You see your reflection on the pavement. It should not be so, but there it is. It’s yours. You can see it shift when you shift. It’s not gray like a shadow. You can see the reflection of your lime green t-shirt, the sunburned flesh of your arms, the blood dripping from your elbow. The pavement is like a watery mirror. You don’t want to look too closely at your face, afraid of what you might see, what mortal wounds might have been drawn upon you. It would be like looking into your own ghost.
The pain is large. You won’t cry, can’t cry, there’s no breath in your lungs. You swallow everything in your throat, hoping for leftover air, the air you were just breathing a moment ago. It’s wet and dry, a golf ball of air jammed between your chest and throat. You feel the gravity of the asphalt, tugging at your limbs, drinking in your wounded colors. The pavement is hard and you are soft and you know you will bleed into it and it will become a patch of faded pink.
The air comes back, finally, like a wallop in the gut, and you feel the air expand in your throat. Breathe and breathe some more, greedy for the taste. You see your reflection waver and shimmer, until it becomes dull, like a shadow. And then that’s all it is: your shadow.
You push yourself up and feel the road grit on your palms, the sandpaper on your knees.
No, not mortally wounded. Not this time. But everything hurts. You wonder what you almost saw in your own reflection; you weren’t brave enough to examine the shadings.
But never mind, never mind. Those thoughts fade, and the pain will fade. You will forget that you saw your own death on the pavement. And you will learn how to ride this bike without the training wheels. Even if it kills you.