Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pre-teen Skateland

I threw it on the ground and burst into tears.  My so-called friends skated away, giggling and gossiping.  Infuriated by what they had done, I had no idea what to do next.  I watched them head to the well-lit snack area while I retrieved the crumpled note.  Alone, I reread his poor penmanship, scribbled in the same sparkly purple ink I had used, "Jamie, thank you for asking me to skate the next couples skate with you.  Love, Kevin."

The note was supposed to read, "Love, Bryce."  It had taken me most of the school year to get up the nerve to ask my friends to ask him to skate with me.  I should have done it myself, like Mom had said.  But no, I asked my stupid friends to do it and they asked Kevin instead.  My tears tasted bitter on my lips.  There was no way I was going to skate with him.  He smelled like cooked eggs.  He wore the same navy blue sweatpants everyday to school.  His teeth overlapped like my brother's nasty mummy mask and I was pretty sure this was his third year in seventh grade.

As I finished contemplating the note, a slower song began to play and the dreaded couples skate was announced.  As pairs of kids scurried onto the glossy wooden floor, I hightailed it to the other end of the rink to hide in the bathroom.  I really had no idea what I would do if Kevin came looking for me.  Once in the safety zone, I jammed my hand into the pocket of my jeans for a quarter.  Depositing it into the machine, I turned the crank and let the gumball roll heavy into my palm.

Methodical chewing calmed me down.  Mom called gum my guilty pleasure, whatever that meant.  After a few deep breaths, I reasoned that the open session was almost over and I could soon leave this disaster behind.  I skated over to the open doorway and peaked out over the rink.  The painted concrete block walls felt cool beneath my sweaty palms.  The couples skate was in full swing and I caught a glimpse of Bryce with his arm around some eighth grader with long blond hair.

Then I saw Kevin.  He was sitting by himself on the bench where I had waited for my friends.  The sweeping and swirling lights of the darkened rink dappled him with the outlines of stars and hearts.  He was as far away from me as he could have been in that place, but I could tell by the way he was sitting that he was sad.  My friends had succeeded in ruining his day, too.  I wondered if they had even thought about that. 

When it was all finally over, I somehow managed to avoid the gaggle of girls, Kevin and Bryce on my way to meet Mom.  Our car was already parked at the curb when I walked outside and I slid sulking into the backseat.  I slammed the door behind me.  Mom turned down the radio.

"Did you not have a good time skating today, honey?"

"You wouldn't understand."

Without pestering me for more, she simply rummaged through her bag and reached behind her to hand me a piece of gum.  A wave of emotion washed over me.  I didn't know what to do.  So, I threw it on the ground and burst into tears.
    
 

33 comments:

  1. I like the circularity of the piece and the way it expresses her young frustration. Good work! :)

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    1. Thanks Natalie! I definitely pulled a bit from my own memory.

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  2. I just felt transported back to 5th grade....

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  3. Ugh, the skating rink -- memories! "He smelled like cooked eggs" <--I so love this line! It's interesting how she thinks that she didn't have any part in ruining Kevin's day by ditching him, but oh, I can imagine how she felt! I'm so glad to be done with those years. I love the play on "Teenage Wasteland" in the title and the way you used the photo prompt.

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    1. Yay! You got the "Teenage Wasteland" allusion...even though that is not the title of the song. It's something odd. I'm glad you liked the piece so well and you appreciated the cooked eggs. Haha.

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    2. Omg, you're right! It's Baba O'Riley. Or something like that.

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    3. Yes! That's exactly what it is. My dad actually knew and told me last night. Haha.

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    4. Eww, what's with me and ending all my comments with "haha." Resolved not to do that anymore.

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  4. Wow Kristin, you really captured those pre-teen emotions, not to mention the awful things some girls do! Really well written and great take on the prompts! By the way, I used the name Kevin in my piece too - how weird is that?

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    1. Thanks! Girls are the worst...though I proudly am one and have two daughters. Yeah, the Kevin this is weird for sure...though yours was the desired boy instead of the gross boy ;)

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  5. Aw, no one won in this situation. So very real - great writing!

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    1. That's what my husband said, too. Thanks for the compliment!

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  6. You so perfectly described that adolescent angst! I'll be dealing with daughter's in just a few years . . . not looking forward to that part! :p

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    1. I have daughters, too. They are only 2 and 4, but I already dread this stuff.

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  7. This was really sad. And cruel too. You captured the emotions beautifully here.

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    1. Thanks, Sandra. Kids can be so cruel, it's true.

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  8. Ugh... I hated being in situations like that. Poor girl and poor Kevin. Mean friends, boo. And good mama! Nicely done!

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    1. Me too! I somehow managed to move above them most of the time. I think I went through a delayed adolescence and have only recently regained the confidence I had when I actually was a teenager.

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  9. Great writing! I was taken right back to those days at the skating rink and all those same emotions. Ah, the pain of youth.

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    1. Thanks! I remember the skating rink so well. I feel like I was there most of middle school. Nachos and cherry Coke. Yum.

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  10. Ice rink politics, I remember them well. This took me back :)

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    1. Politics. That's exactly what it is.

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  11. Lovely post - capturing the anger and resentmenet perfectly! Loved the ending.

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  12. oh this is brilliantly told and really brought me back in time. man i hated being a pre-teen and teen. i absolutely love your use of the photo prompt, too. awesome job.

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    1. Thanks, Christina! It was fun thinking about the skating rink. Luckily, this was not born too much out of real life for me.

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  13. Perfect, perfect, perfect voice and tone; loved the skating rink setting, loved the distance between two people hurt by the same a-hole friends (but without them finding any common ground through it) and the general, awful feeling of isolation through it all. Wonderful.

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    1. What a great summation of the piece! Thanks, saalon. I am so glad everything came across as I hoped.

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  14. Brings back lots of memories...I felt your pain, his pain, and the unfairnes of it all. Great story.

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  15. Aww! This is actually very sweet. And the main character feels true to life.

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    1. I thought the relationship between the mom and the main character was sweet, for sure. She even cared a tiny bit about Kevin...a tiny bit.

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