I am five years old, grown and prepared to let go of the guaranteed stability of my training wheels. I seek independence. There must be something I don’t know, a form of knowledge the world is hiding to protect my innocence. I ask my brother to share the secret to riding a bike. I am frustrated by his halfhearted answer: there is no secret, you just do it.
I later watch my best friend ride freely, and she’s four months younger than I am. Her bike is sleek and bare. I am left behind in a slow and steady pace with helping hands. Why does she have the secret, but nobody will share it with me?
I ask her how she learned to ride on two wheels and she gives me a chance to prove myself. She hops off her bike and I get on. If I’m going to do this, I’ve got to try right now.
I start to pedal slowly, but I need momentum to stay upright. Faster, she yells, as I turn to flow down the steep hill of her driveway. The wind pierces my pores and I am finally enlightened. I hold the secret to freedom inside my tight grip on the handlebars. But I soon realize there are no brakes to squeeze. I cannot stop.
The wall at the back of the garage gets closer to my eyes. Time speeds up and cement hits my body. I am left injured by ignorance.
My best friend comes to assess the damage. Denaya, she yells, all you had to do was pedal backward! In my desperation to move forward, I guess I forgot to think about stopping. I’m not yet ready to master the art of riding a bike, but I now understand the importance of patience and preparation.