The Azalea Festival happens every year on Macomb and I have a scar to prove it. We were just riding our bikes. Jesse’s mom works at MBA Realty and we were going to see her. Just riding our bikes to go and see Jesse’s mom. That’s all.
He wanted to ride with us, Jimmy did. Wanted to ride bikes with us to see Jesse’s mom at MBA Realty. But his friends weren’t ours and they wouldn’t ever be. So we rode on ahead, leaving him back at Macomb and Parke Lane, by the log cabins where I used to live. We rode on without Jimmy, Jesse and me.
Now Jimmy, he wasn’t very happy about us and our bike riding. This riding on ahead without him and all. Jimmy followed us down Macomb, through the throngs of Islanders milling about at the Festival, powdered sugar on their cheeks from funnel cakes, balloons slipping out of their greasy fingers into a cloudless sky.
At Meridian, Jimmy had had enough. He’d had enough of not riding with us to see Jesse’s mom. Enough of riding his bike half a block behind. Enough of not having any of me, of not being boyfriend-girlfriend and breaking rules past dark on the porch. He rode up behind us, reached out to touch me, grab me, love me, but we fell.
We all fell and fell hard. Jimmy’s street bike snuck out from under his control and the chain found the soft, fleshy skin next to my spine. The chain was rough, sharp at the turns, smeared in oil and slime. The tines dug into the folds of my back while my limbs hit the ground, hit each other and Jesse skid to a stop.
We left our bikes, Jesse and me. Walked on to see Jesse’s mom at MBA Realty. My shirt was bloody from my back. My back was open stinging, sticking to the shirt. We didn’t go back to the Festival and after that year, it wasn’t called Azalea anymore, just Island Fest. And I never heard what happened to Jimmy, but he didn’t get the girl.