The Birthday Girl

Terrence Cheng

Too big, she thought, as she stared, looked around, wondered. She saw and heard nothing except for the chirping of crickets in the oncoming dusk and the random whoosh of cars on the avenue nearby. She knew she was alone in this and she stared some more before deciding it was what she wanted to do and this was not a bad thing.

Holding the handlebars and standing on the curb she swung her left leg up and over the frame, foot landing on the pedal and with a thrust she pushed forward and her right foot caught the other pedal and she was riding. Her grip on the bars felt too wide, her shoulders spread low, had to extend her toes to keep the pedals in contact with her feet. The lot was in the rear of the shopping plaza, empty now as it normally was, and she looked at the open space before her, several yards into her journey and feeling comfortable, almost happy before she realized she had no idea how to stop. If she fell she might hurt herself and damage the bike and then her parents would be angry and the deliveryman, Zi-Zhao, would be upset as well. He did not use the bicycle except for orders within a few block radius, but it was his after all.

She’d understood that there was risk beyond her own injury involved, but she had been bored so far beyond the usual—had done all of her homework and played all her video games and had watched all of her DVDs so many times—that she decided to take a chance. It was seven in the evening and Zi-Zhao had gone home for the day in his junky old car, and her father was in back cleaning the kitchen and her mother was at the convenience store in the plaza picking up random supplies. In the last hour before closing the phone almost never rang, so she rolled the bike out the front door and walked it into the parking lot in back and sat and stared at it for a while before she jumped on and began to ride. Dusk in summer, a pink orange glaze, she took wide turns and enjoyed the slight breeze in her face. Just don’t crash, she told herself. She pedaled harder, went faster, her control over tight turns forming zigzags and figure eights.

She could feel herself beginning to sweat, her heart pounding. She thought Zi-Zhao could not be mad at her if he saw her like this.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.