By: Lauren Runow

 Chapter One
Pulling me down. Feeling the weight
Living for tomorrow not knowing if it will be too late.
The life, the people, hell—my own sanity
I need her to keep me grounded like she’s my personal gravity.
- Trevin Allen
Lily – Age 12
“Come on, Trev! We have to get home, now!” I turn to scream behind me as I ride up the hill, watching the sun slowly fade away into darkness.
He knew we’d gone too far back in these hills on our bikes, and no matter how much I told him we needed to turn around, he wouldn’t listen. Now we’re still at least a mile from home and losing sunlight by the second.
“I’m going as fast as I can, but it’s kind of hard to push this thing with a popped tire,” he nags back at me.
“Well, whose fault is that? I told you not to do that jump,” I yell, looking over my shoulder.
The boy is crazy. Anything he can fly his bike off of, he will. I went around a steep rock, but not him—he went right over it and bent the rim, shredding the tire in the process.
Grunts of frustration come from behind me as I stop and turn in his direction. His irritation level is evident as he reaches down to pick his bike up from a different angle, hoping it would be easier to carry. The sight of him struggling has me off my bike, walking it back to where he’s standing.
“Here.” I push the handlebars toward him. “You pedal and I’ll ride between your legs. We’ll just leave yours here and come get it tomorrow. No one’s going to mess with it all the way out here.”
Without a second thought, he drops his bike, grabbing mine with a huge smile. “Good idea. Hop on.”
I straddle the metal bar, looping my fingers around his forearms and resting my butt and legs up high on the middle bar. The position is extremely awkward, and I’m already regretting my suggestion.
Memories of when we met at eight years old fly through my head as we take off down the street together.
“Hi, I’m Trevin. What’s your name?” A boy sneaks around the fence to where I tried to hide from him.
“Lily,” I shyly state, not daring to meet his gaze.
“Lily—like the pad?”
“Excuse me?” My head shoots up.
“You know, lily pad, like what frogs jump on in a pond.”
My glare in his direction makes him laugh before he continues. “So, Lily Pad, did you just move in?”
“My name is not Lily Pad, just Lily…and yes, we moved in yesterday.”
“Okay, well, can I call you another name then? Maybe Turtle? You looked like one the way you were peeking your head out behind the fence.”
“No, you can call me Lily.”
“Okay, Lillllyyyy…” he drawls my name out, making a point. “Come on, grab your bike. Let’s go ride.”
“I don't have a bike…” My voice is low, embarrassed by not having one, but even if I did, I don’t know how to ride one.
“You don’t have a bike?” He seems shocked by my revelation.
“I lived in San Francisco. You don’t really ride your bike in the street there.”
“That’s crazy! Well, come here then…you can ride mine, or I have a scooter if you want.”
“Um, I…um,” I stutter, not sure what to say.
“It’s cool if you don't know how. I’ll teach you.”
“Uh, okay, I guess so.”
Perched on the bike, he holds the seat and runs down the street next to me while I try my best not to fall. The wheels wobble and I almost lose control a few times, but he catches me before I hit the ground. My heart pounds with adrenaline pumping through me, the joy of riding overruling the fear of falling.
“Come on, Lily Pad. Try to stay upright.”
I glare at him over my shoulder, and he laughs in response as he pushes me forward again, telling me to pedal faster. Following his instructions, my little feet push as hard and quick as they can to pick up speed.
I’m so focused on trying to maintain my balance and breathe at the same time, I don’t realize I’m doing it all by myself. It’s not until I hear him screaming from behind me, celebrating my success, that it dawns on me he’s no longer by my side.