“Bicycle Lesson,” Friend, May 1996, 3
“You want a ride home, Bryce?” Kendall asked as we left the Little League field. “I have my bike here. You can ride with me.”
“Sure. I’ll pedal partway, if you want.”
The field and bleachers were clearing fast because ours had been the last game. Kendall’s bike was chained to the back of the bleachers. A few feet away was another one, lying in the dirt. It was one of the nicest bikes I’d seen.
“I wonder whose bike that is,” I muttered.
“That’s Dusty’s,” Kendall grumbled, shaking his head disgustedly. “His dad bought it for him last month. Dusty just dumped it there before the game. I saw him leave with TJ. If I had a bike like that, I sure wouldn’t leave it lying around in the dirt like a pile of junk.”
I looked at the bike again. Its bright yellow-and-black paint was beautiful. Grabbing the handlebars, I hefted it to an upright position. For a moment I just admired it; then I swung my leg over and settled down on the seat.
I looked around. We were the only ones still there. I gripped the handlebars and hunched over, pretending to be flying down the road. I straightened up and told Kendall, “I’m going to ride it home.”
“Dusty lives just a block from me. I’ll drop it by his place on my way home. He’ll thank me. Let’s go.”
Kendall and I had planned to go right home, but on the way, we passed the construction site of the new shopping center. Heavy equipment had been brought in for digging the footings. There were huge piles of dirt and sand everywhere. It was an awesome place to do dirt biking. The construction crew wasn’t around. …
We had meant to stay only five minutes or so, but once I got started, I couldn’t quit. “I’m going to try that big hill in the middle, where they’ve started digging the foundation,” I called to Kendall.
“You’ll kill yourself, it’s too steep.”
“I’ll make it easy on this bike!”
But from the top, it looked higher and steeper than it had from below. When I looked at Kendall, who stood at the bottom, gazing up anxiously, I almost chickened out. But I’d worked hard to get up there, and Kendall was watching, so I decided to give it a try.
“Watch out for that stack of rebar over to the side,” Kendall shouted.
Sucking in a deep breath, I pushed off. Immediately I wished I had left good enough alone. Dusty’s bike went down the hill as if shot from a gun. It was all I could do to stay on as the bike bounced and swerved down the rocky dirt.
A little past halfway down the hill, I lost my balance and took a tumble. I went in one direction; the bike went in another. Everything was a spinning, twisting blur. My flailing sprawl ended when I crashed against a rock at the bottom of the hill.
“Are you all right, Bryce?” Kendall was kneeling beside me, his face white.
I groaned and tried to sit up. A banging pain throbbed in my right knee. As I grimaced, my teeth ground on dirt and sand. I spit to clean out my mouth. “My leg’s killing me,” I moaned.
After I got up and walked around a bit, I felt better, even though my knee was still throbbing. I pulled up my pant leg and discovered a two-inch scrape. It was bleeding some, but it wasn’t too bad. “I think I’ll be OK,” I finally muttered. “Where’s Dusty’s bike?”
The bike was twisted on its side, next to the pile of iron rebar. As soon as I saw it, I knew that it was badly damaged. I pulled it up. The handlebars were bent at an angle.
Kendall and I were able to straighten the handlebars, but as we were doing it, we saw that two spokes were broken on the front wheel and its rim was crumpled. The tire had a small rip in the side. I had a sick feeling in my stomach.
“What are you going to do?” Kendall asked me.
I shook my head slowly, wishing that I had never seen Dusty’s bike. “Maybe we can fix it,” I said hopefully.
Kendall studied the front wheel more closely, then shook his head. “That thing’s totally wasted, Bryce.”
“Well, he shouldn’t have just left it lying there in the dirt,” I snapped, trying to blame Dusty for the accident instead of me. “He’s lucky somebody didn’t just steal it. I’m going to take it back to the ballpark. He can pick it up there—if he still wants it. Hey—he might even forget that he left it there.”
I didn’t tell anybody at home about my accident. I did my best not to limp. But every time I took a step and felt the pain, I remembered what I’d done to Dusty’s bike. I tried to rationalize that it was his own fault for leaving it there, but that didn’t get rid of the guilty feeling.
Before Primary the next day, I heard Dusty talking to some guys. “They trashed my bike,” he growled, hitting his clenched fist into the palm of his other hand.
“Well, why’d you leave it at the park in the first place?” Tyson asked.
