THE NEW BIKE
‘Get out here,’ came the shrill voices. ‘We know you are in there!’
Luna hid in the cubicle, covering her ears in an attempt to block out the sound but failing.
‘It’ll be worse the longer you wait,’ came the leering voice of Becca, the girl who all the others followed.
Luna wished, not for the first time in her life, that she could be swallowed by the cubicle and taken to a place far far away. Her mind began to drift as she tried to block out the unpleasantness that was coming, fantasizing about the warm embrace of the Madrid sun she missed so much, which had always been able to lift her spirits. She wondered when she would see it again. Glancing at the window behind her, she was brought back to reality, the cold and gloomy London sky tapping against it with raindrops.
‘We don’t want girls like you here,’ said another of the girls, banging on the door.
Luna looked down at herself through the pair of round glasses perched on her small pointy nose. She was short for a girl of twelve, with soulful black eyes and skin a light shade of brown, which was a product of both the sunshine and her Caribbean heritage on her father’s side. Her frizzy hair fell in rich curls down her back, always unruly and free. She wondered what it was about her appearance that always caused the bullies to go for her.
‘We’re not going anywhere,’ said Becca.
Luna thought her options through. These girls were particularly vicious; it was unlikely that they would get tired and leave. It didn’t seem that she could avoid what was coming to her, so she slowly undid the latch on the cubicle door and pushed it open.
The girls grabbed her and pulled her out of the cubicle, laughing at it all as if it was some kind of brilliant joke. One of them took her glasses whilst another pulled at her hair. Through it all Luna just looked at the ground, scared to do anything that might encourage them.
‘Look at these things,’ said the girl that had taken the glasses, laughing and bending them. ‘They look ridiculous,’ she said, tossing them to the ground.
‘Please be careful with them,’ said Luna quietly. ‘They’re the only ones I’ve got.’
‘Really?’ asked Becca, putting her hand on Luna’s chin and lifting it up. She was a pretty girl with wavy dark hair and large, slightly almond-shaped eyes. She walked over to the glasses and lifted her foot over them. ‘Looks like you are going to be needing some new ones, hopefully better-looking than these.’ The other girls snickered.
‘Please, don’t!’ pled Luna, which only made Becca’s leer widen.
At that moment, the door to the bathroom opened and someone walked in. It was Ms. Ainsworth, Luna’s English teacher.
‘What’s going on here?’ she asked, hands on her hips.
As soon as they saw her walk in, the girls all let go of Luna and took a step back. ‘Nothing, Ms. Ainsworth,’ they all said in unison.
Becca leaned down, picked up Luna’s glasses and returned them to her.
‘There you go,’ she said. ‘We’ll be seeing you later, Luna.’ She looked at the other girls. ‘Let’s get going.’
They giggled and walked out of the bathroom and into the corridor, leaving Luna feeling shaken and upset. Ms. Ainsworth leaned down and looked at her with concern. She was a young teacher in her early thirties, with blonde hair tied back neatly in a ponytail and a kind face.
‘Are you ok, Luna?’ she asked gently. ‘Were they bullying you?’
Luna didn’t want to tell on the girls. She knew that that would bring nothing but trouble.
‘No, they were just showing me where the bathroom was,’ she lied.
Ms. Ainsworth frowned and bit her lip.
‘Well, if they give you any trouble at all, you let me know, ok?’ she said, smiling.
‘How are you feeling so far, anyway? Your mum told me you moved here recently. Is everything going alright?’
Luna desperately wanted to tell Ms. Ainsworth everything. How she hated the weather in London. How she disliked how cold the people were. How she had trouble with the accent. How she didn’t have any friends in school and missed her friends back in Madrid. In the end though, she decided against it. Telling grown-ups about these things never seemed to help, and she liked Ms. Ainsworth. She didn’t want to give her a bad impression of herself.
‘Yes,’ said Luna, managing a smile. ‘Everything is going great.’
