Scooter in the Dirt

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On the corner of Imperial Avenue sat one daughter, a dad, a best friend, and a house. Before the Reyes family had moved there, it had been a struggling doctor’s office. The owners had kindly bestowed the top floor as the Reyes’s home and they’d been living there since.  It was a weird house, one that people passing would believe it was a measly business, which would be true if you looked at the bottom floor, but if you took the time to look upstairs, you’ll find a living space buzzing with activity, one that I've found very homely. On the ground level, Justine and I were having a heated discussion with her dad. We stood inside of the cramped garage, which was filled with bits and pieces. The volume of our conversation was rising and tension in the air sparked, but luckily the argument was coming to an end.


“Justine, you and Rachel shouldn’t bike, it’s dangerous,” Justine’s dad said, his patience straining.


“But we really want to Dad, I promise I’ll be safe, and I’ll make sure Rachel doesn’t fall off the bike too,” I grunted at that comment, but let it slide.


“At least if you’re going to bike use a helmet.”


“Fine, I’ll take a helmet,” Justine replied, her eyes defiant. I forced the small jade bike out of the garage, while accidentally knocking things over and flattening bottles under the churning wheels. The tires squealed as I rolled it over one last bump (a broken helmet on the ground) and with a thump the bike reached the sidewalk. I swung my leg over the bike as if straddling a horse, and hopped on.


“You too Rachel, take a helmet,” her dad said. I nodded and reached out for the broken helmet I had just run over. It fit loosely on my head, the buckle reaching to brush my chin. I sat patiently on the bike, my feet planted firmly on the ground to keep balance. Justine went back into the garage and, with the same amount of difficulty as I, took out a pink scooter.


“Ha, you’re using Mikaylah’s borrowed scooter,” I commented, smirking. We had borrowed it for a few weeks with the “permission” of our friend Mikaylah.


“Yep, my younger brother wouldn’t let me use his scooter, so why not,” Justine sneered. I shrugged while taking my feet off the ground and placing them on the pedals. I let my feet sink into the rhythmic pattern of pedaling. My left shoulder dropped as I leaned into the turn and in no time Justine’s house had gone from view and we were streaming towards Monta Vista.

 

“Let’s leave them here,” Justine said, pointing to the bike rack. It was 7:15 pm, on a Friday night, we had biked and scootered to Monta Vista which, little did we know, proved to have consequences. We planned to watch a football game, one of the best sports in my opinion. The bike rack leaned against a classroom wall, just on the outskirts of the football field. It was dark, the only light coming from the lamp post. The football stadium loomed ahead of us, the highest point thirty feet off the ground. The wind whipped my hair from my face and sent a shiver down my spine.


“We should get into the stands, it’s creepy out here,” I said, my eyes scanning nervously around the campus.
“Yeah, good idea,” replied Justine. Her hair was pulled into a sloppy ponytail, and she wore a purple and teal shirt. Slung around her arm was a helmet, not worn during our bike ride after her father had insisted on wearing it.


“Hey, since we don’t have a lock, just use the helmet, so that people will think it’s locked,” I commented. Justine nodded and took the helmet from her arm and fastened it onto the scooter. I did the same to the bike. Next to our rides, sat two bikes that made our vehicles look tiny. One of the bikes was locked (unlike ours), the other one was laid carelessly on the ground. A person appeared from the opposite wall. He was clothed in a navy hoodie and the shadows hid his face from view. Faded, ripped jeans encased his legs. His clothes were almost rags and fitted loosely around him. He rolled a bike as shabby as his clothes and slid it into the bike rack.


“Here to watch the game, too,” said the guy. His voice was gruff and cracked at the last word. I moved my fingers rapidly, hopefully, I was dispelling nervous energy.


“We should get going. Go Monta Vista!!” Justine said, pumping her fist into the air.


“Race!?” I yelled, already sprinting away to the gates of the stadium not once glancing behind me.

I glanced up at the game-clock. It was 4 seconds until halftime, perfect timing. My butt was freezing. The bleachers were as cold as ice and condensation were already forming.


“Du...u...de, if I sit here a second longer, I swear I’ll freeze to death,” I said,  my arms wrapped so tightly around myself that I could feel my bones. Even the warm MIT hoodie wasn’t retaining any heat. I stood up, not waiting for an answer, and started doing jumping jacks. My limbs felt like ice blocks.


