Cycling in the Dark by Jacquelyn Schneller

As they tore down Silkeborgvej, her cataract-clouded eyes saw even more nothing than
the rest of them. True she was too young for cataracts. Everyone said it. True she was probably young enough to compensate for her cloudy gaze. She was only 23; strong, a former sports almost-star of her tiny Midwestern almost-town; and sharp, able to maneuver intellectually and directionally. But she had cataracts and it was unnecessarily night—the streetlights unexplainably off.

They ripped down the street anyway.

She zipped down the street anyway.

On two wheels she flew. She could ride a bike, but she came from a country of cars. A
country that cycled only on wide bike paths on a Sunday.

Slowly.

In the daylight.

Wearing helmets.

Not on cobblestone, in the dark, as one with the cars, bikes, and pedestrians, guided only
by the nonsense street painting, shaking signs, and the rest of her biking party rolling a full twelve bikes ahead of her, babbling together, in that nonsense language, Danish, in this nonsense town Århus.

No helmets.

It wasn’t always such nonsense. In the daylight, in their happy times, it was adorable. It
was exciting. It was adventure. It was domestic. It was her new life. She was a Danish housewife.

And even the Danish language wasn’t all nonsense. She studied enthusiastically one hour a day, sometimes two, for a whole month. Devoting the rest of her time to him and bettering herself.

For him.

He did not ask for it. But she did it. Day in and out. She scrubbed and organized and ran
her tight body around the nearby man made lake. Around and around. And her outside pulsed in quite a nice way for the rounds. They were together and he wouldn’t be sorry.
They weren’t always together. They were often apart. An American and a Dane can only
date in so many ways for there are so many ways to kick one of them out of the others’ proud country.

That was before. Now, they shared a two bedroom. She’d called Århus home for one
month. In fact, her shitty accent had her calling their city ‘OurHouse’ for nearly a month. Just about the time she mastered the Å and jammed the house into its hus, it was no longer hers to share.

She was a Danish housewife. But she woke up in another’s home. He had left her and
wouldn’t leave her the fuck alone. Vacant and cold. He was just another Dane. But this Dane she still fed and clothed with obedience.

She didn’t feed him well.

He was a much better cook. She didn’t recognize the foods. She didn’t dress him well
either. She merely washed his clothes, when the machine spoke English. He put them on, in the other room. Then he’d sneak out the door to work and a world without her.
And in the home she stayed. And in the home he remained somehow.

Better yourself.

And some days they’d sneak out the door together. She used to love trying to please his
friends. She used to try to make it her life, too. But now she cycled a full twelve cyclists behind the project.

They abandoned Silkeborgvej for Nørre Alle, just as quickly and

still

too

fast.

In the fog of the Danish, in the rush of air, she could finally think.

Thinking of the end. Thinking of the beginning.

It would only take a stick.

 


Jhaki is an accidental teacher by trade and an artist and writer by otherwise. Her birthplace in the Midwest was a conservative start to a life of wander. She’s recently settled down and commutes between Sweden and South Dakota. Her artwork and publications can be found at http://www.jhakijhaki.com.