No need for alarms that morning. Adrenaline sounded off like a bugle, calling my body to attention. The smell of freedom tickled my ten year old nose as if it were a fresh pot of coffee awakening my parents. That day kicked off a summer of playing outside with friends, riding bikes and running in sprinklers. It also marked the first summer I was allowed to stay home by myself. My mom arranged for me to play with friends all day and check in every hour with a family friend who lived in the neighborhood.

With a quick kiss goodbye, I escaped the house and rounded up Amy, my next door neighbor. Together, we pedaled as fast as we could to Kim’s. To my dismay, her friend Deborah had already come over. I didn’t really care for Deborah, but the excitement of the day soon overrode any feelings of discontentment. Then we encountered our first problem of the summer: Deborah didn’t bring her bike. Never fear! I could ride my mom’s ten-speed bicycle and Deborah could ride mine. At least, I thought that would be okay. I was allowed to ride it, but my mother was concerned that I could just barely ride it. But in her absence, I rationalized that the decisions of summer had been left to my good judgment. So off we went.

Unfortunately, Deborah was not experienced riding down busy streets with a group of friends. After only a couple hundred yards down the street from my house, the first car came upon us. Amy, riding near the back of the line, hollered, “Car!” Kim and I began to migrate toward the side of the road, into a single file line. Deborah, on the other hand, completely freaked out. She jumped off her bike, put the kick-stand down and ran. Normally, I would have found this amusing (and a little strange), but the parked bike was right in my trajectory. Unable to swerve around her because of the upcoming car, I did the only thing I could do: slam on the brakes. I’m still not totally sure what happened next, other than a huge crash leaving me lying on the ground.

I felt a little sore and my knee looked pretty scraped up and was starting to hurt. All I could think of doing was getting back to my friend Kim’s house to clean up. I hopped back onto my bike and rode the additional four blocks to her home. Her mom cleaned my knee out with hydrogen peroxide and called my mother. My friend Amy sat with me the whole time; the other girls said they just couldn’t look at my knee. When my mom arrived, she agreed to take me to the clinic, but didn’t think I needed stitches.

Three layers and twenty-four stitches later, we went home. The following day, my mom hired a sitter for the rest of the summer.

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