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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Sport or Fitness (02/15/07)

TITLE: Ice Time
By Ann Grover


I gave the double knot on Samuel’s skates a tug and pulled him up.

“Let’s go!”

Samuel took a few teetering steps, then reached for my hand. Luke had gone ahead, quickly mastering the art of walking in skates on the rubber flooring. By the time we reached the double doors leading into the rink, my toes were already clenched inside the borrowed skates. But I was determined to do the mom thing and take my boys skating. It would be a weekly event, I vowed.

“Will Kurt be here, Mom?”

“No.” And neither would Wayne Gretzky or any other idol of the ice arena.

“Oh.” Samuel sighed in disappointment.

I stepped onto the ice.

“Okay, boys, ready? Step down carefully. Hold my hands, if you want.”

Luke and Samuel stared at the rink, their eyes growing big at the wide expanse of white ice. One boy, then the other, clutched my hands, then stepped down onto the frozen surface and stood rooted.

“Come on, one foot forward, then the other.”

Shuffle, shuffle, stop. Shuffle, shuffle, stop. We moved a foot.

I looked around at the scattered bunches of parents and children, scarves trailing, toques jammed tightly on heads. A few adventurous children had relinquished their vise grips on their parents and were awkwardly stroking along. Occasionally, there was an echoing cheer.

We moved another three feet. Four feet. We probably wouldn’t be doing any double axels today.

Soon, we overtook a mom and her daughter, who was motionless, clinging to the boards. The mom shook her head, and I smiled, not wanting to disturb our rhythm.

“Mom, can I let go now?” asked Samuel.

“If you want.”

“Me, too,” added Luke.

The boys moved forward independently, and I felt strangely light when they let go, as if I might fall. We were halfway around the rink, but my ankles were feeling decidedly wobbly. I hadn’t skated since... well, it had been a long time.


Luke had moved to the boards and was hanging on, his feet slipping and sliding. I held him steady, then unfurled his gripping fingers.

“Move out again, Luke.”

Luke did, his shuffling quicker, surer. So was Samuel’s. Occasionally, someone’s arms would flail, whip in the cold air, and I’d think, “This is it, he’s going to fall.” But, the boy in question would balance himself and carry on. Several times, I teetered on the edge of losing my dignity myself, but managed to keep my poise. How did anyone manage to throw themselves in the air, rotate three or four times, and land on these blades again?

As if to prove my point, a father and daughter glided by, smoothly and effortlessly, their movements in unison. The chilly breeze ruffled the fringes on the boys’ scarves. Samuel and Luke gazed in awe.

“We’ll be able to do that with a little practice, boys.” Samuel gripped my hand again, and away we went. Shuffle, shuffle, glide, Shuffle, shuffle, glide. A small improvement. We were making good time. Just a few dozen yards to go.

It must have been a speck of dust, a bit of pebbled ice, or maybe a moment of distraction revelling in the boys’ achievement. No amount of arm-flapping was going to preserve my equilibrium. I crashed to the ice.

I tentatively twitched each limb; nothing seemed to be broken. Cold was already seeping through my clothing, so I knew I wasn’t paralyzed.


I opened my eyes. Luke and Samuel were peering down at me. A circle of helpful folks had gathered around.

“Need help?” I accepted the proffered hand and hoisted my sodden self from the ice.

“Thanks.” Everyone dispersed with plenty of good wishes and advisories about hot baths, massages, and epsom salts.

Eager to resume our tour, I rallied the boys and off we went. Shuffle, glide, glide. The boys were confident, moving towards the exit. Finally! I helped each boy step up, then lifted my uncooperative, leaden legs over the sill. The boys cavorted towards the bench area like two goats, while I slogged along the padded flooring as if wading through quagmire.

“Can we have hot chocolate?” both boys begged.


My legs were wooden as I knelt to undo their skates. My numb fingers fumbled with the knots.

“Can we come back next week?”


After all, it was the mom thing to do.

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Amy Michelle Wiley 02/22/07
I love this! I used to be a figure skater (though I never got quite to the double axel ;-) working on the single was enough), so I saw this scene nearly every day. Brought back good memories.
Joanney Uthe02/24/07
I really enjoyed this. I can't skate, and this was a very realistic discription of the setting. Great job.
Betty Castleberry02/24/07
What a dedicated mom. This was a *very* enjoyable read. You dropped me right in the middle of the rink with your characters. "Shuffle, shuffle, glide"....
Joanne Sher 02/24/07
Great details - you brought us right into the scene.
Jacquelyn Horne02/24/07
Good job. I waddled through every step (shuffle) with you. I could even feel the coldness of the ice before you fell. (due to all the discriptive clothing I guess) Roller skates was my only achievement as a young mother.
Allison Egley 02/24/07
Hehe This was great. I can relate. Well, not really, because I'm not even to "shuffle, shuffle, shuffle." I'm more "Clinging to the wall for dear life while 4-year-olds skate past me with ease."
Patty Wysong02/24/07
I was cheering as the boys improved and then I could feel the cold seeping in! What a brave mom! Good job! :-)
Marilyn Schnepp 02/24/07
Sweet story well written; but if I were to use a Simon Cowell expression and say... "nothing out of the ordinary to knock my socks off", I'd be booed! Because it is very good, sweet, nice, very well written and topical - just not terribly exciting, gripping and memorable as one expects from a MASTER Craftsman. Perhaps at FW...however, Honesty is not the best policy. So, an enjoyable read, and nicely done.
Jan Ackerson 02/25/07
I love the onomatopoeia and the gentle, self-deprecating humor, rich with love. Very sweet.
Marilee Alvey02/25/07
Your story was a sweet reinactment of what will be a treasured memory when you sit in the rocking chair of your old age. As such, it is touching. It also served to exercise your verbal muscles in description. You have a real talent for that! Your description was excellent. I esp. loved the fringe on the boys' scarves as the father and daughter passed by. I did find the story rather slow, though. If your goal was to write a descriptive piece about a day on the ice rink, you certainly succeeded, but I'd like to see a little more to grab...and hold my attention. What does it all mean, in the larger scheme of things? It can be a day on the ice...or it can be so much more. For example, it could serve as a heart-tugging reminder that these little ones will, one day, release your hand and dare to venture onto life's slippery ice without you. How ultra precious this scene then becomes. Your description, though, is top notch. I could learn a lot from you.
Sharlyn Guthrie02/25/07
This was so enjoyable to read. My uncle took me ice skating on a regular basis along with my cousins,so this brought back lots of memories. What a wonderful 'mom thing' to do!
Tabiatha Tallent02/26/07
I loved this story! I've always wanted to go ice skating, and this makes me want to go even more. I kind of gives me a confident boost...if she can do it, so can I. Thanks for sharing!
Donna Powers 02/28/07
A lovely "family moment" and I really liked the part where she'd been holding the boys steady at first; then, when she let go, she thought she'd be the one to fall.
Thanks so much for sharing this
Jen Davis02/28/07
This was wonderfully written. You write with just enough detail to bring us into your story without overdoing. Loved the “shuffle, shuffle… We moved a foot.” Very cute touches throughout. Let me say again, “great writing!”
Sara Harricharan 02/28/07
This is sweet! I love that mom, taking the time to take her boys skating even when it's a challenge for herself. I've always wanted to go skating and this was just perfect for reading about it! I like the line where she's wondering how people can jump in the air and twirl a few times and land back on thier feet. Some neat bits of humor and great dialouge. ^_^