Trailing behind you beyond the farm gate, my confidence breathed its last. The beck had burst its banks and the familiar road, normally sandwiched between stream and dry stone wall, was gone. In its place lay a turmoil of angry dun-coloured water.
“Come on,” you cried, “chicken!”
Your bike soared forward creating deep wings of water as the front wheel cleft the roiling mess. It was beautiful.
I followed, ever the obedient younger sister, but I doubted that my wheels could fashion such perfectly matched arcs. I wanted to be behind myself to see. My front wheel wobbled as I turned my head to look, taking me off course. The bank was here somewhere: disorientated, I could not tell where the road ended and the beck began. The torrent, I knew, was dangerously strong. Suddenly frightened, my eyes clung to you, cycling ahead as if you were immortal. One slip would be all it took to rob me of my brother. A sense of urgency gripped me; an unshakeable certainty that in a moment it would be too late.
“Stop!” I screamed out, “I’m going home, this is stupid!” then I turned my bike abruptly, heedless of freezing water slapping at my calves, and made my way back hugging the wall, the only landmark in that alien sea, with my front wheel.
“Coward!” you taunted, furious.
Maybe so: but today I am alive, unswept by that torrent; and I will never claim it to your face, but because you followed me that day, so are you.
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