Clock Strikes Zero

The song is exactly 4 minutes and 34 seconds long. There are exactly 15 defined moves, not to mention the footwork sequences. I’m lacing up my skates, eyelet by eyelet, pulling the white laces so tight they almost cut the circulation off in my feet. I pull my black yoga pants down over the boots of my skates, a torn hole marks where the hems drag along the ice. My under armor jacket zipped tight against the cold of the rink. My hair was tied back in a messy french braid, but it didn’t really matter as long as most of my curls were kept out of my face.

4 and a half minutes. I’m in the center of the ice, waiting for the sweeping strings to start, pulling me into the familiar loops, spins, and edges of the music.
Begin.
4 minutes and 32 seconds. my blade rotates out, my arms spread outward like wings. Clean lines. Remember your skates are extensions of your legs. Keep your legs long, and your arms inward on spins.
4 minutes and 28 seconds. The first jump. Double lutz. Dig your toe pick in strong but don’t let it drag. Arms in tight, legs crossed for maximum rotation, spot your landing carefully. Land lightly on the middle of your blade. Your leg will bend at the knee but watch your balancing leg. Check your landing with a nice extension and keep your head up. Smile. Always smile.
4 minutes and 15 seconds. Footwork sequence with confidence. Twist your hips with the natural rotation of your legs so it looks flawless, smooth. Keep everything fluid. The strings keep playing in the background. Now there are drums and a guitar leading the music. Spinning has always been difficult, you get dizzy, but you remember. Spot your turn and count the rotations. Pull your arms in and spin, faster keeping your weight centered so you don’t travel over the ice. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7, and smoothly transition out into more footwork.
4 minutes. You always struggle with this sequence dance up on your toepicks and try not to look at your feet, you’ll trip and fall, coach will yell and reprimand you for such an amateur mistake
3 minutes and 41 seconds. Second jump. A combination. Double Axel. Triple Lutz. Remember to completely gain control of your first landing before attempting the second jump. Don’t let your balance leg drag on the ice until you dig your pick in for the second jump.
3 minutes and 26 seconds. It’s a simple transition into your next spin sequence, however, that’s when the most mistakes happen. Watch the traveling, you’ll get docked points for that in a competition. Balance your weight over the center of your blade. Throw your head back toward your skate in the Biellman spin to create the nice arch in your back.
3 minutes and 23 seconds. Pain. I know my head has hit the ice but I can’t remember why or what went wrong. My coaches voice and her reminds aren’t running through my head anymore. I know there are people rushing on to the ice slipping in shoes. My vision is going fuzzy around the edges and I’m trying to fight the pain. But I lose. My clock has hit zero.

That Damn Guitar

She took that damn guitar with her everywhere. It was always sitting in the back of her car or resting in her hand as she walked. He never understood it. He loved the way she would look as she melted into a song, he loved the way it made her green eyes come alive. But he hated that damn guitar more than anything. The fading wood and worn steel strings that had been replaced time and time again were not deserving of her talent. He vowed one day he would have enough money to buy her a new guitar. But every time he brought it up she would simply smile and say she didn’t need a new one, that she liked her old one just fine. She would lean over and give him a kiss before going back to strumming on those old strings. He had been working since he was 16. For a few years now he had been saving money away in a place she would find it, one day he was going to have enough to buy her the beautiful instrument that her talent deserved whether she needed it or not, she wanted it and that was enough for him.
But then it happened. It was two weeks before Christmas and snow had been falling all day. She had woken up that morning all excited and rosy cheeked. She had always loved the snow, it was probably the only reason they were still living in this crazy little town. They had made it work that morning just fine, he had dropped her off just like he did every day watching her walk into the three-story office building where she spent 9 hours of her day sitting behind a desk earning a paycheck to feed her music addiction. By the time he made it work he was 15 mins late because of the slick roads but he had still beat his boss so it was fine. The day had dragged by as it usually did when there wasn’t much for him to do but as with most things it finally came to an end and he was free.
He hadn’t thought the roads were that bad has he made his way back to pick her up but he tried to be careful. After a few scares and some fishtailing across the ice, he made it. She was standing, watching the delicate white flakes fall from the pitch black sky. Her tongue stuck out from behind perfectly straight white teeth as she tried to catch the flakes. He simply sat and watched her for a moment before honking to get her attention, and she turned that dazzling smile toward him.
They were 5 mins from the safety of the apartment complex. So close to being able to curl up in their tiny ass apartment when the car lost traction on the road and went sliding. He tried everything he could to get control of the vehicle, but it was futile. He saw the fear in her eyes, saw the trust she had for him hoping he would be able to make this all okay and then bright lights and then darkness until red and blue light brought him back to reality. He was banged up, a little bruised, a broken arm, then he saw her bloodied, hurt, not awake. And all he wanted was to watch her play that damn old guitar, to see the faded wood resting against her leg. To see her dance in the snow with the old black case resting in her hand.