february 1K

She was four and the prettiest girl in her circle. She wore it as naturally as the smile on her face. She drew attention – not like rubbernecking to see an accident, but like a compulsion.

Eyes followed her.

Her own eyes were not blue. Her hair was not blonde. She wasn’t tall and striking or small and irresistible. She was the brand of beauty that artists fear. One direct look from her made a person feel important, like the center of the world, if even for a split second. And after that look, the person was forever changed. The desire to receive that look again was planted in the back of the head with the memories of tricycles and earthworms that only the smell of a fresh box of crayons can recollect.

Some called her “dangerous.” Many said, “She will go far.” Others loathed her with the kind of disdain only jealousy can spawn. But others didn’t make up who she was. She was her own person.

She began every day with a large breakfast: oatmeal, vanilla yogurt with blueberries, orange juice, and toast. Lunch simply meant her favorite time of day was approaching. Because at 3:15, Rich would come home from school, and the two of them would go for their daily bike ride.

He on his bike. She on her tricycle.

Two blocks north. Two blocks south. They would ride in the afternoon sun.

Men cutting grass would pause in their work to watch her pass. Women just leaving for, or just arriving from, the grocery store would catch themselves with a hand on the car door, hypnotized by the prettiest girl in her circle riding her trike as if the sun rose that day for the single purpose of shining on her face.

She didn’t know or care about the complicated thoughts and emotions her simple beauty inflicted on her neighbors. She loved her big brother, Rich. She loved watching his knees pump the pedals of his two-wheeler and his blonde hair standing up in the wind. She loved how he would slow down when he got too far ahead, just when she would start to fear being left behind.

He was her hero.

This day, he rode too far ahead, and the fear of being left behind stung her belly. Just then he stopped and turned. He smiled and propped his bike up with his foot.

“C’mon!” he said.

She pushed her nose into the wind and pushed her pedals toward the ground. The tricycle jumped. It bucked her off, and everything went black, but she wasn’t hurt. She found herself standing firmly in the street.

“You oughtta watch where you’re pedaling, little miss,” said a big voice. She looked up to the big man. He took a knee in front of her and gently picked a dandelion seed from her hair. “You’re lucky I caught you, or you’d be nursing your noggin about now. You drove straight into my person.”

She nodded. She waited for him to pat her on the head and move out of her way, but he seemed perfectly satisfied to kneel there and look at her. She leaned to one side, looking around the man, and she saw Rich still there in the distance, propping himself up on his bike. He wasn’t smiling anymore. The fear stung her belly again, but this time she couldn’t name the cause. The man shifted his weight and blocked her view of Rich.

He touched her cheek. “I see you ride past here almost every day. I’ve always wanted to tell you how much I like your tricycle.” He seemed like a nice man.

“Thank you,” she replied, and his upper lip twitched at the sound of her voice.

“I like your pretty voice too,” he added. “I can grease the pedals and wash this trike right up, if you want. It’ll sparkle like new. Think your big brother’d want to help?” With that he turned. She leaned over again, just in time to see Rich pumping his bike away and around the corner as fast as he could. The man turned back to her and said, “I guess he had someplace else to be. It’s just you and me then.”

The fear stung her belly. She backed the tricycle up and started to pedal around the man, but he grabbed the handle bars and lifted the front wheel off the ground just a little bit. Just enough.

“Hold on, now. Just hold on,” he said patiently. “I don’t mean to scare you. I just think you’re a very pretty girl. Your eyes… When you look at me it… Well, you don’t care about a grownup’s crazy head, do you?”

He set the front wheel back down. She wanted to scream for Rich. But she knew he wouldn’t hear her, and she started to cry. This made the man stand up and look around. She started to pedal away again, but he grabbed the handlebars again. “Now look, I’m sorry, okay? You’re a dangerous little girl, and you shouldn’t be out without your mom or dad. There’s no need to say anything about me to them. Understand me? Understand?” He shook the trike. She yelped.

“Get away from her! Get away!”

The girl turned to see her mom running toward her. The man let go of the handlebars and hurried toward his house.

Then she saw Rich pedaling his two-wheeler toward her faster than she’d ever seen. His blonde hair stood up in the wind. He leapt from the moving bike and hit the street running. He scooped up a rock and whipped it at the man. It hit him in the side of the head, and he collapsed onto the driveway.

Rich stood at the end of the drive until she was wrapped safely in Mom’s arms, and even long after that, until Mom said, “Rich come on,” and they made their way back home, Rich walking both the two wheeler, and the tricycle.

47 Responses to “february 1K”

  1. 1 Jennifer Korff 02/10/2009 at 11:15 am

    on my word. My heart is beating like I was pedaling around the block myself. Really intense, but such a wonderful sketch of a lovely brother, sister relationship.

  2. 2 jmac 02/10/2009 at 11:37 am

    good lord people! trying to give me a heart attack or something…on a Tuesday?!

  3. 3 laurie of liquid paper 02/10/2009 at 11:41 am

    well worth the wait and anticipation! loved the big breakfast line.

  4. 4 beth 02/10/2009 at 12:10 pm

    wow. i was certainly not expecting that turn, dave-o. 🙂 lovely pic, han. and an intriguing word-sketch, dave. i look forward to more.

  5. 5 wendy 02/10/2009 at 12:37 pm

    you two rock it hard!
    love this.

  6. 7 ginny 02/10/2009 at 1:08 pm

    wow, i wasnt expecting that! i love this project… only once a month?

