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A Time to Brake and Admit
I hate the backseat of my mother's teal Pontiac. The woman greets every bump in the road with the slam of seats, and my preschool hiney gets the brunt of it. Thank God for my car seat. If I didn't have those black straps to embrace (more so to cling and dig my nails into), then there's a good chance that my five-year-old body would've been splattered across 35W by now. I definitely wouldn't be cozy in my Barbie footie pajamas, hyped up on Barney. Well, at least not in the standard upright position. Oh, and I'd even be more offended if my mother's driving interfered with my daily intake of soap operas. During naptime, I like to sneak out of my room and fix myself in the space between Mom's soft stomach and toned arms. I promise her that I'll sleep in this self-created nest, but the plan never ensues. Mom's rules and regulations waver, and I'm spoiled with inviting arms and tickling kisses. I glance at the TV screen, and Mom administers a shield of fingers across my face during the "good stuff". Whenever the shield forms, I make a game of it. I test our reflexes, and occasionally get away with an uncovered eye, or ear. If only my tongue stopped wrestling inside of my mouth, then victory would be mine.
"I can still hear it! I win! I still hear it!" I taunt and rhyme as ripples of giggles take course. Without delay, my mother cleverly hums, droning out the racy, immoral "good stuff". Once again, my mother proves me wrong. She simply surpasses the TV's decibels, and undoubtedly beats me at my own juvenile game. However, something tells me that I'll always doubt her driving competence. I'm sure of it.
Well, yesterday I was sure of it. So, I guess that's why today's driving performance pleasantly surprises me. For one, mom correctly places the car in reverse, eliminating the engine's usual gripes and growls. And two, boy is she proud of herself! In return, pride plasters a goofy smile across her jaw. The sun's dusty rays seep into the car and clash with the rearview mirror causing hair to reflect upon her chin. The distorted reflection is hysterical, and my sides can't stop pinching together from laughter.
Anyway, the true test of fate appears when the wheels lock into position, and we're about to parade backwards. My grip tightens around the savior-like straps guarding my puerile self. Mom is still smiling, and we're smoothly sailing out of the garage until… Crack. Bang. Stop. A brief moment of silence transpires, which then cues the final thud.
The van is teetering, and squeaking like untried tennis shoes. I press my freckled nose against the little division between myself and the crime. My stomach squirrels up into my vertebrae just beneath my throat. Bent and disfigured, my mother's victims lay motionless. They're torn and tangled like two injured lovers. My jaw tightens, and I'm speechless. And Mom, well, she's still smiling.
"I guess you'll be riding a two-wheeler."
I guess you just murdered my training wheels. Hell, you annihilated them. Congratulations! You ran over my safety, and my trust all in one day. You turned my life into the unknown and discarded my dependence like it was Chinese take-out. I'm going to need years of therapy, and I'm never going to be able to ride my bike like a normal child.
By the way, I've been riding a two-wheeler ever since.
P.S. I wasn't kidding about the therapy.
So, I can barely describe the sensational role reversal that took place in my life. Suddenly, the reliable nurturance of training wheels disappeared. For replacement, I implemented independence and self-sufficiency. I could ride and ride with nothing but my weight to support me. I felt empowered to carry myself at great speeds across vast parks and rickety trails. I felt in control and nothing could stop me because with a flick of the wrist, I could switch gear settings just like that. I'd pedal with such intensity that poor Fate was winded, and Destiny gave up by the time I braked. Braking was never an issue. I always knew when to stop.
A time came when my muscles transformed into putty, and my breathing moved a measure too fast. My pace grew inconsistent, and I no longer kept up with the wind. These were my limitations, and I was alright
with that. I always understood that enough was enough, but bulimia just doesn't get it. She doesn't realize how intrusive she is. Around midnight, she's the unwelcome visitor raiding my kitchen, finding food to sink her decayed teeth into. She explains the lack of eye contact after bathroom visits when I return with swollen, chipmunk cheeks.
She's the reason why my mom can't stop crying and sputtering, "Ashley, do you know how serious this is? It's affected your heart, and you act like it's no big deal! I haven't seen you cry once!"
And, she'll probably never see me cry over this. I just can't. She doesn't understand that I'm built to feel her pain before that of my own. I don't cry for myself. I cry for my family, and I do this until my cornea stings, and my eyelids are inflamed. The thing is no one knows this. I don't want to reveal my weakness. So, I mask myself in dishonesty and painfully smile when it truly hurts. But mostly, I'm just embarrassed. I'm embarrassed because I flaunted my wheels of independence for all of those years, and now I'm scared shitless of a snarling pit bull named bulimia. No matter how fast I pedal, she's always at my heels.
God, I'm so stupid! I'm filled up to my neck with lies, pain, and humiliation, which is exactly what bulimia wants. She's hungry, and my hand naively stretches toward her ready mouth with those glimmering canine teeth. I'm feeding the monster that wants to consume me in one single bite. Pretty much, I'm signing my own death certificate, and it's sending me straight toward hell. Therefore, I'm going to admit it. I'm going to admit all of it. There's only one way to say it: I'm sixteen years old, and I still need my training wheels.