Jun 14, 2022
5 mins read
When I was five or six years old, my parents got me my first ten-speed bicycle. Obviously, it was way too big for me but that was the way I got things like that since we were not well off. Needless to say, I had issues learning to ride it. My dad didn't exactly have patience and usually, after just a few tries and failures, he would give up and put my training wheels back on. He wasn't exactly nice about it either. The final time he had given up I decided this time to ask if he could leave them off and that I would learn on my own somehow.
There was an older boy, possibly three or four years older than me, who lived on our dead-end road with his parents and little sister. She was my age, she was thin, somewhat of a tomboy, and very pretty. Anyway, we both had an NES or Nintendo Entertainment System. You know, the one you had to constantly blow out the games, and usually use one to hold the one you were playing down so it would work right. We each had quite a few games, and we each had certain ones the other didn't have so, sometimes I would go to her house to play or she would come to mine.
One day we had gotten bored with the games and she said she had gotten a new bicycle for her birthday. She said we could help each other learn. Of course, I said yes, and off we went. As we walked to her house to get her bike I explained that my dad and I had been trying for weeks, every weekend, but I just kept falling. It didn't help that the bike was way too big. She said that we would keep trying till we both got it, no matter what. A boost of confidence along with not wanting to look stupid was how I felt.
We walked up to her house, she grabbed her bike and walked it out the gate onto the dirt road. She put the kickstand down and said she would help me first. I was nervous because I didn't want to embarrass myself because I liked her. She was basically my first best friend. I got up on the bike while she held it straight. I actually could not touch the ground while on the bike which made it very hard to push off like you need to do. That was the reason I was having so much trouble. When I started to slow down I would then fall rather than be able to put my foot down.
But, it didn't take more than a few tries, but she would run alongside me rather than just let go and I was able to keep my balance because I didn't want to fall over or crash into her. I was zooming around the block, riding one-handed, jumping the curb, attempting wheelies, and even trying with no hands. My balance was perfect, I just needed incentive, patience, and someone who I didn't want to disappoint.
I don't know why with her I learned so quickly even though I was nervous and shaky on the inside. She only had to help me stay on once or twice, and she got it first try. It was almost as if she already had learned and maybe saw or heard my dad losing patience with me, which then she decided to help me. I didn't actually think that then though. We had fun riding around each day and still played video games on the really hot days.
She really liked playing Mario Bros because we could take turns. She also liked Duck Hunt, but she would get close and cheat, which I thought was funny. We didn't care about who won or who got to go first.
However, not too long after that, probably before the end of that summer, she and her family moved away. Her dad, or rather step-dad, wasn't exactly a good guy. I think he had lost his job or something, either way, we also wound up moving, too. I never saw her again but I never forgot her.
Fast forward to my teen years. I was going down memory lane one day with my parents and telling my girlfriend the story about how I learned to ride a bike. I could remember what she looked like but not her name so, I asked my mom, then my dad. They both said that there was never any little girl, just an older boy and that I never played games with him. They told me that I just played my video games by myself and that one day they watched me learn to ride my bike but that I was alone.
But that had to be impossible. I couldn't stand on my pedals and touch the ground at the same time back then. Not till closer to the end of that summer, which because of the girl, I had learned a way to do it. Someone had to be helping me hold the bike straight while I started pedaling in order to keep balance. She had to have been real.
No matter what, my parents both said that they watched me from inside the house and that I did it all by myself. Though they thought it was strange that I looked like I was always talking to myself. But just figured at my age that it was an imaginary friend. I just looked at my girlfriend, somewhat embarrassed, but more so I was dumbfounded. Was it just my imagination? We played video games together. Who was holding the other controller? What house was I going into and whose Nintendo was I playing? We even let each other borrow games. How would I have been able to keep the bike straight and then start pedaling from a dead stop at that age? I still swear she was real and very clear in my mind still.
Was it my imagination or was my first best friend a ghost?