Gusts whipped through my hair, sun scorched my darkening skin and my lips caught as I attempted to close them over my wind-dried metal grin.
Houses dripped by like a painter’s palette caught in the rain as I whirred down the long, straight street in front of my house and as I fell, I knew the searing pavement would shave a layer off my knees, elbows and stomach.
I awake the morning of my thirteenth birthday to sun spilling warm light over the sheets. I relish the glow, basking as it sidles in to loosen me from my twisted, tissuey nest. Stretching lazily amongst the sprawl, I’m like a sock unraveling as it comes out of a warm dryer.
Until it hits me…my birthday! Sluggish sock cast aside, I’m on my feet in seconds, skipping the bathroom, scurrying down the blue-carpeted hallway and hitting the cool, cream-colored lino in record time; the floor’s creviced, fine brown contours awakening the souls of my bare feet.
I eat fresh, flaky croissants; scooping spoonfuls of raspberry jam from the jar, dolloping each jewel-like glob right onto the pastry before every bite. My tongue twinges with dripping slices of citrus, their spray watering down the comic section as Garfield and Calvin blacken my fingertips. I move on to the horoscopes.
Mom flits here and there, filling balloons, attaching rosy crepe streamers from wall to wall and spraying veils of lemon polish over the rich Mahogany.
Dad is somewhere below us in the garage, perhaps tinkering, sanding or sorting nails, gearing up to cut the grass. My brother, almost seven years my junior, is off doing God knows what, starting fires or torturing the dog.
A quick fluff n’ wash and I’m out. Racquet and ball in hand I’m ready to whack a few hours away rallying off the garage door, sure to get away with it today, being the birthday girl n’ all.
The gate squeaks when I open it and as I round the corner there it is. Balancing on a kickstand, glistening in the sun; a brand new, powder blue, Raleigh five-speed; its white-taped, ram-horned handlebars making my fingers curl, its big, red bow making my heart thump.
The garage door opens, startling me and exposing my family.
“Surprise!” all three yell, “Happy birthday!”
Unexpected tears hover just behind my lids as they all smile out at me from the cool shade of the garage, my Mom snapping away, camera in hand.
Okay, so I fell. Only one scar lives on and even it is barely visible now. We were together, the sun was shining and I felt like I was the luckiest girl in the world.