Roller Skating Through the Universe
Word Count: 2032
Parker Ellis made her forty-seventh circle of the skating rink. Boys and girls her own age and younger crowded around her, the littles sometimes falling spectacularly and being dodged in wild and acrobatic ways.
There was laughter and screeching and jollity. Her cousin Susan, raced by her. She was twelve, and showing off in front of a group of older boys who were admiring her. Parker rolled her eyes. She was still eleven but she felt more mature than Susan. After all, she didn’t care what the boys thought. She skated for herself alone.
Her nine year old brother flung himself around the corner in front of her, and her feet splayed one in front of the other to avoid him. She rolled her eyes again. “Trent!” she called out but he was already gone. Maybe she’d race him later.
The music changed, something old, probably a grown up had requested it. Parker was almost sure it was pre-21st century–and who wanted to listen that stuff? She shook her head considered making her own request–maybe Twenty One Pilots, she wasn’t sure, but they were her favorite band right now. Anything by them would be good.
She was on her 52nd round of the rink when she saw the sparkle. It was off by the corner, kind of silverish, a little blue and very small, hardly noticeable. It caught her eye but not enough to make her stop and investigate.
By the sixty-fifth skate around the circle it was much larger and Parker couldn’t believe no one else was noticing it. She tried to catch her brother’s attention (pointless) and her cousin’s attention (hopeless) but it was like both of them were steadfastly avoiding her eye.
None of the other skaters were noticing it either, even when the thing grew to the size of a dinner plate.
Parker didn’t slow, and after a moment she decided it was best to ignore it.
One song changed to another, which switched to one more.
This time Parker recognized the song–something by the Beatles and she loved the Beatles–who didn’t love the Beatles? She danced, couldn’t help it, shaking her shoulders a bit, getting fancy with her footwork, and that’s when it happened.
It was the little kid in the tutu’s fault. Her arms were out for balance, she was skating so slow she was almost not moving at all and when she fell backward– don’t the little kids always do that? She was right in Parker’s path and what else could Parker do but skate sideways haphazardly off balance?
Her diagonal blunder took her straight into the sparkly round blue light which swallowed her whole, even making a sucking sound like she was being forced through a straw. Then it shrunk, becoming smaller and smaller and in a second it was shrunk to a pinpoint and disappeared.
Parker didn’t know where she was, but it had banda music which sounded just like polka music and that was bad enough.
A blue sun shone in the sky and the dew in the grass was silvery and wet to the touch. Parker sat in it, her shorts growing wet and her skates stuck out in front of her.
She was almost finished being stunned.
The polka-like music played around her. It could have come from the trees at the edge of the clearing or the flowers that grew around her. Or the air, Parker couldn’t pinpoint the source.
She wished fervently that it would stop.
Slowly she untied the long laces of her skates and pulled them off one by one leaving her feet in long navy blue socks with tiny flowers stitched into them. She wiggled her toes briefly then stood up. Her socks quickly soaked up the dew. She leaned down and picked up her skates.
Where to go now? The tree line to her west where the blue sun hovered in the sky looked dark and imposing.
She turned around, twisting at the hips and made a two half circles, one in one direction, one in the other direction taking it all in such as it was– long meadow behind her, trees three quarters of the way around the circle of the meadow. No sign of houses or buildings or roads or cars or anything.
All around her the polka music played.
No where did she see evidence of the sparkling light that she had fallen into. She crossed her arms on her chest. Her skates bumping her hip, then her belly.
From the corner of her eye she saw movement at the treeline.
“Hello?” she whispered, surprised at the softness of her voice.
The music grew louder and this time she could pinpoint its location–towards the tree line.
She started walking.
Back at the skating rink, Parker’s mom Monica was scanning the room. Her sister Tia was talking nonstop and hadn’t yet noticed that she no longer had her sister’s attention which was grating on Monica’s nerves. She stood up from her table to get a better look. Where were the kids at?
It was super busy–Saturday had been a bad choice to go skating. There had to be 80 kids out on the floor skating. She heard another voice behind her.
She swung around. “Trent. Good. Where’s your sister?”
He shrugged his shoulders at her, a new habit that drove her crazy. “You haven’t seen her lately?” she asked.
She scanned the rink again. “Where’s Susan?” she asked him but he had run off again and she only caught the back of his head when she swung back around.
“Something wrong, Monica?”
“I’m not sure,” she said. “I can’t find Parker.”
“Maybe she’s in the bathroom.”
The bathroom! Of course, that’s probably exactly where she was. Monica felt relief flood through her. She sat back down.
Parker did have to go to the bathroom but where she was at there was no bathroom anywhere, just trees and grass. It wasn’t as if she had never peed outside–she had– she just didn’t like to do it. The grass like soft fingers made her skin creep. And what if something–some bug– crawled onto her? She shuddered to think of it.
