Slip Sliding Today
The bus pulled away from Bolsover market place with Em still goldfishing.
“You, you mean to say that all this time you've really been a girl?”
“Apparently,” I agreed.
“But you've got – I've seen your…”
“I told you it was complicated , ” I pointed out.
We travelled along in silence for a bit, Em apparently lost in thought whilst I gathered my own.
“So you have monthlies and stuff?”
This really is embarrassing; I hope no one else can hear.
“Sort of, that's what the Pill is for, to stop them temporarily.”
“You doing it then?”
I suppose it was a reasonable enough question in the circumstances.
“You what? No way.” I must admit I did raise my voice some.
“Keep your hair on, I was only asking, why else would you be on the pill?”
“Remember me, Drew? No girly bits? I've sort of started doing the bleeding bit but it's got nowhere to go which can cause big problems like.”
“You remember the times I got a bit anaemic?”
“You mean like in Grottoes?”
My mind engaged the search facility. Grottoes, Grottoes, oh yeah, on that ride, I passed out didn't I? If I'd known then what I know now ...
“Yeah, it usually seemed to be a problem when I was racing so everyone thought that was the cause then I had a really bad turn earlier this year, the blood found a way out which was really gross.”
“You don't mean your penis ?” Em whispered the last bit.
“Other end,” I replied in similar fashion.
My sentiments exactly.
“So they did like ultrasound and stuff which was when they found the extra plumbing.”
“If you're really a girl, it isn't extra,” Em argued .
I suppose she has a point there. But I'm not a girl; I'm me, Drew.
“What are you two whispering about?” Ally asked breaking my train of thought.
“Just catching up,” Em offered, “so what's up?”
“We're gonna get off in a few, get the tram round the corner from Maccy D's.”
“Kay,” Em allowed.
“Tram? Why do we need to get the tram, the rink is opposite to the bus stop.”
“Dur,” Ally rolled her eyes, “we're going to Ice Sheffield, no one goes to Skates anymore.”
“How should I know? Where's this Ice place then?”
“Near the Arena.”
“Guys,” Mad called down the bus.
“Come on, our stop,” Ally encouraged.
Once off the bus we crossed to the burger emporium where we bought drinks before heading to the tram stop. The first one along was on the wrong route but ours followed not more than a minute behind. By the time we'd gone into the centre and turned around to head towards Meadowhall, then travelled out of town to the Mallopolis we'd been on the rails for over fifteen minutes.
We got off with some other teens seemingly in the middle of nowhere, the rectangular bulk of Sheffield Arena loomed to one side but we headed the other direction before entering some sort of park.
“That's Ice”Hel stated pointing to a long, low building with a wavy roofline on the opposite side of the green.
It certainly looked impressive even if the heavy thump of a steam hammer in the steelworks did provide a reminder of Sheffield's industrial past.
“Come on, we can catch the twelve thirty session,” Mad suggested.
So of course I'm the only one without their own skates, why would I have any here?
“You still take a five, Drew?” Em asked.
“Yes she does.” Mad got in before I could reply.
“I'll get you some boots.”
“Cheers.” We'd already nominated Em to pay for us so we weren't all queuing.
The new facility was amazing, a far cry from Skates which by comparison is grotty. Well I guess that stands to reason, it would be stupid to build a grotty new place after all. I looked in awe at the huge rink below us, tiered spectator seating all around.
“Come on,” Hel chivvied.
“Yeah,” I mumbled.
“Quite something eh?” Em observed.
“Not many,” I agreed following her lead.
We walked along a brightly lit corridor for twenty metres before turning into a locker room.
“Here you go, Drew, one pair of skates.” Em presented me with a bag.
“Last one on the ice buys the burgers,” Ally challenged .
Sugar, I always get caught in these situations.
One good thing, they weren't girl's skates this time, or at least they weren't pink. I scrambled my trainers off and pulled the skates on. Oh bum, the boots wouldn't fit under my straight leg jeans or over them and do up, bum, bum, bum. The others were long gone by the time I gave up and slumped onto the bench; sometimes I hate having cyclist legs.
