wasn’t fearful, but I sensed that this envelope was bent upon tarnishing my reputation as a postman, who’d never lost or mishandled a single mail in the past 10 years.  

Although the two wheels were part of my everyday routine, I was quickly out of breath. The wind kept pulling the envelope higher and higher up the hill, which I struggled to pedal up. I feared I would collapse, or the wheels would buckle.  

I wasn’t wearing a helmet, safety gear, or even padded cycling trousers, I’d said goodbye to my toolkit long ago, and I ignored the rattling coming from my spokes. However, my ultimate fear was not getting ahold of that envelope. I’d even lost track of whether it was raining or the sun was shining, as long as I was following the envelope. 

In less than ten minutes, I reached the top of the hill, ready to race it down. The piercing wind howled in my ears while I followed the envelope at great speed, and my saddlebag bounced up and down with each pedal stroke. I passed the hospice, and remembered the terminally-ill patients who waited there for me every day to wave “hello.” 

The cyclist-friendly path soon ended, and I found myself racing along the main road, which was covered in a layer of thick, gluey mud. I had to decrease my speed around the twists and turns.   

My bike’s frame soon became caked in muck, while a sharp pain hit my lower back. My stamina decreased and pedaling became more difficult. It appeared the envelope would outrun me and my bicycle. Still, I kept my eyes glued on it. 

I abruptly ran into a red lamppost.  

“Red is not my lucky colour today!” I screeched.  

I quickly pulled my bike to the side of the road, found that nothing was broken other than a red rear reflector, and noticed a couple of rips in my uniform and road rash on my skin. My legs hurt as I re-mounted my bike and took off in a rage. 

After flashing past the bakery, a scarlet-coloured car overtook me, honked, and blocked my view of the slick road, which caused me to lose control. I swerved to the right and avoided crashing into saplings and curbs, as well as the car. Nevertheless, my flying-envelope race continued. 

Along a pothole-ridden section of road, I hit my brakes hard to avoid hitting a sunning rattlesnake, which didn’t even move an inch. With my little remaining momentum, I bunny-hopped over the scaly reptile, thanking my years of riding mountain bikes for the skill. 

With the snake behind me, I yelled, “What an encounter!” 

Luckily, the wind gradually died down and I found the crimson envelope lying on the ground under the shade of an Eastern Cottonwood. I moved the kickstand down with my heel and stood there, joyfully drained.  

Shreya Ghoorun is an intersectional feminist and a social activist from Mauritius. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English Studies and is currently working on her postgraduate certification in Education.
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