On Thin Ice

November 4, 2008
By
That one, small, old sound of metal scarring ice reverberated against the empty bleachers, which still wreaked of disinfectant. Both results were due to the figure currently gliding past all cares and worries. The jeans the figure wore were slightly baggy and lightly colored, and the sweatshirt was red with white bold lettering that said "AMERICAN EAGLE". The figure landed a butterfly jump uneasily, though a placid look was plastered onto a fair featured face. Running a hand against short red hair, the figure exited the cold room before hobbling on skates over to the bathrooms. A white hand pushed the blue door open with much force and the figure nearly collapsed into a stall, placing a hand on either side of the toilet. The cool porcelain stung mildly against almost numb hands and the figure, heavily lidded, took a deep breath.

Bile met toilet bowl, and the sloshing noise had come to an end. A slender forefinger, enveloped in saliva, pushed waxed eyebrows back to their "socially acceptable" position. This teenager refused to look in the mirror, for fear of needing to step back into the stall, but instead washed around a frowning mouth and returned to work as a part-time custodian at The Ice Emporium. When Aiden had started to work here, a girl named Claire used to manage "The Grub Pub", and Aiden and Claire immediately became friends, before Aiden asked Claire out. That was 9 months, 2 weeks, and 5 days ago. Claire had recently broken up with Aiden, but contrary to the pop songs on the radio, Aiden was sleeping just fine. Well, except for every once in awhile when he woke up with a start, drenched in a cold sweat an inevitably hitting his head on Benjamin's upper bunk. These nights Aiden had been dreaming of Zachary- his father. This story was not one anybody in the family talked about, even in hushed whispers. It started, and ended, one winter, December 28th, to be exact, six years ago at an outdoor skating rink. For Aiden, ice seemed to be the root of all problems, but it was also the one place he could go to escape all problems. Ice led to fights with his mother, more difficult driving conditions, and "the accident".

It's common knowledge that between Thanksgiving and New Year's is a very stressful time for almost everyone. Liquor sales go up, and with all the ice, black or otherwise, emergency rooms seem like an almost common place to be. In Aiden's decent sized town, there was an outdoor ice rink made to either relieve the tension, or have family feud on ice, Aiden couldn't decide. Their family used to go quite often, but after "the accident", Heather, Aiden's mother, refused to take them. not that Aiden, Benjamin, Caryn, nor Dillan asked.

On that particular December 28th, Zachary Envloski waited at the rink for his family. He had one newborn, a little girl named Dillan, who had the pudgiest cheeks he'd ever seen, then there was Benjamin and Caryn, his energetic seven-year-old twins. Zach had just bought Caryn her first paint set, and both her and her blonde curls bounced so happily all day that Zach wondered if she would ever get to sleep that night. Benjamin, however, was more athletic and was already trying to convince his mom to let him play football, something he wouldn't be eligible to do for another five years. Then his oldest, Aiden, who was a bit more quiet and liked to read, something a little unusual for an eleven year old, in Zach's opinion. Zach closed his eyes for a moment, thinking of his family before hearing terrified shouts as people fled the rink. One man didn't move fast enough away from the speeding car, operated by a more then "just buzzed" man. Some ice melted that day as a result of the 98.6 F liquid that came as Zach's life, which had just began, ended.

Every morning after Aiden had woken up, he took a shower, shaved, got dressed, and woke up Benjamin. He then would go into the girls' room and wake up Caryn, making sure not to wake Dillan. Caryn always showered at night, so while Benjamin was in the shower, Heather would make the kids their breakfast. French toast for Dillan, toast for Caryn, Cap'n Crunch for Benjamin, and poptarts on the run for Aiden, which didn't last in his system very long. Normally just after he got into school, he would head into the restroom and throw up, as Aiden suffered from a neurological condition called "bulimia". Aiden would eat normally before feeling guilty and locking himself in the bathroom until he replaced pains of guilt with pains of stomach acid on his throat, and an empty stomach. Aiden preferred life on an empty stomach, he was skinny then, not overweight. The girls wouldn't cringe when he sat down next to them, and maybe then Claire would take him back.

Claire was the type of girl who would leave little notes in your locker for no reason at all, just to make you smile. She was the captain of the debate team, and her auburn hair stood out in a crowd. When she smiled, the whole world seemed to stop, just so you could watch her smile. She was also the kind of girl who flirted with people just to watch Aiden pretend not to notice, though it made Aiden blush. Claire had an air about her that was undeniably controlling and manipulative, though Aiden denied it. Love makes you blind, right? However, Claire was more of Love's ugly stepsister- Temporary Insanity.

