Betsey and the Soft Landing
“Sherena, can I ride your bicycle? Please, please?”
“No, Betsey,” Sherena replied. “It’s too big for you. You’d never get your feet on the pedals anyway.”
“I would if you helped me,” Betsey said.
“No,” said Sherena firmly. “You’re only used to four-wheel bikes.”
“No, I’m not. I’ve ridden on May’s bike and that’s only got two wheels. Please, Sherena.”
My bike is a lot bigger than May’s,” said Sherena.
“But I want to get some exercise,” Betsey tried.
“Go for a walk then,” said Sherena.
“But Sherena . . .” Betsey began.
“Betsey, I said no and I mean no,” said Sherena. “I didn’t save up all my money for over two years and work every week-end and completely remake a second-hand bike just so you could wreck it for me.”
“Botheration, Sherena! You’re so mean,” said Betsey, crossly.
“And you’re such a pest,” replied Sherena. And off she walked.
Betsey went out into the front yard. There was Sherena’s bike, lying on its side, and Betsey wanted to ride on it. She wanted to ride on it something fierce! Oh, to ride with the wind on her face and the pedals racing round, going fast, fast, fast. Betsey walked over to the bike. She lifted it up, holding on to the handlebars. Maybe if she just sat on it . . . Just for a minute. Just for a moment.
“Oh, if only I had a bike of my own . . .” Betsey whispered. Then she could ride and ride – all the way across Barbados and back!
Betsey leaned the bike towards her, her hands on the handlebars. She squeezed the brakes. The bike felt wonderful.
“I’ll just have a quick sit on it,” Betsey decided. After all, one teeny, tiny sit wouldn’t hurt. Betsey began to swing her right leg over the bike.
“Betsey Biggalow! I hope you’re not thinking of riding that thing.” Gran’ma Liz appeared from nowhere to stand on the front porch.
“No, Gran’ma Liz,” said Betsey quickly. “Of course not.”
Betsey hopped off the bike.
“I should think not,” said Gran’ma. “If the good Lord had meant for us to go tearing around on a bicycle, then we would have wheels instead of legs.”
Gran’ma Liz didn’t approve of bikes.
“Come on in, child,” said Gran’ma. “You haven’t finished all your chores yet.”
So Betsey went inside the house. But for the rest of the day, everything Betsey saw reminded her of Sherena’s bike. Round things like plug holes and the tops of tins all reminded her of the wheels on her sister’s bike. When Betsey went into her bedroom, the door handle reminded her of the bike’s handlebars. When Betsey sat down, she wondered if the saddle of Sherena’s bike was as firm, as comfortable. Finally Betsey could stand it no more. “Botheration!” Betsey muttered to herself. “I want to ride that bike and I’m going to ride that bike.”