The Bicycle Pump


Me learning to ride a bike

I’m so booooored ! It’s too cold to go outside with all that snow. I won’t even bother to ask Mum. She’d just get irritated ‘cos it’d mean dressing me in layers ‘n layers of clothes. And she has visitors.  She’s busy talking and laughing with her sister and my uncle. I can hear them. They came over for the weekend. That’s nice. I like it when they come to visit.

That coffee sure smells nice, but do you think I’m allowed to have any ?!  Oh no, I’m too young, she’ll say. It’s not good for me, she’ll say. What I want to know is how come it’s so good for grown ups then ! They’re always drinking it. Gallons of it. Anyways, just how old do you have to be – I’m already seven.

I wonder where the other kids went. Maybe they’re down in the basement. It’s warm in there with the boiler going. And there’s all kinds of cool stuff down there. Trust them not to tell me. I bet they’re down there right now playing and having fun without me. I’m going to listen at the door and see if I can hear anything.

Yep, they’re down there alright. I can hear them laughing. That’s not fair! Just because I’m the little’est doesn’t mean they’re allowed to leave me out. Mum’s always telling my brother and sister to play with me. And now, just because we got our cousins over, they think they’ll get away with it. Well, I’m going to show them.

Down in the basement

“Hey, you guys! Mum told me to come down to play with you. Whatcha all doing ?”

“Go away! We don’t want you down here. You’re too little. Besides, we know you’re lying. You never talked to Mum!”

That’s my mean brother. He’s always accusing me of lying. Teeheehee – he’s right this time.

“She did so too! She said you had to let me join in. If you don’t believe me, go ask her yourself,” I yelled back.

“Oh for goodness sake, let her. It’s easier than arguing and fighting about it. And you know what Mum will say anyway.” That’s my big sister. She kind of sticks up for me most of the time.

“She’s such a spoilt brat,” he complained. ” She always gets her own way. I suppose you’re right. You can come in then. But you better not be a pain in the butt.” I must say he didn’t sound happy about it.

The Wheelchair

They were having races with the wheelchair. Taking turns to see who could be the fastest going from one end of the room to the other. I’d never been allowed to do that. Well, none of us were supposed to do that. I bet that’s why that mean old brother of mine didn’t want me down here. He’s scared I’ll tell on them.

Well, I’ll show them. I’m going to have a go this time whether they like it or not. First though, I’m gonna watch for a bit. Just so’s I know what to do and all.

The race

Ok. I think I got this. They got a stopwatch. I bet Dad doesn’t know about that. It’s his good one too. The one he uses when he coaches the ice hockey team. And they got a pen and paper too. I think everybody’s name is written down. And then they write down the time it took to go from one end of the room to the other. I wonder who’s winning?

“Hey! Who’s winning?” Thanks for nothing. They’re all ignoring me. So I ask again, a bit louder. Still no answer. That’s just plain rude. I’m getting angry now. This time I yell it out at the top of my lungs. Boy does that stir him up some. He turns around, hissing at me “You’re being a pain in the butt! Shut up!”

The argument

This whole conversation takes a nose dive. I whinge about them not playing fair. If they did, they would let me take turns too. But that just makes him even more snarly. I wasn’t meant to join in, just watch, is what he said.

“Well, why else would you let me in if I can’t play?” I asked in a whiney  voice. Apparently it was because my big sister had made him do it.

“Oh, so now it’s MY fault is it, that she’s in here with us?” That really hurt me, hearing my sister say that. They had words about me. Boy, I really like it when she sticks up for me and calls him a bully. But why did she have to spoil it by saying  “ You always pick on her and she ends up in tears. And you know what happens then. She’ll tittle tattle and we’ll all be in trouble.”

Of course she was right. That’s what I do. But it’s only because he doesn’t play fair. Problem is, I really wanted to play, so I said “ Just tell me who’s winning and when it’s my turn.”

It started to get more ugly.

“You’re too little. You’re meant to sit and watch. And keep your mouth shut” he snarled.

Well, that really upset me. I reminded him I was already seven years old and that isn’t little any more, hoping that my sister would stick up for me. She didn’t. Instead she told me I could get hurt.

“No fair –  I’m telling on you! You’re in soooo much trouble. You know we’re not supposed to play with that wheelchair. AND you’ve got Dad’s best stopwatch too. Boy is he going to be pissed when he finds out.”

That probably wasn’t the best thing to say. My brother was so angry by this time he grabbed my pigtail and gave it a hard yank. It hurt. A lot. I screamed and told him I hated him.

“That makes two of us, you snotty nosed little shit,” he whispered into my ear in a really nasty voice.

By now my sister was starting to get worried that the grown ups would hear us. If they did, we would all be in trouble she said, trying to pull us apart. Things really went pear shaped then.


O oh… I didn’t mean to do it. Honestly I didn’t.

I burst into tears. I don’t even know how the bicycle pump got into my hand. Now my brother’s head is bleeding. Boy am I in trouble !

©  Raili Tanska

Written for Class 1 assignment  ‘How Writers Write Fiction 2016: Storied Women!’ offered as an on-line course by Iowa University. The brief is to write a short story on Voice and Identity in which the main character is a female child, inventing identity, voice, how you want to portray her and the other people in the story.

43 thoughts on “The Bicycle Pump

    1. Lol – I should have named it that! Except the lump was more than a lump and my victim (cousin in real life) had to be taken to hospital probably for stitches 🙂

      1. I can’t remember. We moved to the other side of the world not long after so we have never seen each other since !! Although my sister recently visited. He still remembers it, lol 🙂

  1. Great story! How did that angry little girl manage to grow up to be so amazing?
    It looks better in this format than the “Storied Women” format. Because the lines ar shorter, there are more of them, so it doesn’t look so broken up. I’m surprised at what a difference it makes, and I’ll bear it in mind for my own future assignments.

    1. Thanks Jane – I got some great feedback. Simple changes made a big difference! How you finding it? I’m trying to comment and read – probably too much! It’s getting time consuming.

      1. I’m struggling with time, too, while trying to keep up with comments on the blog, and I haven’t even thought about today’s post yet. I’m enjoying reading the stories.

      2. The stories are interesting. And then commenting on them of course! I find I’m reading quite a few whose native tongue is obviously not english. I remark on it, then get asked for feedback about which bits tell me that, lol !! Some of it is quaint, some of it is off-putting and every shade in between. Maybe I should just keep my mouth, oops, keyboard shut. But I figure it’s meant to be constructive critique so…
        Reblogging your poem got me off the hook with posting anything else yesterday, so thanks for that 🙂

      3. Know the feeling, I always try to give some constructive comments rather than just the usual this is nice sort of stuff… sometimes it’s hard to know what to say, or how to say it

    1. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness. I’m sorry but I feel I must decline this time. I am about to go away for three weeks, and am also enrolled in an on-line writers course which is very time consuming. I will continue to post as much as I can whilst away but will confine it to travel stuff and my existing commitments. Thank you again for thinking of me 🙂

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