By Chansi Long

May 2, 2016


I was walking to the store with my brother when we stumbled upon a father teaching his daughter to ride a bike. He was in his early thirties, the age my father must have been when he left us, with a widow’s peak and roseate cheeks. The man clutched the bars of the bicycle and dashed along, keeping it balanced. His daughter sat on the banana seat, pink streamers dangling, a mess of tightly wound ringlets atop her head. Her expression was one of fierce determination: eyes squeezed into slits, head tilted, legs peddling wildly. Quickly it became clear she was going to do it and at precisely the right moment her father loosened his hold and flung his hands into the air. He rejoiced.

“Go girl!” he yelled. “Go Macy! It’s your birthday! Go Macy!”

With the merriment of a quarterback who's scored the winning touchdown, he danced. First the cabbage patch, then the tootsie roll.

My brother and I looked at each other. Our footsteps faltered. We were thinking of our father then: jeans, t-shirt, a tightly rolled joint slid behind his ear. Our father was a good shot at pool; he could walk on his hands, and do a triple gainer from the Caney Bridge, but he hadn’t helped us tie our shoes or held our hands when we crossed the street.

This is what it could have been like, this is what we had wanted -- a love so pure it flooded the streets.


Image provided by Steven Depolo via Flickr's Creative Commons licence.

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