“I forgot it—don’t you ever forget things?”
“I’d never forget my new bike. If I did, that would be the last time my dad ever got me anything.”
“Well, if I ever find out who did it,” Dusty muttered angrily, “I’m going to bust him in the nose.”
I looked at Kendall. He looked away and started down the hall for class. Ducking my head, I followed him.
I had a hard time thinking about the Primary lesson, and when sacrament meeting started, I tried to crowd thoughts of Dusty and his bike out of my mind. But as the priests were preparing the sacrament, I thought of a home evening lesson Mom had given. She’d talked about the sacrament and pointed out that we should always take it worthily. Taking it unworthily was mocking Jesus.
Until that Sunday, the sacrament was just something we did Sundays. It was just bread and water that the deacons brought around. But that morning I couldn’t help thinking of the broken bike, and I knew that I wasn’t worthy to take the sacrament. Not until I made things right with Dusty.
I swallowed hard and bowed my head, feeling horribly ashamed. Heavenly Father knew about the bike, and I knew that I couldn’t take the bread and water and renew my covenants with Him while pretending that I hadn’t taken and damaged Dusty’s bike.
When Mom handed me the bread tray, I started to reach for a piece. Then that sick feeling inside me welled up bigger than ever. I pulled my hand back. Without looking at Mom, I slowly shook my head and stared down at my hands. When the water came a few minutes later, I shook my head again.
It was funny that as soon as the sacrament was over and the deacons and the priests had gone to sit with their families, I felt better. I didn’t feel good about what I had done to Dusty’s bike, but I was glad that I’d had the courage not to mock Jesus by taking the sacrament just so that people wouldn’t look at me funny. I also realized that I was going to have to tell Dusty what had happened.
I walked home after the meeting, reaching the house before the rest of my family did. I didn’t wait to change my clothes—I headed straight for the garage, grabbed my bike, and pushed it over to Dusty’s.
My hand shook a little as I rang the doorbell. Sister Baker answered it. “Is Dusty around?” I rasped nervously.
“Sure, Bryce,” she said pleasantly. “Why don’t you come on in?”
“I need to talk to him out here.”
A moment later Dusty came bounding out. “What’s happening, man?”
“Hi, Dusty.” I turned and nodded toward my bike. “I brought you my bike.”
“Oh, you heard mine got trashed. I couldn’t believe that anybody would do that to somebody else’s bike.”
“Yeah,” I gulped, stuffing my hands in my pockets. “I thought you could use mine until yours gets fixed.”
For a moment he stared at me and then at my bike and then back at me. “You don’t have to do that, Bryce.” He sounded surprised and really sincere. “Shoot, that’s nice of you, though. Thanks a lot!”
I shook my head and looked at the ground. “No, Dusty, I’m not all that nice. I wish I was. You see, I”—I swallowed hard and wet my lips—“I’m the one that smashed up your new bike.”
I looked up. Dusty was staring at me. He wasn’t angry, just shocked. “I was going to bring it home to you. I saw it at the park and figured I’d ride it here—you know, as kind of a favor.” I was speaking fast and furiously, wanting to explain before he decided to bust me in the nose. “Then I came to where they’re building that new shopping center, and I started riding the dirt hills. I wasn’t trying to mess up your bike or anything.”
I told him everything. I even showed him the scrape on my knee to prove that I wasn’t lying. Dusty didn’t say much. He just listened. “That’s why I brought you my bike,” I said sadly. “I’ll pay for what it costs to fix up yours, but it’ll take me a little while to earn the money. That’s why I figured you needed another bike until then. It’s not as good as yours, but it’ll get you around. I’m sorry, Dusty. I hadn’t meant for things to end up this way.”
Dusty stepped over to my bike and walked around it, looking it over.
“I wouldn’t blame you if you still wanted to bust me in the nose,” I muttered.
He shrugged. “I’ve thought better about that.” He cuffed my arm. “I still think this is pretty nice of you. Most guys wouldn’t even have told me.”
“Well, I am sorry. And I’ll make up for it.”
I turned and started down his driveway, leaving my bike behind. “Hey, Bryce,” he called after me. I stopped and turned. “Do you want to play a little catch tomorrow after school?”
I hesitated and then smiled. “Sure. I’d like that.”
As I returned home, I was smiling, both inside and out. That deep down sick feeling was gone, and I knew that next Sunday I’d be able to take the sacrament—and I’d appreciate it.