By Kevin Andreasky (Autobiographical Essay)

I tore through the crisp morning air carelessly, as if the bike beneath me made me weightless and invincible. My sister trudged robotically behind me, battling silently against the breeze. When at last we reached the bus stop, having beat back the elements she triumphantly threw herself down on an electrical box without saying so much as a word. But I was not like her. I welcomed the wind in my hair, the sweet smell of rain that still lingered in the air, and as she fell to her icy seat I broke away and flew up the nearby hill. I wasn’t just a kid on a bike waiting for the bus to arrive, I was a motocross superstar riding a tricked out dirt bike. I was the underdog racing around the final turn in first place.

Victory was so close I could taste it, but as I reached the crest of the hill and turned around to begin my descent I did not see the finish line, I did not see millions of adoring fans screaming my name. I saw my dog Fly in the middle of the street chasing cars as carelessly as I had been chasing dreams seconds ago. Suddenly a massive truck burst into view, like an enraged, rabid bull craving the blood of my cocky matador friend. Time skidded to a halt as the four wheeled, diesel powered, merchant of death charged. The yelp of terror pierced my ears and reverberated through my frail body, snapping time back at a breakneck pace. Chunks of fur peppered the road like fluffy balls of cotton, sprinkled about the severed leg. My sister scooped up our whimpering friend and held her close to her chest, coddling her and assuring her everything was going to be alright as she sprinted towards our house, tears streaming down her face. Knowing that I could get home faster than her, I began pedaling. The callous wind ripped through me like a barrage of bullets, never seen, only heard and felt. I willed my bike to go faster, my legs to push harder, myself to be better, but my backpack pulled down on me with all the weight of the world.

Memories of days gone by began cycling through my mind with every crank of the pedals. Suddenly I was young again and the world didn’t seem so cruel. Fly was a puppy, so small and helpless. I cuddled her in my arms as she wiggled and squirmed in an attempt to get away. She was a free spirit who did not relish being contained. The sun smiled down at me as I lay sprawled out on the inviting ground slowly running my hand through Fly’s freckled fur, her head rested on my chest. My fingers seemed to melt into her agile border-collie body as her wet nose gently brushed my chin. Friendly little clouds drifted lazily across the clear blue sky carried by the cool breeze. The smell of fresh cut grass enveloped me, its potent scent filling me with lethargy and pulled my eyelids closed. Each memory flowed into the next in one fluid motion and then Fly was dancing around my feet, beaming up at the tattered old ball in my hand. The second the ball left my hand she was off, bounding after the grimy little sphere with a smile on her face. Her powerful legs pounded against the ground, sending clouds of dust in to the crisp air. I wiped the slimy film off my hand as Fly turned around and began triumphantly trotting back with the ball held tightly in her mouth, dropping the ball at my feet and smiling up at me happily. Next, we were playing tag, the damp dirt clinging to shoes. I dodged right and left trying to get around her. I was laughing and she was barking playfully as I fell to the ground. She would pounce on me and lick my face, her smooth, moist tongue washing the streaks of dirt off my cheeks.

These pleasant memories were soon replaced with regret. I should’ve spent more time with her, should’ve played with her more and given her more attention. I rebuked myself for shoving past her when she ran up to greet me the day before. I chastised myself for scolding her when she got me muddy after each rain. I hated myself for shutting her out when all she wanted to do was love me. In my mind’s eye, I could see myself closing the door on her as she whined and looked up at me longingly. Her eyes haunted me. I seemed to get lost in their endless pools of blue and try as I might I couldn’t keep my head above water.

It seemed as if the wheels of my bike had deflated with my soul and no matter how hard I struggled, no matter how much ground I covered, I got nowhere. I skidded into the driveway, threw down my bike, and ran to my father pleading for help. My sister raced up the driveway with our fallen comrade draped across her shaking arms, stopping only when she reached my dad. Solemnly he took our dying friend in his massive arms and my sister ran inside the house, returning moments later with a piece of her softest, most treasured fabric. I was standing motionless and alone and time seemed to stand still as my sister lovingly swaddled Fly. My dad gently set her down and filled his arms with my sister and me instead. Icy rivers cut in to my rocklike face and left a bitter stain on my quivering lips. I tried to hold it together and be strong for my sister as I watched the life slowly drain from my friend’s eyes, but, being only seven, I failed. I failed my sister, I failed my friend, and with nowhere else to turn, I ran. My legs remained motionless, my body immobile, but I ran and ran and haven’t stopped since. I run aimlessly, always fighting against the wind, against myself, against others, against time. Regardless of my age or the circumstances at hand I am always pushing myself to escape the world, to escape reality, to escape the oppressive expectations of others, all in a feeble attempt to preserve my last remaining shreds of childhood. Struggling in vain to return to a time long since passed when I was free and life was simple.

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