The Bicycle Girl
by Stanislav Borokowski
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I would much like to tell you about the girl I met the other day not far from the Ferris wheel. She apologized for having locked her bicycle in such a way as to make it difficult for me to extract mine, especially with the fresh produce I had in one hand, though the real problem – one could argue – was the gigantic metal baskets attached to the back of my bike, which hardly serve any purpose, as they always open up from the bottom of themselves , rendering them rather unsuited for transporting produce. In any case after her apology the only thing that occurred to me to say was a compliment for her bicycle, something like: “Oh, don’t you have a nice bike.” She thanked me in the name of her Schwinn and we rode off in our different directions – she towards the Great Cathedral and I right past that famous Ferris wheel .
What I really wanted to say was that this bicycle girl – or is she already a bicycle woman? (At what point does a girl get upgraded to woman? The kind of issue that we here in the post-post-Soviet era are left to deal with.) – to love this girl (we’ll let her be a girl for a little while longer) would be like placing a smooth, round stone from a dried up riverbed onto your tongue for no good reason –
Something extraordinary and inexplicable took place this evening at a picnic table in the darkening park, in light of which everything now seems cleaner and more obedient. The trees closed a circle around me , the clouds sank deeper as if they had something to say and for a second I stepped out of my bewildered agitation long enough to listen. The bicycle girl blew off to a far corner of my mind , one I myself don’t visit very often and where she might dwell in peace as she fades away. I can live with her there, can live with a lot things that a few hours ago seemed so hard to swallow. Like the relentless progression of days, most of them without particularity or special promise (or am I just incapable of giving them with that, of tying them down in my memory to anything singular or essential?). I answered the clouds, saying – “ Let the days grow like children and leave us. ” And rubbed my bare hands together, remembering that in that very spot last week the last carnival tents were folded up and driven off, and that while we were waiting for summer to be over, it already was.
The bicycle girl appeared last night to me in a dream . We ran into each other at a bar in the 7th district where a documentary on East German punk bands was being screened before a single man stretched out on a lawn chair . As I began to make an off-handed gesture of farewell (though neither of us seemed to be going anywhere) she leaned over and gently placed her soft cheek against mine , smiling-frowning at me with an expression that I could make no sense of. What might she have been trying to say? What was she trying to say?
Get Into the Action
Now that you know some of the literary elements you’ll be looking for as you read, let’s take a closer look at the While Reading section of the graphic organizer. Here’s how one reader of Edith Wharton’s “A Journey” filled out this section.
Fill out the second section of the graphic organizer as you read the story.
Be sure to keep asking questions as you read. Jot down examples of figurative language and other literary elements in the story, and try to interpret what they suggest about the characters and their situations. Try to relate to the characters. Ask yourself what you would do and how you would feel in their situation.