An Unusual Skating Trip

18 Dec 2021  C. chou  8 mins read.

I inched along the end of the rink, watching them laughing and flying over ice from a distance. I wanted to come. It wasn’t entirely a feeling that I could put into words. Perhaps it was partially because I had inadvertently distanced too many friends from my lack of interest in hanging out. What could I say, social gatherings didn’t really appeal to me. Particularly when there were too many people involved, and the event lasted for too many hours.

The invitation said that the event was outdoors. Luckily, I had passed by the area a couple times and realized that the outdoors rink had been closed for the season. Part of me was relieved by the prospect of a cancelled event. However, they were undeterred by the news, and immediately rescheduled our holiday celebration to the indoor rink.

Watching them, I zipped up my jacket, which I’d brought knowing it’d be cold in here. Why else would anyone be wearing a jacket in the middle of the scorching desert heat anyways? I didn’t exactly tell them I couldn’t skate till we got here. But it’s not that it mattered. The constant gliding around on a smooth surface probably would’ve gotten old to me anyways.

Pulling out my Kindle, and thankful that I had deep pockets, I opened my book. Reading always brought me joy. It amused me when I was bored, and entertained me otherwise. Too many people in our school shared that they didn’t enjoy books. A feeling I would never understand. Either they haven’t found the type of books that they liked, or haven’t found the one that was attention grabbing enough for them to stay to the point that they like it. I just can’t accept that there is anyone in the world capable of disliking all the magic that came with stories.

After all, there are just too many subjects. Too many genres. How could one dislike them all? Even getting a taste of each and every one of the endless possibilities felt like an impossible task, not to mention each of the stories that fell into a genre.

A paragraph in, I already found myself enraptured by yet another character from the series I’d recently been enjoying. I laughed, watching my favorite character from my mind’s eye. He was always so amusing. Why couldn’t friends in reality understand that sometimes we just wanted to standby and watch. Sometimes watching them have fun was a joy on its own. I looked up from my book, to see them laughing with each other in a distance. Glad that they were enjoying themselves, I lowered my face back into the text, reimmersing myself into the wonderful world that the text presented me.

Thwack. A hockey stick came out of no where, swiping my Kindle from my hands, and forcefully yanking me out of the story’s magic. I watched in horror as my Kindle flew over the ice, and landed in the center of the rink. Internally, I scream, wondering if it survived the crash. While all of my books were on the cloud, I certainly didn’t sync my most recently read page, given the rink’s lack of Wi-Fi connection.

Without thinking, I scramble onto the ice, normal shoes and all, trying to reach my Kindle, possibly salvage it before it gets run over by the blades of someone’s skates. Or worse: thrown up in the air again. Before long, I find myself sliding on the ice. Why hadn’t I worn some shoes with greater traction? It didn’t even occur to me that I would need to equip myself for the ice. I had planned to spend the entire time at the rink reading, and watching them from the side. Walking on ice, more over get stranded in the center of it never even struck me as possibility.

Surprisingly, I did manage to get my Kindle into my hands, before finally slipping and falling flat onto the cold surface. The device’s screen was entirely damaged from the impact. Whether it took the most damage from the initial blow from the hockey stick, from the collision with the ice, or some combination of both, I couldn’t be certain. But it didn’t matter now. I sighed, I guess I’ll have to se if Whispersync still works when I get home and connect to the Internet. That is, if the device is in any working state beyond the screen.

But, sitting so far from the walls, where I can’t even help myself back over to the edge of the rink, was a problem. In retrospect, running after a possibly irrepairable device was a poor decision on my part. I wave at my friends, hoping to get their attention, despite the distance. But it was of no use, they were far too distracted, busying themselves in what appeared to be a speed competition, to notice me.

I sigh, trying to stand on my own. Slowly pushing myself up, hands burning from the intensity of the cold, I managed to rise to a standing posture. Now… how to get to that wall?

“Help!” I try calling, while waving my hands in the air. It’s no use. The music in the area is too loud, easily overpowering my voice. I sigh. So much for that idea. I look around, scanning the rink for any other options. I could always try walking over… Considering how I slipped earlier that doesn’t exactly seem smart… But it looked to be my only option.

Reluctant to let me feet leave the ground and threaten the little stability I had reacquired, I stood there. Then it occurred to me. Why walk over if I can shuffle? Without lifting any of my feet, I slide one foot forward after another. I could already feel my feet slipping beneath me. Still, I was thankful that the friction was minimal enough that I was making progress.

I rested my arm against the wall, as I finally arrived before it, thankful that the terrible plan worked at all. I stood there, recollecting myself. My body heat was so high that it was probably enough to melt the ice on contact at this point. An echo resounded around me. What? I look up, could it be some speaker system?

Suddenly, I catch sight of whales passing below me. They were so majestic. Whites and blacks dancing under surface. One appearing after another, clearly a family. Just like the ones in the story that I had been reading. I almost knelt down to get a better look, before the memory of the ice’s burning frost deterred me. I must have accidentally called them in my panic, just like the protagonist in the story.

It’s been so long since I’ve seen marine life. When I moved to the desert, I thought I was saying good bye. I stare at them, transfixed by their beauty, and suddenly feeling sad. I let out a breath, vapors appearing before me. I hadn’t realized how much I’ve missed them. But I couldn’t let them be seen here. What would the other people think? What would the rink do to them?

I draw my hands together and reluctantly send an echo toward them, telling them to go home. As much as I missed them, I also can’t let them fall into unnecessary danger. Still they pass under me, as if unwilling to part.

A hand suddenly claps me on the shoulder.

“We’re closing.” The voice said, from behind me.

I turn back. It seemed that the stranger didn’t notice the whales. I looked down, before I realized that I was giving them away. The stranger followed my gaze, but immediately looked back at me, as if not detecting the whales at all. Eh? Was the ice too thick for him to see? My hands still together, I close my eyes to send another message. Upon reopening them, the whales were gone, as if never being there to start with.

“Are you going to leave?” The stranger asked, starting to look annoyed. “We need to close.”

“Ah yes.” I answer, looking up sheepishly. “I accidentally fell into the rink and got stuck here. Can you help me?” Putting my arm back on the wall, I point to my lack of skates.

“No problem.” The individual said, before slowly walking me off the ice. As we walked, I suddenly remember my friends, but looking around, I realize that no one else was here. They must’ve gone to dinner without me. Somehow, that didn’t bother me as much as it should have. Or at least, it didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would.

“Have a wonderful holiday.” The employee said, cutting off my thoughts, before leaving me at the door.

“Have a wonderful holiday.” I echo, before turning to look back at the rink. There was nothing there. Had it all been my imagination? An echo vibrates from underneath the ice, but the employee gives no response. No. I guess not. I smile. A place where I can meet them again, without the risk of someone else seeing them or hearing them… I smile. Perhaps it is time that I learn to skate.

This story was inspired by a writing prompt from the “Promptly Written” Publication.

Your friends have invited you to an outdoor skating rink. You cannot skate. You go anyway. Write a scene or complete story. Something bizarre happens.

C. Chou
C. Chou

A writer that loves cabbages and bamboo, but also enjoys writing and sharing fiction (particularly the fantasy genre). Find me on Medium at: