Ice Skates No. 1Title: Wayne Gretzky and God
Author: L. Charlie Holman
Category: Nonfiction

They were Bauer hockey skates with stainless steel blades, and I could turn on a dime.

I would soar around the rink with indisputable style, hell-bent on showing my skill and the older boys would say, “fuckin’ eh” every time I bent into the turn. 

Every winter, the neighborhood kids flooded the pond beyond Michael Langford’s house—seven, maybe eight garden hoses connected together and barely making the distance. And late at night, I’d wave to Michael and Lesley and Dennis; Kate, Andrew, and Mark, each one of us watching out our bedroom windows, our houses that close together. We watched winter bring layers of fat snowflakes, each the size of maple leaves. Every day, we tested the thickness of the ice; we swept and leveled the uneven parts with the soles of our snow boots, and the ice grew flush and translucent, a kryptonite varnish. Eventually the ice expanded to the edges of the pond, a rectangle heaven with blond saw grass peeping up over the elevated banks, and then one morning, on the way to school, we stopped to check the ice.

“Perfect,” Michael said.

“Perfect,” we all echoed.

And after Sister Trudie’s seventh period science class, the neighborhood would choose teams: Midnight Dread and The Holy Ghosts. Michael would point to Andrew and Kate, “Defense.” He’d say, and to Mark he’d say, “Wing.” Lesley would look at him, “center?”

“Yeah, center.”

But me and Michael see, we already talked about it, and since I was the best goalie in North America defending The Holy Ghosts’ territory, I would stay put. I’d defend the space between the goal post with pillows tied to my arms and legs for protection, welding glasses for eye wear and boxing gloves from the Goodwill for trapper gloves. 

And near the third week of October, I’d polish the leather of my Bauer skates; I’d take them over to Nova Scotia Phil, down at the east side skating rink, where they charged two bucks admission just to skate, and Phil would sharpen my blades for free and say, “That’ll hold till the playoffs.” And yikes they were sharp.

Halfway through the season Michael got a puck to his face, so I put his brother’s red motorcycle helmet over his pirate patch eye, and I taught him how to goalie.  And by the end of the season he still couldn’t save for shit, but we came up with a pretty good name for next year’s team: One Eyed Puckers.

Back then we could say stuff like that.

Back when imagination filled in for money and gear. Back when I was the best goalie in North America. Back when Wayne Gretzky was god.

Back then. We had some garden hoses and a motorcycle helmet, and God floated above our homemade rink with fat snowflakes in his mouth, building up the pond behind Michael Langford’s house.

They were Bauer hockey skates with stainless steel blades, and I could turn on a dime.

Leona Charlie Holman appreciates what flash nonfiction/fiction can accomplish. Charlie spends the better part of every weekend whittling down longer stories and essays to fit the conventions of micro writing. And yes, she played hockey when she was a kid, practices at archery now, and hopes to learn the art of white water rafting this summer.