The Bike Lesson

By Desiree Cooper

August 1, 2022

The Bike Lesson

Jax perched on his brand-new bike. I stood beside him, a human kickstand.

“I can’t do this, Nana!” he yelled, his nervousness masquerading as anger. “It won’t stay up!”

“I’m right here. Put your feet on the pedals.”

My back groaned as my six-year-old grandson gave his body to the bike. The weight of his fears surprised me. I needed the help of forward motion.

“I’m going to push,” I said. “Whatever you do, don’t stop pedaling!”

Trotting beside him, I held tight to the metallic, blue frame. The faster we went, the more I could feel the wind lift his doubt. Excitement pumped his feet, and his eyes widened to the possibility of escape.

“You’re getting it!” I cheered.

We were only halfway down the Sunday street and it felt like my heart would explode. My lungs clawed for more air. My knees ached. I could feel him slipping from my grasp.

“Keep pumping!” I yelled, hoping that he’d pedal unwittingly into his own power.

But when he noticed that he’d been abandoned again, his faith evaporated. Oversteering, he crashed onto the black asphalt, pinned beneath the bike.

“You promised you wouldn’t let go!” he wailed.

I had hoped this little victory would help him past his father’s fists, his mother’s tears. Could it be that he had already lost the ability to fly?

“Get up,” I said. “I’ll hold on to you as long as I can. But I can’t hold on forever.”


Desiree Cooper is the author of the award-winning, flash fiction collection, Know the Mother. Her work has appeared in The Best Small Fictions 2018, CallalooMichigan Quarterly Review, The Rumpus, and Creative Nonfiction’s Sunday Short Reads. Her first children’s picture book, Nothing Special, is forthcoming from Wayne State University Press in October 2022.


Image by Brian Jackson courtesy of Adobe Stock 

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