By Nicholas Scott
Truth be told they zipped and whizzed and quite a few of them dive bombed like a squadron of warplanes. I think it was because they could smell the blood and the fear. Not literal blood, of course, but the fear; well the plume wafted.
It was my first time on the ice and I’ve decided my ankles are not fit for the thin metal blades that give grace and elegance to most skaters.
These kids though, they were diabolical dervishes, slipping in and out of the slower, more remedial skaters like they were an obstacle course. I fancy I looked rather like Frankenstein’s monster, my arms stiff out in front of me, and my legs rigid, moving one slow jerky inch at a time.
Perhaps they intended to put me out of my misery; though I imagined them much more as angry villagers with pitchforks and flaming torches. Before I knew what was happening, they were all about me.
I tried to hurry out of the way and off the ice, but it was like a horrible dream sequence. Those metal blades sliced against the ice but my movement was glacial at best. I jerked my whole body in hopes that I could move faster.
I looked up for help, but my fellow ice skaters were unaware of my peril, most I believed, consciously oblivious. I was the weak crippled wildebeest on the African plain about to be mauled and devoured by a pride of lions.
The first time I saw him zip by, he was graceful, elegant, and captivating. I looked away quickly, and the motion sent me veering uncontrollably to my left and further out onto the ice. I could have sworn I saw his right cheek turn up in a grin. He relished in my misery, I was certain.
I snuck another quick glance, trying to locate him, but he was nowhere. I dared not look back, my periphery was but a 90 degree, if I turned my head too much, I feared it’d be like a boat tiller steering me away from the safety of the sidewall for which I longed so desperately.
The warplanes were back, strafing me with shaved ice from the rinks surface. I looked about for help. Pools had lifeguards. Wasn’t this much like a pool? Didn’t these maniacal devils deserve a time out for roughhousing?
He flew past again, a miraculous bird on ice. This time he looked at me as he passed and then skated backwards so he could watch me further. I must have looked rather pathetic because he turned quickly and raced away.
The one thing I’d accomplished while on the ice was a knack for falling, gracelessly and without provocation. You’d have thought the gang of ice devils and their frosty shenanigans would have been my downfall.
but I persevered, albeit without finesse. A seemingly benign patch of ice proved to be my undoing.
I thought I was in the clear. The ice imps had whipped past on their third sortie, faster than I thought possible, I could feel their draft actually dragging me on the ice. I moved faster than I was able to accomplish on my own volition.
The sidewall was fast approaching and it suddenly occurred to me that I’d made every effort to accomplish the task of motion but now was suddenly fully cognizant of Newton’s First law of motion:
an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force.
That external forced looked pretty hard and I was fast (relatively) approaching it. I flailed my arms. What I must have looked like. Not only was the sidewall growing nearer by the millisecond, but also the silver-heeled sprites were approaching from behind.
I heard their delight and gaiety, ringing off the ice like a gleeful dirge. I said a prayer, much like the one I said when I first stepped on the ice, but this one held a wee bit more desperation.
I think the first rule they should tell you when you’re out on the ice is to not close your eyes. It seems like common sense, I know, but I had already envisioned a collision with such carnage, that the idea of watching it unfold seemed like self-flagellation.
That patch of ice was terribly slick; my feet had drifted from parallel to a sudden V that quickly approached a right angle.
My left foot slipped straight left and my right, straight in front of me, and my ass, straight down. It was my most dignified collapse of the day and I was feeling rather accomplished.
My prayer had been answered. I sat for a moment relieved, breathing heavily. I glanced over at the sidewall and I have to admit, the temptation to crawl on hands and knees did cross my mind.
I had even started to maneuver into position when a cloud of ice crystals engulfed me like a cold wet wind.
He towered over me, looking down with friendly Nordic eyes. He wore a black knitted beanie; his blond hair peeking out. His other features were strong, his jawline, his nose, even his mouth with a deep cupid’s bow. He offered a hand.
I took it rather inelegantly, my feet slipping out from under me twice before I was able to stand and even then I was force to grab onto his shoulders to the point where he nearly fell as well. “Thank you.”
He leaned into me, intimately and I felt them, those butterflies, zipping and whizzing around inside my stomach. “I’m sorry.” He apologized with a mischievous grin.
I stood stock still as he didn’t pull back. “They were only supposed to…” The whistles and catcalls drew my attention. The boys, all of them were perched on the wall.
“You!” I accused and he smiled, his eye sparkling. I latched onto him; and just that quickly and easily, we fell.