  7. 8 pricklypearbloom 02/10/2009 at 1:12 pm

    Wow, I’m really looking forward to more of this collaboration.

  8. 9 Jessie 02/10/2009 at 1:44 pm

    Great new project… my heart is beating and my eyes have tears.

    Amazing what one shot and 1000 words can do to you.

  9. 10 marthasnail 02/10/2009 at 1:51 pm

    so fab.

  10. 11 Brian 02/10/2009 at 2:44 pm

    what a story! packed a punch. and after reading, it was interesting to look back at the photo. it took on a different meaning.

  11. 12 famapa 02/10/2009 at 2:50 pm

    oh what a great idea! loved every word of it, it’s amazing what power words have. and that picture! my goodness, what a pair you two are! more please and soon too.

  12. 13 hrsmithjones 02/10/2009 at 2:57 pm

    holy macaroni.
    made my hands cold good.

  13. 14 tomoko 02/10/2009 at 3:42 pm

    Such brilliant collaboration.
    Looking forward to the next one.

  14. 15 jen 02/10/2009 at 4:38 pm

    ohmy. ohmy. i felt the blood drain from my face when their confrontation began… powerful.

  15. 16 abby 02/10/2009 at 5:12 pm

    oh my god.
    coolest blog ever!
    great job guys!
    and whoa…what a start

  16. 17 Sean 02/10/2009 at 5:49 pm

    Wow that was intense. Really good twist there, wasn’t expecting that, but very very well told. There was so much tension… a story beautifully told. Shame there’s not more…

  17. 18 melissa f. 02/10/2009 at 5:53 pm

    and just like that david, you’re a blogger.

  18. 19 sarah 02/10/2009 at 6:14 pm

    what a great start of a great project. i think i may have found a new blog crush.

  19. 20 sally 02/10/2009 at 7:12 pm

    Wow…this is so amazing. You guys make a wonderful team!!

  20. 21 erin 02/10/2009 at 7:23 pm

    i like what you have done here. nice work, you two.

  21. 22 Jeannie 02/10/2009 at 7:55 pm

    Oh, my stomach lurched and knotted as I was reading this, thinking of my own young daughter. Powerful stuff, David and Hannah! I’m really liking this project.

  22. 23 julia 02/10/2009 at 9:09 pm

    this was beautiful. my heart is still racing. i’m excited for more!

  23. 24 lietsjie 02/11/2009 at 3:31 am

    Great idea, beautifully executed. Looking forward to more.

  24. 25 Steph 02/11/2009 at 4:36 am

    I still love you both, even if you just gave me a little mini anxiety attack before yoga class.

    Yay you! More! More!

  25. 26 lottie 02/11/2009 at 5:16 am

    guys, i’m so glad you dreamed this up.
    both the shot and the words feed off each other perfectly.
    more please.

  26. 27 Ivalou 02/11/2009 at 6:12 am

    beautyful written! it´s the limit of some writers i know, they write 1000 words a day.

  27. 28 Samara 02/11/2009 at 6:17 am

    Wow. I was living it. My stomach was burning right along with the little girl. Loved it and looking forward to more.

  28. 29 shanna 02/11/2009 at 7:09 am

    so great, you two! looking forward to the next!

  29. 30 aliciaalferman 02/11/2009 at 10:09 am

    holy smokes. intense.

    can’t wait to read more!

  30. 31 Sara 02/11/2009 at 1:15 pm

    Well I guess I’ll be following this blog!
    Hook, line and sinker.

  31. 32 katrina 02/11/2009 at 4:36 pm

    WOW! WOW! WOW!
    my heart was racing! i can’t believe i just felt that way about 1,000 words. i had every image in my head. fabulous!!!
    i can’t wait for the next one. fabulous!!!!!!!!!

  32. 33 claire 02/11/2009 at 5:47 pm


  33. 34 martha 02/11/2009 at 9:50 pm

    the photo is just perfect.

  34. 35 catebrook 02/12/2009 at 10:45 am

    That was WAY too freakin scary!!!!! My pulse is up!

  35. 37 blair 02/12/2009 at 5:49 pm

    this is all *one* word for me, inspiring!

  36. 38 billy 02/13/2009 at 6:00 am

    Inspiring and innovative. I totally see a new genre here.

  37. 39 ELizabeth 02/13/2009 at 8:41 am

    you could have been writing about my little girl . . . makes me want to hang onto her pretty darn tight.


    i’ll be back for more!

  38. 40 ELizabeth 02/13/2009 at 8:45 am

    p.s. i love Rich. he is the perfect big brother.

  39. 41 kristen 02/13/2009 at 11:30 pm

    h+d: i’ve been thick with anticipation for this collaboration of you two. it felt like the floor dropped out from underneath when i read, “he touched her cheek.” definitely not expecting that turn of events. can’t wait until next month.

  40. 43 Shelby 02/15/2009 at 7:11 pm

    WOW. Reminds me of my older brother. It makes me feel warm and a bit creeped out at the same time, you know?

  41. 44 Melissa 02/16/2009 at 10:22 pm

    I’m speechless . . .

  42. 45 Megan 02/19/2009 at 3:28 am

    Brilliant blog project. Great words. Great pic. Will be back for more!

  43. 46 tifanie 03/06/2009 at 12:42 am

    yikes. let me catch my breath. whewwww great blog idea.

  44. 47 Chantalle 04/19/2010 at 11:34 pm

    Oh my God, this was great! Rich is my hero too, xD<3

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