Peer Review by NotSam (United States)

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Biking without hands

By: Thea Engzén


Biking without hands - a short story

As I'm riding my bike through the endless countryside fields in the middle of the rain, I reminisce. 

My best friend would always let go of the handle when she rode her bike, but I never understood why people do that. What if there was a pebble in the middle of the road? You wouldn't even be able to touch the handlebar before you lay face down in the ditch. But she would always let go and stretch out her arms, her fingertips as far from each other as possible. It was like they were wings on a bird. 

Perhaps she wished that she was a bird, so she could fly far away. Perhaps she hoped that she would lift from the ground and take off to new places, somewhere where everything was good.

Grace and I would always bike into town together, I lived closer so we'd meet at mine for breakfast.

"Why are you doing that?" I had asked one day when she came with her arms above her head

"Because I can!" She laughed, her eyes glued on the road

"It's dangerous!" I called out to which I could almost hear a smirk  grow onto her face

Grace didn't care much for rules, she did whatever she thought was fun. According to her, you have to take the day as it comes. Whatever happens, happens. If there was a pebble in the middle of the road, you should hope to land on something soft.

"If you stopped being so uptight all the time, maybe you'd understand that it's fine. Relax a bit, let go!" She shouted as she hurried away, her blue coat fluttering behind her

"You're going to die!" I yelled and she gave a laugh in return

In hindsight, I never should have said that. It was stupid to say that. Because the next day I didn't see her, I knew she'd be in town because her favourite band was playing at the town square. I actually never saw her during that whole weekend. But I didn't worry too much because sometimes she would turn off her phone and lock herself in her room for days. Then her mother called me on that Sunday evening. Mrs. Blue told me that she hadn't been home for a few days, that they had tried to call her but she wouldn't answer so maybe she was staying with me. She wasn't. 

The night to Monday the police found her light blue bike at the end of the field. She'd taken a shortcut through the straws. Her body lay a few meters away.

How I hated her for that. I had told her it was dangerous, a hundred times over. But I always got the same answer back: "Hanna, It's all right. Relax a little."

At the funeral, I sat next to her brother Lewis. We were practically sisters, so I was allowed to stay for the family's private goodbye when everyone else left the church. My eyes stared at the big photo next to the coffin. It was Graces's school photo. Her dark brown hair just reached her shoulders and the caramel coloured eyes sparkled from the photographer's flashlight.

She was so blissfully happy that day, we were going to shop for prom dresses afterwards.

I asked her brother why she always rode without hands, but he didn't know. He said that it might've been some sort of adrenaline kick. It wasn't too much comfort, but it was better than "because she can". 

Grace Blue was fearless and even though her life was short, she had been happy. Therefore, with trembling hands, I'm letting go too. I reach out my arms and I almost wish that I could lift from the ground, however, there are risks to flying too. For now, the wet country road is enough.

This is a shortstory I wrote for school a few months ago but I like it and thought I'd continue it here. I'd love to get some feedback on it! And thank you for taking your time!

Peer Review

"Whatever happens, happens. If there was a pebble in the middle of the road, you should hope to land on something soft." This line really impacted me. Not only is it a metaphor for how some view life, but it shows that Grace is strikingly similar to my own best friend. She's not terribly reckless but generally prefers to act now and deal with consequences later. The ending, while was partially what I anticipated, still felt like a blow.

I am just stunned and awestruck at how this short story felt like a punch to the gut. This was incredibly written.

What inspired you to write this piece? Do you bike without your hands?

Reviewer Comments

This gave me goosebumps. I actually thought it was a real story until I read the footnote. You are an amazing writer. :)

Sincerely, Sam