‘Glad to hear that,’ said Ms. Ainsworth. ‘You’d better hurry off now, you don’t want to be late for your classes in your first week, do you?’
Luna shook her head and left the bathroom to go back to her class, silently thanking Ms. Ainsworth for her timely arrival. It was Math, and she found herself quickly zoning out and daydreaming, drawing pictures in a little sketchbook she carried around everywhere. She drew fairies and dragons, ogres and elves, and drew herself in the pictures, a hero dressed in armor. Luna desperately wished for a way to become a part of the world in her imagination.
The rest of the morning went by quite quickly, one class melting into another as the moment Luna dreaded the most approached: the time to go home. She was terrified of Becca and the other girls waiting for her outside the school gates, where there was nowhere to hide and no teachers to come to her rescue. Luna had been bullied ever since she was a small child. She was shy and had trouble making friends, and even in her old school in Madrid it had been a daily problem, something she had grown used to living with. Her parents had thought that the change of city might be just what she needed, but so far for Luna, it wasn’t working.
The bell rang and Luna packed up her things, delaying and spending as much time as possible so as to avoid the girls, but it was no use; when she walked out of the main gates, there they were waiting for her. They were a little older and little taller than her, and Luna, carrying her sketchbook in her hands, started trembling slightly as she took the only path out of the school, which led her straight past them.
‘Well, look what we have here,’ said Becca. ‘If it isn’t our good friend Luna.’ She sneered. ‘Don’t think you got away so easily.’
Luna tried to ignore her and walk around them, but they blocked her way. She turned round, trying to find some help or another way to go, but there was no one there, and Becca’s friends quickly formed a circle around her. Luna hugged her sketchbook tightly to her chest as if it was a shield that could defend her.
‘What’s that you have there?’ said one of the girls, snatching it away from her.
‘Hey, give that back!’
Luna lunged, trying to grab it, but the girl pushed her back with one hand and passed her sketchbook to Becca. She opened the sketchbook and leafed through it, giggling.
‘Wow, did you ever see anything so pathetic?’ she asked the other girls, pointing at a drawing of Luna fighting a dragon. ‘You will never be a hero,’ she said to Luna.
‘Someone’s coming, Becca,’ one of the other girls said to her.
Becca snorted, annoyed. ‘Fine.’ She looked Luna straight in the eyes. ‘This is worthless, just like you,’ she said, throwing the sketchbook into a puddle of muddy rainwater by the curb. One of the other girls shoved Luna, hard, and they ran off laughing.
Luna felt the tears start pouring down her face as she sat on the cold pavement. After a few seconds, she managed to stand up and walk over to where her notebook was. She picked it up and cradled it, a ruined treasure, its pages brown and soggy. She desperately tried to salvage what she could, wiping the paper on her wet school uniform, then dejectedly began her walk home. A lonely squirrel stared at her from the top of a roadside tree branch. Luna sensed sympathy in its eyes. After a few seconds it cocked its head as if it had heard something and scampered off. Luna wiped her eyes and silently admonished herself for being silly. Squirrels didn’t care about people, after all.
When Luna got home her mother, Hannah, looked at her with green eyes wide as saucers.
‘What happened to you?’ she asked with concern.
Luna, who had been bottling all her emotions in since the morning bathroom incident, broke down and cried, her loud sobs filling the small apartment. Her mother walked over to her and stroked her hair lovingly.
‘There, there,’ she said. ‘How about I run you a hot bath and you tell me all about it.’
Luna bit her lip and nodded, teary-eyed, and in no time at all her mother had a warm, bubbly bath ready for her. Her mom stepped outside, and, as Luna took her muddy clothes off and stepped into the tub, she felt all her pain melting away as if the dragon from her pictures was burning the fear away with its fiery breath.
When she was safely under the bubbles, her mom came back in and shampooed her hair gently. ‘Were they bullying you again?’ she asked Luna quietly.
‘Yes,’ she said simply.
