Not once did he think of leaving the apartment for anything. Even his weekly shop was ordered online and delivered to his door so he didn’t have to do anything but write his paper.
‘Too bad it can’t be the same with my mind, avoid everything but what’s necessary. That would make it a whole lot easier.’
Of course he was thinking of Ruby every so often. ‘Well, not really of her, but what she is doing,’ he made sure to clarify, even though it was all in his head.
Was she visiting Takashi and his wife?
Was she sight-seeing?
Was she buying a yukata?
Was she walking through the parks and admiring the gardens?
He tapped his fingers on the desk. With a sigh, he straightened his back and gave all of his attention back to his work.
His fingers flew over the keys. To his left he kept his notes he was working from, pausing to flip the page over to see the rest. Stack behind the computer along the desk were most of the books he was researching from.
It was late when he finished for the day. A simple dinner, tidy as much as he could stand to, and then he crawled into bed. But that night he couldn’t go to sleep.
Nothing was wrong, he just felt restless. His muscles tensed and begged to move to be released of pent up energy.
‘My body is so used to riding the bike every day, it doesn’t know what to do when it’s like this.’ Sighing, he climbed out of bed.
In five minutes he was dressed and had his bike on the road, his foot balancing his weight as he thought about what he was doing. ‘It’s night. About, midnight to be exact. Where am I meant to be biking off to? What am I meant to be doing?’
Pools of light illuminated the darkness from streetlamps. Hikaru felt a little exhilaration, to be awake at that time and out on the street when most in his neighbourhood were asleep.
Before he realised what was happening, his body pushed off and started to pedal hard and fast. ‘What? Oh, I guess… this is kind of fun,’ he consciously surmised. And then laughed. “Oh, who cares?” Hikaru voiced and pedalled harder.
The air was warm, streaming over his bare arms and legs, billowing the fabric of his shorts and shirt.
Soon he was sweating.
The air turned the sweat cool and regulated for him.
As he passed under each light, the sudden flashes from dark to bright became a rhythm.
Things caught his eye; the silhouetted shadows of trees, cats darting away, and the vision of the round disk hanging in the sky.
He stared at it like a child and for the first time in a long time felt like one. ‘I like not living in the heart of the city. I like being here where I can still see the moon.’
He slowed his pedalling and turned right onto a side street. At the end of it, he applied his brakes and lowered his foot and just sat there for a moment. His eyes were trained on the tar road in front of him.
‘Calm down, it’s not weird to end up here while on a late night bike ride.’ Glancing to the side to make sure no one could see him, he mentally added, ‘It would be weird if I went up to the door and asked her to join me for that bike ride.’
Scanning the house, he struggled to lower his heart rate and breath normally.
No lights were on.
He sighed in disappointment.
His heart rate and breathing returned to normal with only a residue of heat reminding him that he could feel something so embarrassing as fear/anticipation/anxiety. If she had been awake, what would he have done? Followed through with the strange idea to spontaneously ask her out?
‘Good thing she’s asleep.’
Pushing off again, he slowly pedalled away this time. This pace allowed him time to think clearly, there wasn’t a spike of adrenaline urging him on just to check and hope that he could see her for the first time that week.
‘I have another week’s worth of writing to do to get the draft all together. I can do that when I get back from the beach. It’ll be nice to have a break and maybe spend some time with other human beings for once. And it will be nice to see a different place. When was the last time I travelled?’
Instead of turning back home, he continued to pedal on familiar roads and slowed right down to crawl by the campus. ‘Strange, it never looked like this when I’m here late.’ Many times he would be behind his desk working. Sometimes he even slept in his office, when his little lounge wasn’t covered in reference material. ‘It’s normal, everyone does it…’ he frowned at his though. ‘Why am I justifying this to myself?’
‘Probably for the same reason I think everything looks different, I’m doing something unusual and taking the time to assess everything.’
Making a noise in the back of his throat, he spun the bike around sharply and hurried back home. Tracing his movements back, he tried to make his eyes focus the way they normally did, only on what was applied to his safety on the bike. But with no risk of cars like usual or pedestrians, his eyes continued to wander and that made his mind wander, and the air continued to roll over his skin and feel cool and refreshing as it hit the running sweat, and he couldn’t stop the feeling of enjoyment taking hold.