Writing 101: Day 11 – Today, tell us about the home you lived in when you were twelve. Today’s twist: pay attention to — and vary — your sentence lengths.
I pedaled my ten-speed down the gravel road as fast as I could, leaving a dust cloud in my wake. Almost home. I glanced over my shoulder to see him gaining on me. I leaned down over the handlebars and tried to will myself to go faster. I veered to the right. I sped down the steep, paved driveway and leaned left as it wrapped around the back of the house. I stomped the brakes and came to a sudden stop. His bike immediately stopped next to mine.
“I beat you!” I gloated.
“You had a head start.” Nick said.
“Wanna shoot some hoops?” I asked. The driveway behind our house was the perfect size for a half-court game. My dad had attached the backboard to the back of the house, positioning it at just the right height. It was above the garage doors and below the big picture window that looked into our dining room.
“Maybe later. Wanna go to the lake?”
Nick was my neighbor. Well, sort of. There was an empty lot between my house and his. It was a flat, grassy field perfect for playing tag or a pickup baseball game. I had lived there my whole life. Nick’s family moved in when he was five and we became inseparable. In the years to come, our relationship would change. He would become my first crush and my first kiss. We would share many firsts. But that particular summer, things were still uncomplicated. We were twelve years old and we were best friends.
We were country kids. We lived ten miles outside of a small town in the midwest. Our large, gated community was mostly woods and lakes. When you drove through the gate, there were two roads. The upper road was where Nick and I lived. It had about ten houses and it dead-ended into the woods. The lower road was much longer and it wound around behind the upper road and led to three different lakes. The homes on the lakefront were generally fancier and more expensive than those on the upper road. Most of them had permanent residents but some were for vacationers.
During the summer, the parents would go to work during the day and the kids would run the neighborhood. Back then, kids roamed outside from dawn to dusk, never spending much time indoors. We generally didn’t check in with our parents until suppertime. We used to travel miles on those gravel roads between the lakes and our houses. Sometimes we would ride our bikes. Sometimes we would walk.
That day, we hiked down to the first lake. There were lots of kids already there. Music blared from a boom box. Some kids were playing volleyball in the sand pit by the boat dock. Most of the kids were in the water – swimming, diving, floating, inner-tubing. Nick and I spent all afternoon in the lake. As the lakefront moms called their kids inside, we headed home waterlogged and sunburnt.
After supper, I played basketball behind the house. I practiced jump shots, free-throws and lay-ups. Nick came over when he was finished eating. We played HORSE. We played one-on-one. We played until it was too dark to see the ball and then we turned on the floodlights. Eventually, mom called me inside.
“See you tomorrow,” Nick called as he jogged home across the empty lot.