‘That’s outrageous! Don’t they know how to protect you in that school? I think I should have a word with your teacher. I don’t think she’s doing enough.’
‘No, mum,’ Luna said, putting a soapy hand on her mother’s arm. ‘Ms. Ainsworth actually helped me, she’s really nice. Please don’t make a big deal out of this’
‘But we have to do something about it,’ her mum fussed. ‘We moved for your Dad’s job, sure, but also for you, so you would be safer and more protected in school.’
‘I don’t want to have to be protected, mom,’ Luna said. ‘I just want to be able to go through school like the other kids. I’m sure it will get better.’ Luna looked at her mom. ‘I miss my friends in Madrid, though,’ she said softly.
Her mom smiled at her. ‘I know, honey, I know. We’re all missing it a lot right now.’ She sighed. ‘Just try to hang in there, ok? I’m sure things will work out.’ She stood up, walking to the bathroom door. ‘I’ve got to go pick up your brother, ok? Dad will be home soon. When he gets back, we have a surprise for you.’
Luna soaked in the water, wondering what the surprise might be. Not for the first time, she felt a bit jealous of her little brother, who always seemed to cut her time with her mom short. He was only five years old, still in kindergarten, but Luna and he didn’t get on very well. Where she was quiet and bookish, he was loud and energetic, and every time they had a fight or something went wrong, it always seemed to be Luna’s fault. She hated that.
She finished her bath and dried herself with a towel, examining her face in the mirror. For the second time that day, she wondered why it was always her. What have I done to deserve this? She didn’t have an answer to that question.
Luna walked into the small bedroom she shared with her brother and changed into clean clothes. She stared at her pet turtle, who was happily paddling in his water tank, and wished her life could be as carefree as his was. She poured a little food in for him and quietly watched him eat. When he was done she could have sworn that he nodded his head at her in gratitude. Shaking her head to snap out of it, she headed to the living room. Her father had just arrived home from work and was sitting on the sofa quietly reading a newspaper. She ran over to him and hugged him.
‘Hey, sweetie,’ he said, ruffling her hair. ‘How was your day?’
Luna always found it easier to open up to her Dad than her mom. He was called Javier and had dark skin like her own, in such stark contrast with her mother’s paleness. She didn’t know why it was, but it just felt like he always knew exactly what she was trying to say.
‘Not so good, Dad,’ she said, looking down. ‘I was bullied again. They ruined my sketchbook,’ she said quietly. ‘They called me worthless.’
Her Dad lifted up her chin like Becca had earlier, but with tenderness instead of malice. He frowned.
‘There is nothing worthless about you,’ he said in his powerful voice. ‘I bet you those girls are nowhere as interesting as you. They are probably just jealous.’
‘I doubt it,’ she said.
‘Luna, listen to me,’ he said slightly more sternly. ‘You need to start standing up for yourself more. If you let these girls treat you like this from the beginning, then that’s how they are going to treat you throughout.’
‘But there are so many of them.’
‘I'm sure, but they always follow someone. Do you know who their leader is?’
Luna nodded. ‘Yes, Dad. Her name’s Becca.’
‘Right. Well, what you need to do is stand up to her. When the others see that you are not scared of her, they will leave you alone. I’m sure.’
‘You think so?’
‘I know so,’ he said firmly. ‘I’m not sure I have ever told you this story before, but, when I was young, back in the Dominican Republic, we lived in a poor part of town. One day, a group of men came to our house and asked me to join their gang. I was excited, but when I saw my mother and brother’s faces, I knew I couldn’t do it. These were bad people.’
‘So what happened? Did you join them?’ she asked, engrossed in her father’s story.
‘Of course not. I said no to them, but, you have to understand Luna, these weren’t the kind of men you just said no to. They kept harassing me when I walked past them in the street, and one day they even came to my house to threaten my mother and brother.’
