The fourth time she crashed, her knee stung with the grit of unpaved road, and the last moments of adrenaline still coursing through her.
“Damn it,” she muttered, extricating herself from the bike with all the grace of a newborn. The sun was high in the sky, not sparing any details of the mottled skin and glinting metal of her bike, taunting her with the same shiny appeal that had driven her to take it out in the first place.
The voice came from behind her, crescendoing worriedly toward the end. Tia quickly cleared her throat. Tried to regain some of the poise that crashed along with the bike.
“Fine,” she said quickly. A face hovered above her, kindly, eyebrows furrowed. “I must have hit a pothole or something.” She grimaced. That seemed a logical explanation. Better than admitting she’d never learned to ride a bike.
“Alright,” the woman said with a worried smile, as Tia threw a leg back over the frame, hiding another wince. When she pressed against the pedal once more, her ankle twinged. She ignored it. Her knee ached from somewhere deep inside, but she only pushed harder, feeling the handlebars beneath skinned hands and trying to steer herself straight.
She could never quite place what it was about cycling that entranced her.
Her best friend had looked at her incredulously the first time she’d crashed, and promptly announced she wanted to be a cyclist.
“Usually, people want to do things they’re good at,” she’d said with a hint of laughter. But Tia had ignored it. No matter how much she’d attempted to forget about her bike, she found herself sneaking back out to the garage, determined to learn if it was the last thing she did.
This was the fourth time she’d been out. Wobbly still. Uncertain. But freer than she’d felt in a long time. The pedals seemed connected to her heartstrings, tugging in a way that opened valves and let out all the worries cloistered in her chest. She rode with a determination she couldn’t remember. The wind was harsher than she’d expected — nothing like the soft caresses that poets loved to write about at light hours. But somehow, this was better, the air whipping into her face and pushing her onwards.
It wasn’t until a few minutes later that she realized her mouth was sore from smiling, that her eyes were stinging with unshed saltiness brought on by the wind. It wasn’t until then that she realized she hadn’t crashed in minutes and that her spirits were soaring far above the pavement.
She stared to the left of the sun as she rode, feeling invincible, thinking if she shifted her gaze to the right, she could ride straight into the sun.
Adrenaline connected her to the seat, to the handlebars, the pedals, the points of contact that went directly through her skin. She rode, she smiled, and she went toward the sun.
A scraped knee never felt so good.