The spring she turns ten, she wants, desperately, her own bicycle. All her friends are using theirs to explore the neighborhood, and beyond, quite freely. The town is neither large nor small, Jeeves knows; but it is large enough to have mysterious aspects, and small enough to get just about anywhere on a bicycle.
Access and mystery form an irresistible combination. That spring was lovely, full of warm days, scented with dogwood and cherry blossoms.
By now she has learned that Mother is old enough to be her grandmother, having grown up in Scotland and emigrated with Da to America as a young bride. Da is even older, possibly a decade older than Mother. Jeeves (we will call her that, even though at this age she is Genevieve to Mother and Da, Jeevee to herself) knows that most of her friends have much younger parents, parents who do not talk with thick accents, mothers who work and pour them bowls of sugar-laden cereal for breakfast, fathers who work and insist on dinner as soon as possible to restore their energy after a “hard day.”
Somehow, though, she never feels odd or out of place. It’s as if her life with Mother and Da is suspended in an alternate universe, and when Jeeves is outside it, she barely thinks of it. When she’s inside it, she barely thinks of the rest of the world.
The bicycle is different. The depth with which she desires it threatens to break the barrier between these two universes, clash them together. She struggles to explain to Mother and Da why it is so important. She fashes, as Da would say, something powerful when she cannot join her friends on their latest ride to some mysterious corner of town or other.
Jeeves falls asleep in her rosy little bedroom the last night of being nine years old in a state approaching despair. And yet, when she wakes, and opens the curtain of her large window, there it is.
She throws open the window, the scent of spring rushes in, and the morning sun glints off the handlebars of a bright, gold Schwinn.