‘That’s when I decided it was enough. I went to find the leader at his house and told him that I wanted him to leave my family alone. He laughed at me, and I hit him. I knocked him to the ground before he could react.’ His Dad smiled, reminiscing. ‘Of course his thugs were there too, and they had knives, so they quickly got me under control. He could have killed me then and there, but when he stood up he had a smile on his face. He told me that I was brave and that it was a pity I wouldn’t join their gang, and he promised me that no harm would come to me or my family.’
‘Did he keep his word, Dad?’
‘Well, sort of,’ he said, chuckling. He rolled up his sleeve, revealing a long mark on his upper arm. ‘You might have seen this scar before. I got it from the knife of one of those gang members. But, after that day, they never bothered us again.’
‘Wow,’ said Luna in awe. ‘I had no idea your life was that exciting!’
‘It really wasn’t,’ he said, ruffling her hair. ‘Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is sometimes you have no option but to fight for what you want. Trying to make everyone like you is impossible, there are always going to be those who won't. Stand up to them, Luna.’
Luna smiled. ‘I think I understand, Dad.’
‘Great. Now help me lay the table before your mom gets back!’
They set about putting the plates, knives and forks on the table, and, no sooner had they finished than Luna’s mother walked through the door red-faced and panting, dragging her brother Pablo behind her. His face was even redder than hers and he was screaming and bawling.
‘I want to play at school some more!’ he yelled.
‘Pablo,’ said Javier in a cross voice. ‘This is no way to treat your mother, apologize right now.’
As if someone had flipped an off switch, Pablo immediately stopped crying, a look of shock on his face. Luna smiled contentedly to herself. Her Dad always had that effect on him.
‘Sorry, mom,’ he said, looking down at his feet. Pablo looked more like his mom, with her same green eyes and blonde hair and skin a paler shade of brown than Luna’s.
Luna’s mom let out a big, exhausted breath. ‘That’s ok, Pablo. I really wish we didn’t have to do this after school every day, though. I feel like I’m going to get superhero muscles from dragging you home all the time.’
Javier winked at her, and Luna giggled. He walked over to Hannah and gave her a kiss, taking off her coat and hanging it up for her.
‘Good to see you, dear,’ he said. ‘Shall we eat?’
‘Oh, yes please, I'm starving,' said her mom.
They sat down at the table and had stew, with crusty bread to dip in. The food was good and Luna was feeling a lot better than she had that afternoon. She had totally forgotten about the surprise her mother had mentioned until her father brought it up after they had finished eating.
‘So Luna, I think your mom told you that we have a surprise for you,’ he said, smiling at her. ‘Walking to school feels like it has been a bit stressful for you, and it takes some time to get there.’
‘Yes,’ continued her mother. ‘So, we thought it would be nice if you had a bike, so you can make it there faster. We remembered how much you liked riding your cousin’s one in Madrid, so…’
‘You got me my own bike?’ said Luna. She couldn’t believe her luck.
‘Yes,’ said her mom. ‘Of course you have to be very careful with it; only ride it on the bicycle lane or sidewalk and make sure to lock it well when you are in school, but we think you are responsible enough.’
Luna rushed to hug both of them. ‘Oh my gosh! Thanks so much! This is so cool!’
‘Why does Luna get to have a bike but I don’t?’ said Pablo, but nothing could spoil Luna’s mood.
‘Let me go get it for you,’ said her dad, walking out into the corridor and reappearing a few seconds later with a beautiful green bike, just the right size for her. Luna stroked its shiny metal and ran her hands over the basket and wheels, thrilled beyond imagining. She had always wanted a bike, and now she had one. She had one!
When Luna went to bed that night she felt restless with excitement. Any apprehension she had felt about going back to school the next day was gone. She couldn’t wait to try her bike.
The next morning Luna jumped out of bed, got dressed and went to the front door to make sure that her bike was still there. She looked at it proudly for a few seconds then skipped into the kitchen to make herself some breakfast. Her mom, dad and brother were already eating in the dining room, and she sat down and poured herself a bowl of cereal and milk.
