Tales of a Boy and His Bike, Tale 2: ch.1
Though it is unclear if Boyd’s speed in the previous story was enough to go toe to toe with Mark; rest assured, the speed at which Boyd now moved was faster than any speed Mark had ever hit. The bike itself was a maroon blurr underneath Boyd. Sweat rolled off his face, and was lost to the winds that swirled violently about both boy and bike. Boyd was also panting, knuckles turning white from how tightly his hands gripped the handlebars.
Perhaps the only thing more pale than Boyd’s knuckles was his face. If anybody were to sit outside on their porch, though doing so during a coming storm would be considered insane, were to see the boy’s expression as he sped down the block would know immediately that his extreme haste was born of fear. Whatever Boyd was afraid of, however, was yet to be known. All that is known is this; Boyd’s fear urged him onward, past block after block of houses, towards the safety of his own home.
Just a little further. Boyd told himself. Just a little further and I’m home. Just a little further and I’m safe. Yet with every second that passed, the greater was Boyd’s fear increased, and With every square of sidewalk that Boyd passed the greater the winds grew; and these wild winds pushed against him. All the while the Sun, whose light was Boyd’s only perceived source of protection, was beginning to dip into the horizon. The storm’s clouds were kissed by a whisper of the sun’s ember light. Despite this wondrous effect which nature had provided, Boyd ignored it. Instead, he focused on keeping his head down, and resisting the winds. The gales themselves pushed against him, but could not prevail. Boyd refused to give in. He leaned his body closer to his bike and with every ounce of strength he pushed both he and his bike down the final stretch of road that led to his home. Finally, he was at his house, and within his own yard. As he leaped off the bike Boyd looked up, the sun was just now being swallowed by the horizon though some of his fiery light remained. Then Boyd focused on his house, running as fast as the child’s legs could take him. Before his hand could reach the door a windblown leaf, yellow with decay, struck Boyd in the face. The frantic child perceived this as an assault from that which he had been running from, and went crashing through the door. He fell into the house on his hands and knees, but quickly scrambled up to force the door shut. Just as he did so, the winds picked up even more violently and the iron door closed with a ‘whump’. Then all was silent, all was safe.
Boyd panted heavily and leaned upon the door for a moment of relief. It wasn’t until he had become completely still that he realized just how tired, and hot, he was. With his breathing soon coming under control, Boyd turned to see his father, and two older brothers staring at him from the couches on which the sat. His brothers seemed amused at his arrival, though their father looked to be in a different sort of mood. Finally, after a long moments silence, the father said, “Lock the door.” Boyd gave a sigh of relief and turned to lock the door. As he did, the father continued to speak, “Don’t think you’re off the hook for being late. I would be upset with you, but your mother is upset enough for the both of us.”
The father, along with both of his kids, then looked up as his wife came noisily into the room.
“John, if he doesn’t come home soon I--” She stopped there when she saw him. Boyd looked up at his mother and smiled weakly. “You almost missed dinner.” She said coldly as she walked past her husband and their sons. “Was it fun, worrying your mother sick?” The mother asked Boyd.
“You’re gonna get it now.” Added Reuben coyly, before receiving a stern gaze from his father.
Teasing the reprimanded child normally got you stuck under the same punishment. “I don’t need an echo.” the boys’ parents liked to say.
Boyd knew it was better to respond with a look of shame rather than words. You could trip on your words. He saw no use trying to explain that the sky was clear when he had first gone out. It was no use explaining what had scared him off, what had delayed his coming home. So the family gathered around the table. Boyd’s position was between his two brothers. To his left was Reuben, and to his right was John. John, or J.J. as his mother liked to call him, the oldest of the three boys, was granted the honor of carrying his father’s name. Boyd, as stated earlier, was the youngest of the three and normally got the spots that left him no elbow room. His position at the table was the exact same way. While John and Reuben moved freely, Boyd was forced to mind his elbows lest he strike one of his brothers in the side. As they ate, Boyd tried to forget the image of that which had placed fear in his heart. Yet he could not. Quietly, without meaning to be heard, Boyd said. “I saw the witch.” And though Boyd’s father had not heard such a statement, J.J. and Reuben did. Both boys looked at their baby brother, and attempted to hold back their laughter.
“Is that why you looked so scared when you got here?” Questioned John while holding down a fit of giggles. “Because of some make believe Witch?” John released a snort, and then covered his mouth, and looked up. Only his father was there, and though their mother was not amused by such noises, their father was. He gave his namesake a smile and a wink. J.J. returned the gesture in kind.
