I step out of the car with a lump in my throat, feeling as if I might explode. I’m worried I’m going to mess up on only my first day. My sweaty palm grips the cold metal on the handle. As I open the glass door to the rink a gust of cold wind sends a chill down my spine. I take a step and almost slip.
Below me I see people skating, sending clouds of ice into the air. My eye catches sight of a guy tossing a girl into the air and she looks almost as if she is weightless, floating above the ice-cold ground. She floats back down and he catches her effortlessly. They glide away making me even more nervous than before. I can only wish to be as good as the people who surround me. I walk down the stairs to the rink entrance and start to lace up my skates. I spend a little more time than usual lacing up my skates.
I skate onto the rink and find my coach, having only met her once before at the tryouts. I was the last one to make it on to my school’s team. But, in my many years skating, I’ve trained individually with coaches before meeting with this team.
A lump grows in my throat as I realize one of the guys on our team is the one who performed the amazing routine I just watched with another girl on our team. There are ten people on our school team, so there are five partner teams, and that means there are four other pairs besides my partner and me that are most likely better than us. My partner is good, but my heart isn’t in it, and we will have to beat them all if I want to make my Mom proud.
She competed in the winter Olympics a few years before I was born, and she expects nothing less from me. The only problem with this is that I don’t want to be an ice skater. I’ve always wanted to be an astronomer. But of course I have never told that to my Mom. I’ve never had the chance because she was either working or judging my skating skills.
There are only five weeks before the first partner competition. It’s a tournament that will decide who will represent our school and compete against other schools. All we have done so far are basic drills so the coaches could evaluate our skills, make the pairs and make me more and more sure that I was not going to win.
We were given only 48 hours to figure out a routine. I was partnered with a boy almost my exact same age. A boy named Noah who walked and talked with confidence. I was lucky to be partnered with him because he already had a whole routine in his head, and I didn’t have to do anything.
We met up for two hours on the Monday and Tuesday. We mainly focused on a super risky trick where he lifts me into the air. Usually this would be simple, but because I am slightly larger than Noah it is more difficult to do. I woke up on Wednesday and didn’t want to move; it was the day of the competition. If I didn’t get the spot on the team I would not only let Noah down but also my Mom. That was the worst thing I could possibly ever do.
I walked to the skate rink that morning to warm up before the competition. The cold inside was a nice change from the sun that was beating down on me during the five-minute walk. The house where I live is by the rink and was specifically chosen by my Mom because it is close. Lacing up my skates, feeling like I am going to throw up, I see Noah warming up and skate over to him. “Are you nervous?” I ask with a shaky voice.
“No we’ve practiced and if we don’t get it, it won’t be the end of the world.” I only wish I could think like that. “Yeah. There’s always next year,” I say, my voice lowering along with my confidence.
The competition finally starts at noon. Of course, we are the first partner team called by the coach. We start off with a perfect 3-turn and my confidence goes up a little bit. We finally get to the part in the routine where Noah lifts me, and I skate towards him. Time seems to slow down as I see for the first time that Noah does not look 100% confident.
I look out the window and see kids running around in the park. My eyes get caught on someone reading an astrology book. I haven’t realized what’s going with me until I am off the ice and outside the rink. I collapse on a park bench and the tears just start flowing.
I think about how I thought not getting the team spot was the worst thing I could do; I now realize that this is even worse. I have thrown away any chance that I ever had of making my Mom proud of me. I take off my skates and walk home in my socks, not even caring that I left my shoes at the rink. I have bigger problems.
I get home around two o’clock and collapse on my bed. My Mom won’t be home until five, so I have time to come up with a story. I slowly doze off listening to my radio. I wake up at a little after eight, and walk downstairs. My Mom is sitting at the table and looks up at me.
“Why?!” “You’ve put your life into skating!” she exclaims, the words are slow and sharp. Every one is like a knife to my chest.
I thought the tears were going to come, but none did. I just stared at her and thought I would never have the chance to do this again. I take a deep breath and look up. I point out the window.
“That! The moon, the stars; that’s what I want to learn about! I don’t want to learn how to jump in skates. I want to learn about constellations, and look up at the sky and be able to point them out, and tell people facts about them. I don’t care if you don’t approve because I am tired of doing things for you, and I am going to start doing things for me!”
I don’t know where those words came from or how I kept a calm voice saying them. My Mom was shocked and disappointed, but I am happy that I told her how I honestly feel. Hopefully, one day she will forgive me. So I won’t forget, I wrote those words down so my kids will never be put in the position where they have to use them on me.
So here I am now, lying on the cold, soft grass looking up at the black world around me, lit up by stars and planets yet to be explored.
I never did talk to or see Noah again, but I assume I will see him on TV one day, maybe in the Olympics. He may think of me, and how I left him stranded on the ice all by himself after my spectacular fall, but I now live in another world.
She has always loved to write, and is excited to be contributing to Alice. She hopes one day to become a professional writer, and her Mom encourages her to explore her dream.