It is a truth universally acknowledged that any boy in possession of a weapon must be in want of a fight. Actually, on certain occasions, the weapon doesn't HAVE to officially classified as such...
It was after a jousting match in the barn that I came up with this rather brilliant idea. Nemesis and I were charging each other on bikes, but instead of using our sticks as lances, we were using them more like swords and trying to knock each other off the bikes. The result was a cross between fencing and jousting, with less brute-force trauma than you might expect because we were both lousy shots.
"You guys want to play Fox and Geese in the apple orchard?" Quill interrupted our duel, wanting to play a game with us but not willing to risk life and limb.
I shouldered my stick and crashed to a halt (I was a little late on the brakes and hit the wall). "Wanna play bike tag?"
"What's bike tag?" Nemesis asked.
"You've never heard of bike tag?" I asked incredulously, pretending I hadn't just made up the concept five seconds ago. My siblings were always skeptical of anything I invented, but an already-established game met with much better reception--presumably because it was assumed that a lack of fatalities lent the game an air of respectability.
"You try to tag people while on bikes?" Quill hazarded a guess.
My 12-year-old self was actually thinking exactly that, but pride would not allow me to admit she was right. I did some fast thinking. "No, we tag each other WITH the bikes!"
"Huh?" my siblings chorused, obvious visions of them carrying their bicycles around dancing through their heads. I toyed briefly with that idea, then dismissed it; while it would give me an unfair advantage (at the time, I was the only one strong enough to carry my bike any great distance), it would immediately be spotted and rejected by the others.
"No, we ride around, but we just try to bump the other bikes a little," I explained, picking up my bike and ignoring the blood trickling down my leg; such injuries and scrapes were common, and I was really starting to like this game I had invented and didn't want to waste time hunting up a Band-Aid. Besides, I was pretty sure I'd finished off our last box yesterday after I'd fallen out of a tree. Well, several trees. And a cliff.
I mounted up, rolled forward and bumped the rear tire on Nemesis's bike. "See? Like that. You're it, Nemesis."
Quill was already racing back to the house. I frowned. "Where are you going?" I yelled after her.
"To get Squirrel!" she yelled back excitedly, referring to our youngest sister.
Once Squirrel had joined us in the barn, I re-explained the concept, but this time added a rule that no one could leave the haybarn (I was feeling lazy and didn't want to chase anyone down the driveway). Quill had thoughtfully anticipated the need for an appropriate soundtrack and had brought out a CD of our favorite fast-paced songs, since my boombox was already out in the barn.
Unfortunately, before we could start, it was noted that we had a slight issue. Squirrel had no bike; she had just finished learning how to ride, but she didn't feel the need often enough to require her own vehicle of transportation. Here, Nemesis showed much intelligence (although it didn't seem so at the time).
"She can use mine," he offered. "I'll take the tricycle."
Nemesis never rode the tricycle by sitting on the seat. He rode on the rear axle, leaning back, giving the impression that he was going a lot faster than he was. I pointed out that he wouldn't be able to go as fast, forgetting that in the relatively confined space of the haybarn full speed was unlikely to be obtained. He just shrugged. I conceded the point and soon we were ready to start.
It was very cautious at first. The tagger would attempt to trap someone in a corner, then slowly roll forward and bump the unlucky sibling's bike. We realized quickly that Nemesis was wise for his years; the tricycle could spin on a dime and evade the efforts of the faster, but less agile, bicycles. Finally, fed up because he hadn't been tagged and we'd been playing for a half an hour, I charged him instead of using the herding process that had been the norm until that point. He was caught by surprise. There was an almighty and resounding crash as I slammed straight into his front wheel. There was dead silence for a few moments.
Then all heck broke loose. Nemesis whooped and shot after Quill, repeating my strategy with the same success. The CD player switched to a new and faster track, which didn't help calm us down any. With reckless abandon, we smashed our bikes together, yelling and cheering whenever there was a particularly loud or epic crash. A mechanical genius even at such a tender age, I brought up a few tools from the shop and made quick running repairs to our much-abused vehicles, mostly with regards to twisted handlebars and popped chains. Skid marks were sprinkled liberally across the barn floor as we learned new tricks to avoid Nemesis's stupid tricycle (he was INSANELY good at tagging people). When the CD player finally lost its precarious perch and thudded to the ground a few hours later, we were the most bruised and exhilarated set of kids you could ever hope to see. (I was the only one who was bleeding; I kept getting my hand caught in the chains I was trying to fix because I wasn't paying attention.) We set the bikes in front of the barn door and went over to check on the boombox. Fortunately, I had bought an incredibly durable player; aside from a small dent in a speaker, it was undamaged. We contemplated it for a moment, realizing that we were actually rather exhausted. Quill spoke first. "Now what?"
I picked up my fiberglass-pole sword and thrust it into my belt. "Now we take to the high seas!"
Quill followed suit. "I'm Jack Sparrow!!!!"
"Hey, that's not fair!" I complained. "I was gonna say that! And you got to be Jack Sparrow last time!"
"I'm Ben Sparrow!" my brother announced, starting to duel "Jack Sparrow."
"I'm Claire!" Squirrel announced.
"Fine. I'm Anakin Skywalker," I grumbled.
"That's not piratey!" Quill protested.
"Then let me be Jack Sparrow!" I retorted and got whacked in the leg with Quill's sword.
If bicycles could chuckle, I'm sure they would have...after breathing a sigh of relief.