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Susan Benjamin


Susan Benjamin readingOut of the Ordinary

Chapter 1

Pumping her pedals furiously, Sally Brown rode her bicycle down the steep grade of her driveway and turned left toward the marsh. Later, when she would tell this story to her friend Eugene, the unfortunate combination of vowels and syllables in the word “furiously” would get stuck between her tongue and the roof of her mouth resulting in an undecipherable lisping noise. “I was mad,” she would say quickly. “I was mad so I pedaled super fast.”

Sally often rode her bike when she was mad, as well as when she was sad or lonely; there was something about making the pedals go around and around that always made her feel a little bit better. This did not really surprise Sally, because her bicycle had been magical from the very beginning.

It had been on Sunday, two years before, when Sally first imagined her bike. Sally knew it had been a Sunday just as she knew all the days of the week by their menu. Monday was hamburgers with ketchup on white buns. Tuesday was toasted cheese sandwiches with Campbell’s tomato soup. Wednesday was meatloaf made of Monday’s leftovers, Thursday was spaghetti with tomato sauce, Friday was tuna hotdish, and Saturday was lasagna made with cottage cheese instead of ricotta, thanks to a recipe Mrs. Brown had clipped from the January 1970 edition of Good Housekeeping. Sunday supper meant fried chicken, potatoes baked in tinfoil to a temperature that always caused Sally to burn the very tip of her tongue, and orange Jell-O salad with fruit cocktail mixed in.

After supper whenever there was chicken for dinner, in other words every Sunday, Sally and her sister Donna each made a wish and pulled the wishbone.

“Hey, you didn’t say go!” Sally yelled that night.

“It doesn’t matter. You still might have the biggest piece,” replied Donna.

Sally, from previous experience with wishbone pulling, was doubtful that this would be so, but quickly closed her eyes and mumbled a wish just in case. Sally then brought her piece of bone over to Donna for inspection.

“Too bad, so sad.” Donna tossed her bone onto the table and twirled out of the room singing, “I get my wi- ish. I get my wi-ish”.

Sally glumly looked down at the piece of bone laying on the table, then looked at the piece still pinched tightly between her thumb and fingers. Then she looked again and wondered. She carefully laid her bone next to Donna’s, lining up the ends with her right pointer finger. The two bones were close to the same size, but it was clear, Sally’s bone was actually a little bit longer.

Over the course of her life, Sally had eaten Sunday supper approximately 396 times. Even with subtracting the two years when she was too young to partake of the chicken or the wishbone pull (104 suppers) and removing the 16 Sunday suppers that were eaten at Grandma Frohn’s house in Missouri where chicken was still served, but no wishbone pulling was allowed, that still left 273 Sunday suppers that Sally had eaten chicken with her family. During all those suppers, she had never, not once, won the wishbone from her sister.

Sally felt a small tingle travel up her spine. With the well-tuned instincts shared by small animals and youngest children, she knew that she should keep her wish a secret. And so she did not tell Donna, or either of her parents about her wish. But in her mind she repeated to herself, “I wish for a bike. An orange bike.”

She did not really believe this wish would come true.