Danielle awoke, her tight curls behaving like springs as she bounced her head off the Smurfette pillow.
"Mama, what day is it?" Danielle asked.
"It's Saturday dear," her mother replied.
"No Mama, is it the Fourth today?"
"No dear, the Fourth of July is tomorro," her mother answered, smiling.
"So today is the day we decorate my bike." Danielle hummed and sang as she ate her breakfast. She was so excited that many of the spoonfuls she put to her mouth contained nothing but air.
Danielle raced out to the garage. Her bike stood next to her sister's 13-speed Coaster Cruiser with its many levers and plenty of dust. Her brother's hung from the rafters, suspended on a nail through the back of the banana seat.
"Mine will never get dusty or hang from up there," Danielle said with sternness in her voice, not typical of a 6-, almost 7-year-old.
Her bike was a beauty from its tassels that hung from the handlebars to the sloping banana seat with the butterfly pattern. Danielle had made it a goal to ride this summer without training wheels, a goal she met before school was over, getting very muddy in the spring thaw.
The afternoon of the third of July was spent watching her mother carefully twist and weave each piece of red, white and blue crepe paper into her spokes. Balloons were tied to the ends of the handlebars and the final touch was a sign hanging from the back that read "Let Freedom Ring."
"Mama, can I ride it now?" Danielle asked with a tight smile on her face.
"All right dear, you can ride it around the yard a little, but then put it back in the garage before it gets dark." Danielle's mother left as Danielle climbed on to her bike. From inside, Linda could hear Danielle shouting "let freedom ring" and then the sound of the bikes bell going ring, ring.
The next morning, Danielle jumped from her bed excited, not for the fireworks, or for the picnics, but for the bike parade - the parade she had wanted to be in since the first time that she saw it. After donning her Stars and Stripes dress, Danielle had her mother weave red ribbon in one pigtail and blue into the other. Danielle could barely sit still while her mother finished. She ran from the house to the garage. What she found broke her heart. There was her beautiful bike with not one, but two flats! Tears ran down her face like a summer downpour as she burst into the kitchen shouting.
"Mama, Ma Ma Mama," she stuttered, choked with tears.
"What is it dear? Calm down, calm down, you'll wake Daddy." Danielle's father was a truck driver, sometimes coming home late at night.
"My bike Mama, it got flats."
"Oh my, Jack, get up, we have an emergency," Linda yelled into the bedroom where Jack, Danielle's dad, was asleep. Jack lumbered into the kitchen bleary eyed with his hair in a tussle.
"What, what's the emergency?"
"Danielle's bike has two flats and the parade is in an hour," Linda answered. "Do we have a patch kit?"
"Nope, used the last one last summer, and it's Sunday and a holiday, so...," his voice trailed off as Danielle ran up to her room. After what seemed like a lifetime, Danielle heard her father's voice.
"Crazy Legs Crane, get down here." He called her that due to her being the tallest kid in her class and having the longest legs. Danielle stomped down the stairs convinced that her day was ruined.
"Give me your hand Legs." Her father took her hand and led her outside. In the driveway sat a wood-sided wagon, painted blue with balloons and Danielle's "Let Freedom Ring" sign hanging off of it.
"Hop in sis, or we're going to be late," Danielle's sister Anita said. Danielle kissed her father and hopped in the wagon.
"Wait dear, you're going to need this." Danielle's mother handed her the bell from her bike. "Now remember to smile and wave."
Danielle listened to her mother smile and wave she did and she rang her bell and yelled, "Let freedom ring!"
Brian Foreman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.