‘Good morning, sweetheart,’ said her mom, giving her a kiss on the cheek.
‘Strange weather today,’ said her father to no one in particular, as he gazed out the window.
Luna looked too. He was right, it was strange weather. The sun was shining and it was raining lightly at the same time, which by itself wouldn’t be that odd, but what made things weirder was the color of the sky: a purplish, orangey blue. Luna had never seen a sky that color.
‘Maybe you shouldn’t ride your bike today. It looks like the rain could get worse,’ he said.
Luna shook her head adamantly. There was no way she wasn’t riding her bike today.
‘Fine, I suppose. Just be extra careful,’ said her father.
The mention of the bike had stirred Pablo, who up until that moment had been munching on his toast contentedly.
‘Why does Luna get a bike and I don’t?’ he whined, repeating the question from the previous evening. Luna rolled her eyes.
‘Because,’ her mother began, sighing, ‘your sister is older than you. You can’t go to school by yourself. When you are her age, you can get a bike.’
Pablo was silent for a second, lost in thought.
‘But I can never be her age. She will always be older than me. That’s not fair!’
They all burst out laughing at that but Pablo didn’t seem to think it was funny. He crossed his arms and sulked for the remainder of breakfast.
When Luna had finished clearing up her plates she walked to the front door, eager to get on her bike and head out. She was stopped by her dad.
‘Aren’t you going to say goodbye?’ he asked her.
Luna smiled and ran over to him, giving him a big kiss on his stubbly cheek.
‘Have fun with your bike,’ he said. ‘And remember what we talked about yesterday. Good things will come of standing up to bullies.’
Luna nodded, then carefully led her bike out of the main door and into the elevator, painstakingly avoiding any contact with the walls which would scrape the paint. When she got downstairs she adjusted the seat and climbed on, thrilled by the feeling of freedom she got. The rain was very light now and there was a slightly cool breeze whipping her face as she pedaled her way to school. For the first time, she appreciated the London weather and even found herself liking the rain. The sky above her was the same strange color that it had been earlier, but she didn’t pay attention to it.
As she rode, she caught sight of a homeless man sitting with his back against a wall. He looked disheveled and worn out, with an overgrown beard and grubby clothes, but he smiled at her kindly, and she slowed down.
'That’s a lovely bike you have there,’ he said, his eyes twinkling as he admired it. He had a northern English accent.
‘Thanks,’ said Luna, who had been taught not to talk to strangers but felt very sorry for the man, who only looked in his twenties. ‘Are you OK?’
The man gave a sad smile. ‘It’s been a while since anyone has asked me that. Most people don’t notice you when you live on the streets. Or even worse, the pretend not to notice you,’ he added with a murmur.
‘What happened to you?’
‘Oh, you know, the usual. I made some bad decisions here, trusted some people I shouldn’t have there...' He shrugged. ‘But it’s hard, you know? People never realize just how hard it is...They just assume you are lazy or that you get what you deserve. I...I miss my mum and dad so much some days. But I can’t go back,’ he said, shaking his head.
‘I’m sorry,’ said Luna, biting her lip and feeling bad for asking.
‘Sorry? No, don’t be. You did nothing wrong. It’s nice that someone cares enough to ask,’ he said, smiling.
Luna was suddenly struck by an urge to help the man, so she fished around in her backpack and produced five pounds, the last of her pocket money for the month.
‘Here,’ she said, giving it to the man.
He smiled, and took it in his hands. ‘Thanks, love,’ he said, with the warmest smile she had ever seen. ‘I’ll pay back the favor one day, I promise. I’m Alex, by the way.’
‘I’m Luna,’ she said.
‘Luna,’ he said, as if to himself. ‘What a lovely name. Well, Luna, I wish you a wonderful day with your new bike. Be good to it!’
‘Thanks, Alex,’ she said. ‘I hope I see you again soon.’
