From “World Without Love ~ A Collection of Short Stories that Together Tell a Story (page 9):
Mom ran alongside while I pedaled. She’d hold the seat to keep the bicycle from leaning too far to one side or the other, while I gripped the handlebars and concentrated on going forward. From time to time, she’d momentarily lift her hand off the seat as she ran alongside. If my balance and forward progress were sufficient, the bike would remain upright and I’d be riding.
Whenever I glanced back to make sure she was there, she’d quickly place her hand back on the seat to let me know everything was going to be all right.
Sometimes she was helping and sometimes she was just running alongside. And it worked.
I got faster and faster and better and better and I rode right away from her.
I pedaled off down the road and left her behind. I felt her fall away; it was exhilarating.
Until it occurred to me that we hadn’t talked about how to stop.
I didn’t know how to stop.
I pedaled faster and faster and started calling out to her. She chased after me shouting. I pedaled faster. I didn’t know what else to do. I somehow made the first corner and turned right. She followed behind, but she was losing ground.
I panicked and pedaled faster.
I made a second corner onto a street I’d never seen before and kept right on going just as hard and fast as I possibly could. I didn’t know where she was anymore. I kept goin’. I made a third corner and a fourth corner and headed for home. I had no idea what I was going to do when I got there.
Mom couldn’t help me anymore.
I had to do this on my own.
On purpose, I headed straight for the next telephone pole.
I pedaled hard and fast and hit it – straight on.
There were L-shaped iron spikes protruding from telephone poles in those days that the linemen used to climb the poles. I soared up over my handlebars and introduced myself to the lowest rusty spike on the pole.
It left a diagonal scar across my chest that I carried for the rest of my life.
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