We ride. Downhill at first and then in the middle of the road. Quiet roads are made for that. You’re sliding down the middle, wind in your hair, mom says slow down but her voice is not the panicky kind but the soft “you’re fine for now, keep going”… Race your brother, do it and laugh, scream when he gets ahead of you, scream “cheater!” even though you know he did not but he just rode faster.

Stop by the playground. The spiderweb playground. Jump, run, lie down on the dry yellow grass. So dusty. The air is lazy and warm and it wraps around your ankles like sleepy snakes. But can you do this? Oh, I’ve tried this so many times since grade one, mom, and now I did it. That winning grin, like the day when you figure out walking. The magic of overcoming fear. Mom’s proud of you, you know it because of that smile that makes you feel ten inches taller.

Run to the other side. Clouds of dust follow you, crazy wild chickens. Mom, are you coming? Talk about people, life, death, why do people die and should people who suffer badly die because, mom, wouldn’t that be easier for them? Who knows? Yes, no, but loving life is embedded in every cell so even when you stop fighting your body will still try to save you. How did we get into this?

Make your way back. Mom, can you push us? No way, you’re strong. Whine, but you know mom means well, you’re secretly pleased she thinks you’re strong. Ride uphill, will he slow down and let the bike topple over like last time? But no, look Tony, your brother’s riding his first hill, he’s getting there. Oh, what a sight, a boy conquering a hill that’s long and steep enough to make one squint.

Mom, what are these called again? Lady’s earrings. Pick some, smile, here mom, for you. Next things is a crazy scream as you charge up this second hill. You know behind you mom is smiling and shaking her head… Crazy boys, don’t ever slow down, don’t ever let that energy go soft. Clover on the way, a four leaf clover is good luck, right mom? Yeah but… never mind, who’s got time to look for one. The race is on again. No, not in the middle of the street! But why not, there’s no car coming. He’s on the sidewalk mom, we each need a track… Go go go!

Home now. Drink an ocean full. Mom, what are we gonna do tomorrow?