The Birthday Wish

“No luck?” Peter asked, coming over to the bike and opening the top-box to get a can of coke. He gestured towards Emma with the can. “Want one?”

“I’ll just have a sip or two of yours, if that’s ok. Otherwise I’ll be wanting to pee all afternoon.”

Peter tugged at the ring-pull, and jumped back, holding the can at arm’s length, as the warm, shaken drink exploded in a whoosh of brown froth. “Shoulda seen that coming, I guess!” he laughed, offering the can to Emma for the first, fizzy mouthful. She took a couple of large swigs and wiped the top of the can with the palm of her hand, before passing it back.

“Think I’d better just pop behind a bush before we get back on the bike,” she said, looking around for a suitably discrete location in which to relieve her bursting bladder. There wasn’t a lot of vegetation about – just one pine tree with a fairly thick trunk that might offer a little cover from the curious eyes of passing motorists. Emma looked across the empty car park, and considered the currently empty road. “Better be quick…” she said, running over to the tree, unzipping, and unpopping her thick leather bike jeans on the way. Men have it so easy, she thought, as she struggled to keep her balance, keep her jeans dry, and fully empty her bladder, whilst keeping a tense look-out for passers-by. A car pulled into the parking area, just as she emerged from the cover of the tree doing up her zip. “Good timing”, she laughed, pleased at having avoided embarrassment, and feeling happier about the prospect of continuing the journey with a more comfortable body.

As they were preparing to get back on the bike, Peter nodded in the direction of the mountains. “Looks like we might get some rain,” he commented. The roads they had been travelling on so far had been bone dry and dusty, and the surrounding countryside was cracked and parched. Emma knew that a little rain on a dusty road was a recipe for treacherous slipperiness. She frowned, trying to dispel the uneasiness she had caught from the tone of Peter’s comment.

“Fingers crossed” she said. “Let’s get going….maybe it won’t catch up with us.”

Back on the bike, Emma tried to recapture the sense of flow she had felt earlier in their journey, but she couldn’t shake the edginess that had crept up on her in the car park. She found herself repeatedly doing mental calculations to convert the kilometres on the road signs to miles, wishing away the distance they had left to travel that day. They should have left earlier, she thought. Now they would have to keep up a consistently high speed to get to a reasonable stopping place before dark. She really didn’t want to still be on the bike when daylight faded, but she was beginning to feel uncomfortable with the speed they were having to travel at, and she found herself looking forward to the enforced stops and slowness that passing through villages and towns entailed.