A roar of eager engines filled the air. High above, the sun was a bright orb. Its rays beat down on the crowd cheering behind the barricades and reflected off the chrome accents on ten motocross bikes.
In the middle, Timothy Cain straddled his black and neon green bike as adrenaline swam through his veins. His gloved hands clutched the handlebars, and he revved the engine. Beneath the black helmet, his eyes were on the lights that would tell the racers to go.
They lit up one at a time.
His feet sprang off the ground, and his bike shot away from the start-up line, pulling out ahead. The wheels ate the dirt greedily and rotated furiously, seeking the finish line.
The terrain blurred past him as he hugged a sharp turn, roared up a mound of earth, and flew into the air. The engine and his heart were one as the bike descended and the rear tire touched down first. He sped over a series of dirt speed bumps, rounded another turn, and floored it to the finish line.
A pack of motocross bikes leapt around the curve behind him. Two of them broke free of the group and chased him, gaining speed. They flanked either side of his bike. Their front tires lined up with his back wheel.
Timothy applied more gas and pealed ahead, putting two feet between him and the two bikes. As he cut across the finish line, cheers erupted. "And the winner is number four, Timothy Cain!"
Timothy jumped off his bike and threw his fisted hands into the air. He pulled off the helmet
that was radiating heat atop his head. Sweat matted his hair. He retrieved the trophy topped with two gold wheels.
"Congratulations," the motocross official told him.
"Thank you." He barely had the words out when his family and friends bounded onto the track and surrounded him.
Tabitha, his twin sister, slung her arm around his shoulders. "We have to celebrate!"
Celebrating this feat sounded good to Timothy, because this win meant he would be able to compete in the finals next month. This was what he always dreamed of doing, ever since he first sat on a tiny motocross bike at three years old.
After he went home to shower and added his newest trophy to the collection that spanned several jammed shelves, he joined a group of his friends and Tabitha to celebrate his victory. They parked across the street from a bar and grill and stood on the sidewalk watching
the traffic. When it cleared, his friends and Tabitha started to make their way across the road.
"Hey, Tim!" He stopped on the edge of the sidewalk and turned to a friend who wanted to congratulate him.
Across the way, Tabitha shouted to him. "Tim, come on! I'm starving!"
Timothy faced the group in the distance. "I'm coming." He jogged into the middle of the lane.
An SUV ploy into him. His body rolled along the hood, denting it, and slammed into the windshield. He flew clear over the roof of the car, seeming to suspend in the air a moment, before colliding into the pavement. A second later, a car trampled over his legs. Still conscious, he couldn't feel anything. No pain. Not even the road plastered against his back. His head was turned to the side, and he was starring at one of the wheels of the car that had run him over, That wheel was the last thing he saw before blackness took over.
The wail of urgent sirens mixed with Tabitha's hysterical screams.
When Timothy came to, paramedics were wheeling him on a gurney into the emergency department. There were voices all around him, but they sounded far away. His vision was blood-red, and he fell back into the dark world of unconsciousness.
Days later, enveloped in pain, he found out the accident had paralyzed him from the waist down. He wouldn't ever walk or ride a motocross bike again. Having his dream ripped from his grasp so suddenly was equally crippling. He spent days lying in the hospital bed devastated and defeated.
"Tim." He glanced at Tabitha, who had never left his side. "I'm sorry for what happened," she said. "Everyone is deeply sorry, but you better not be sorry for yourself, because you are still alive!"
"I was riding a motocross bike at three," he reminded her. "What do I do now? Race my wheelchair?"
"Sure," she spat. "But whatever you do, don't give up!"
After she left, Timothy realized she was right. All his life he dominated everything that had wheels, from motocross bikes to unicycles. Why should now be any different?
One year later, Timothy studied his motocross bike. The man who was going to buy it stood next to his wheelchair. "You used to race?" he said.
Timothy nodded. "I was a champ before the accident."
Timothy smiled. After his darkest hour passed, he fought through his recovery and conquered his wheelchair. Now, he was the captain of a wheelchair basketball team, with a collection of trophies that spanned many shelves.
"Don't be," he told the man next to him, and placed his hands on the wheels at either side of his chair. "These are my wheels now."