1) I am cycling off to Brentwood to pick Xir up from school, with Anainn buckled in behind me. Right where Barrington meets National, I hear that staticky megaphone sound: cops. I glance quickly back but there's a large fed-ex van on my tail so I can't see anything. I bike on, running a checklist in my head: listening to headphones? no. run any red lights? no. Anainn wearing helmet? yes. Good, not being pulled over then.
But the sound continues. I throw another look over my shoulder but the road behind me is completely empty. I bike slower, and think for a moment I shook it, but there's the sound again. Could it be a bike cop, tailing me, hiding behind the parked cars, waiting for me to slip up? Well, that's a little bit paranoid. Oh no, wait. Could I be having auditory hallucinations? That's one of the first signs of schizophrenia! This is so bizarre. I always wondered if you could tell a hallucination was a hallucination or if it seemed like reality. Now I know: it really seems to be happening. I swear I can hear that cop right behind me! But there's nothing there!
Now I bike faster, hoping to outpace my incipient dementia. Not much farther now! I still hear it! Oh no, have all of my poor dietary habits and excessive exercise and lack of sleep led to this? Well, I will keep it to myself. I won't let them lock me up! There are my children to think of!
All the way through picking Xir up at school and walking him to the park, I determinedly ignore the cop noises in my head. But they do not go away. They get louder. Xir asks me what is wrong. I don't want to lie to him, so I tell him about being afraid I was going to get pulled over on the way here. No point in scaring him with mom's auditory hallucinations.
"Maybe it's because of that cop noise coming out of your bag," Xir remarks.
"You...you hear it too?"
"Yeah. What is that, anyway?"
I scramble through my bag and find, at last, my cellphone. Apparently it has some hitherto-unbeknownst-to-me function of voice recording and playback that got accidentally activated as it tumbled around.
2) It is dark. I am cycling home from dropping the boys with their dad. I am ill-equipped for night biking, having lost my rear reflector somewhere and never having replaced the batteries in my headlight. A few minutes into the ride, my phone (oh, that cursed phone!!) blares out, startling me and causing me to skew into the road. I narrowly miss being hit. Shaky, I pull over to regroup and listen to the message. It's an angry one, from my ex, who knew I was biking in the dark at this moment, but could not wait to deliver his important diatribe (evidently, I gave our eldest son the wrong type of fruit as a snack).
Eventually I pull myself together and get back on the road, staying well to the verge. Suddenly a flashing light envelops me. Not again, I think. Blast those imaginary cops! The light seems to move with me, stopping when I stop, keeping pace. This goes on for several minutes until finally, at a red light, I get up the courage to look behind me. It is the flashing front light of another cyclist. I grin at him.
"For a second I thought I was getting pulled over!" I say, waving him in front of me.
"Oh, that's all right. I've been trying to stay behind you to light you up. I'm afraid the cars can't see you," he replies.
Suddenly I am in tears. I can't help it. This complete stranger has just shown me more human concern in 5 minutes than my ex had shown in 6 years of marriage.
"Are you all right?" asks the cyclist. I nod. But he reaches over and holds me anyway, until the light changes. Then we bike our separate ways.