There's a little boy on a bike at the stoplight. He can't be more than nine years old, maybe ten. I pull up behind him in my car--three hours of Saturday country driving and I'm hungry, ready to get home.
The light is taking its sweet time, so I notice a few things: he's wearing glasses, thin-rimmed it seems, and he's got ear-buds in both ears. No helmet. Khaki pants, short-sleeves, fat mountain bike tires. He's so small! Do his parents know he's cruising the busy Rosa streets, sans helmet? How can he possibly hear the bleat of a horn?
Green, finally. His front tire goes wobbly as he rises on his pedals. We each give a cursory glance as I drive past him. Just a little boy. In the rear-view I see him gaining momentum, pumping fast. Charming. I ease over and shift into reverse, the perfect parking spot. M and I are worried, about his safety, his hearing, his (lack of?) parental guidance.
But just as I turn off the ignition with an afternoon sigh, he comes sailing past, hands behind his head, feet propped on the handlebars, steering. A daredevil on wheels; the freedom of a Saturday afternoon. We laugh so hard we tear up.