Where – Walking home with a sickly stomach, playground outside the school on 60-something and 1st, 7:00 in the evening.
The green painted concrete rolled slow below him. Grey sweatshirt, held tight to his elbows by protective gear. Dark grey sweatpants secured to his legs by matching knee pads. Each stumbling kick pushes him forward, his rollerblades making the sound of crumbling gravel as he goes back and forth. His voice is low amongst the kick flip skaters and bored teenagers.
“Looks so easy when she does it.”
His torso wobbles and pitches as he tries to pick up speed. The sound of wind blows past his ear and for a moment he feels right. Focused. In control. Thoughts of Mystery run through his mind and he dares a big stride. The coming twilight is his motivation. Now or never.
As his foot hits pavement, he hears a high sweep as the front wheel slips. His frictionless foot slides up in a Rockettes kick, gravity grabs and tosses him down in violent pull. The second his rear hits the ground, his lower back yelps and seizes. Off to the left, he can hear the sound of young chuckling.
Without a pause, he hoists himself back to his bladed feet. As he regains balance, a young woman speeds towards him from the group of teenage skaters. The wheels on her feet dance towards him as she skids to a stop.
“Dad! You OK?”
He looks at her, full of youth and power. She could fall a thousand times and continue to get back up. Would fall a thousand times. Would have to.
“Fine? I’m great, Mys. First fall of the day. See you next week?”
The wind from the approaching night blew frosty, Winter and Spring battling it out for March’s weather forecast. The sound of the 7:00 traffic ebbed away as Mystery took his hand. It felt like sandpaper, rough and gritty from weekends of fall, scrapes and near misses.
“Next week we’ll try the park, Dad. I think you’re ready.”