“That's it darling, breathe... breathe and push... breathe and push.”
My own breath was ragged in my throat, my heart pumping furiously.
“You're doing great darling, breathe... breathe deeply... that's it... breathe and push... breathe and push. C'mon darling... nearly there... nearly there...”
I spoke to her in a gentle and encouraging tone, she was in pain, and it was all my fault.
When I had first suggested we do it she hadn't wanted to. I can still hear her response now.
“I don't want to do it.” She had said with utter conviction.
But the urge was upon me, I had never done it before, I had heard so much about it and desperately wanted to try it. It sounded so exciting, stimulating, satisfying, and I thought maybe the exercise would be good for us.
I begged, cajoled, pestered, sulked, hinted... all to no avail. She still wasn't for giving in.
Until Christmas eve.
We were cuddled up on the couch, both feeling the glow of the after dinner drinks. She draped her arms around my neck and nibbled on my ear.
“If you could have a Christmas wish come true, what would you wish for? She whispered.
“You know what I want to do, what I want us to do together.” I answered. I could feel expectation rising. Hope blossoming.
“Okay then darling, let's do it.”
“Only if you really want to... I mean, you don't want to do it just to satisfy me, do you? You really want to do it too, don't you?”
“Yes darling I do, I know how much it means to you, and so I'm going to make your Christmas wish come true.”
We embraced, kissed passionately, and made beautiful, beautiful love.
* * * * *
The happy event would take place in the last week of September.
As the spring came, then drifted into summer I could tell she was having doubts. The closer the date came the more afraid she seemed to be that things would not go well. And although she never mentioned it, I could tell she was unhappy about the weight she had put on over the last few months. I tried to reassure her, she would always be beautiful to me.
And now all the waiting was over.
* * * * *
“Nearly there darling, nearly there... just keep pushing. Just keep breathing... and pushing”
She gulped air, emitting a small high-pitched grunt on each exhale, on each push.
I lifted my head and turned sideways to look at her, it saddened me to see her like this. Her face contorted, straining, with each breath hard fought for. Every ounce of her being, every fibre of her muscles, every calorie of energy, every inch of her willpower, all channelled and focused into the act of breathing and pushing.
And it was all my fault. It had been my idea, my need to experience, my selfishness that had led us to this moment.
I wanted to reach across to her, to hold her hand, but couldn't. I was afraid to let go.
I wanted to offer more encouragement but couldn't find the strength to speak.
And I was so proud of her. Proud of her for agreeing to do it. Proud of her for loving me enough to do it with me.
My heart really went out to her. Cycling up this steep mountain road was probably one of the hardest things I had ever done in my life, and she had matched me pedal push for pedal push.
As we reached the summit, and began the free-wheel descent down the other side, both of us puffing and blowing, I decided that maybe she had been right all along.
The bicycle riding mountain tour had looked so good in the brochure, and last Christmas she had secretly booked it for us as my present knowing that it was something that I really wanted to do. I don't think I realised just how much hard work was going to be involved, neither of us was any where near fit enough to take on something like this.
I think the next time I come up with one of my bright ideas for an adventure holiday and she says “I don't want to do it.” I may just take more notice.
©2011 Stephen. J. Green.