PELVIC BONES AND BIKES
Everybody has a bike.
Barbara’s bike is a hand me down from her older brother. Her legs don’t reach the pedals without endangering her pelvic bone and it really hurts when you hit your pelvic bone.
But at least she has a bike.
Earlier in the day, I rode my cousin Roger’s glossy red bike with hand brakes and gears. I experienced the pelvic bone smash first-hand.
Roger says it hurts boys more than girls but I don’t see how that could be.
He rolls on the ground, holding his sides and giggling when I say that.
“Your bones don’t hurt any more than mine do when you hit them,” I scream.
He only giggles more.
“Boys – you think you’re so special – why don’t they make your bikes like girls’, so you don’t hurt your stupid bones all the time?”
He’s silent giggling now.
At my words, though, he stops giggling and lifts his head.
“But then they’d be girls’ bikes and who wants to ride a girl’s bike?”
I don’t kick him because he has Aplastic Anemia. But I want to.
Sure, Barbara’s bike is too big and it’s kind of rusted but at least she has one.
And now she’s off biking with that Robin girl from down the lane that I refuse to talk to.
Bored, I watch a long line of ants move in single file through the soft dirt just in front of the step. The leader looks like he’s carting off a small crumb of my mother’s bread.
“It that a crumb from the sandwich I had at lunchtime?”
There’s no answer.
The lead ant looks smug and all the other ants look impressed with this leader who has captured a crumb.
“So what, you got a crumb – not such a big deal, stupid ant.”
I’ve got no bike, Barbara is gone biking with her other “friend” and to top it all off, my brother Ricky is returning to Montreal tomorrow morning.
Maybe I could go inside for another piece of bread and give crumbs to all the ants and then the lead ant won’t look so smug.
As I’m contemplating this idea, Ricky and the Scott arrive home.
The Scot goes in the house but Ricky looks down at the sad-faced, scraggy kid on the step.
“What’re you doing sitting on the step – why aren’t you off playing somewhere?”
He should have known better than to ask.
Oh, there is much wailing. I work myself into a lather, going on about the injustice of poverty, unfairness of friends, the beauty of new bikes and pelvic bone crushing.
He understands the injustice and dutifully listens to my tale of woe.
Before the end of the day, he’s holding my hand and we’re walking to Eaton’s department store in downtown Sydney.
Heart beats faster.
“Have you ever seen so many bikes in your whole entire life?”
Blue ones and red ones with sparkling metal fenders – ones like Roger’s new one with hand brakes and gears. The second floor of Eaton’s is one shiny mess of bikes.
I spot one that makes my heart quicken.
“Look – it’s just like Roger’s.”
It is a shiny, beautiful thing – an indulgence for a ten-year-old kid with too few years left to live. But what do I know of blood diseases or heartbroken parents?
Ricky looks at the price tag and gasps.
He moves toward the discount area.
“Let’s go over here – this is a nice one,” he says, pointing to a dark blue beauty with metal fenders and a basket.
And it was a nice one. Such a nice one.
And summer becomes an endless bike ride.
Knees get smashed into gravel roads when Barbara and I visit uncle Billy’s grave.
Both of us zipping at high speeds through mud puddles on rainy days.
And one last swoop through an empty playground as end-of-day shadows lengthen and the curfew whistle echoes through our small city.