“Alright! Let’s go get Julie to ride the scooter with us,” Justine replied, she stood up and pushing past some angry fans, tapped Julie on the back. I groaned because Julie annoyed me; her voice was infuriating, and I was pretty sure that was a known fact. Julie sauntered over to me and flashed a smile at me, her eyes scanned quickly over my shabby appearance. One eyebrow raised and her hip jutted out. I ignored her and jogged through the bleachers (receiving some annoyed glances),  jumping over the remaining stairs. I reached the bike racks first, and my eyes lingered on the corner to the side of the building, the dark, pitch-black corner hidden by shadows. A smile crept onto my face and quickly, checking my shoulder, I ran into the shadows. Just some good fun isn’t it, something to do instead of being outright mean to Julie, I thought, reassuring myself. Well, to her it’s probably a huge deal because everything is a big deal with her. Justine led Julie to the bike rack, her back was turned to the corner. I crept up behind her, leaped, pushed her from behind her, and shouted, “BOO!!” She jumped off the ground and her body launched into Justine’s with a high-pitched shrill. They landed in a big heap on the ground, and I couldn't help the mischievous grin that lay on my face. She stood up while fixing her hair. She stormed off without giving me a glance and took the scooter off of the bike rack. Justine gave me a disapproving stare, but her eyes shined good-humoredly.


“You didn’t have to get me in the fall,” Justine grumbled, brushing the dirt off of herself.


“Oopsies,” I replied sheepishly. I also trudged to the bike rack, grabbing the bike before Justine could take it. To our left, there was a ramp that was meant for cars, but currently, the top was blocked off by bars. Behind the bars was the side of the stadium, currently, Dramon (someone from our school) and all his other friends were playing football, and Julie was, like usual, flirting with him. With great difficulty, I pedaled up the steep ramp. I hadn’t biked up a sloped surface in a while and even the short distance, forced sweat to form on my forehead, while my thighs burned. Somewhat tired, I joined Julie at the top of the ramp. Mikaylah’s scooter lay on the ground and her hands were on her hips.


“What took you so long,” she said haughtily. I bit back an “awesome” comeback (it went like this: your appearance deterred my pedaling skills) and just shrugged. We watched as Justine walked up the ramp in slow-motion.
“Thanks for taking MY bike,” Justine glared at me.
“It was my pleasure,” she scoffed at this. Justine decided she was getting bored of the whole slow-motion thing and ran up the slope.


“Race!?” I yelled, already pedaling. All good things come in the form of races I thought to myself. Julie started down the ramp, then realizing she wasn’t going to win, stopped and went into a smooth glide as if she hadn’t tried. Justine, as competitive as ever, raced down the hill and tripped over air. Good old Justine, to make you laugh. I firmly jammed on the brakes and after a screeching halt, I ran over to Justine. Her eyes were watering, but she was smiling. I grinned and helped her up, and brushed the dirt off her knee.


“Aha, no blood, you’ll be fine,” I said triumphantly while stifling a chuckle.
“I heard that,” Justine complained, breaking into hysterical giggles. Julie joined in and so did I.
“Halftimes ending! Let’s go.” We returned our rides still not locking them and returned to the game. 

“They're already up by 14 points, and the game’s almost over. C’mon let's explore the campus,” Justine exclaimed. Before we had reached the bike racks, I could already tell there was something wrong. There was a gaping hole where our scooter, well, Mikaylah's scooter should have been.


“Justine, are you sure Julie returned the scooter to the bike rack?” I whispered nervously, my eyes scanning the area hopefully.
“Yeah, why?” Her head turned and I watched as her eyes became stricken with panic.


“WHERE IS IT!! UM… MAYBE JULIE OR DRAMON HAS IT.” I shook my head sadly and mouthed a “no”. Tears appeared in the corner of Justine’s eyes. This was bad and I didn’t want to see Justine cry, not today at least. What are we going to tell Justine’s parent? What were we going to tell Mikaylah?


“The best we can do is look for it,” I mumbled, averting my eyes from Justine’s face, not wanting to show her that it was really pointless. Justine climbed onto the bike and without a word rode off, deeper into the campus. I sighed, tonight I hadn’t expected to have a full body workout. With my body shouting insults at me, I sprinted after Justine. But really who would steal a PINK, OLD, KID’S SCOOTER!!


With no luck, Justine’s tears had fallen and I hugged her.


“It’ll be alright, but we have to tell your parents.” She whimpered, and more tears fell down her face.


“You want me to tell them, I’ll say it was both of our faults, and there was nothing we could do.” I patted her back wondering why I wasn’t this sad. Was I just a bad person, or not as emotionally open. I could feel bottled up emotions deep in my chest, but right now I really didn’t matter.


“I have two scooters, if worst comes to worst I can give Mikaylah my scooter, c’mon, it’ll be fine. We’ve been through much worse than this, we can get through it.” Meanwhile, her parents had emerged from the gates pushing the stroller that held Justine’s youngest sister. What great timing.


“SOMEONE STOLE OUR SCOOTER,” Justine practically yelled, fighting back tears. I would do almost anything to get her parents accusing stares off of Justine, so being the good friend I am, I took the plunge too.


“It was mostly my fault, I forgot to lock it, and I can just give Mikaylah my scooter,” I said quickly. Justine’s parents replied calmly and her dad even hugged Justine.


“I’m just glad you told us, but I was right wasn’t I,” her dad said while winking.


“Sleepover? ” Justine asked, still sniffling, pushing our luck to the brink. I hugged her and my muscles tensed as I felt warm arms wrap around me. I turned my head to see her dad join into the hug. I smiled.






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