Harry & Amelié: a one-shot
The rink was much smaller than what she had expected, the small pond-like shape seeming more like a giant piece of ice from the way he had talked about it. Years and years of stories, countless hours of enduring long lectures about how to skate, shopping trips full of finding the right ice skate that she could grow into. All of which led to this. Crowds of people packed onto the surface, a constant stream of them sliding in and out of the rink, everyone bundled tightly in layers and layers of warm clothing. Wool jackets that buttoned tightly around their torsos. Scarves that almost hung to their kneecaps wrapped multiple times around their necks, shielding them from the night breeze. Gloves and hats that matched. Earmuffs that fit snug against their heads.
Her eyes wandered around, her gaze following the movements of the people that circled around her. She was in complete awe of the ones that moved expertly, weaving in and out of their fellow skaters effortlessly, not missing a single stride. In her mind, she tried her best to memorize their footings, wanting to emulate them on the ice. She couldn’t help but laugh as she watched the grown men, who had obviously come to impress their girlfriends with their “skills”, shuffle along cautiously, their hands gripping their partner’s tightly in hopes of remaining on their feet. Some even pushed a elderly walker, the bottoms of the poles covered with cut up tennis balls to make it easier against the slick surface.
She winced as she watched a young girl fall flat on her knees, her hands instinctively landing out in front of her to brace her fall. She could tell immediately that it hurt, frowning as the girl began to cry loudly, her sobs carrying loudly over top of the loud Christmas music that was blasting from the three free standing speakers.
She shook her head, “I don’t think this is a good idea.”
Her father glanced down at her, “Are you kidding? This is a great idea!”
“I’m going to fall all the time.”
Harry rolled his eyes, “Oh c’mon. You’ll never know if you don’t try!”
She watched as his eyes returned to the rink, a giant smile sinking into his cheeks. She hadn’t seen such a big smile from him in a while, a smile she knew all too well only happened when he was back in his hometown. She couldn’t help but smile along with him, the thought of his happiness a nice sight. She always loved going to her grandparents’ house, the warmth and friendliness of the town always so welcoming. And she couldn’t definitely see how her father became the man he was – the charm and the charisma he possessed bred only in the people of Holmes Chapel. Familiar faces were everywhere, every restaurant they ate in, every shop they went into, her father always knew someone. And most of the time, he knew the owners – definitely not a bad perk.
He was like a kid in a candy store every time they visited. Familiar faces everywhere. Every restaurant they ate in, every shop they went into…he always knew someone. And most of the time, he knew the owners, which was definitely not a bad thing. Home cooked meals from his mother, comfort food that soother the soul in every way imaginable. Hot meals for dinner, ones that spread warmth to every single part of the body. Waffles and pancakes in the morning, made from scratch, sprinkled with powdered sugar and berries, were always her favorite. Family get-togethers seemingly happening every hour, the front door of her grandmother’s house almost acting as a revolving door with the amount of people that flowed in and out. No matter how many times they were there, there were always new people to meet. New cousins, new family friends…
“Hi dad!” Harry’s youngest daughter waived from the edge of the rink, her hands holding tightly to the edge to keep her body upright. Her face almost disappeared amongst the plush scarf that cuddled her neck, her long dark hair barely making it out of its grip. He smiled, his hand moving furiously back and forth to return the gesture.
“Hey, Char! Having fun?” He called back, watching as she nodded adamantly. She peeked to either side of her, checking her surroundings carefully before attempting to let go. She wavered a few times, each time her hands reaching back towards the wall before she finally settled herself on her feet and shuffled towards her twin brother at the other end of the rink.
“I used to bring you here all the time when you were a baby.” Harry mumbled quietly, Amelié’s ears barely picking up his words. She glanced up at him, her eyes wide in curiosity. But they went unnoticed as he kept his head straight, his gaze falling on his wife, watching her as she pulled her phone out to take a picture of Charlotte and Noah hugging each other.
“It was our little secret.” He glanced down at her, meeting her hazel orbs. His smile grew, his cloth covered hand reached forward to push the few strands of hair into her hat carefully, fully aware of her need to keep her hair as perfect as she had had it when they left his mother’s house. His eyes glistened with a look of reminiscing and Amelié could feel her heart sinking slowly at his wish to have her small again.
“I would take you without telling anyone and we would just go on walks during random parts of the day.” He continued. “Most of the time, you would fall asleep shortly after we left the house. I mean, if I was bundled up in five million different pieces of clothing, then yeah, I would pass out quickly too.”
Amelié laughed, “You wrapped me up in five million different things?”
Harry nodded, his head rolling back onto his neck as he faced the sky. “Your mother wouldn’t let you out of the house until you had at least three layers of clothes on. Especially during the winter.”
“First baby syndrome.” She pointed out, her father agreeing with her.
He sighed, Amelié noticing the heaviness to the release as he returned his eyes to the crowd. He pulled at her shoulders, his arm snaking its way across her back, tugging her body into his side as he held her close. “The first time I brought you up here, you were about 3 months old. It was during the summer, but all I told you about was this moment right here.”
“The lights. The music. The people.” He began, “The magic that this place had.” He laughed, Amelié’s body rocking with his movement. “You talked back to me, even at that age, you gurgled or something. And I just remember carrying on a conversation about how we were going to spend nights up here, skating the hours away. And even if we didn’t come up during the wintertime, we would still come up here – just the two of us – and just talk. Because that was our thing.”
“Dad, you’ve gotten awfully sappy the past few years.” Her words muffled against his jacket as she hugged his body, snuffling her face deeper into the fabrics.
“First baby syndrome.” He retorted.
She smiled up at him, “Did we ever go skating when I was little?”
He nodded. “The first time I took you skating, you fell asleep on me.”
Amelié laughed loudly, “Seriously?”
“I told you – you liked to sleep a lot when you were a baby. Like more than normal babies.”
“Did I even make it to the rink awake?”
“Oh yeah.” He answered. “You were awake for the beginning part of it. You tried to help me with my laces, you tried to tie them for me and ended up just stuffing them inside my shoe.”
“And we made it out onto the ice with you awake. But I think you just liked the way the movement was so smooth.” He kissed the top of her head gently, “You feel asleep in my arms. It’s one of my favorite memories.”
I’m completely serious about this one and I apologize for all the other times I’ve said that I’ll update and then never follow through.
But, it will be up. For real. Just under 30 minutes from now.