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One Breath

One breath. That was it. As I tightened the laces that was what I concentrated on, each individual breath. It’s amazing how individual they can become- how separate and unique. I wasn’t even paying any attention to the scents they brought, none at all. Just the feel of the air, that was it. I stood, the skates underneath me moving hesitantly forward as I placed my weight on them. A smile spread across my lips, my skates were as nervous as I was. It had been a long time.

The smell of smoke was thick in the air. Not just cigarette smoke, there were darker things mingling. Everyone else could smell it too, I knew that, but I pulled in each breath to it’s fullest extent, testing myself. I let myself know everything that was going on in that room, each little action becoming more and more a part of the background, and then I let than knowledge fade. I pushed forward, letting myself fly across the carpeted floor. I wasn’t about to go onto the rink yet, I was still unsure of myself. Even the small slow movement of me testing my skates made my breath come faster, I was certain my eyes had dilated. With the flashing colored lights, the music pounding in my ears and that single movement I was free. Drinking in the exhilaration I flew a few more feet, wheels gliding over the carpet- the wings of my imagination catching the wind, carrying me away.

I couldn’t stand it- I couldn’t confine myself to the small area next to the enormous rink, I couldn’t let myself watch them any longer, I had to go out, I had to join them. I knew it wasn’t safe, that at any moment it could all rise up and consume me, but the need was stronger than my will, my fear. Pushing off with the toe of one foot I glided onto the rink.

I had chosen to come here for a lot of reasons. It wasn’t simply that I had needed the release. This wasn’t exactly a top of the line place. If you had kids you wouldn’t have brought them here, or at least you wouldn’t have on a Saturday night when the crowd was equal parts high, drunk, depressed, and dangerous. That was what it looked like to outsiders, the truth was this was one of those few places where we belonged, where anyone was welcome, and no one needed to speak. There was just the pulse of the music, the thrum of skates, and the lights and sounds of release. Nothing else mattered.

I went slow at first, as slowly as I could stand. It was a huge rink, capable of holding more than a hundred people comfortably, at any speed. Some of the others whipped past me, leaving a trail of wind in their going, others were skating at such snail speeds that I was the one passing them. No one cared. Everyone who was here, each and every one of us had at least one thing in common, we wanted to belong somewhere, even so, we wanted to remain alone.

After my third lap I sped up, allowing my feet to do as they wished. Even as I did so the music and atmosphere changed. Another advantage this rink had over others. It was capable of producing so many sights and sounds that it was unpredictable, the DJ’s mood the only factor that decided the rhythm of the next minute, the next second, the next breath. It had gone from light upbeat dance music to something darker, synthesized Goth melodies with a darker harder edge. As I passed one of the many fog machines I could here the soft whirr as it turned on. Within the song the whole place would become foggy, creepy, and the lights would begin a show that would make anyone with epilepsy of any sort run in fear. I closed my eyes and let the air in my lungs out with a long sigh, clenching my teeth. I didn’t notice as I sped up still further, my imagination taking me far away, allowing the sights and sounds that surrounded me to become my everything, my whole world, allowing the wings I had always wanted to grow to lift me off my feet. Adrenaline pumped through my veins, my heart raced. My lips pulled back, my eyes closed. It wasn’t safe, not with visibility becoming more and more limited by the second and fifty plus people around me who were in even less control, who knew less of what was going on than I did. I didn’t care. If one of them ran into me they ran into me, I wasn’t interested in thinking; I wasn't interested in considering consequences. Freedom in its fullest is the ability to ignore everything else and do as you please, however and whenever you want to. No one ever seemed to understand that. Freedom wasn’t the ability of one person to do or think something; it was the ability of everyone to feel like this, to at least see happiness even if they couldn’t grab it for themselves.

I was a blur on the rink, a wind, a passing whisper, the fog trailed behind me, caught in the jet stream of my passing. I was nothing, just another pair of skates, another body moving to the inexorable beat of the music, another set of veins pulsating to rhythm in the air. No on was looking at me, no one cared what I did or thought. I was there, I was one of them, and I belonged. It was something worth holding onto, worth clinging to with everything I had. It was something. There had been a lot of nothing. Too much.



The music was getting louder, encompassing more, and blocking more. I could feel the tide of it threatening to overthrow everything I was; I was willing to let it. There was nothing I wanted more than that single moment in which everything was nothing, in which everything disappeared and I lost all sense of who I was, what I was, I longed for the escape. Maybe it was louder, maybe it was just my mind playing tricks, maybe it was getting faster only for me, maybe my feet really were the only ones moving to the particular beat I had found in the flow of it all. It didn’t matter.

My chin lifted of it’s own accord, my grin releasing into a howl, a single long clear note that joined with the lingering chord, floating above us all, unnoticed, just another part of a moment gone. With one quick glance I knew that no one had noticed, that no one knew or cared. I took another breath, and I skated.

It was easy, so many things had proven difficult, this, this was one thing I didn’t have to think about, something I just did.

I was still smiling even as I lost control, even as my skates fell out from under me. I was still smiling when, for the first time, I actually flew.




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This article has 2 comments. Post your own!

CarrieAnn13This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Jul. 22, 2011 at 10:44 pm:
Nice!  It's not a short story with a great plot, but it has a great introspectiveness (is that even a word?) to it.  :)
 
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hanging_girl_666This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 21, 2011 at 11:22 pm:
Woah. That was beyond words for me. :) AMazing.
 
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