I looked out the window and watched the falling snow drift through the air, remembering the times when I was a kid, making snowmen and having snowball fights. If only life was like that now, I thought to myself. Now I can’t do any of that.
I’d like to say maturity was for fools, and that you can still be mature when doing fun stuff. But it’s not like I’m not ‘mature.’ I could go out there any time I want, but I’m just so worried about what other people would think. People say not to do that, to focus on what you find fun. Climbing trees in the spring and summer. Making leaf piles in the fall, just to jump in them when you finish. As a kid it all seemed so natural.
Sometimes I wonder if other people felt this way, even the rich, first-class jerks. If they wanted to bolt out the door to catch snowflakes on their tongues.
I heard barking behind me and turned to find Lindsay, my dog, running up to me. “Of course,” I whispered. “You want to go for a walk.”
I put on a thick winter coat, a pair of black gloves, fleece pants and boots that stretched halfway up to my knees. I then walked into the garage, grabbed Lindsay’s blue and gray leash, and strapped it onto her. We set off, the white flakes dancing around us. And not far in, a car pulled up on the street beside us. I instantly recognized it and wished I could run, but that would make this moment even worse.
Thomas stepped out of the driver’s seat, and I knew I had to suffer another awkward convesation with my separated husband.
“Crystal, why are you out so far?” He asked, stepping toward me. “Why don’t you walk that dog, like, around the block?”
“It’s not just about her,” I reminded him, smoothing my long caramel brown hair. “Isn’t this snow such a… well… sight?” It was hard coming up with maturish words with Thomas.
“Meh, I’ve seen better. Hey, do you wanna hit a few clubs tonight?”
“Isn’t that when the annual ice skating contest will happen?” I immediately regretted that question, knowing what Thomas would ask.
“You go to the ice skating competition? Isn’t that where adults perform for the little kids? Crystal, we’re thirty-one. Come to the clubs with me.”
“You can’t tell me what to do.” I walked away, holding onto Lindsay’s leash as I trudged through the snow. Thomas still drove after me, so I went down a path off of the sidewalk and stepped through a huge puddle on the ground, too big to avoid. No way was he going to chase after me when he saw it.
It wasn’t long until the path led back into a street, back into reality. To my left was the pond, so I headed that way, keeping my eyes on the road for Thomas’s car. The pond was huge- if it were any bigger, it probably would be classified as a lake. And today it was frozen over. It was shallow, maybe a foot deep, and the ice arena in town was still under construction. So we used this very pond for the ice skating contest.
I sat down in the tall grass beside it with Lindsay beside me and looked at my reflection through the ice, wishing I could travel back in time to when I was a kid. When I’d have no problem putting on my skates and sliding across the ice, falling every ten seconds but not caring.
Someone came up behind me, and I turned to find a tall man with long brown hair, olive skin and a smiling face, about my age. He wriggled his arms out of his orange backpack, unzipped it and took out a helmet and a pair of ice skates. He put them both on and stepped onto the ice.
I watched as he skated around the pond, with a series of jumps, spins and turns so sharp they could have cut into my skin, biting their way into my heart. I… loved this man. More than I ever loved Thomas.
There was no way this could happen. Not without cheating on Thomas, or…
Or breaking up with him.
But I couldn’t do that.
“Hey,” the man came up to me after about thirty minutes of skating. “You’ve been sitting there for a while. Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” I whispered.
“Okay, cool. I’m August, by the way.”
“Crystal.” I got up and we shook hands. “So… I take it you’re a fan? Of skating?”
He nodded. “I’m practicing for the competition tonight. What about you?”
I laughed. “No. I- I just like to watch the competition each year. I’m a disaster at ice skating.”
“Oh. Well, your dog seems really cold. Maybe you should take him home?”
When I looked at Lindsay, I realized that he was right. She was shaking so hard and so fast there might as well have been an earthquake within her. “Here’s my number. You can call me if you want, and I’ll be rooting for you tonight.” I took a peice of paper out of my pocket and tore a strip out. August gave me a pen and I bent down, writing 464-376-2838 on the sheet and giving it to him. Then I took Lindsay and headed back home.
August didn’t call me that day, but Thomas did. When I picked up my phone and heard him talking I immediately started coughing and hacking.
“Are you okay?” He asked me, offering the most consideration in the last month. “You seem really sick.”
“I am. It must be because it was so cold.”
“I knew you shouldn’t have stayed out for so long, Crystal. I’m coming over now.”
But he had already hung up.
I quickly slipped my winter gear back on and dashed outside, leaving my phone in my house, knowing that Thomas would see that I was faking. But it was fine. I didn’t need him. I could live my own life without him judging everything I did, especially the things I liked. I ran to the pond, ducked into the grass and... cried.
Letting go was harder than I expected. We’d been together for eight years now, separated for two. This was what part of me had been dying to do for about half of that time, but the other part still wanted to be… well… in touch with the world.
The sun was beginning to set, and soon people started coming to set up for the contest. I walked to the local sporting store and purchased a pair of skates and returned to the pond, and when I returned I found…
“Thomas,” I whispered to myself. I dashed onto the path, but he saw me. He chased me for a few minutes before catching up to me, grabbing my shoulders.
“You faked it!” He yelled. “You never want to spend time with me! You haven’t done anything with me in six months, Crystal. I doubt you even love me anymore.”
I hesitated, realizing that I had to admit the truth now. “No, I don’t. We have totally different interests, and you never consider my point of view. It’s always about you. I keep running away from you so I can be myself. And I don’t… want to be with you anymore.”
“But why? Why not?”
“I literally just explained that to you. That’s the problem with you. You never think as me as anyone-anything- besides yourself! We’re over!”
I was tempted to throw my ring into the pond. But I handed it to him and walked away.
He stood there as I left, not moving to chase me. It was like his feet were glued to the ground. And when I got back to the pond, I saw that August was there. He offered me a shy wave and I held up my skates. He motioned for me to come over to him and sign up.
So that was how an hour later I was stepping doubtfully, but at the same time proudly, onto the frozen pond with August, ready to skate all of my worries away.