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Peter Griffith


He came to in the parking lot of the local skating rink, having mercifully avoided any crashes during his reminiscence. He checked himself in the rear view mirror. No mask to hide his tears. He wiped each palm across his eyes and down his cheeks, knowing he could get rid of the tears, but the flush would be obvious nonetheless, then attempted to clamber out of his car. On the first attempt, the seatbelt snagged him, drawing him back into his seat. On the second, he managed to lose his footing and fall to his hands and knees on the cool gravel, tearing open his jeans and palms.

He stood, staring at the rink, shaking his hands to dislodge the tiny pebbles from the gashes across them. Infection never crossed his mind as he opened the rusty trunk of his ancient Cadillac to retrieve his hockey skates. Skates in hand, he trudged into the rink.

As he laced up the skates, he couldn't help but think ahead to his match. Speed and control were going to be the order of the day, the deciding factor in who took home the win. He knew he had neither. Failing speed and control, meaningless violence was another way to help him get the win, but in the end catching the greased penguin would be necessary.

On the ice, he struggled to maintain his balance, moving in a slow circle with his ankles bent at an awkward angle. By his second time around, his ankles were straightening slightly. By the third time, he was picking up a bit of speed. On his fourth tedious lap, he heard a grinding of ice behind him, too fast for it to be one of the children he'd seen earlier. The Doppler effect let him know the skater in question was drawing right beside him, and he heard a female voice as a flash of black went by. "Long time," she said.

He continued plodding along, struggling to remain on his skates, when the blur came by again. "No see," she said.

He managed to turn around on his skates, going backwards for about six inches before falling on his ass. The blur came to a stop with a shower of ice over him. "Hey, Peter."

With a bit of recollection, he managed to place the face. "Hey, wait a second... you're, um, that girl..."

"Karen, hon," said the fit girl in the black skating outfit. "How about a hand up and some coffee?"

It seemed like the best idea he'd heard all day.