‘Oh, I’m sure you will,’ he said with a smile.
It was an odd comment, but soon she was riding again with the wind through her hair, completely consumed by the magic of her new bike, and didn’t give it a second thought. It only took her about ten more minutes to make it to school. She was slightly early and felt great, but, as she approached the gates, she was dismayed to see that Becca was there, by herself. As soon as Becca caught sight of her she moved to block her way, and suddenly madness overwhelmed Luna. Instead of slowing down, she accelerated, heading straight for Becca. Becca stood her ground thinking that Luna would stop, but she just kept going. At the very last moment Becca jumped out of the way.
‘Are you crazy?’ she shouted after her, but Luna rode on past her, smiling to herself and heading to the bicycle rack at the side of the school, where she parked and locked her bike. She felt great.
Taking the back entrance to school to avoid Becca, Luna headed to her first class of the day, English. Ms. Ainsworth was a good teacher and Luna felt full of energy, even volunteering to answer multiple questions, unlike her normal shy self. When the bell rang for the next period she packed up her books and walked out of the corridor to go to her next class, smiling at Ms Ainsworth on her way.
As soon as she stepped into the hallway somebody pushed her against the wall. Becca was there with all of her friends. Everyone in the corridor was staring at them.
‘What was all that about earlier?’ Becca snarled. ‘You almost ran me over.’
‘I-I didn’t see you,’ stammered Luna, regretting the words even as they came out of her mouth.
‘Liar. You saw me all right. You rode straight at me on that new bicycle of yours,’ she said, pressing down on Luna’s chest harder and making it difficult to breathe.
‘Becca, let me go. You’re hurting me,’ Luna pleaded.
For the second time that week Luna was saved by Ms. Ainsworth, who had just walked out of the classroom.
‘Rebecca Zimmermann! What are you doing? Let go of Luna this second,’ she said, her eyes flaring.
Becca slowly brought her arm down.
‘Right, that’s it. You are coming with me to the headmaster’s office,’ she said, motioning for Becca to follow her. ‘As for the rest of you, I don’t know what you are all looking at. Don’t you have classes to go to?’
As if the play button had been pressed, everyone went back to their business, walking off to their next class. Just before she went with Ms. Ainsworth, Becca turned round to Luna.
‘You’ve really done it now,’ she hissed. ‘I won’t forget this.’
‘That’s enough, Rebecca,’ said Ms. Ainsworth.
Becca turned on her heels, seething, and followed Ms. Ainsworth down the corridor, leaving Luna shaking after this new threat.
Luna’s mood was nowhere near as good as it had been in the morning. She was terrified of what Becca and her friends might do to her. Try as she may she couldn’t focus, and she was scolded more than once by her teachers for daydreaming. Little did they know that Luna was far from dreaming, instead running over possible scenarios of what would happen when Becca’s friends caught up with her.
Finally the school day dragged to an end, and she resignedly packed her stuff up. Before she could leave, there was a knock on the door and Ms. Ainsworth came in. The class was emptying fast, and by the time Luna had finished packing her books they were the only ones left.
‘Luna, can I have a word?’ said Ms. Ainsworth.
‘Of course,’ Luna said. ‘What is it, Miss?’
‘About what happened earlier…You told me that the girls weren’t bullying you yesterday. That wasn’t true, was it?’
Luna looked at the ground. ‘No, it wasn’t.’
‘You have to tell me the truth. Your mom called me this morning and she didn’t sound happy. If you don’t let me know when you are being bullied, I can’t help you,’ she said.
‘I don’t want help,’ said Luna, raising her voice slightly and startling Ms. Ainsworth. ‘I don’t want to be just some helpless little girl that needs others to defend her. I’m tired of being bullied, Miss. Why do they keep doing this to me?’
Ms. Ainsworth looked at her very kindly. ‘I don’t know why, Luna. I think you are great. Things won’t always be this bad, I’m sure,’ she said, giving Luna’s shoulder a little squeeze. ‘But you have to realize that it’s ok to need help sometimes. It doesn’t make you any less brave or strong. In fact, I think that people who know when they need help are the strongest of all,’ she said with a wide smile.
