Logan Miller sat in his college dorm room staring at his online lecture notes from Professor Crandall’s organic chemistry class.
He groaned to himself at his low C grade. His roommate, Tyler, had already left on his Friday night date. Who was it? Hannah, Emily or was it Savannah? He couldn’t keep them straight but apparently Tyler could. Before Tyler left he gave his usual lecture about Logan needing a girl friend. What he needed was an understanding of organic synthesis, starting materials and how to get the final products. Ugh! He hated rote memorization.
He switched off his computer and closed his thick organic text with its cheap glossy cardboard covers and hundred dollar price tag. He looked out his second story window and saw the lights come on at the outdoor ice rink two blocks away. The rink opened at 7:30 and closed two hours later. He needed a break despite being faced with the organic exam the next morning at 9:00. What a horrible class schedule he had: organic chemistry on a Saturday morning.
The January night cold bit at him but his ski-style gloves, new jeans, two layered socks, black ear muffs and The North Face running jacket his older brother, Brandon, had given him for Christmas, kept him protected. The stars above gave their intense pin points of light despite the street lights as he carefully avoided patches of ice on the sidewalk.
The peppy organ music reminded him of the old roller rink back home. Sadly, it closed four years ago, preempted by other, more modern activities for the school kids.
Logan could see the rink was already crowded, numerous skaters of all ages sliding around at differing speeds. He picked up the rental skates and found a spot on the bench at the edge of the ice. As he laced up his skates, he heard a whistle blow. At the far end of the rink he saw two skaters shouting at each other, one a woman with a whistle around her neck, the other a man who stood three or more inches taller than the woman. Logan could tell she was winning the argument, her voice loud and angry above the din of music, skater conversations and ‘slice, slice, slice’ of the multitude of skate blades. From her gestures he surmised she was telling him to slow down or she’d throw him out.
Logan wouldn’t have to worry about breaking her speed rules. He was good on roller skates but with ice skating he would have to take it easy.
He waited for an opening and then launched himself into the crowd. At first his ankles buckled slightly but he finally overcame that wobbly stance as he picked up a little speed. Still skaters were passing him and Mr. Speedster went back to his fast mode as long as the woman wasn’t watching him. Logan felt his wind as he came dangerously close on his fast trip around the rink. Logan hoped the whistle woman did throw him out.
He paid close attention to nearby skaters. What he didn’t need was a fall and associated broken bones. A boy, probably seven or eight, cut across his path at a slow pace and Logan barely missed him. An elderly couple with arms locked passed him, giving him a good margin. He admired their fluid motion as they slid through narrow gaps of the skaters. Mr. Speedster nicked his elbow on his blinding speed around the ice oval. The
rink sergeant lady was at the opposite end helping a teenage girl regain her feet.
Logan almost reached her when she skated away. It was the first time he’d seen her up close. Her long black hair flowed from under her toboggan as she gained speed by her flawless action, leaning forward and swinging her arms gently. She wore a short dark blue coat with a fur collar. Her legs were covered by a black tight fitting material. Below her coat and reaching to her knees was a fully-flared woolen skirt that fluttered in the wind as she picked up speed. Logan shook his head at her striking appearance. He finally saw her face just for an instant as she turned near him and skated backward a short distance. She jumped and landed frontward to continue. Her lips were full, turned in a scowl, her dark eyes piercing, and her upturned nose delicate and the high cheekbones spoke of a possible American Indian connection. As beautiful as she was, Logan figured she was the female counterpart of his roommate, having a date with a different man every week.
A pre teen girl cut in front of Logan and he had to veer right to avoid hitting her. He managed to avoid a collision but the turn was too sudden for him and he went down. Sliding a few feet, he managed to avoid injury but he was in Mr. Speedster’s wild path. The fast skater jumped over him but his skate caught Logan’s forehead causing him to see stars. The speeding man never bothered to stop and check on him.
Logan touched his forehead and was relieved there was no blood. The whistle blew and the woman yelled.
“Everyone slow down. A skater is hurt.”
Through a cloud of pain, Logan watched her skate toward him and then make a sideways skidding stop, a shower of ice chips covering him. She went to one knee, her hair swaying forward, her brow creased with worry furrows.
“Oh, sorry about the ice shower,” she said, grinning and then continued as she gingerly touched his forehead.
“There’s no cut but you’ll have a goose egg if we don’t get an ice pack on it. Let’s get you over to the bench.”
