I was the fastest kid on the block. I never did try out for track. It was sort of a pride thing. Some said I was faster than anyone my age they had ever seen in a foot race. The next test for the neighborhood, as the kids gathered around, was to see if I could outrun a bike.
They picked my brother for the challenge to take me on. He is just a year younger than me. It was a perfect way for him to prove himself so he wasn’t going to go easy on me. I suppose he was a little nervous, as well as excited for the opportunity. No one wants to be outdone in a sprint when you have the advantage of a bike. Our adrenaline was pumping.
One kid stood off to the side and counted down. Ready! Set! Go!
I took off like a shot. It took my brother a moment to get the pedals going, but once he was up to speed he zipped right by me. I couldn’t run any faster. We were already past the halfway point, but there was a chance I could still win. I built a couple twists into our race. We would have to go up the Rudiger’s driveway, turn around and come back to the start point. I knew he would have to slow down to make the turns and negotiate the hill. I didn’t plan to do the same.
The kids were cheering when I passed him at the bottom of the driveway. I looked back as I returned to the bottom of the driveway again to see he hadn’t finished the turn at the top. I had a chance. Then I slipped on pine needles and split my forehead open.
I cried all the way back to the house, holding my bloody forehead. I distinctly remember my older brother and his friend counting behind me…42, 43, 44. I felt faint. I didn’t know what they were counting until I got inside. Apparently I left a lot of blood drops in my wake.