The following was inspired from the prompt, “The Novice.”
He was too big for the bike. Knees splayed awkwardly outwards, feet slipping off the pedals, hunched over the handle bars determined to hang on, the bike pitched from side to side, training wheels bent up so far, they didn’t touch the ground. It was time. Time for the training wheels to come off. Time for the big boy to ride a big boy bike.
It was two years past the growth spurt that should have graduated him up from his purple and pink bike, red plastic ribbons hanging in a tattered shower from the ends of the white handle grips, purple metal showing through the torn plastic. The plastic flowers, once carefully woven in and out of the wheel spokes, were bend and faded, flapping against the support bars with every pass.
His face puffed fiery patches across his pale cheeks as he struggled for speed along the long driveway. He leaned into the curve of the circular drive and a training wheel grabbed the pavement. He lost control and went down hard. Tears welled up but he gritted his teeth, rose up, and straightened himself and the bike.
“Kiddo,” I called as gently and evenly as I could. “Those wheels are hurting more than helping.” I stayed still on the path to the house, toes even with the edge of the pavement. It was the furthest away he allowed me to be, watching his every movement. “Maybe it’s time to take them off.”
His head whipped around and his grip turned white on the handle bars.
“No!” He twisted the bike around and stomped toward me. “I need the wheels!”
“Looks like they are getting in your way.”
We looked down at the training wheels, little tread left on them. He’d insisted that the wheels remain tightened as an extra braking system, keeping his speed under control, and his fear. Two years of abuse had locked up the nuts rather than loosened them. The tread was worn in even patches, making the wheels blocks not circles. The metal extension brackets were pointed more to the sky than the ground, twisted and scarred from too many crashes. (more…)