She helped him up and Logan relished her gentle touch and marvelous strength as she hoisted him to his feet and led him to the bench. Once safely there she laid her hand on his shoulder.
“Stay here, I’m going to get an ice pack.”
He watched her skate away toward a box mounted on a pole and return with the ice pack. She took his hand, placed the soft ice pack in his palm and steered hand and pack to his injured head.
“Hold that against your spot. I have some unfinished business and then I’ll be back.” As she looked at the speedster Logan saw her gritting teeth and rippling jaw muscles. He decided he wouldn’t want to be in Mr. Speedster’s skates right now.
The speedster was going faster than ever but she easily overtook him. Logan was amazed at her speed and even more amazed when she grabbed his coat collar and did her sideways skid bringing both of them to an abrupt stop. The man looked down at her as she pointed for him to leave. He seemed to ignore her but that didn’t last long. She grabbed him more firmly and actually dragged him off, handling him like a rag doll. He wasted no time removing his skates and putting on his shoes while she stood with hands on her slender waist glaring down at him. That done, she returned to Logan and sat beside him.
“You’d better get checked at the infirmary to make sure you don’t have a concussion.” She removed the ice pack and peered at his bruise. Their eyes met and Logan gave her a feeble smile.
“Thank you for helping me.”
“It’s my job. I’m sorry you got hurt. I should have thrown that guy out at the start.”
“I hope I never get on your bad side,” Logan said, managing a weak chuckle.
“Oh, I don’t see you doing that.” She returned his smile.
“By the way, I’m Logan Miller.” He offered a handshake but she
got up and started to leave, before adding another comment.
“You’d better set the rest of this session out and if the headache continues don’t wait until the infirmary opens in the morning. Get to the hospital tonight… Logan.”
She skated away. Logan watched her another ten minutes and then removed his skates. As he slipped his shoes on he glanced her way one last time. She was on the far end of the rink and he thought she was looking at him but he wasn’t sure.
He returned his skates and the attendant told him to keep the ice pack and then pointed toward the rink. She had stopped at the entrance to the rink.
“How do you feel?” She asked.
“Still hurts but I don’t seem to be dizzy. No widespread headache.”
“Good, but you’d still better get checked out.” She turned to skate away and Logan started for the sidewalk.
“Brittany Crandall.” He looked back and she had stopped, and then turned away as their eyes met one last time for the night.
Logan couldn’t stop thinking about Brittany despite their meeting being so brief. He couldn’t restrain his thoughts from reading all sorts of positive implications from a simple thing like her giving him her name. Those pleasant assumptions helped him sail through the organic test next morning. He was confident that he scored well and Tuesday during organic lecture that was verified by a B+ in Professor Crandall’s choppy writing at the top of his test paper.
That euphoria carried him through to Friday night when he returned to the ice rink. He almost hoped Mr. Speedster would injure him again. The weather wasn’t quite as cold as the week before as he got the rental skates. A home basketball game had taken most of the crowd. It wasn’t difficult to see that Brittany wasn’t working tonight. A man sported the whistle and Mr. Speedster must be at the ballgame.
Disappointment pierced Logan as he skated toward the man who was working.
“I thought Brittany worked tonight.”
“She only fills in for me when I’m out of town.” He put the whistle in his mouth and skated away.
Logan started a slow lap and felt someone was keeping pace with him from behind.
“Did I hear you mention my name?”
Logan risked a daring move on skates and turned to skate backward. He made the maneuver successfully and stared into Brittany’s face. He tried to hold back his jubilation, fearing he made his feelings too obvious.
“I . . .I just wondered why you weren’t here.” Logan knew that didn’t fly with her. She subdued her smirk, wrinkled her nose and skated away. His shoulders sagged as he watched that woolen skirt flap. She glanced back. He bowed his head, did a few more laps and headed for the bench to sit awhile and watch Brittany do several jumps and spins.
Brittany headed his way, made her typical stop and gracefully sat beside him. She glanced at him and spoke, making direct eye contact.
“I can tell when someone doesn’t give me a straight answer. Want to try again?”
“Are you sure you want to hear it?”
“I’m always sure.” Logan tried not to squirm and hoped his blush wasn’t visible at the night rink session.
“I wanted to see you again.”
“There, now that wasn’t so hard was it?” She said.
“I guess I feared your reaction.”
“I’ll let you off the hook and not ask you why you wanted to see me again.” Logan subdued his sigh, but hoped for the opportunity to answer that unasked question. He felt awkward and launched to another subject.
