One of the goals of NaBloPoMo is to write outside your comfort zone. About a month ago, I witnessed a small girl riding her bike along a busy street. I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I actually feared she would be seriously hurt. So I wrote down my observations. Not much editing, more of a stream of conciousness type of piece. Definitely not my usual style. Here goes:
Her pink helmet threatened to fall of at any moment. It tilted off the left side of her head, while her bicycle tilted to the right and the left as she steadily pumped the pedals. From behind it looked as if she paid no attention at all to where she was going, but her eyes must have been darting back and forth as she maneuvered through the heavy traffic. When the light turned green and cars began to move again, there was no hesitation… she just kept going and somehow made it across the busy intersection. Her backpack, too, rode on her back at an angle. There was nothing straight up about this kid. As I passed her on the left, I could see her heavy striped sweater was buttoned crookedly and was too much for a hot humid day like today. My heart began to pound as I watched her weave in and out of traffic in my rearview mirror and I feared she would be hurt. She pedaled past convenience stores not slowing for anything or anyone. Down the street past abandoned factories with rows of grimy windows and rusty steel doors. Weeds and vines were using the chain link fence to try and escape the concrete.
I slowed down and let her pass me, although she was unaware of me or so it seemed. I protectively followed her closely from behind. Her speed remained constant and she hit every green light along the street. Suddenly she turned left without warning, narrowly missing an oncoming car who blasted its horn and screeched its brakes. I continued to follow her, mesmerized by her skill or her luck or maybe her guardian angel.
The neighborhood was sketchy at best. Duplexes with front doors off the hinges, old aluminum siding faded and cracked, windows with cracks or plywood covering them, spindly shrubs with cigarette butts for mulch, house numbers with digits missing, and worn out welcome mats lying shredded on the sidewalk.
She peddled along at her steady speed, and now I was the only car on the street. She turned her head slightly to the left as if she was watching me and quickly darted up an alley that I hadn’t seen coming. I drove on out of the neighborhood wondering if I had frightened her, hoping that she made it to her destination and that it was a good place for her to be.