‘Thanks, Ms. Ainsworth,’ Luna said. She felt a bit better after their talk.
‘You are welcome. You should head off home. Your mom told me about your new bike, you must be desperate to ride it!’
My bike! With all the commotion of the morning’s events, Luna had totally forgotten about it.
‘Yes, I should get going,’ Luna said. ‘See you tomorrow Miss!’
‘I hope so,’ said Ms. Ainsworth with a slightly strange smile.
Luna didn’t have time to think about what that odd comment meant as she walked towards the back entrance of the school where her bike was parked. When she stepped out, she noticed that the weather seemed even more unusual than earlier, the sky now a deep purple with heavy swirling clouds dotting it, threatening a storm.
Luna came in sight of her bike, then stopped in her tracks. Oh no! Oh no! The beautiful green paint had been scratched by what looked like keys and the tyres seemed to have been punctured by something sharp. They were completely flat. Luna’s shoulders slumped as she walked up to her destroyed bike. Stuck to the seat was a little note:
“Enjoy your new bike. Becca”
Luna was too upset for tears, so she just sat on her bike seat in complete silence for a few seconds, gazing vacantly ahead. Why did I do that this morning? If I hadn’t… she shook her head. She had been right to ignore Becca and stand up to her. And yet...her poor bike.
As she thought this through, she noticed something peculiar in the small basket at the front on the bike. It was a rectangular cream-colored envelope with an unusual wax seal on it. It was in two colors, blue and yellow, split down the middle vertically. The left side was shaped like half of a stylized drop of water, whilst the right was half a blazing sun, it’s rays spreading outward. It was a very strange looking symbol indeed. Curious, Luna walked over and picked up the envelope. It felt surprisingly heavy in her hands and the texture was most unusual, almost fuzzy, like the skin of a peach.
Luna didn’t know why this envelope was in her bike or if it was meant for her, but it looked so strange and out of place that she couldn’t help herself; she slid her finger beneath the seal and broke it. After she did, the remains of the seal fizzled and burst into the air like miniature fireworks, surprising her. She lifted the flap and pulled out a letter from inside the envelope.
“To whomever it may concern,
If you are reading this, it means that Iluvia is in a time of desperate need and requires your assistance. You must make haste. To reach us, mount your steed and ride in circles. It might prove unpleasant, but it is the only way. Good luck.”
The letter was written in a flowing, old style of handwriting and was not signed. Luna was utterly flabbergasted. What is Iluvia? Why is this letter in my bike? And what on earth is my steed? She looked at her bike doubtfully. It had seen better days. She didn’t know if it counted as a steed but it was the only thing she had. Luna put the letter in her pocket and began to climb back on the bike.
Suddenly, she stopped and looked around her. What if this was just a prank by Becca and the girls to make her look stupid? Maybe they just wanted to see her make a fool of herself riding in circles. Luna bit her lip. Somehow, she didn’t think so. The writing was much too fancy and besides, Becca had already left a note. Making sure no one was around, Luna climbed on her bike and slowly backed out of the rack.
The tires screeched, scraping against the ground as Luna struggled to build momentum. She began making a slow circle, then little by little she accelerated. She was beginning to feel a little dizzy and sick. This is ridiculous. I must look crazy. She felt embarrassed but kept going, ever faster and faster, until it felt like she no longer needed to move her feet to keep going, so she stopped.
Wait a second! I’m not pedaling! The bike was moving by itself now, faster and faster, like a whirlpool in a bathtub, and beneath it a purple vortex was opening in the ground. Luna’s eyes widened as she saw the hole grow deeper and deeper, and before she realized, the bicycle had aimed down and plunged head first into it and she was falling, surrounded by darkness. She gripped onto the handlebars for dear life and screamed.