One day Molly cried as she sat on her bicycle on the corner of Raglan and Urquhart Street. “Mum”, she cried, “I hate this stupid bike.” Her knees brushed the handle bars as she cycled along. She had overheard fifteen-year-old Nikki from next door remark, “She looks like a clown.” Molly thought Nikki was mean. She looks it, thought Molly, as she thought of Nikki’s jet black hair that she wore in a style that Molly’s mum said reminded her of a sea anemone. Molly couldn’t work out exactly what a menenemy was but she picked up the word enemy and that was enough. Nikki wore black lipstick and studded leather bracelets on both wrists. Her favourite attire was torn jeans and a t-shirt with cut outs. Molly loved to wear pink, and look at pictures of celebrities in evening gowns in her Mum’s magazines. Once Nikki said hello and Molly ignored her.
Nikki liked people but she hated to conform to a way of dressing or acting because someone told her to. Her own Mum didn’t like the way Nikki dressed, or her staying up to the early hours on school nights. Nikki didn’t think it was worth wasting an education on her at the moment if anyone had bothered to ask her. She went to school to get out of the house, watch people, and hang out with her bestie Rango. Rango wa rangy, redheaded and intelligent. Nikki had named him Rango because he was a rangy ranga. When he laughed she knew he wasn’t offended. Rango even understood why Nikki liked to listen to late night talk shows and call in with suggestions of how people’s problems could be resolved. “Ya should be a counsellor one day Nik; ya understand people and ya still like them. That’s cool.”
Nikki thought about what he had said on the way home the following Friday. She recalled an incident when an older lady had rung in one night to a talk show to whinge. Two of her pot plants had been taken from her verandah, and a third one smashed. “What’s wrong with these young folk? Don’t they have better things to do?” Nikki had called in later, because she recognised the lady’s voice and story: It was Mrs McLaren from across the road. Nikki had seen the mess on the way to her dog sitting job just the week before. The next week at school she spoke to Rango about it. At first he wasn’t interested but she kept bringing it up, so on Wednesday at lunch time he made a suggestion. “Why don’t you find her some pots that are hard to smash, you know thick plastic ones?” That got Nikki thinking.
Two doors down from her dog sitting job there was a house with a ton of plants in what looked like plastic pots. The following Saturday morning she noticed the house was very quiet when she passed. That afternoon on the way home it was the same. She glanced around to make sure no one was watching. Grateful for her hooded sweatshirt, she ventured onto the verandah. Thick terracotta coloured plastic pots contained pansies and ferns. Two of those would be just right, she thought. She snuck around at dusk with a bag trolley from her Dad’s dusty cob-webbed shed. The pot wasn’t too big or heavy, and she wheeled it the four blocks to her house, and left it in her Dad’s shed. Later that night, when all was quiet she crossed the street with it, carefully balanced, and placed it in front of Mrs McLaren’s door. She did the same thing the next day. By the end of the week it was all over the neighbourhood that the young louts had “brought me some plants”. Mrs McLaren walked with a spring in her step, Nikki noted.
Nikki enjoyed the McLaren episode so much, that she wanted to do another good deed. Rango seemed dubious when she told him what she had done. “I wouldn’t be doing anything to let on to people that it’s yous”, he muttered. Nikki nodded, but she was already planning how she might get Molly a bigger bicycle. Molly’s Dad wasn’t around she knew that, and her Mum only worked four days a week. She didn’t look like the kind of person who wouldn’t give her girl a bicycle if she could.
Three days later Nikki spotted the perfect bicycle. It had 16” wheels, a pink frame and sparkly streamers dangling from the handle bars. It looked shiny and new but it was leaning against the front fence a few blocks from home. Nikki had hardly noticed bikes since she was around ten years old, but it was amazing how many you noticed once you were focused. An hour until dark, Nikki thought, if it’s still here it is Molly’s. She felt enthused, and began to hurry. Buster the dog she was walking that evening got so excited that he dragged Nikki back to his home. As she returned home to wait until dark she was so preoccupied the pain in her arm did not bother her. The family meal of chops and chips dragged. Dad was quiet and Mum and her brother discussed his upcoming Soccer game. Nikki bolted to her room before she could be asked to help with the dishes.
As soon as it was completely dark, she snuck out the back door. The rest of the family were lolling on the couch watching telly. The car lights gleamed as Nikki returned to the house fence where she had seen the bicycle. Its careless rider had left it just where Nikki had seen it. She pulled her hoodie over her head walked past the bicycle, and then turning around, she strolled past the fence and grabbed the bike. She returned home and waited in the street until the exterior light of Molly’s house was turned off. Crossing the road, she carefully opened the front gate, parked the bike on Molly’s porch and snuck home. As she entered her back door, she saw her Dad, “where have you been young lady?” He bellowed. She shrugged, “just walking.” She ran to her room and shut the door.
A few days later she saw Molly riding on a pink bike. “Hey”, Nikki said, “cool bike.” Molly looked at her and smiled. “I got two of these for my birthday. One from mum, and another from… I don’t know.” She shrugged then showed off, riding one handed. Nikki stared as Molly whizzed past her down the footpath.
If you are curious about what a sea anemone looks like check out this link: http://ww2.valdosta.edu/~jlgoble/Sea%20Anemone%20Diadumene%20Dia%2030cm%201.JPG