Aiden spent the day avoiding Claire, though he could not say he wasn't hurt he had no locker full of new notes on little scraps of paper. He had a locker full of notes, just not new ones. Aiden wasn't surprised by this, just a little disappointed. An annoying ringing noise snapped him out of his pathetic state as he checked his watch. It nearly fell off of his bony wrist, but he caught it just in time. He pushed the button to stop the noise. He pushed it harder. He pushed all the buttons. The ringing prevailed. Aiden chucked it at the wall, but still it rang. Giving up hope, Aiden threw it in the lost and found box. Maybe somebody else would like to have a demon watch- he didn't have time to fix it as he was already late for walking to the middle school.

After Aiden had signed out Caryn and Benjamin, as ordered by their scary school administrator, the three then began to walk over to the elementary school, where they would get Dillan, and Heather would pick them up. Legally, Aiden could have driven them to and from school, but they only had one car, and their mother needed it to go into the city and work for little money and higher health risks. Aiden's mother was more irritable, short-tempered, and annoyed since she took the job; though most people tacked the constant bickering between Aiden and Heather to "teenagers". It wasn't, though. Heather was aggressive in picking fights, not to mention that the liquor cabinet was constantly being restocked.

Saturday at last came and that meant that Aiden would get dropped off at work, Benjamin would have a soccer game, and Caryn and Dillan would have to go too. Aiden, who had been successfully avoiding Claire, was relieved when Brian, a rather shy fellow, informed Aiden that Claire had taken the week off. Three hours later, and 45 minutes after the rink had closed, Aiden had lost tracked of time skating, as he was enjoying being free. He snapped out of his daydream as he heard the ambulance sirens, though he just ignored them- but then he though of his demon watch. Without the demon watch reminding him to go out front and not keep his mother waiting, Aiden was late and ran to get his things just as his phone rang. He saw his mother's name in the caller I.D. and knew he was in for an ear-full.

"Hello? Mom?" Aiden answered the phone tentatively while gathering his things.

"Aiden, sweetie, I need you to listen v-v-very carefully." Was she crying?

"Mom- What's wro-?" Aiden was cut off.

"I said listen! J-Just," Heather took a deep breath. "Call Aunt Shannon, ask her to pick you up, meet us at Montana General Hospital, okay? Once you get there call me."

"But mom- what happened? Are you okay? Who's hurt?" Heather had already hung up the phone.

Aiden quickly ran to the front and dialed his aunt. Their phone conversation was even shorter. 30 minutes later, Aiden and Aunt Shannon were on the way to the hospital. The ride was silent, save for Shannon's dry sobs that came about once every three and a half minutes. Aiden's face, normally a haunting pale, was still just as pale because Aiden couldn't really get much paler then normal. After arriving at the hospital and calling his mother, Aiden ran to the room number she had told him. His mother was standing, his sisters were standing. Benjamin was not.

Over the course of the next 18 months, Aiden went to to a state college nearby, Dillan had taken up sports, and Caryn had gotten a scholarship to the best private highschool for arts with her drawings of Benjamin Envloski's life and tombstone. Aiden was working somewhere else in order to take care of Dillan, whom he had custody of only just recently- though Aunt Shannon helped with Dillan too. As for Heather, she had frittered away her money on alcohol and lottery tickets before hitting a minor jackpot and buying The Ice Emporium. She had succumbed to physical aggression, which is why Dillan was with Aiden now, and Heather also suffered from depression. Aunt Shannon used to visit, but Heather never wanted to hear anything Shannon said, and eventually stopped letting Shannon into the house. Heather blamed Aiden for everything, and lashed out against Aiden, refusing to pay for college or let him near her. She even went so far as to burn all pictures of her now only son that remained in the house.

A figure was sitting alone in a cold room, shivering slightly. One pair of chestnut eyes locked with tiny blue ones. The former were aged and weary as they watched the younger pair grow and come into a laughing teenage man- skinny, pale, and skating. Yellowing fingers released a cigarette from its clutches. A "ker-plunk...szzz" sound echoed softly down the neck of a rum colored bottle and into the once strong liquid below. The bottle once had been full, surrounded by other bottles before being taken away and emptied- sip by sip by sip. Her hands were idle now-a-days, no longer needed by her kids, whatever was left of them now. Montana's Department of Social Services had seen to that. Her pale, chapped lips started to part and she began to breath extremely heavily. The stench of stale cigarettes, liquor, and more unpleasant things cascaded from her lips into the now condensed air. She braced herself against the bench behind her, her eyes big and wide. Her legs went numb before the rest of her body came to follow suit. That brown bottle, gripped by the neck, crashed, broke, and was no more.





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