Justin, 10 years old, hated the fact that his family had moved to a new town, leaving behind familiarity and friends. His Dad had been transferred to this town, as a Forest Reserve Superintendent. His mom had also secured a transfer from her bank to the local branch, and with Justin’s school sorted out, they had no reason to stay back, except for the hundred little things Justin missed from his old life.
The boys in this new school were different and remote. His parents left quite early for work. Justin usually got home before his parents did. He made himself a sandwich and finished any homework he had. But he had no one to play with.
Their house was one among many small independent ones that dotted the small hill on which they lived.
So he was at a loose end, and swung himself back and forth on the old gate that led to their house.
One evening, as he stood on the gate, a group of boys came running down the road. Each of them had one bicycle tyre, which they manouevred with a metal rod that was curved at one end.
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His eyes widened in amazement. One of the boys was from his school. He asked Justin to join the group, but another boy, who seemed to be the leader, said that Justin could join the group only if he had his own bicycle-tyre vehicle.
As Justin sadly watched, the boys ran out of sight.
Every evening he looked at them with envy and the burning need to belong and be accepted.
He asked his mom if she could buy him one, but she was too tired to take him out. Most days his father came home only after Justin had gone to sleep.
A week flew by. Justin finally threw such a tantrum, that his father took him to the local cycle shop and bought him his own bicycle-tyre vehicle.
He couldn’t wait for Monday evening. The boys usually came down the road at 5 pm. Justin was at the gate from 4.30 pm. He hopped about in excitement, and tried his new vehicle on for size.
At 5.10 pm he saw them coming down the road, but his face fell. They were all on bicycles; the bicycle-tyre vehicles were gone. He ran quickly to the garden shed, unlocked his bicycle and was ready at the gate, just as the boys reached his house.
“Hi guys”, he said.
“Hey man”, they chorused.
Nothing more was required as they zipped down the hill, with the wind whipping across their faces.