shiny new bike

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
xmas story

Submitted: December 18, 2012

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Submitted: December 18, 2012

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To Paraphrase a Great Holiday Story: At this remove, I cannot acutely remember if the shed door was locked for five days and five nights when I was seven, or if it was locked for seven days and seven nights when I was five. Either way, it was roughly a week before the Big Holiday and of course, a time of intense anticipation. The word “shed” is itself misleading., and in any case,, there were several other structures on the property, a barn, a chicken coop, a real shed with tools and garden implements and the main house. In this main house lived 3 self possessed women. One of whom was, yours truly.

Disregard any ideas of feminist utopia because the 3 generations who inhabited this little patch of heaven were as contentious as any mountain feuding family. A disappointed reluctant matriarch, a lonely, lovely misguided mother and a high-strung changeling child. It was universally known that there wasn’t a lot of disposable income around, nor a glut of religious sentiment. But Christmas is still Christmas and while true that I preferred celebrating my birth to anyone else’s, presents were always welcome.

While I cannot recall the exact year, I do know that I had requested, nay, demanded, a bicycle . Nothing else, no substitutes. Just as teenagers reach an age where they crave cars, youngsters also come to absolutely need a bicycle. It was that time. The bike was not a whim by any means; it was my commute to school and the surrounding areas, my get-away-without -a-fight vehicle and my ride to sanity. To be safe, I had asked during the summer months to give them time to save-and-shop. Yes, I was aware that a store called Shop-n-Save existed, but in our house it was always the inverse; saving came first. Never mind that I could not actually ride a bike yet. That would come, along with peace of mind.

Back to the shed itself. As I said, it wasn’t a classic shed, but more a small house. Like those undersized horses which nevertheless contain all the elements of a normal size horse, but are just smaller in size. There’s no telling who built it or what it’s original utility was. For as long as the three of us could remember, it had been my playhouse. Inside there were windows, pine flooring, shelves, a table a small area rug and stuff. My stuff. Almost everything I owned in the entire world. And the door was never locked. Until that day.

My playhouse may have been an unsubtle training tool for life as a homemaker except neither adult women was really interested in that sort of thing. Grandmother was so mad at life for taking away her husband and the life she expected that she would have slapped its face if she could have. Mother was the reminder of all that was good and bad in that life. And I swung between the two; hating one and adoring the other. Holding the entire enterprise together. Our symbiosis was as real as the hard sun on that day I saw the lock on the playhouse door.

It was early morning when I found the locked door. No one but me and the dogs were up. I ran to the side window and held my face right on the panes. The sun was inching in thru the poorly caulked windows, casting shadows on the interior. In the center of the room stood a shiny new bike. It was silver and red, with baby blue tassels on the handlebars, a wicker basket in front and a scoopy-seat in yellow. It seemed to be swaying slightly on its kickstand, but that may have been my vision which was blurring with the cold morning light. The most amazing Christmas present hiding in plain sight in my playhouse.

?

Youngsters are good at a number of things: snooping, whining, pouting, hiding unwanted food, but solving a true ethical dilemma is pretty much out of the range. And while I claim to be adept in the casual manipulation of adults around me, my brain was no match for this . I was somewhat surprised that I understood the problem as quickly as I did. It wasn’t the legend of Santa , I was long over that. It was obvious that Mother and Grandmother hid the bike so they could surprise me with it on Christmas morning. Never mind that I had asked for the bike; never mind that they had inexplicably hidden it in my playhouse. Plainly put, I had to pretend that there was no locked shed door, thus no shiny new bike hidden within the shed. For roughly a week.

At that age, a week is not even a real concept. Is it till we finish school this time? Does it mean when we go to church again? A child’s frame of reference doesn’t tally with that kind of time keeping. I just knew I had to put the entire playhouse out of my entire mind till Christmas morning. But how. And why? My child mind shouted it was stupid to try and hide the bike in my playhouse where I would see it. My child heart shouted back Shut Up! But, but that’s just stupid and…Be Quiet. Quiet! Please Don’t Let Them Know.

Just as I cannot now remember the date of the incident, I also cannot recall how I managed to not reference the playhouse till Christmas morning. Did I leave home for that week? Could I have taken a vow of silence for the holiday season? Did I become suddenly ill and take to my bed? I did, however, manage it and the morning came and the smell of bacon and biscuits rose into my nostrils and I jumped out of bed and raced downstairs noisily. The tree was trimmed, heavy with popcorn and homemade tinsel and right in front, facing the door was a shiny new bicycle. Grandmother and mother were bustling nearby, not looking at me or the tree or the shiny new bike. And I didn’t know what to hug first.

It took me weeks of training wheels and tears before I could ride that first bike effectively. I still ride a bike every day. And I still often times deceive people I love to allow them to feel good. It gets easier as the years go by.


© Copyright 2018 Peggy Blevins. All rights reserved.

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