The thrill of independence brought by riding the golden Schwinn around town carries Jeeves through the first month of being ten years old. The wind carries her hair behind her, as it carries the plastic streamers emerging from the grips on each handlebar. Spring meets her with kindness, weather that is gentle and breezy and warming, tossing only an occasional rain shower down on her and the Schwinn.
She finds that riding by herself is even more joyful than accompanying her friends. Jeeves loves both, but there is something special about veering around corners at the last moment, with no concern for anyone leading or following. The town and is outskirts, the broken asphalt path by the irrigation canal, the alleys of the business section, the maze of cul de sacs in newer neighborhoods: Jeeves believes she and her Schwinn can explore and conquer them all.
Secretly, she names her bicycle. There is lots of talk about happenings in the heavens, so the golden vehicle becomes “Comet.” Jeeves never tells any of her friends or her adoptive parents about this name. She would be embarrassed if they found out, although she is unsure why.
As she cruises her favorite routes, she urges Comet on, coos at Comet, congratulates Comet on taking a particularly tricky corner or making it up an especially steep hill before she turns her front wheel around, takes her feet off the pedals, and lets gravity pull Comet at ridiculous speeds toward the bottom.
More times than she is aware, Jeeves narrowly misses being hit by a car, or crashing into a wall or rock. It’s as if Fate clears her path and holds her in a protective bubble.
At the start of the second month, Fate steers her into the next phase of her life. She pulls Comet up hard at the bottom of her driveway, walks it around to the garage, and heads for her back door, barely time to wash her hands before dinner.
Except as she enters the house, she does not smell anything cooking.
She hears her Mother, sobbing.