The Solitary Cyclist

On the bike at the gym, aggrieved, I formulate my thoughts. It’s 6.30pm on a Monday evening and really I oughtn’t to be at the gym, overtired and in pain and in a bad mood. On any other Monday I would be on the bus home from the office. But I’m not.
Up at 8am, not feeling too ghastly, at the office a bit late but nothing drastic. Settle into my work. My whole right side is throbbing with pain and I’ve taken my codeine but somehow the pain is worse and the swelling around the implant seems more pronounced. Staring at the work I’m meant to be doing, I round up my thoughts. It’s OK, I tell myself. I’ve been doing this job for ten years now: I’ve got through a day of work when I’m depressed, psychotic, when I haven’t slept, when, basically, I’ve been in a far worse state than I am now.
As the minutes tick by I realise that it’s no good. Basic things become impossible. The seconds stretch into minutes and the minutes become lengths of time that I can’t handle, can’t process. And over everything there’s a fuzzy blanket of incompetence. And I take more painkillers but the pain snowballs until I’m staring at a blank screen whilst needles of pain stab down my right side and then I’m crying and I’ve had enough and I tell my boss that I have to go and she’s lovely about it but I just feel awful for worrying her and inconveniencing everyone and it’s raining now, of course, and my umbrella’s at home.
My boss drives me to the bus stop and for once there’s a bus almost immediately. Collapsing into a seat, I take my phone out.
Logging into my Tinder, there are some new matches and even new messages. There are a couple of messages from a 30 year old American banker who likes running and sounds very sweet. The one from yesterday – who asked for a surprise and I sent him an octopus – messages back to say “I warn you I put octopus in a salad”.
Me: “I didn’t realise he’d be in fear of his life. Here’s a dragon. You can’t put him in a salad.
That one turns out to be a banker too.
Possibly the most interesting new chap is a 31 year old Austrian who says he’s an architect.
Anyway – it’s nice to have some new pots on the boil. I’ve got tomorrow to recover and then there’s Lemur Boy on Wednesday.

Sitting on the bike, peddling slowly, I start to feel better. Even though I’m hardly doing anything at the gym, just being here calms me. As I turn the pedals round on the bike, I don’t feel too bad. I’m not on my own and yet, of course, I don’t have to talk to anyone. And I’ve achieved a few stomach exercises and some kettle-bells and a couple of weights machines. Nothing involving my damaged right side of course.
Seven o’clock approaches when my beloved Suzie will pick me up. Things aren’t so terrible, I think, as I pick up my water bottle and make my way to the changing room.


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