The Book Mobile

     There were two things Christi loved to do more than anything else. One was to read and the other was to ride her bicycle. During the school year she always had plenty of books to choose from at the school library. She especially loved to read books about animals. But when school let out for the summer, her daily supply of books dried up. Her family lived way out of town—too far away to use the public library.

     Fortunately, every two weeks a bookmobile would come out to their county road and would park a couple of miles away from their house. The bookmobile used to be a school bus. The seats had been removed, and there were shelves of books along the walls. The children from the surrounding farms could come and check out books, just like you do at the library. Christi would usually read all her books very quickly, so she always looked forward eagerly to "bookmobile day."

     But there was one problem. They had to ride their bikes to get to the bookmobile. Now that in itself was not a problem, because Christi loved to ride her bike. It was a big blue bike that she had gotten for her sixth birthday—her very first bicycle. It had a white basket in front to carry books and things. She could ride it all day long. The problem was that there were two enormous hills they had to ride up to get to the bookmobile. Their bikes had only two speeds—stop and go. They did not have lots of gears to help them go up hills more easily, so their legs had to do all the work.

     By mid-summer the days had begun to grow quite hot. As they set out for the bookmobile, they were very eager and excited to get their new books. Wearing a bright red bandanna over his nose and pretending to be a cowboy, Zane zipped ahead of Christi and Diana as they rode along together, talking about the books they were going to choose this time. As they began to climb the first hill, their breathing got harder and they had to stop talking to save their breath. Soon they were standing up, pumping their pedals as hard as they could. They knew if they slowed down too much they’d have to walk up the hill.

     Zane was already well ahead, and Diana surged forward ahead of Christi. As she fell further and further behind, Christi’s little legs pushed the pedals as hard as she could.

     "Hey, wait up for me," she called out as they pulled farther ahead of her.

     "You hurry up. I can’t slow down now," retorted Diana as she rode on.

     About half-way up that big, steep hill, Christi couldn’t pedal any more. Her mouth was dry and her head was pounding. It was so embarrassing to have to get off the bike and walk, but she just couldn’t pedal any more. Slowly she got off and pushed her bike up the hill. She was tempted to turn around and go back home, but she wanted those books too badly.

     What a relief it was to get to the top of that hill. Zane and Diana had been waiting awhile and now they were ready to go.

     "Finally, you got here," said Zane. His bandanna was pushed down around his neck now. "I’ve been waiting for e-eeons." He stretched the word out.

     Christi flushed pink under her freckles.

     "You don’t even know what that means!"

     But they were already gone. Christi had been hoping for a little rest, but she knew if she rested now, she would fall even further behind. Slowly she climbed back onto her bicycle and coasted down the other side of the hill. The air felt good rushing against her hot face, cooling her off a bit. She began to pedal, going faster and faster as she prepared to conquer the next hill. This hill was even bigger. The bicycle swayed from side to side as she strained every muscle to keep it going as long as she could.

      Suddenly she was on the ground gasping for air. Her bicycle handle was rammed into her stomach and she couldn’t catch her breath. She didn’t know what had happened. Her elbow and leg were scraped and bleeding, her library books had fallen out of the basket and her head throbbed. Slowly, ever so slowly, she sat up and looked around. There, by her rear tire, was a deep rut in the road. She must have hit it. She’d been so tired she hadn’t even seen it.

     "I WANT TO GO BACK HOME!" she howled.

     After awhile she stopped crying. She realized she was almost to the top of the hill and it wouldn’t be far to the bookmobile after that. Anyway, she was closer to the bookmobile than to home.

     Christi stood up and gathered the books back into the bicycle basket. Zane and Diana had stopped at the top of the hill and they watched as she limped wearily up the hill. She could tell they felt bad that she had fallen down.

     "You’re bleeding," said Zane, briskly taking charge. "Here, let me put a tourniquet on your knee." He untied his bandanna and wrapped it tightly around her knee. Too tightly. Now her knee really hurt. "I learned how to do that in first aid class," he said proudly.

     They all got back on their bikes and rode on. Now Zane and Diana rode more slowly so Christi could keep up with them. Up ahead they could see the bookmobile waiting. When they arrived, it felt good to get off her bike and go into the cool bookmobile where she could rest while she chose her books. The trip home would be easy. It was down hill most of the way.

     Later as Mom treated Christi’s cuts and scrapes, Christi told her about her miserable ride to the bookmobile. "Was it worth all that pain and effort?" asked Mom.

     Christi looked at her stack of books on the table. Yes, she decided, it was worth it. She knew the next ride to the bookmobile would be just as hard, but she would be there.

     "Not one who is earnest and persevering will fail of success. The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. The weakest saint, as well as the strongest, may wear the crown of immortal glory. All may win who, through the power of divine grace, bring their lives into conformity to the will of Christ." Acts of the Apostles, 313.

Christianna Kelsey