“I’m running away.”
He stopped flipping over a potato bug to look up at her. “You are?”
She rocked her bike back and forth. The rainbows cartwheeling off her streamers blinded him. “Yep. You wanna come?”
He stood and grabbed his arm above the elbow. “I don’t know.”
“We’ll eat whatever we want, Ben. Ice cream for dinner. Anything.”
“Don’t we need money?”
“I’ve got money.”
“Oh, yeah. Lots.”
This staggered him. His mom and dad never had money.
“But won’t our parents, well—”
“Won’t they worry?”
She threw up the kickstand, and clambered on her bike. “Yours, maybe.”
She tiptoed the bike around until it faced the street. A Hello Kitty knapsack bulged against her back. Handlebars curled her fingers into fists.
“You coming or not?” she said.
He watched her hair stream with the wind. Not rainbow-hued, but plain old brown. He’d found an abandoned baby bird outside its nest last spring, and his mom let him nurse it back to health, before it flew away. Its new feathers held that same, soft color.
He colored to remember that he named the bird, “Honey.”
“I’m coming,” he said, heeling the kickstand on the bike that had been her brother’s. Before he got sick. And before the other thing.
He heard the smile in her voice. “Cool.”
Deep down, they both knew the deal. They wouldn’t get far before he convinced her to turn around. But that didn’t stop them from talking about which flavors of ice cream they’d get for dinner. From arguing whether beach sand would make a better bed than pine needles.
And from understanding, as they took turns silently drafting one another up a hill, that the line separating adventure from tears was as thin as two, twenty-inch, Huffy tires.