I looked out over the sparkling snowy valley and watched as two deer bounded across it. It was as if they said Hey, want to go bound in the snow today? I took a deep breath of fresh mountain air and turned to go do what I came to do. Ice skate. It was a sport that I loved and nearly thrived on. The forest was all around me, a new layer of snow tested the branches’ weight limit. I sat on a worn log that many before me also used as a seat. I took off my brown hiking boots with white lining and pulled on my skates before my feet froze in my hole filled socks. I tied the laces super tight and stood, remembering my first experience as an ice skater, my ankles wobbling, and me reaching for my father’s hand. I fell many times that first day, but I have loved it ever since, despite the luck I’ve had. I walked through the clumps of snow to a smoother part of the pond. Once my feet were familiar with the skates, I was off, making circles the size of Pluto, all the way around the frozen water. My heart, mind, and soul all combined for one small minute to feel the magic in skating to and fro, from side to side, and back again. My feet were not on ice, but on clouds, taking me to another world. Until my world and the one on clouds crashed. I was thrown out of dream land and back into harsh reality when a gun sounded in the distance. BANG! Upon instinct, I made my belly one with the ice faster than a fireman puts out a small fire. Another upon another came after that. BANG! BANG! BANG! I thought for the slightest second that maybe someone was aiming at me. I tried to scan the edge of the forest, but I could see no one. My stomach was cold to the touch as the ice below me. I crouched on my skates and slid over to the log. But when I got there, I heard a pop, and my ankle felt swollen with pain and maybe regret if I'm honest. I sat on the ice, pulled my cell phone out of my pocket, and pulled off my glove to dial 911. They came five minutes later.
“How’s it feel?” a tall paramedic guy asked me.
“To be honest, it hurts. But I can tough it out. I’ve sprained my ankle before. And I’m still here. I honestly didn’t know who to call.”
“Well, I’d say that you did the right thing. We will take you to your house and get you settled. Here, grab my hand,” he said as he extended his hand to me. Then to his helper,” Jan! Help me please!”
Between the two of them and my one good leg, we were able to hobble over to the ambulance. They loaded me up and I told them how to get to my apartment.
Once we got inside, I felt relief come over me, like a soft snugly blanket brings warmth. I said my thanks to the brave people standing in my living room.
A few days later I was feeling so much better. I decided to go back to the pond. I grabbed my skates and phone, should I need it again, and went out to my car. I arrived and went to the same log to pull off my boots. I didn’t feel the same magic, but instead a feeling that made me prove myself worthy, worthy of going back on the ice. I did figure-eights, spins, twirls, and everything I could think of to prove myself. I am an ice-skater. I am an ice-skater, my mind said, pushing harder, harder. I never noticed the dog moving steadily across the ice to me. I never heard his barks and growls.
The next thing I knew, a big Saint Bernard jumped on me, pushing me hard to the ice, and my hips swelled, pain rushed through my body. Someone whistled off in the distance, but I barely heard it. I curled up in a ball once the giant had left me. I placed one hand on my right hip, and the other on my cell phone. As I was about to call 911 again, someone said, “Hey! I am so sorry about Hamlet. He loves to jump on everything. Let me help, please.”
He ran onto the ice, slipping and sliding, but he made it. I put my phone away and recognized him to be the man from the paramedic team, the tall one.
“It’s you, again! But, this time, I don’t think it’s a simple sprain. Let me call my team,” he said.
I remained silent as there was nothing to say. They arrived a few minutes later with the same ambulance blaring in my head. They pulled out the same stretcher as a team supported me. They drove to my same apartment, and I said to the tall man, “Hey, what’s your name? We should probably know each other if this is going to continue to happen.”
“I’m Keith. Again, so sorry about my boy, Hamlet. What’s your name?”
“I’m Rachael. Apology accepted, but I might not be going back on the ice for a while, right?”
“Yeah, no. I’d say at least three weeks.”
“Bummer. Well, maybe I should just let go of the idea of ice skating.”
“What? You mean that?”
“No, I know it will heal eventually. I just wish it could be done faster.”
“Yeah that’s the thing about fractures, they take their precious time. In the meanwhile, you can still exercise, and work as long as they don’t involve your legs.”
“Yeah, my work is online right now, so that’s fine. Looks like we are here.”
“Hey I’ll give you my phone number so we can keep in touch. I will also make occasional visits to make sure that it is healing.”
“Sounds good, Keith.”
The next three weeks went by at a lightning speed. Keith came over twice a week, once with cookies, once with a bread loaf, once with a salad, once with Starbucks, and once with flowers. I honestly couldn’t get enough of the guy. We grew pretty close, knit together like an old woman’s sweater. You can’t have one sleeve without the other. On his last visit, he brought something extraordinary. A ring. Not like those at carnival games where you toss it on the bottle. An engagement ring. He slipped it on when I feverishly said yes.
By the end of the three weeks, I was able to walk again. He came over every other day now.
“Hey, want to throw on some skates and head to the pond?”
“Yeah, I guess we can, since I’m all healed.”
The ride was smooth and we chatted. We both sat on the log, and Hamlet sat beside us. The log has made many memories and will continue to make many more. We pulled off our boots and pulled on our skates. Keith held my hand, and I needed it too. I was out of practice, and so I cautiously stepped out onto the frozen pond, who gave me many memories as I returned the favor.