“You’ve never been ice skating before?” I asked my dad.
“No, it just never came up.” he laughed a little.
“That means we can learn together!” I said. There aren’t many times when grown-ups will admit they don’t know something, so you need to encourage them when they do.
We stepped carefully onto the ice, one foot at a time. Once my feet were down, I slid them around a bit. It was easy to slide them forward and back, but they didn’t want to go side to side. I started experimenting with walking forward, picking up one skate and carefully putting it back down.
Mouse shoved his head between me and my dad, and he fell over, “Ow! Watch it, Mouse!”
I laughed. “You have to be careful, Mouse. It’s slippery.” I grabbed the handle of his harness for balance. He seemed to have no trouble on the ice, walking exactly like he was on normal ground.
Miss Molly had been skating around a bit, but now she pulled up in front of us. “Maggie, are you ready to start skating?”
I wasn’t sure, but it was important to be confident and believe you could do things. “Yep!”
My dad carefully got back to his feet, “You’d think the Winter Knight gig would make this easy.”
“That would be cheating.”
“And thus the master becomes the student.” he looked down at his skates skeptically, “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”
Miss Molly started teaching us how to do what she called “half-swizzles”. We moved our skates back and forth, and it pushed us forward on the ice. It seemed easy, until I leaned a bit too far backward and fell on my butt.
Mouse galloped over to check on me, sticking his nose in my ear.
“I’m fine, Mouse. Your nose is cold!” I told him. I tried to get back up, but Mouse’s wagging tail hit me and I fell over again. I crawled a little bit away and stood up again, really slowly.
We kept practicing for a long time, maybe fifteen minutes and I was starting to get the hang of it. I hadn’t fallen in a few minutes when I heard Miss Molly call me back.
Suddenly, it seemed like I was a long way away from the benches. The ice was big and slippery and I was cold and I wasn’t sure I could get all the way back. I felt the panic creeping in around the edges of my brain, and I tried to focus on something else, but it kept betting bigger and bigger.
In a moment, Miss Molly and Mouse were next to me, one on either side. My dad was trying to come over too, but he wasn’t making much progress with his little foot movements. He was trying, though, and that made me smile.
“Maggie, would you like a hand or do you want to get back on your own?” Miss Molly asked me. She always gives me the option to do things on my own, which I like a lot.
I looked again at the way back to the benches. It was a long way, maybe a hundred feet. “I think I want a hand.” I told Miss Molly.
She turned around so she was facing me, “I need you to grab my hand and focus on keeping your feet straight ahead, okay?”
“Okay.” I grabbed her hands.
Miss Molly started skating backwards way faster than I’d gone forwards, pulling me along. It was a lot more fun than skating on my own. We were flying along, so fast that Mouse had to run along to keep up.
I watched the benches get closer and closer before I realized that Miss Molly was about to hit my dad. “Miss Molly!” I tried to warn her, but she crashed into him and we all landed in a slippery heap. Mouse didn’t want to be left out of the fun, so he stuck his head on top of all of us while we lay there, laughing.
When we finally managed to stand up and brush ice chips off our coats, there was a thermos of hot chocolate waiting.
“Maggie, do you want to keep going, or should we head back home?” Miss Molly asked me.
I blew on my hot chocolate and thought about it, “I want to keep going.”
“That’s the spirit!” Miss Molly turned to my dad, “Harry, what about you?”
My dad made a face, but not a serious I-don’t-want-to-do-this-face. “Mouse, how about you come over here and help me balance?”
Mouse shook his head and made a noise that sounded a lot like ‘cheating’
“I was your friend first, you know.”
Mouse pressed his head up against my leg.
“Yeah, yeah, I know.” He stood up and made his way towards the ice.
When we were ready to go, Miss Molly started teaching us how to glide. I must have learned something from all the swizzles, because it was way easier than I thought it would be. I practiced pushing with my right leg while keeping my left foot straight, then let myself glide until I stopped. Then I pushed with my left leg.
Then I fell on my face.
I got one knee under me so I could start standing up, and looked across the ice. Out in the middle of the lake, Miss Molly was starting to skate fast. Her steps were long and even and seemed intentional, almost choreographed. No, they were choreographed. Soft music echoed over the lake, matching her as she leapt into the air, her arms tucked tight as she spun.
“Wow.” I said.
“Woof!” Mouse agreed.
I stood up. I pushed with my right foot. I pushed with my left foot. The blades of my skates cut tracks through smooth ice as I started to get the rhythm.