The Courier by Anniken Blomberg
In the mind of the courier memories are beginning to turn light and porous. Past lovers take on the texture of whisked egg-white in the susurrus of traffic. Their bodies quiver in step with the wheel-judder across cobbles and potholes.
The courier speeds ahead as the traffic light changes; she inhabits the slot when the light dwells briefly inside amber. It’s enough for her to position herself and contain pursuing cars; prevent them from doing anything other than nibble at her heels. If the light-conditions are right she sees the amalgamated shadow of her bike Hannah and herself ripple across cars and buildings. The curve of her body ascends in an undulating line from the revolving foothills of the wheels, climbs the apex of her head and falls down her chest and arms to the handlebars. She feels she’s riding an extended respiratory system. Airstreams dive into her lungs and trickle out between her ribs, making her ribcage reverberate and chime.
The courier feels most at home among the reflections thrown by a wet city after dusk. They absorb her until she’s just a flicker caught in the crosshatch of streetlights and rain.
Inside her head the expanse of the city is laid out in a glittering grid. But her map-sense goes deeper. She senses the ancient arteries, the desiccated riverbeds the city rests upon. Now it’s as if the layers of the city unpeels as she travels across them; extinguishes the streetlights, flattens the houses, weakens her sense of how to get from one point to another. The map-grid shivers, the glittering lights pop like air bubbles.
Even after her work has dried up the courier keeps cycling; for that is what she does. She navigates the sound-map she reconstructs every morning; each street its own chime, each weather-pattern a separate pulse. After a brief sleep all that’s left of the previous day is a tinted echo of sun, wind and cloud.
As her energy wanes the courier manages only short distances before she has to stop. She clutches Hannah, sways on unsteady feet and listens.
Then one night of heavy rain and lightning the courier feels herself being summoned once again. Hannah has become chipped and rusted, but now there’s a brush of light across the wheels. The handlebars twinkle ivory, like teeth at the bottom of a pond.
The courier drinks the rain. There’s a playful lilt of raindrops inside her and her energy returns. With a jubilant cry she cycles Hanna through the rain-stained city and into the flashing, swollen river that divides it. This is her last delivery; forged by lightning and water. To the one who finds the bonded fragments of the two of them. To be displayed with care, handled lovingly with gloved hands and to be a source of wonderment at how that instrument once fitted together; what it sounded like.