“Make believe?” Inquired Boyd of his older brothers. Just last week they had managed to convince him that the Witch they spoke of was as real as the chair he was sitting on.
“Yeah.” Responded Reuben with a mouthful of food. “We made her up.” He then took a painful swallow of his dinner.
“Reuben.” Protested the father sternly. “Chew your food before you swallow.” Shortly after the mother came up behind Reuben and pinched him on the arm.
“What did I tell you about not chewing your food?” She then set up her plate and joined her family, for dinner. “Well, Boyd.” Stated the mother as she began to cut the meat which she had prepared. “What exactly were you doing out so late?”
Boyd froze. John and Reuben looked at him expectantly, threateningly. He and his brothers had been barred from the creek and nearby woods where Boyd had been; where he had seen the Witch. If he told her where precisely he had Boyd would spend the rest of his summer in doors. “I was…” Boyd paused, picking his words carefully. He decided to tell the truth, well, part of the truth. “I was picking up some rocks.”
“Rocks?” His mother seemed unconvinced. “Were they interesting rocks?”
“They- they were very interesting rocks.”
“May I see them?”
“Um, sure. Here.” Boyd reached into the pocket where he had stored these stones, and presented them to his mother.
“Hm.” The mother noted inspecting the rocks. “They are interesting rocks.” She said. "I especially like this black one, with the white speckles on it.” All the rocks were smooth, and that was instant proof to Boyd’s mother that he had gathered them from a body of water. The only place rocks could be made this smooth was at the creek, the one which she had specifically told them not to go.
“You can keep it if you’d like. I like the red one more, with the stripes.”
Bless his soul, thought the mother. It almost makes me sorry that I’ll have to ground him for disobeying, and lying to me. Almost. Children in those times, as in all the other times of human history, always thought they had their parents fooled. They never truly did, not for long anyhow. “Really? Thank you sweetie.”
With Boyd seemingly off the hook, he leaned backwards and, in a hushed tone meant only for his brothers, said. “You couldn’t of made her up. I saw her.”
“Well we did, and that’s how I know you didn’t.”
“You may think you made her up but I know I saw her.”
“Oh yeah?” Challenged John. “What did she look like?”
“Worse than you described her.” Responded Boyd, desperate to convince his brothers of her existence. “She was dancing when I saw her. Her figure was tall, and she was covered in shadows. Her eyes glowed white, and her arms were twisted and lifted towards the skies. She saw me, and she kept howling, but it sounded like words. Almost like she was asking me ‘who’ and every time she asked me that the wind got more and more wild, like she was controlling it.”
John looked at his brother skeptically, while Reuben listened intently. Reuben had taken rather well to reading in summer school, always finding himself reading further ahead of the class whenever they group read a book. So it was only natural that Reuben’s newly discovered imagination was prepared to take in Boyd’s story and believe it, though Reuben himself had crafted the false Witch himself. Still, Reuben and John had only gotten their idea of a Witch from a rumor that was as old as they were. A rumor of a woman who wandered the woods when the sun went down, and danced in the presence of the stars. They need only relay the stories to their brother, and add a few details , which is how all great tales are told, and thus was born the Witch which bore Boyd’s fear. For all Reuben knew, the Witch truly was real.
“I don’t buy it.” Said John in a hushed tone before he took another bite of his dinner. “If she was real she would have snagged you by now.”
“She didn’t get me because she couldn’t move. The sunlight makes her weak, at least I think that’s why she could only move her arms. I saw her before sun set, and barely made it to the house in time.” In John and Reuben’s version, one’s own home was the only place a Witch could not harm them. “But,” Insisted Boyd. “she did try to grab me when I went to jump over the creek. I could hear her bones snapping when her arm swung at me. I made it over the creek, obviously, but she scratched up my back pretty bad.”
“You didn’t look too hurt when you came in.” Noted Reuben.
“Maybe cause I was too afraid to notice anything.” Theorized Boyd. This seemed to make sense to Reuben so he questioned it no more. “I’ll show you guys when dinner is over.” John looked unsure, but agreed. Just then their mother spoke up again. “What are you three whispering about over there?” She inquired of her three sons, who were all huddled together. Their voices were loud enough to be heard, yet too low to be understood.
“Boyd was showing us some of the rocks he found.” Answered John, and held up a smooth, nearly flat, circular rock. She knew her son was lying, though it worried her how quickly he came up with that lie. Still, she played dumb and bid her time. Once again thinking they were off the hook, all three boys huddled together once more. "you better show us after dinner, or else we'll know you're lying, got it?"
"Got it." Agreed Boyd.