She stood under the trees and looked straight up. The weird blue light shone down, giving the leaves of the tree a gloomy look. She touched the bark and it felt slick, she wiped her hand on her shorts. The music changed slightly, then went silent. She glanced back up, watching the tree branches carefully. The music rose again and she saw it.
It had blue gray skin, long spindly arms and legs and a long face. Tufts of hair framed a button nosed face, and it was hard to tell since it was so high up but Parker guessed it was probably no taller than her knee socks. It opened its mouth in an O and music spilled out. Banda music. It closed its mouth and there was silence once more.
Another figure stepped beside it. Then another. Suddenly a sea of eyes appeared above her and they all started to sing at once. Parker put her hands over her ears.
They went silent, she looking at them, and them her.
“I want to go home,” she said.
Monica sipped her soda and heard it rattle the ice. Time for a refill. Tia sat in front of her, telling Monica about her local middle school and their dress policy. Monica raised one finger, then pointed to her drink. She stood up, sidled past her bags and the kids’ shoes and walked towards the front concession.
“Diet Coke, please. Hey, do you guys have an intercom system?”
The cashier gestured towards the music booth.
Of course. Why hadn’t she thought of that?
She collected her diet Coke, smiled and headed for the booth.
They had scrambled down the tree trunk, their eyes never leaving her face, many of them making little musical notes. Parker wondered what on earth they were saying.
Now they were lined up in front of her, thirty of them in all.
“I want to go home,” she said again.
They seemed to confer together, then one of them stepped forward and pointed at her.
“Home,” she said again, then pointed to the meadow behind her.
It continued to point at her but she realized it was no longer looking at her face. In fact, all of them were looking at her pocket.
The leader made more of the music. It sounded like a question.
Parker glanced down at her shorts, then remembered that she had stuffed half a chocolate bar and two tootsie rolls in there when she was in the car.
“Do you want some chocolate?”
The music rose and rose and rose.
“Okay, okay,” she said, putting up her hands to still their singing. She set down the skates.
They rewarded her with silence when she stuck her hand in her pocket and pulled out one of the tootsie rolls.
“This? You want this?” One scrambled up her leg, using its teeth and hands and legs to climb her sock. It made it as far as her knee before she angrily kicked it away. “No!” she said.
They all leaned towards her but she wasn’t afraid. The thing hadn’t hurt her, its teeth too tiny to do any damage. He’d only startled her. She unwrapped the tootsie roll and tossed it in the grass behind them. The leader looked at her so disdainfully that she hid a giggle behind her hand. Keeping one eye on her, he shuffled through his people and picked it up, watching her and then nibbled on it.
“You like that?”
He passed it around and bits and pieces of the music sounded around her. She smiled.
“You want another?” she asked. She pulled out the last tootsie roll and held it up. “Home,” she repeated and pointed towards the meadow. She pantomimed a circle, then stepping through it.
The leader let out one long note, then pointed.
The wind kicked up in the meadow rustling the branches of the trees above her. She turned around and saw the sparkling light.
Joy filled her. Without another word, she scooped up her skates and sprinted across the meadow. Behind her the music rose and rose until it hurt her ears. She paused, turned, hands over her ears.
The leader pointed to her. Her knee where he had bitten her began to tingle.
She tossed the tootsie roll that was in her hand and then dug the half bar of chocolate out of her pocket too and held it up. She eased her way back across the meadow. She could feel the energy of the circle behind her. Sensing its power she didn’t stand too close to it. It was almost dinner plate sized now.
She waited. When it was large enough she tossed the chocolate bar towards the leader and dove into the circle and out of the universe and onto the floor of the skating rink.
The hard impact of at least two pairs of skates caused a flare of pain in her calf and back. Other skaters scattered to avoid her.The banda music was replaced by something by Taylor Swift and Parker began to cry.
Monica Ellis helped her limping daughter off of the rink floor. She peppered her with questions but Parker had gone still and silent and seemed not to hear.
“Why aren’t you wearing your skates? I couldn’t find you and I was scared. Did you leave the skating rink at some point? Did you go to the car or something?”
Parker’s leg no longer tingled. It stung. It burned. She reached down and scratched it trying to find relief. Her fingernails came away blue but she didn’t notice and neither did her mother. Monica handed her a drink, and Parker sipped it solemnly.
“Where’s Trent?” she asked.
The spread of blue began at her knee where her skin had been punctured by tiny little teeth and streaked across her skin downwards and under her socks.
She suddenly craved chocolate.
THE ORIGIN OF THIS STORY IS FUNNY TO ME. I WAS AT THE PARK AND I WAS WRITING THIS STORY AND SUDDENLY MY EARS WERE ASSAULTED BY BANDA MUSIC. OF COURSE I HAD TO ADD THAT TO MY STORY! 🙂 WHAT DO YOU THINK OF IT?