THE BLIND DATE
Chapter five - Ice Time
The arena is quiet. It’s eerie. I’ve never been here when there wasn’t either thousands of screaming fans or, at the very least, dozens of hockey players engaged in noisy practice.
Now it’s just me, balancing unsteadily on skates with rubber grips over the blades, and Marty, whom I am clinging to as if my life depends on it. And in a way it does.
He sets me on a bench at the edge of the massive oval of ice. As he pulls the covers off his own skate blades, I look out at the blanket of white. “It’s so big. Has it always been this big?”
He chuckles and reaches down to grab my right skate and remove its cover. “Pretty sure it’s the same size it was yesterday. Hell, it’s the same size it was ten years ago when you last tried this.”
“And that was a disaster. Which is why I haven’t tried again,” I remind him.
Marty had asked me to meet him at the arena after he was done with his afternoon meeting. I hadn’t seen him in over a week because he’d been busy with pre season work and I’d been busy with photography gigs. So I jumped at the chance to hang out with him. But I hadn’t bargained on him talking me into a “quick afternoon skate.”
Marty straightens up, having successfully unsheathed the deadly blades that are supposed to somehow balance me across the slick of frozen water. He stands and pulls me up, holding onto my arms to steady me.
“You broke your arm,” he says.
I nod vigorously. “I broke my freaking arm, Marty.”
“That’s because you were nowhere near me.”
I try to remember where Marty had been on the ice at that moment during open skate. I remember his presence, of course. Every time Marty is on the ice, from the day I’d met him as a freshman in college to this very day, I notice him. He is so graceful, confident, and powerful, his large frame floating over the ice easily, that I can’t seem to look away.
“You were skating with your stupid date,” Marty says, making a face. “That prick, Hillman.”
Marty uses Greg’s last name because they played on the hockey team together and he always referred to him by his last name on the ice.
“He dropped me,” I say stoically.
“He sure did. And I was all the way across the ice because you told me to get away from you. You said I was hovering.”
“I did?” I couldn’t imagine saying that to Marty.
“Yes. And so I went over to the other side of the rink and the jerk dropped you.”
Marty moves me to the edge of the ice. His big hands steady my waist. I feel like no matter what happens—a big wind blowing toward me from the large rolling door at the end of the arena or a Zamboni trying to run me down—I won’t budge from this secure position between his strong arms.
I look down at the cold, hard, sheet of ice with trepidation, then back up at him. “You won’t drop me though, Marty, right?”
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