50 Spokes of Grey

*tap tap tap*

He strode to the door in a few steps, calm, powerful, sure of himself. He pulls open the door, “Welcome, darl-OH MY GOD! THE LIGHT! TURN IT OFF!”

He yanked his head behind the door, shielding his eyes from the blinding glare of all 950 lumens of her NiteRider helmet light.

“Oh, oh, sorry!” She fumbled to remove a bulky mitten with her teeth and turned off her light. “It’s off now. Sorry. Sorry.”

He leaned down to kiss her, and as he drew back he felt something damp on his upper lip. Was it simply frosty sweat, or something less innocent? He wiped his lip and the disgusting thought out of his mind as he stepped back to welcome her inside.

She came past him into the shadowy room, clumsily knocking her pannier and helmet into a corner table and sending a glass lamp precariously rocking. She steadied it with her hand and went back to the door to unlace her boots. Lace by lace, eye by eye, she loosened one boot and then the other, slowly removing her first outer layer. He watched from the shadows across the room, wondering how long this was going to take.

Boots removed, she came back to the center of the room, her gate still resembling the bundled up brother from “A Christmas Story”.

“Can I have a drink?” she asked, hoping a strong pour might warm her up from the inside. He nodded and turned to the bar. Turning back moments later, he saw her waving her jacket and arms above her head in some strange dance. Blinking, he realized she was trapped in her pullover. Simultaneously, he moved to set down the drinks and she pulled the jacket back down, realizing the zipper was still up.

Coming to her, he unzipped her jacket and for good measure, the layer beneath it too. Under the first two layers he caught a glimpse of a third and the wisp of a smell, the smell of physical activity. How much more could she be hiding under there?, he thought. She shivered under his gaze, arousing his curiosity. “Sorry”, she said, “I just got the sweaty chills.”

She watched him turn back to the bar and nurse his drink while she undressed. Jacket, fleece, top… No less than three layers on her top, and bottom.  She attempted to discreetly lay out the damp clothes, to allow some opportunity to air dry while she and him were otherwise occupied.  He turned back, noting that her thick, warm socks gave her otherwise dainty feet the appearance of being two sizes larger and quite flat-footed, too. Following his gaze, she pulled off the socks. It seemed quite suddenly, she was standing in the middle of his dark living room in nothing but her antimicrobial, mesh base layers.

He took her hand and they walked together down the dark hall.

He rolled over, blinking in the bright sun that was pouring through the bedroom window. Sounds from the other room brought him to life and he moved out of bed to pursue the source.

Coming from the hall into the main room, he saw her still there. “You’re here”, he said flatly, trying to contain his surprise. She was red in the face and breathing as if she was running on a treadmill in a sauna.

“Just on my way out. Layering, you know…”, she trailed off as she bent over her boot, attempting to shove her heavily socked foot back into the opening. In the daylight, her layers looked even more squishy and he noticed her limited range of movement, especially in the shoulders.

Eventually she stood up, taking a deep breath. Grabbing her panniers, helmet and opening the door she gave him one last look. Her eyes, what were they trying to say?

It’s cold AF outside, can you give me a ride?

The end.

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