By Joel Mulkey
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I love being five now. I get to go outside whenever I want, and I can sit at the end of the table so I can see the TV. I couldn’t do that stuff when I was four, my parents said I wasn’t responsible enough yet or somthin. I’m watching Bugs Bunny right now. I love those cartoons, but it’s a really sunny day today, so I think I might go outside after lunch and play.
“You need a hair cut soon Joey,” my mom tells me as she walks past me, running her hand though my light brown hair.
“Noooo,” I mumble through the bite of gooey peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my mouth. I hate getting my hair cut. It hurts and it’s so messy.
“Well, we can probably wait until tomorrow, but you need it soon,” she replies. “It’s really nice outside, you should go out and play,” she suggests as I finish eating my sandwich.
“Okay, bye mom!” I yell as jump out of my seat and run out the back door, leaving my sandwich crusts lying on the table. As I look around the back yard I realize exactly what I want to do. My eyes lock on one toy, its big black wheel and curved yellow handles calling my name.
As I walk towards my Big-Wheel I remember that my dad just put a new front wheel on it yesterday. I drive so fast that the old one wore out. I grasp one handle and pull my big wheel toward the gate. The hard plastic is already warm from the afternoon sun. I step into the front yard and the soft grass swishes as the gate closes behind me.
I roll my Big-Wheel onto the sidewalk, yearning for that wonderful sensation of speed. I jump into the seat and place my feet in the exact right spots on the pedals for maximum power. If they are even a little bit off they’ll slip when I try to go fast. As I start to flex my leg muscles, I glance down the sidewalk and see that it’s all clear and ready for my reckless fun to begin. I think in my mind “three, two, one”.
THUNK, I smash my right foot forward on the pedal, spinning my front wheel with all the force I can muster.
THUNK, I smash my left foot forward and I can hear the scraping of the front wheel struggling against the concrete.
I continue to pedal, and after a few strokes I finally feel the strong steady pull against my body as I start to gain speed. I am soon past my driveway, but my front wheel is still slipping against the ground from the steady, rhythmical push of my strong legs. The front wheel finally grabs hold as I gain more and more speed. My neighbor’s fruit trees zoom past me on my right, a parked car on my left. As I reach maximum speed I lift my legs off the pedals, sit back, and enjoy the cool air swooshing though my hair.
I have gone by two more driveways now, and I need to stop before I reach my limits just one house away. I’m in big trouble if I go past that house, my dad would kill me if he found out. I jam my feet back onto the pedals and lock my knees. The front wheel grinds to a halt as I continue flying down the sidewalk. The noise is tremendous. I can smell the plastic melt as it’s ground off the part of the wheel that is touching the sidewalk. It smells like burnt rubber from a car, and it leaves a long black line down the sidewalk. I finally stop, but to my disbelief I have gone a whole house past my limit! I sit there frozen, not knowing what to do. Tears start welling up inside of me, but I hold them back. I’m five now. I can get myself out of this.
I quickly roll off the side of my Big-Wheel and duck behind a parked car that is sitting there. Hopefully no one will see me so I can get home and my dad will never know. As I look down the sidewalk I see our next door neighbor walking toward me. I start to get worried. I have to hide quick! I decide to jump in-between two bushes in the yard I stopped in front of. As I fall onto the ground between them I get a ton of scrapes and scratches all over my arms and legs. I didn’t realize that these were rose bushes. I whimper quietly, trying to hold back my tears from the stinging pain of the scratches. My neighbor is just a house away, and I manage to be silent as he approaches me. I’m pretty well hidden so as soon as he is past me I will just get up and go home.
As he comes up right next to me he stops. I am terrified. If he finds me I’m sure he will take me home and tell my mom. He stares oddly at my Big-Wheel then turns his head toward the bushes. Now tears start to roll down my cheeks. I know I am caught. As I start to stand up to admit my guilt, the impossible happens. He turns his head back and starts to walk off. I’m so happy, I thought I was dead. I let him walk until he is out of sight, then I jump out of the bushes. I climb onto my Big-Wheel and start to pedal home.
It’s hard going back. It’s uphill and the scratches on my legs hurt bad. I hope my mom doesn’t have to put that stingy stuff on ‘em. I have no idea what to tell her when I get back. I guess I’ll say that I fell in a bush. I stop in our driveway and run up to the front door. As I walk in my mom sees my red scratches.
“What happened Joey?” she asks as she hurriedly walks over to me.
“Oh, I fell in a bush mom. I’ll be fine though.” I reply, holding in the pain.
“Well we better clean you up. Come into the bathroom and I’ll wash those off,” she says as she pulls me up to the sink. She turns on the water and gets her hands wet. I am relieved to see that she isn’t using the stingy stuff.
“You need to be careful Joey. Don’t hurt yourself on that Big-Wheel,” she tells me.
“Don’t worry mom, it’s fun, even when I’m hurt. I love my Big-Wheel” I exclaim. As she cleans my scratches I realize that even though I’m five, I need to be careful with what I do. Maybe I should learn more about that responsibility stuff my dad was talking about.