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My sister Shirley was about 10 years older than me. When she turned 14, our parents were able to scrape up enough money to buy her a used bicycle. 

A BICYCLE! What a prize! Wow! She would be able to go anywhere she wanted in our small town and not have to walk or ask someone for a ride. It was magical!

And ride she did. To school, to church, to her friend's home, to the park. Oh oh, the park! That could be trouble. Who knew what might be going on there in the evening. A person could never be too sure about what teenagers were up to. 

Shirley enjoyed the bike immensely, and I can't say that she flaunted it, but my sister Beverly, then about 9 years old, almost drooled over it. Shirley would come home from school, riding her bike while we walked. She would breeze by us with a wave and maybe a snicker. After dinner, she was able to ride to her friend's house and be in charge of her own whereabouts. What freedom! What a dream she was living!

This went on for about three years until things changed abruptly for Shirley. That summer our older sister, Joyce, along with her husband, Joe, came for a visit. They lived in Nebraska at the time. Somehow arrangements were made with our mother that Shirley would go back home with them and live there until she finished high school. Maybe Joyce and Joe could see that financially we were not doing well with Mom working to support the three of us on her small salary. By then my Dad had left us to go to Illinois to work and sent very little money back to us. As usual, I was left out of the details. 

So now what? Beverly inherited the bicycle! Wow! I could see where this was going and realized that in a few years the bike would be mine! I got lost in the possibilities. I would have my wheels! Freedom, here I come. I just had to be patient and wait it out. 

It wasn't always easy, by the way. Since Beverly was in charge of me while Mom worked, she was not as free as Shirley had been to bike around town, visit friends, go to the movies AND check out the action in the park. She was burdened with her little sister. Wherever she went, I had to go, too. 

I still remember the cold, icy stares she would give me when she had opportunities to ride with male friends and had to take me along. It was a difficult spot to be in, but I knew that in a few years, Bev would be gone and the bike would be mine, mine, mine!

The years finally passed, and as it turned out, Beverly ended up planning a wedding right after graduation. The handsome, tall dude who had been her boyfriend before he enlisted in the Navy was back. And he was courting her heavy duty. As she dreamed of the wedding and life with Jim, I dreamed of life with MY bicycle. I could hardly stand the anticipation. 

Then the day came when we were having dinner and the bomb was dropped. Beverly said, "Hey, Mom. I sold the bike today."

What? What kind of nightmare is this? What did she say? I yelled, "Huh? What did you do? It's my bike!"

She turned to me and said, loudly, "The bike was mine. So I sold it. Jim and I need the money to get married. And it's already gone."

Oh cruel, cruel world! How could this be? My dream bubble not only burst, it rained teardrops all over my face. How could she? The bike was a legacy. It needed to stay in the family. It wasn't fair. My life was over! And my dreams went up in a cloud and vanished. I was never to be the owner of a bicycle. I guess God had fated me to walk, walk, walk through the rest of my life. 

Who knew that someday, when I got married, my husband would buy me wheels — four of them to be exact. No, it wasn't a bicycle. It was a beautiful, red Buick Park Avenue. It was worth a million bikes!

Darlene Swanson Malmo

Darlene Swanson Malmo knows her life events have had meaning and wants to share them with the world.

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