AIDA AUSTIN: 'God knows how anyone has an affair with a human the lying is bad enough when it’s only a bike'

MONDAY. I’ve been having a secret love affair for two weeks but have managed to keep it on the down-low. Heaven forbid my husband should ever discover that I’ve fallen in love. With an old bike.

He’d have all sorts of ideas for me if he knew I’d been cycling around town, trying not to shout: “I’M TEN! UNTRAMMELED! AND FREE! WHO KNEW!”

Yes, there’d be all sorts of ideas coming my way that would need to be nipped in the bud. Like cycling from Malin to Mizen in a force nine gale for example, which he’s just done in no time at all. Much better to carry on behind his back- whizzing round corners — bumping up kerbs and skidding to stops just for the fun of it — and keep what I’ve discovered, that cycling is simplicity and simplicity is happiness, to myself.

But secrets are exhausting. God knows how anyone has an affair with a human; the lying is bad enough when it’s only a bike.

“Where have you been?” my husband calls from the kitchen.

“I thought you were at a meeting,” I say, taking the stairs two at a time.

“It finished early,” he says.

“I just went down to Centra to get milk,” I shout down the stairs, before putting my wind-burnt cheeks under the bathroom tap.

“But we’ve got milk,” he shouts up. “I’ve just made tea with half a carton and there’s a whole other litre in the fridge.”

“And I wanted a Kit Kat,” I call, checking my face in the mirror for tell-tale signs of guilty glow.

“Oh,” he says, as I enter the kitchen. “Did you get me one?”

“No,” I say slowly which, I’m learning, is how you must proceed when you’re having an affair and innocent questions feel like carefully laid snares. “I didn’t know you were going to be here.”

“You knew I was going to be here,” my daughter says. “Where’s mine?”

“I forgot,” I say.

“Where’s your Kit Kat then?” he says, handing me a cup. “We can have it with our tea.”

“I ate it,” I say.

“You’ve been gone ages,” my daughter says.

“I took a detour,” I say.

“Where to?” my husband asks.

“Just the causeway,” I say.

“How do you like my bike?” my daughter asks.

“It’s OK,” I say, most casually.

“You took the purple bike?” my husband says.

“Yes,” I say. “It was less hassle than taking the car.” He gives me an odd look: suspicious plus excited.

“That’s a really decent bike,” he says. “It’s old but it’s a Land Rover. I can fix the gears for you if you like.”

“No need,” I say. “I just took a notion to cycle through town.”

“The causeway’s not the town,” he says. The suspicion has vanished, now there is just excitement.

“I can’t believe you’re cycling my old bike,” my daughter says. “I have such memories of that bike.”

“I don’t have any memory of you cycling anywhere at all,” I say; diversionary tactics are also useful, I’ve discovered.

“That’s because I only did it twice,” my daughter says. “Both times were totally traumatising.”

“Traumatising?” I say.

“You try cycling past the boys’ school at 16 with a big red face,” she says. “With boys all shouting, ‘HA, HA, HERE COMES MOLLY ON HER PURPLE LAND ROVER’.”

“Shame you never really got into cycling,” my husband says to my daughter.

“I couldn’t afford to show any sign of interest,” my daughter says to my husband. “Or you’d have had me cycling to school every day on a 10k round-trip. I knew better than that.”

I do too. Especially with Malin to Mizen being 612km. In certain situations, it is wise to padlock your mouth.

Tuesday.

My husband catches me cycling up from Paul’s in kitten heels.

I think I can pass off this episode as a flirtation.

Friday.

I am cycling over the causeway in my daughter’s runners; my instant-fix afternoon quickie. My husband passes me in his car: I think my number’s up.


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