Beyond the Wheels

Allison Fox


An afternoon run to the gas station for Polar Pops 

with the windows of my dad’s pickup truck down, 

and Soundgarden on the radio. 

We pass an abandoned parking lot of my hometown 

with tall grass growing out of the cracked sidewalk

and a small graffitied building.

This is the parking lot

where he taught me to ride a bike without training wheels. 

This is where he let go of my seat and handlebars

because he knew I would not fall.


Some days, I feel like I still need the training wheels. 

I feel like I need his hand guiding me in the right direction, 

making sure I do not fall. 

Most people my age call their exes when drunk,

but I call my dad. 

Even when dizzy and stumbling downtown,

he is the one I seek advice from. 

He is the one who gave me my first drink; 

I spent Friday nights in high school drinking

with my father at home instead of at parties,

where he knew I was safe. 

Where he could catch me when I’d fall. 


My dad has been sober since December 24, 2018. 

He had not seen a sober day of his life 

since he was 16 years old 

with alcohol in his system, 

until trading his dinner beer for mango juice,

until trading nightly liquor for bedtime ice cream.  

He finally took off his training wheels. 


So on the day he tells me 

he feels like he was not a good father  

because of the abuse of the bottle, 

I remind him 

that the sad little parking lot where he taught me to ride a bike  

is only seen as ugly 

by those who do not have loving memories of it.

Allison Fox is an undergraduate English major with a minor in Creative Writing at Kent State University.