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From the corner of my eye I see the familiar figure gracefully approaching. Faster. Faster. So close. I feel the breeze as he passes, his skates chop the ice and he skillfully turns and I see his face glance briefly in my direction. Does he notice me? I see a trace of a smile, or is that my imagination? I keep skating, my skates going faster than I ever thought was possible. In the back of my mind I know it doesn’t really matter, but all I want to know is what he’s thinking.
Week after week I see him skating at the local rink. It can’t be he still hasn’t noticed me. I’m one of the only girls who hockey skates and I’ve got to admit I’m not bad at all. I watch as he laughs with friends, casually does an impressive hockey stop, and quickly passes me. I want to say something to him. I feel like I almost know him. I see him every week, I do know him! I skate past him, trying to forget how badly I want to talk to him. I’m patient. I’ll just wait.
I’m sitting on the bench, my head bent over as my fingers fiddle through the laces tightening my skates and tying them stiffly. I sense someone sitting down next to me, dropping expensive skates on the floor and I recognize the funky laces. I look up briefly flashing a friendly smile.
“Hey,” was all he said, returning a similar smile. I didn’t say anything. I just continued fidgeting with my laces taking longer than I should. Eventually I got up and tested the fit. It was good. I started towards the ice. “Wait,” he quickly called out. “We see each other every week and I don’t even know your name.”
“I don’t know yours either,” I answered in a simple tone trying not to give away how much I wanted him to continue talking. I continued walking to the ice without even glancing back. I made my first circle around the ice and thought about what had happened. I watched as he strutted to the ice, carelessly slapping friends on the back and laughing loudly. He skates effortlessly and perfectly and I can’t help but admire his perfect glide. I try not to look. I’m not ready for that sort of thing.
Mindlessly I keep skating, talking to my friends, joking around, but my thoughts hover in the same place. My eyes linger back to his figure. I keep waiting. Two hours are over. My skates tied and slung over my shoulders, I make my way out of the rink. I open the door and start towards my car. I hear his familiar voice call out into the darkness, “Wait a second!”
I turn around and take a few steps closer, “Yeah?” I ask nervously. I can smell the cigarettes and the alcohol. He was with his friends leaning against the building walls. We were five feet away from each other, our eyes met and held.
“Come on,” he motioned, “come here.” I took a few steps closer but tried staying out of reach. I heard whispers and laughter from his friends. “You still didn’t tell me your name.”
“It’s Sophie,” I answered uncertainly.
“Hey, I’m Brian.” He smiled and then took a big sip of beer from the bottle his friend passed him. I stared at them. I didn’t like this anymore. The smoking… the beer… I wasn’t so sure anymore. I didn’t like it. I wanted to get away from them. “Want to spend a little time together?”
I bit my lip nervously, and then I shook my head. “No,” I croaked. More laughter.
“Come on,” he said again. “I’ll tell you one thing. I think you’re a good skater.”
“Thank you,” I whispered. “You’re too.” I started walking away. I didn’t want to get involved anymore. I was so wrong, I realized. I was even a little scared. It was almost midnight and I was standing alone in the ice skating rinks parking lot with these creeps. My pace quickened towards my car.
“Wait, Sophie,” I heard him call after me. I kept going. I started to run. I took my phone out of my pocket and held it in case I needed to make any calls. I unlocked the car and got in. Through the mirror I saw him getting into a rundown car with a bunch of other guys. I started the engine and backed out of the parking lot. I saw their car following mine. Music was booming from their car. I pushed down on the gas harder, wanting to get away from them as quickly as possible. From the distance I saw the red light. I slowed down and then stopped. I waited by the light. His car pulled up right next to mine. He rolled down the window and yelled out, “Call me!”
I turned on the radio, trying to block him out. How come red lights are so long?
“What, are you scared of me or something?” he challenged. I ignored him. The light was almost green and I was ready to speed away and somehow lose him. “See you next week.” His voice echoed through my closed windows and loud music. I pushed the gas and raced away in the green light’s shadow. I saw his car turn onto a small street and sighed in relief. Again I thought about how I was so wrong.