Nine o’clock in the morning and the pavement was already hot on her bare, little legs. She sat on the sidewalk in denim cut-offs and a yellow tube top. Tightening the yellow marble rubber-band do-hicky holding her ponytail in place, she wondered if she was ready for her sister to pull her around on roller skates behind their bicycle. They liked to pretend they were water-skiing. Somewhere they had seen this: people floating in the water behind a boat, just their heads bobbing around until they said the magic words “Hit it!” Then, seconds later they were magically standing on top of the water, scooting around like someone in socks on a hardwood floor.
This is how they saw the neighborhood; skiing around the block. As long as she held on to that rope, she could see all the things her sisters saw. Today was her day. She would show them how she could ski behind that bike too.
She reached down to tighten the red leather strap attached to the heel of the metal skate. They weren’t staying on her feet because they weren’t her skates. She was borrowing them. Like everything in her life, she had them handed down to her. And like everything in her life, she had to wait her turn. Wait her turn to see, wait her turn to go, wait her turn to play, wait her turn to show them what she could do. This happened to her because she was the youngest of three sisters. But today she was going to take her borrowed skates that were too big for her and she was going to show them all. So they just had to stay in place. If she said “Hit it!”, and she wasn’t ready, they would never give her another chance.
Her oldest sister was always mad and she was getting mad at her. She could tell by the way she squirmed on the sparkly banana seat, balancing the bike from one foot to the other and looking over her shoulder in disgust. Why did they always think she couldn’t do anything? She could do stuff.
The other older sister with silver caps on four of her front teeth was busy twirling her baton in front yard. Every once in a while, standing there in her neon pink competition swimming suit, she would say something to pester their angry-big sister, then she would grin and her teeth would sparkle like the silver handle of the baton she tossed in the air. Those two were always at it.
“Are you ready, yet?” Angry Sister asked her.
“Just about. They don’t fit me.”
“You’re gunna get hurt and Mama’s gunna be mad,” Silver Teeth said to her little sister.
“Shut up stupid. You don’t know what will happen,” Angry Sister shot back.
“OOohh…I know you’re gunna get it.” Silver Teeth taunted in her best know-it-all voice.
She was out of time. Any minute now Angry Sister was going to throw the bike down and chase Silver Teeth until she caught her and beat the crap out of her. “Okay. I’m ready.”
Angry Sister looked away from Silver teeth and turned her attention to her baby sister. “Do you remember what to do?”
With big, scared eyes she looked at her sister and nodded. “Ya. I remember.”
Angry Sister turned away and straddled the bicycle. She walked the bike forward until the jump rope tightened. One end was tied to the back of the sparkly banana seat and the other end was in the hands of her little sister. “You ready?” she asked her sister without looking as she spun the peddle to get her right foot into the ‘go’ position.
With her butt on the sidewalk, her knees to her chest, and a rope between her legs, she held the wooden handle of the jump rope in her chubby little hands. The five-year-old took a final breath and said, “Hit it!”