It was such a tiny little top hat. I smiled at my handiwork. It was made of clay and fired in my oven. I painted it black, and placed it on my desk. It was less than an inch tall, and made clumsily. Somehow, I loved it. The bottom was lumpy and uneven. The brim looked shoddy and too thick. It curved too severely on one side. Despite all this, I loved it because the top had an elegant-looking dip.
I reached for more clay. It was terra cotta in color, but felt like modeling clay. It dyed my hands brown and left a sticky residue as I kneaded it. I wanted to be able to use it. Ideas flashed through my head– things to do with this new medium. I had only three colors total, and I was unwilling to reach for my white or granite chunks just yet. I wanted to play with the cheaper stuff until I felt I knew my way around this fun mud.
Ideas swam through my head, too fast to grasp. I could make a pendant, or beads, or perhaps I could make something to satisfy my inner nerd. More ideas swam. I could try to make the Blood Star, a miniature replica of Face’s staff, or perhaps the king of Saldecla’s crown.
The sheer amount of possibilities took each one farther from me. I debated on dice, tiny fruits, useful tools, and even shapes my parents would not approve if they found.
I plotted items I lacked the dexterity for, and items that seemed so simple.
I wanted to make shapes, and then paint them.
An explosion of black fur on my desk interrupted my train of thought. My cat wanted love, regardless of my creative mood. She batted at a mechanical pencil, then looked at me and meowed plaintively, as though she was starved. I scratched one of her ears, and she moved to the corner of my desk and sat on my mouse pad. Her fluffy tail curled demurely around her feet as she stared at me. I returned to my task.
My music stopped, I finally noticed. I checked the time. It had been silent for several minutes. I paused. The time said 22:32 on my computer’s clock. I glanced upward to my alarm clock that sat on a shelf over my bed. I had only an hour and a half to finish my daily writing for the Literacy Lovers’ Lounge’s writing month. I set aside my clay, hit play, and forced myself to look at my document in Word. I re-read the last few sentences and began to type.
I finished my paragraph. A ding reminded me of various social observances, called chats and instant messages, that I was still taking part in. I checked each and replied as needed before I hit play on my music again and returned to task. Over and over again, it was the same song. I played it loudly, though none of my sleeping family objected aloud.
My mind refused to cooperate for more than a few sentences at a time. I picked up my clay again and began to knead the hardened mud. My eyes glazed over.
Without warning, I stood and put on my shoes and socks. I wanted to ride my bike. The entire time I stuffed my hat on, I silently pondered silly things. Should I wear my top hat out riding? What was the weather like, besides cold? Was it really wise to, yet again, go riding in the dark? My legs moved on their own and led me upstairs. I tried to use the back patio door, but it was stuck. Instead, I used the back door that my mother prefers people use. Even with mittens, it opened easily.
As I stepped out, I noticed it was a little warmer than usual. I yawned and walked to the garage. The door opened with a push, despite the latched knob; the darn thing was broken still, despite a recent visit from my father. I looked around. A few glow-in-the-dark stars still clung to the rafters and light switches– a remnant of days gone by. I flicked the light on.
Someone brought in the other bikes from outside. Mine was blocked in by two other bikes, each with drops of water on their seats. I rearranged the bikes so mine stood at the fore, then looked around to see what my brother did with his man cave.
The corner he and his friends used, where the lone heater stuck to the wall, was completely surrounded in foam insulation. It looked hilarious, covered in pastel blues, greens, and pinks. I smiled and led my bike out of the garage’s side door. The main door was permanently shut, thanks to my brother and father’s passive-aggressive attempts at controlling my brother’s garage band noise.
I closed the door behind me and walked out the gate with my bike. It was a gorgeous thing, all browns and oranges. The seat was wide and cushioned. The bike looked retro as hell. I liked to call it my hipster bike as a silly jab at a friend. It was an excellent Christmas present from my parents.
Slowly, I walked my bike to the road and looked around. I could feel rain now, and the brim of my hat did little to stop its spatters onto my face. I shrugged it off and mounted my bike. For a brief moment, there was some discomfort. I was too short by a few inches for my amazing bike, but I refused to let that bother me. I pedaled off down the road.
Nothing looked familiar, even though I grew up in this neighborhood since infancy. Then again, I only ever played on certain roads as a child. I never played on Cairns, nor on Maple, but always on Pine. I was surprised when I realized I still knew the street names, even after I spent ten years being reclusive. The air was crisp, and despite ten years of vegetative lifestyle, my bike made me feel free. This bike was the key to my freedom, and it called me at the strangest hours.