‘Five miles. Average pace ten minutes and thirty seconds per mile. Total duration fifty-two minutes and thirty-five seconds. Last mile duration eleven minutes.’

Paul fumbled with his smartphone and found the ‘stop’ button on his running app.

‘Run complete. Congratulations,’ the calming American female voice told him.

He sat down on the low wall of the narrow bridge. It was peaceful in the middle of the forest. He could only hear the sound of the water rippling under the old stone bridge.

Hunched over, resting his elbows on his knees, Paul took in gasps of fresh air. Gradually his breathing returned to normal. He wiped the sweat away from his eyes. Six weeks into his new fitness regime it wasn’t getting any easier.

He was dying for a cool shower and an ice cold drink. The serene water looked tempting, if it was only a few degrees warmer. He imagined jumping straight in. Standing up he leaned over the edge, his hands resting on the top of the wall.


Norman lifted his feet from the pedals, free-wheeling down the hill. The country road was always quiet, no need to worry about any cars coming round the corner at the bottom. He felt the wind in his hair and remembered being a ten year old boy doing the exact same thing.

Could he still go ‘no handies’ on a bicycle? He lifted his hands into the air. the bicycle wobbled. He quickly grabbed the handlebars again. Maybe not. He could still take the corner at full tilt though, he thought, seeing the narrow bridge at the bottom come into view.

Feet back on the pedals he adjusted his body to swing the bike round to the right. As he rounded the corner he got a shock to see a man in unflattering tight lycra leaning over the side of the bridge.

‘Look out!’ he shouted, to no avail. Slamming on the brakes as hard as he could, he slid across the tarmac and bumped into the man side on. The man teetered for a moment, long enough for their eyes to meet. then he fell. Norman heard the splash as the man hit the water below.


Paul resurfaced, gasping for air. He composed himself and managed to tread water. He swam slowly to the riverbank, where the man on the bicycle scrambled down to meet him.

‘I’m terribly sorry,’ Norman said, taking Paul’s hand and helping to haul him out of the water.

‘Quite alright,’ a revived Paul said. ‘Just what I needed in fact.’

Copyright Sue Vincent

This is a response to the Thursday Photo Prompt curated over at Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo. Click on the link to read other stories inspired by the image.

27 responses to “A HELPING HAND”

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