Amber – Age 7
can’t do it, James. I just can’t do it.” My plimsoll clad foot kicked
out at my pink and silver bike that was, yet again, lying in a scratched up
mess next to me. “It’s stupid and I’ll never get the hang of it,” I huffed and
dropped my forehead onto my scraped and throbbing knee.
James, my older brother by six years,
crouched down beside me. “Hey, don’t beat yourself up kiddo. You’ll get this, I
promise,” he reassured me in that soft, calming tone of his that was reserved
only for me. “What is it Mum says… If at first you don’t succeed-”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I mumbled cutting him
off. I used James’s outstretched hand to help pull me to my feet and then
reluctantly reached down to pick my bike up for the fiftieth time that day. For
three weeks James had been trying to teach me how to ride my bike without
stabilizers. The trouble was I had no sense of balance and as soon as he let go
of my seat I would wobble, panic and then fall off. Of course the other boys
down the street always thought it was funny and would stand there and laugh at
me. That just made me more nervous, knowing they were watching, and so I could
never just relax like James wanted me to do.
“This time Ambs, I’m not going to tell you
when I let go, okay? Ignore the idiots and focus on keeping your handlebars
straight and your eyes forward. You can do this. I know you can do this.” I
looked up at James as I climbed on the bike and smiled. James always made me
smile. It didn’t matter what was happening, how sad or angry I got, James
always made me smile. He was more than
just my big brother, he was my hero.
“Are you ready?” he called out as I grabbed
the handlebars and focused on old Mr Peterson’s yucky brown car parked down the
street. With my eyes narrowed and focused on my target, I started peddling. James
ran with me shouting out words of encouragement as I sped up with a
determination that this time I would make it, I would ride my bike all by
myself. I can do this. I can do this, I kept repeating to myself as I got
nearer to the old car.
“Keep going, Ambs, you can do it,” James
shouted but he sounded too quiet, in the distance. I immediately sensed he
wasn’t holding onto the back of my seat anymore and began to wobble.
No, no, no Amber, you will not fall again. I
tried, I really tried to keep those handlebars straight and make sure I sat up
upright to keep my balance but as soon as Soot, Mrs McGreggors Scottish
terrier, ran up to the gate and started yapping, my concentration faltered and
I fell. My bike crashed to the ground, again, and I landed with a thud. A
jagged stone cut into my knee and the pain was so bad I burst into tears,
crying like a baby.
Simon and Eric were sitting on Eric’s wall
laughing at me as I sat there sobbing, embarrassed I’d fallen yet again, angry
at myself for having fallen yet again, and in pain from scraping my knees, yet
again. James ran up to me and wrapped his arm around my shoulder. “What are you
two laughing at?” he growled and they immediately shut up.
“We, um, just-” Eric stuttered.
“Shut up! If I hear you, either of you,
laughing at my kid sister again I swear I will punch you so hard. You hear me?”
I peered out the corner of my eye as both Simon and Eric swallowed hard and
with wide eyes nodded their heads. They knew not to mess with James. They knew
he would follow through on his promise. “Good! Come on Ambs, let’s get you
indoors. I think you’ve had enough for today.”
James helped me to my feet, wiped my tears
and, pulling my bike along by the handlebars he walked me back home.
“What happened to you?” Mum said rushing
over to me when we stepped indoors and she heard my sobbing.
“She fell again.” I hiccupped on a sob as
Mum lifted me onto the counter and inspected my scraped knees. “She’s getting
better though, right Ambs?” James continued. I didn’t agree. I couldn’t. I
wasn’t sure I would ever be able to pick it up.
“Wait there sweetie, let me get some
antiseptic and plasters and make you all better.” Mum smiled brightly and
rubbed my cheek before walking off to get the first aid kit.
I hiccupped again and swung my legs against
the cupboards. “When I grow up, I want a husband just like you.”
James laughed. “Oh yeah? Like what? Handsome
I shook my head. “No, nice. I want a husband
who helps me up when I fall down and who will shout at the mean boys who laugh
James’s laughter stopped and he looked at me
like I was his sun, lighting up his world.
“And you will sweetheart. You will,” Mum
said returning with a smile and the first aid box.