Cleaning for China, I’m found a lot of papers I had forgotten about. I hate throwing any writing away, even the terrible bits. I love looking back, years after writing something, and thinking either, “How did I phrase that so poetically?” or, more often, “Ugh, what on earth was I thinking when I wrote this?” Because I had little physical room in the luggage I was dragging across the world, I discarded much of the prose I’d written. But first, I catalogued it.
This particular, unfinished piece was written when I was teaching in Virginia and trying to show fifth graders how sketching out a story (actually creating little drawings) could help you recall details of a story that you might otherwise forget to include. We were also practicing brainstorming. The assignment was to think of a person dear to you and come up with three or four memories you had of that person. Choosing one, we then mapped out our stories and started writing. What follows is my roughest of drafts that I never did finish nor edit…
I was flying down Eisenhower Lane. This was the first time I had been on a bike without training wheels and I had not fallen yet. “Don’t worry,” my dad shouted, “I’m right behind you.” He grabbed the seat of my bright red bike and steadied it so I would not wobble.
I rounded the corner from Eisenhower, bearing right onto Rutherford Drive. I was almost all the way home! I felt like I was racing. How was my dad keeping up? I turned my head to see how hard he was running. But when I looked back, I noticed he was way behind me. Oh no! How could I stay upright without his hand guiding my bike? I felt myself teeter as I downed the final hill. “I’m out of control,” I thought, forgetting how to slow down. I was still flying, but now, I was terrified.
“Help,” I tried to scream, but my shout was cut short by a loud crash. I had hit a neighbor’s black metal mailbox and fell, headlong, into a pile of gravel. Small rocks buried themselves into my palms and kneecaps.
I tearfully looked back at my dad again and, through blurry eyes, I saw him anxiously running towards me. Blinking to stop from crying, I sorely stood up, gazing down at the blood dripping from my fresh cuts.