Grey dusk came down on our heads like a soft pillow. The clicking of our bicycle spokes circled. Or was that the crickets chirps echoing in the summer air? The sun still glowed a warm red on the horizon, bright enough to bring water to the corners of my eyes and fuzzy white circles to my retinas.
In the distance, my sister whizzed down the hill; the steep one that runs just down the other side of our house. I watched her jealously. She may have been the younger sister, but she never did follow. So I sat crouched over my handle bars of my own bike, uncomfortably aware of the point in the seat pressing between my legs. I sat staring from up high and wanted to go after, but my eyes caught on snags in the street, clumps of asphalt, the beginnings of pot holes and that grade, sloping not so gently past my front wheel. Instead I yelled down to her.
“We should head home!” I shouted.
From down the street she looked up at me. It was impossible to tell whether she waited for me to join her, watching for my descent as I had watched hers, or if she had heard me. So I shouted again.
“Let’s go home!”
She waved to me, her hand welcoming me down.
“HOME!” I yelled once more. This time I pointed, looking back towards the house down the other, gentler hill that swept kindly, gradually, to the edge of our long driveway.
She waved to me again and I could just hear the long pause of a vowel followed by a few sharp consonant sounds issuing from her mouth.
I shifted over the hump of my bicycle seat to straddle the frame, planting my feet on the ground.
“No! Home!” I shouted back, but she beckoned me down again.
Fed up, I turned my bike around and without even looking over my shoulder I peddled back home. She would come back, I thought. She’d realize I’d gone home and would make her way back too.
My bike glazed down the driveway. I carefully braked, pumping my fingers around the brake line, making a fist on the handle bar and releasing so that I would come to slow and gentle stop right at the door step to the house. As my bike came to a stop at the end of the drive, I felt a stab of remorse. I should wait for her to catch up, I thought. But I toed the kickstand of the bike down and opened the front door before I had a second thought instead.