A short, one chapter story about feeling alone and finding your light in the darkness
As I sat anxiously on the damp bench, I tied the worn, tattered laces on my ice skates into a tight bow. I occasionally looked up to see the other people at the rink, although there were not many there, they were all smiling. I shivered as the icy air encircled me, making my warm breath visible as I softly sang to myself. Finally, my laces were tied and my gloves were on. I was ready. The sounds of blades chipping the ice and the sound of people talking and laughing grew louder and louder as I carefully walked up to the edge of the rink. My heart began to beat faster as I drew closer to the large frozen circle. It was odd that an enormous round block of ice, surrounded by a grotty red and blue barrier, could make me so very cheery but it made sense to me. My blade hit the ice, my eyes darted around the large, chilly room and I let out a heavy, happy sigh; it was good to be back.
Pushing off from the barrier, I glided smoothly on the ice, dodging a few people as they awkwardly skated past. I looked at some of the young children with their families, their legs wobbling like baby deer trying to stand for the first time, and I smiled slightly. All of a sudden, I was four again, my own tiny hand clutching my fathers large one and shaking with excitement. I stared at the room in amazement. Back then, the ice rink was brand new and it was completely packed, people talking loudly and gazing in awe around the giant sparkling room. Now, it was a mere shadow of it‘s former self, covered in a thin layer of grime and neglect. I waited for my father to say that we were ready to go but when he did, all my excitement was suddenly replaced with dread. I asked my father what would happen if I fell on the ice. He smiled, knelt down in front of me, looked me in the eye with a serious, loving look and replied:
"I promise, I will always be there to catch you,"
"I will always be there to catch you..." I muttered to myself, frowning, as the promise he had made when I was young, rang in my ears, reminding me that he was not there. Not any more. That day twelve years ago, at this very ice rink, he had promised he would always be there to catch me when I fell. But, he broke his promise. He broke his promise only hours later, walking out on my mother and me with only a slam of a door as an apology. Leaving my mother consumed in her own sadness, not noticing what the situation was doing to me. He was there to catch me that day on the ice rink but what about all those other times I fell? Where was he then?
Spinning and turning on the ice, I wondered if having to take care of myself for so long had changed me. Not that I was expecting to be the same light-hearted, innocent child I had been twelve years ago, definitely not, I had seen far too much of the world's sadness for that to be true. However, to my distress, as I looked back on the past twelve years, I found that I had changed so much that my four-year-old self would barely be able to recognize herself. A troubled and broken heart, shielded form the world by an icy, harsh exterior tinted with sorrow and distrust, had replaced my blissfully ignorant, carefree attitude and my pure, open heart. I forced back tears as I thought of these things. I took a deep breath in and did what I always did when I was sad; burry my feelings deep inside, ignore them for as long as possible and try not to let them take over my life any more than they had already done.
I was so wrapped up in my own depressing thoughts that I did not notice all the people staring at me. I realised that as I had been pondering my tragic past, I had been jumping and pirouetting all over the ice rink, attracting quite a bit of attention as I did so! You could hardly blame me. Ice skating was the only way I could let go... the only way I could be reminded of what it's like to be happy. I loved the feeling of skimming across the surface of the ice, I loved hearing the blades scrape and slide, I loved breathing in the clean cold air as I looked at the other joyous faces around me. I felt safe. I felt free.
"Watch out!" shouted a voice suddenly. I looked up to see that I was skating full speed towards someone. In an attempt to slow myself down, I reached out for the barrier only to find I was too far away from it for it to be of any use to me. Smack! I felt my head hit the ice hard and I found myself skidding across the ice. I squeezed my eyes shut to avoid getting any ice in them, a plan that unfortunately failed. Hearing the sound of people shouting and razor-sharp ice skates narrowly avoiding your face as you slide across an ice rink is not a pleasant feeling and I couldn't help but be relieved when I suddenly stopped sliding, even if it did involve me hitting my already hurting head against something made of stone!
When I opened my eyes, I saw that I had hit the large marble pillar in the middle of the ice rink. I noticed that I had slid quite some way and probably would have gone further if it weren't for the pillar.
"Are you okay?" shouted the voice from before.
I looked above me to see a boy of about my age leaning over me with a concerned look on his face. His messy brown hair dangled down and his cheeks were stained pink from the cold. He breathed heavily as he looked at me. I put my hand to my head to feel a small bump and I groaned. He asked me if I was okay again. I nodded and he gave me a small, sad smile. He put out his hand and for a second I didn't move. He nodded at his hand indicating for me to take it and I did so. His skin was soft and surprisingly warm seeing as he wasn't wearing any gloves. It was nice to feel the warmth from his hand transferring to mine and slowly creeping up my forearm. I held his hand tightly as he pulled me up. I slowly rose to my feet, only to find myself crashing back to the ground, my head spinning. I tried again to stand up but sadly failed. I felt too light heated and dizzy to stand up so I stayed sitting on the cold, frozen floor. The boy took my hand again and pulled me up once more. Determined not to let me fall over again, he put my arm around his shoulder and half dragged, half lead me to the edge of the rink. I clutched onto barrier, adamant that I would not fall over for a third time. I tried to focus on the person who had helped me up but to my dismay, my vision was blurry and I swayed from side to side. I muttered that I needed to sit down and he nodded. He put my arm around his shoulder again and took me back to the damp bench I had been sitting on earlier.
For a while, we both sat in silence, only broken by my moaning as I clutched my throbbing head. Out of nowhere, he bent down and unlaced my ice skates, exposing my feet to the freezing cold. When he had finished, he looked up at me and I gasped. For the first time, I completely focused on his face. He looked drained and defeated, as if he had given up long ago. His eyes were full of regret and he gave me the same sad smile he had given me earlier. However, it wasn't his sad smile, his tired, defeated look or his regret filled-eyes that made me gasp, it was the fact that they were all so familiar. I tried to figure out where I had seen them before. Maybe in the face of a friend? Or in a TV programme or a film? No, that couldn't be it. I concentrated on his hard on his face for a minute or so more and then I realised, it was the same look, the same eyes, the same smile, I saw every time I looked in the mirror. A sense of relief suddenly washed over me. I wasn't alone. I wasn't the only one. A large smile spread across my face as I thought of this. A smile spread across his face too, and I assumed he had just realised the same thing. We both stood up. I flung my arms around him and he let out a happy, shaky sigh, apparently shaky from laughing. We stayed like that for a minute, me burying my head into his shoulder as he gently stroked my hair. Even though I didn't know him, being with him felt so right. So perfect. After a while, he loosened his grip and whispered:
"I‘m so glad I found you..."