“Gaby isn't it?”
“Eh?” I looked round to see where the voice came from.
“It is you, as I live and breathe, Jess, Jess Simmonds.”
She seemed to know me, well Gaby, but I couldn't place her even if her face was vaguely familiar.
“I gave you a lesson, must be two years ago now. At Skates?”
It came flooding back now.
“Geez you've got some memory, I'd forgotten about that.”
“Not what I taught you I hope.”
“I don't get a lot of chance to skate, the nearest rink to me is in Bonn.”
“That's Germany, yeah?”
“Yeah, we moved there last year.”
“So you skating this session, you need to get a move on if you are.”
“That was the idea but my friends didn't tell me we were coming and I can't get these,” I indicated the skates, “on wearing these keks, so I guess not,” I sighed.
“They do look a bit tight for skating.”
“Yeah,” I agreed, “so you still do the coaching lark?”
“Only during the holidays, I've just thought, I think I've got some spare kit in my locker, wait here I'll go and look.”
Who'd have thought she'd remember all that time ago?
She wasn't gone too long before returning brandishing a handful of clothing.
“Get out of yer jeans, you can wear this stuff then we'll have a go at that toe loop again.”
“Come on, time's a-wastin' .”
I took the bundle, resigned to her plan.
“'Kay,” I agreed.
“See you on the ice in five Gab.”
When I discovered that the bundle comprised of a vaguely familiar mauve skating dress and matching tights*. Okay then, option one – do a runner or option two - wear Jess's stuff and go skating – no brainer.
“There you are,” Jess greeted when I hit the ice, not literally but almost.
“I couldn't get the zip up,” I supplied.
“Your friends are already out in the meleé, let's get out in the middle.”
Jess gracefully, me not so, we were soon out in the relative calm of the central ice, most skaters choose to do circuits leaving the middle fairly clear. My coach led me through some basic warm up exercises, after a wobbly start I was soon following her dressage moves, leg changes and so with some degree of not looking a plonker.
“So Gab, what're you doing in Sheff if you live in Germany now?”
“Just visiting, I'm on the junior squad so the rest of the summer I'll be racing and stuff over in Manchester.”
“Uh huh,” I agreed concentrating on copying her toe loop. “You still competing?”
“Yeah, don't lean so much, I got fifth in the Nationals last year.”
“That's pretty good.”
“Not enough for funding though, I need to be top three this year or I might have to give up competing.”
“Bummer oof!” I landed with a solid bump on the ice.
“You're leaning too much, here watch me.”
I got that involved with doing twirly stuff that I forgot how I was dressed and that the gang were here too. As an ice marshal Jess had to skate off to untangle bodies once or twice but she seemed to enjoy doing the coaching bit as much as I enjoyed her attention.
The klaxon sounded the end of the session.
“You guys doing the next session?” Jess asked as we followed the stream of skaters off the ice.
“Think so, our lift's at five.”
“Cool, I get to do a routine after that.”
“I'll check with the others.”
“'Kay, I need to go to the office, I'll find you afterwards.”
“Uh huh, tschuss.”
Jess disappeared and I looked around for the others, there they are.
“Mad, Al,” I added a wave as I awkwardly headed their way on the non-ice surface.
“We thought we'd lost you,” Hel opined.
“Jess was helping me with some moves.”
“Who's Jess and what's with the outfit ? I know you didn't bring it with you,” Em asked.
“That the girl from the other place, a crack dance skater?” Al added.
“Yeah, she works here now, are we doing the next session?”
“We've paid, you've not told us about the leotard,” Mad pressed.
“Great,“ I enthused, “this little number? I borrowed it from Jess, my jeans are too tight for skating; someone forgot to tell me what we were doing today.” I glared at my cousin, not for the first time this week.
“Drink?” Em offered.
* See Summer Girl, chapter 35
to be continued....
© Maddy Bell 05.06.12