Thunder This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Sometimes I think that I don't pay enough attention to the little things in life. I still can't believe I have been alive for 18 years, and as my senior year passes, I've found myself thinking about my childhood more and more.

I can remember getting up with the sun every morning that one summer. I'd hurriedly wash my face, eat my bowl of Life cereal, and change into my "play" clothes, which consisted of a hand-me-down tank top, jean shorts and sneakers. Then I'd open the door and see the light from the small windows accenting the garage door catch the gleaming bike.

She was a beauty, that 12-speed. I'd nonchalantly stroll over and firmly grip the handlebars. I'd strap on my helmet, pull my long hair into a ponytail, then get a running start before jumping onto the seat and riding down my gravel driveway.

It was only a short ride to Melissa's house. Her driveway was a satisfyingly smooth asphalt compared to my bumpy gravel. I wouldn't even make it halfway to her door before I'd see her garage door opening and the wheels of her bicycle emerge. We'd race off toward the park on our usual route, one we'd been following for five years, since we became friends in first grade.

"Is that all you've got?" she hollered that day.

"Are you kidding? Thunder is just getting started!" I joyously proclaimed.

Thunder was my bike, Lightning was Melissa's. To us, they weren't bikes at all. They were wild horses on which we would race around Dewey Circle, challenging anyone to try and beat us.

When we arrived at the park, we tied up our horses by the sandbox and then amused ourselves with the merry-go-round and swings, but those wild horses kept calling our names. We saddled back up and moseyed over to the street, searching for something to do. Just then, we heard commotion from around the corner. We peddled furiously, not wanting to miss the excitement.

"Hey look, it's Angela and Katie and them," Melissa announced. "Let's go see what they're up to!" By that time, dark clouds were rolling in.

"Hey, Ang! What are you guys doing?" I asked, climbing off my bike.

"Well, I don't think we'll be doing anything much longer. Look at those clouds!" she replied.

"Ah, that's nothing. Come on!" I waved them forward. They looked at each other, debating whether or not to beat the rain home, but decided to brave the storm.

The droplets fell hard against the pavement, and I could feel my handlebars getting slick. I glanced over my shoulder to make sure everyone was still following me, and suddenly I saw a glimmer of light peek through the clouds. I braked hard, and everyone behind me did the same.

"What's the matter?" Ang inquired. Then, she turned toward what I was staring at. "Wow!" she said.

Despite the pouring rain, a ray of sunlight had forced its way through the thick sky. It was the perfect setting for a rainbow, and in no time, the natural wonder appeared.

"Hey! I bet the end of the rainbow is somewhere near here! Let's find it!" Katie motioned to follow her, but Melissa and I led the herd.

We galloped around all afternoon in the rain. We were drenched before we decided that the search for the end of the rainbow was pointless, but nevertheless, we'd had an exciting adventure.

I didn't know it would be the last time I'd ever sit high on Thunder's back. I rode home thinking the next day would be just the same - I would wake up and spend the day exploring. I had no idea that was our last adventure together. Once home, I rested Thunder on her kickstand, hung my helmet on the dripping handlebars, and strolled inside to change my clothes.

Now, Thunder is just an ordinary bike collecting dust in my garage in the exact spot I parked her six years ago. Rust stains spot her once-polished paint, and her tires have gone flat. Though I was oblivious then, I now realize that the end of the rainbow we were trying to find was just around the corner, and another chapter of my childhood had closed. c

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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