“I can roller skate better than ice skate.”
“You do rather well on ice skates.’
“Thank you. I enjoy doing the circle waltz on roller skates but that would be out of the question on ice skates,” Logan said, dreaming of doing that waltz with Brittany.
“Oh, I don’t know. You could learn. Say, how did you do on your organic chemistry test?” Brittany reached down and checked one of her shoe laces.
“How did you know I had an organic test?”
“Well, Dad talks too much, especially to me. I mentioned you getting hurt and he recognized your name.”
“Crandall. I should have made the connection. I’ve been struggling but managed a B+ on the last test.”
“Let’s get some more skating in. There’s not much of a crowd. I can give you some instruction on that waltz if you’d like.”
He inwardly bit his lip to keep from coming out with a resounding, “Oh, I’d like that very much.” Instead he said, “I’m afraid I might cause you to stumble and get hurt.”
“Oh, come on.” She extended her hand and expounded on how he could turn more effectively. Logan wasted no time in accepting her hand.
They made several rounds and Brittany took care of him, keeping him vertical instead of horizontal on the ice. It reminded him of the roller rink owner’s daughter keeping him from falling. He was flawless, thanks to Brittany and enjoyed the contact with her.
Their eyes met as they faced each other. He knew he swallowed several times to accompany his smiles. Her expressions mirrored his but without the swallowing. His heart melted and he wanted this night to go on forever.
It happened when he was going backward during a turn. Their skates got entangled and they went down. He fell on his back, sliding, and Brittany tripped and landed on top of him.
“Oh, Logan, are you alright?” She asked as they slid to a stop, her still on top of him.
“Knocked . . .the breath. . .outta’ me is all,” he managed, as he began regaining his breath.
Time seemed suspended as he stared into her beautiful face. Her hair fell forward from under her lose toboggan and touched his face. The soft silky strands took his recovering breath away. She centered her gaze on his lips and he pulled off his right glove and moved her hair to her ear and gently pulled her to meet his lips. She responded by resting her gloved hand on his cheek during the kiss. Tender, yet passionate was that union. When they parted, numbness took Logan as he feared he’d stepped way over his bounds.
“Oh, Brittany, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have. . .” She touched his lips with her forefinger.
She initiated another kiss, this one stretching longer. That was interrupted by cheers and clapping from skaters who had formed a ring of observation around them. Brittany rolled off him and they both laughed as they helped each other up. They stood face to face with hands clasped. Skaters resumed their circuits around the rink, whizzing by them.
“I guess this removes all doubt that I’m crazy about you,” Logan said.
“You broadcast that the night you got hurt. You shouldn’t make such quick judgments about somebody you don’t know. Maybe I’m a spoiled brat,” Brittany said.
“I know better than that. Okay, hypothetically let’s say you have feelings for me. I’d also have to say you don’t know me at all. I might be a rotten scoundrel.”
“Based on my first impressions, I know you’re not a scoundrel.” Brittany’s smile shined to his very core, but her remarks called for a warning from him.
“Many times first impressions are wrong.” Logan tugged on her arm and they skated toward the bench. It was close to quitting time for the night session.
“True. That’s where my gabby dad comes in. Based on his and teaching assistants in the lab, they speak very highly of you.”
“But I’ve not done anything outstanding that I know of.” Logan searched his mind even after he stated that. They reached the bench and sat down.
“I’ve heard terms to describe you. Courteous, kind, honest, hard-working for starters.” Brittany reached over and squeezed his hand.
“I’m not worthy of those compliments.” Logan looked down at her gentle gesture.
“Oh, I forgot humble in that list.”
“Now, you’re really making me blush.”
The man with the whistle skated up and informed them it was closing time. Logan hoped the conversation would continue after the rink closed. He followed Brittany to the rental counter where they deposited their skates. Outside the rink they faced each other again.
“You must have a whole string of boyfriends. You’re so nice and so pretty. Where do I fit in that string?”
“No string for me. What about you?” Brittany turned Logan so that she could thrust her arm through the crook of his arm.
“No. Would you give me a chance for you to get to know me?” Logan stopped their walking and dared to cradle her head in his hands.
“Yes, we need to dispose of the spoiled brat and rotten scoundrel assessments.”
Brittany pulled him down for a kiss. Everything felt right to Logan. He tingled inside and out, hardly noticing a frigid wind had started.
By: Larry Hammersley
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