Advent Calendar - 9th December 2008

Skates
by Leesa Perrie

Set sometime Season 3 or 4

Thank you to Jayne Perry for the beta-reading.

His parents had insisted that he join in with the annual skating frenzy that took over their small Canadian town every winter.  It was a rite of passage that all children had to be a part of; or at least, one would think so, the way they went on about it. 

So every year, he’d don his ice skates and take to the outdoor rink.  If he was lucky, his parents would give up trying to make him have fun within a couple of visits, if not, then it might take three or four.

He always stuck to the outside of the rink, constantly within reach of the barrier that surrounded it and never, ever venturing out into the middle.  He could skate, but the thought of falling held no appeal, and staying close to the barrier was the only sensible thing to do to avoid all chances of that happening.  Well, it was always a bit tricky around the entrance areas, when the barrier was gone and people were moving on and off the rink, but he managed.  He stayed safe.

A part of him, though, envied the confidence of others, watching as they gracefully, or not so gracefully, glided across the ice, far from reach of the barriers if they fell, and fast, oh so fast sometimes, doing jumps and turns and figures of eights.

In the end, after a few years of trying to get their son enthused by the sport, his parents gave up and he sighed in relief.  He was tired of being laughed at by other kids, of feeling like a coward, of wishing his fear wouldn’t hold him back.

Of course, not long after he had stopped, his sister took to the ice and loved it.  Not enough, thank goodness, to have dreams of  being an ice skater and winning prizes, but enough to beg to go there every weekend. 

He never went to watch her after the first time, when she’d left the comfort of the barrier with a fearlessness he didn’t have and quite clearly didn’t care that she fell a few times in doing so.

He wasn’t jealous.  He wasn’t.

So now, almost thirty years since he’d hung up his skates, he was on a planet in the midst of their deepest winter, trying to make nice with the locals – and finding, to his utter dismay, that there was no better way to make friends than to join them in their winter sport; ice skating.

This time there was no barrier to hold, and he fell a couple of times, bruising his body deeply, he was sure, before regaining the balance from an earlier time.  He smiled grimly as he skated around the edge of the pond, pausing to smirk at his teammates, who for all their grace and balance in the gym where falling around like drunken penguins and glaring at his obvious enjoyment of their misfortune.

And just like that, a confidence he’d never felt before came over him.

He raced across the middle of the frozen lake…

…and grinned.

The End


On to 10th December


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