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Breaking The Wave

08/09/2010

Simon Faris rode the wave and the world was all good! The air rushed past his ears and he could almost imagine himself flying. His legs rested after pedalling as fast as he could to pick up enough speed during his launch before the descent. He was gonna do it this time! He really was gonna break that damn record!

The Wave was a stretch of footpath that descended at a 35 degree angle of decline as it ran parallel to the odd gum tree and an asphalted road, a scant 10 feet away. From its height to its trough, it ran for approximately 600 metres and culminated to a fairly quite intersection that allowed you to slow your descent so to speak as descent became ascent. What made the wave attractive to the mind of youth, also made it a sore point of contention to their parents. The thought that one of the own would be risking life and limb to take on this stretch would have them having a conniption in their sleep. Ignorance is bliss, and the children who had marked this stretch of pathway as their version of Everest kept their parents in that bliss.

The kids had developed a coded communication methodology and figured out the best time to take the plunge without attracting too much attention from their parents. The accepted thinking was Saturday mornings between 9am and 10am; a period of time, most adults they had concluded, would spend puttering around the home, and enough for maybe 6 runs a day traffic permitting. After 10am, the road’s traffic started to get a little heavier and even a sighting of a run could shut down the whole operation. They could actually make the run time slot from 8am to 10am, but it was commonly considered inappropriate as it ate into valuable cartoon watching time.

The record was a long-standing one in kids terms – around seven months. It was held by Charlie Lumat, who had used Simon’s bicycle and had ridden the wave to history in a new world record time of 8.45 seconds according to Barry Tosh’s stupid digital stopwatch. He had celebrated the win with Charlie at the time; after all it was a joint effort. It WAS his bike. But it also was the day their friendship began to erode.

Charlie was a born athlete and Simon was a born geek. He and Charlie had been thick as thieves since kindergarten, but since the events of that day, Simon and Charlie became more distant. According to Charlie, he had not even meant to ride that day. Which may be or may not be true. According to him, the only reason he turned up was to stop Simon from making a huge mistake. According to Charlie it was the jeering of the crowd that had turned up to see a run at the behest of Simon’s coded message. According to Charlie, it was Simon’s own egging that forced him to take to the hill. If you can believe Charlie.

Shortly after the successful run, Charlie became the school God. The bigger kids would nod as he walked past as if he was one of their own. He got picked on less, people would give up their place in the canteen line to him, and damn if he did not start to do better in maths than Simon too! Charlie even got a girlfriend although before their friendship had become moot, he had confided in Simon that he wasnt quite sure how he got a girlfriend or what he was supposed to do. It had advantages, he revealed, in that he had more parties to go to now. But he also pointed out the disadvantages of not being able to get enough time to spend with Simon.

Simon’s own corruption of the events that had occurred clouded the real truth: it wasn’t that Charlie stopped doing stuff with Simon. It was Simon who was always busy when Charlie called or wanted to see a movie. And when Simon didn’t go to Charlie’s birthday party, Charlie had reluctantly stopped calling which Simon took as the second final piece of evidence he needed to make his good friend into an ex-friend. The final piece it turned out was when he scanned the crowd from the launching point and had not seen Simon in the crowd.

Throughout a four-month period, Simon watched as other kids took the wave; he didn’t know when, but the kids had even started a booking system. Although Simon wanted to show the school once and for all who is the best rider, he would have to wait his turn. The wait was not made easier by the other rule imposed by the general populace that no run be taken if it had rained the day before and to Simon’s horror, the majority of spring had bought rain on Fridays it always seemed. He was pretty annoyed with God for that and spent a good portion of time telling God directly at church through several silent prayers.

Simon had continued to work on his bike during such cancellations though, streamlining it and making sure the gears didn’t stick and the chain was well oiled and at the right tension. And he waited and bided his time. It can’t possibly rain every single Friday! He was 5th on the sheet and he hoped that was enough time to complete his run the next time a dry day announced. Yesterday had been that dry day! The weather hiatus was over.

He had reached the ‘point of no return’: he had gone over the pathway many times and realised that to beat the old record, you had to let gravity do a lot of the work and then you had to peddle like crazy just after the ‘point of no return’. Here the bike would be flying at quite a pace and if you applied the brakes now, you can forget the record. What you needed was more speed, not friction. His well oiled machine hummed like a beautiful engine and he realised that he really could break this thing! It would be him the others would respect! It would be him that they will let into the canteen line! And maybe he could get a girlfriend too! Secretly he had given up on trying to beat Charlie at maths. Charlie may not look like much, but he was smart as.

Charlie had had of course another advantage over Simon because he was always bigger than him and this had always made any past attempt by Simon seem so slow in the past. Gravity and mass and all that. But it turned out that the months of no run days had actually helped!. He had gained 3 inches in height and an extra ten odd kilos in weight himself! Simon had also carried an extra five kilos in his backpack in various guises from books to a sock full of coins. It wasnt cheating he told himself, but making up for what God had neglected to do.

He had to be careful when he started pedalling to not somehow tip the weight in the backpack too far to the left or too far to the right. It had to be slow and methodical to start, but that was okay as the extra weight would more than make up for the initial slow start. About 100 metres past the point of no return and with only 250 metres left into it, he knew his plan was working. Simon raced down the wave as it was called by the locals and he could actually hear the guys at the bottom cheering him on! He was going to do it! He was going to break the record!

It wasn’t until the steepness required him to coast a little on the pedals that he noticed that there was something wrong with the bike chain. He had oiled it, but he forgot to check the tension. He wasn’t sure why he did what he did next, but he had started to panic. He had to keep peddling faster to stop the chain from getting too loose and dragging on the gears. So Simon literally put the pedal to the metal and rode as fast as his legs could roll.

Only AFTER he started to pedal and pick up even more speed, did he realise his mistake. It was clear to all the watching kids at the bottom that Simon was riding the wave like no one had before. It was then he noticed Charlie was not only in the crowd, he had pushed his way to the front. Simon noticed that unlike the other kids, he wasnt smiling and cheering. In fact he looked as outright concerned as Simon felt as he careened down the pathway.

Simon would easily broke the record that afternoon; 8.22 seconds according to Barry Tosh he was told later. He also had broken his collarbone and a leg. He would have been far more severely wounded if Charlie hadn’t done the craziest thing ever.

Instead of moving out of the way as all the other kids had done on realising that Simon was gonna be a gonna, Charlie got IN his way and tried to snatch Simon off the now runaway bike. In the process, Charlie too had suffered a broken leg and a bad gash in his arm that required 15 stitches. The bike had not been so lucky.

Simon and Charlie were put into the same ward and had side by side beds which was GREAT! The got to watch TV together, they talked heaps and their friendship was not only saved, but strengthened. More to the point, Mary Kelly, Charlie’s girlfriend, and her friend Emma Jackson would come visit often. Simon understood Mary visiting Charlie and him by default after all, he was a great guy. But he didn’t know why Emma would come along till one day Emma didn’t sit next to Mary with Charlie, but came to visit him and him alone. It was just like Charlie had said. Somehow he had gotten a girl friend and he didn’t know how.

After the girls left one afternoon, Simon couldn’t help thinking that even though both he and Charlie had their Summer kind of spoilt, it was the best spoilt Summer he had ever had.

 

Simon and Charlie had both broken records down that hill. Of course, the wave had done a little breaking of its own.

 

 

 

THE END

A. Ghebranious 2010 All Rights Reserved

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