Three, maybe Four

I'm riding a hand-me-down training bike, one of those little red bicycles with hard wheels and a conspicuous absence of air-filled inner tubes, after recently graduating from the tricycle. It was my sister's old bike, and maybe a neighbor's before that. The patchy yard is filled with adults grilling burgers and drinking Pabst, and tanned kids play tag on a bright early summer evening.

I've my shirt off. I'm almost four years old. Race my new old bike toward the throng, and hit a rock--my hands fall off the chrome-painted handlebars. I stay on the bucking seat a few more feet as the front wheel twists left and then right, then left again over dusty ruts and clumps of grass. Long before, the rubber grips, with their tassels, had been pulled off the metal bars, exposing its sharp, rusty edge. Before I fall onto the red clay ground, the moving handlebars write a letter on my middle.

Standing, I see I've a fresh, perfect, bright, bleeding S sliced across my chest and stomach. My entirety. Everyone gasps and points. I marvel at what's inside escaping my surface. I'm marked, significant, alive, and it's beautiful.

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i shouldn‘t be talking about this. c at 4 years, p at 3 months

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