Student Post: To Live On Thin Ice

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The following short story was written by one of our 8th graders, Tooti, as part of her workshop in creative writing. Enjoy!

The wind blew on her face, begging her hair to release from its tight bun. Hearing the blades cutting through the frozen water. Fluid motions of spins and steps. The light surrounded her. She flew across the rink. The audience watched as she danced across the cold smooth surface she called home. She loved the temperature, the wind, each tense muscle, every nerve aware of its surroundings.

While landing a jump she fell, and heard a short, loud crack. The excitement in the chill disappeared as pain shot from her hip. The cold now painful as each hot tear streamed down her face. With tear filled eyes, blurred colored lights appeared with shouting, but she couldn’t pay attention. All that she understood was the slight prick in her arm.

She was woke in a bed with blue sheets, wearing an itchy gown. He was in front of her face making noises but she wasn’t awake enough to understand the words. She heard even-toned beeping and panicked. All she could think of was her mom who had passed. Everything seemed to fade away. Later she woke again, more aware, strapped down in some type of contraption. Her dad came to her side and whispered to her quietly, saying he was sorry. “What happened?” she asked panicking, afraid she was dying.

“Last night, at the competition…” Her dad looked down, his eyes holding back tears. “…when you fell…” He paused to slow the pain. He whispered, “The doctor said you might never walk again, forget skating.” Another round of tears drew out of both of them.

Four months later, the doctor said she could go but she would need serious physical therapy if she hoped to take steps again. At her physical therapy session, legs were moved back and forth, left and right. She knew what was happening but what had been easy was now tricky. It hurt her so much but she showed no pain; she needed to skate again, to hear the blade cutting through the cold ice, the wind flying around, and the freedom.

Every day she begged her dad to help her stretch her muscles to be able build them up again. Three months later she could take a few consecutive steps by herself without any support. She was so excited, she hugged everyone around her, collapsing onto them and resting her aching legs. Each day she walked more, forcing her muscles to work, gaining strength and muscle control.

One year after the accident, she felt strong enough to skate. She stepped onto the ice and a rush of energy hit her. She let go of the wall and skated to the middle of the rink and spun, just spun, loving the wind, the cold, the looks, the comfort. She didn’t stop spinning and gliding until the rink closed. That night she fell asleep, whole again. She skated, never letting anything in her way again, afraid to not get another chance.

Author: Kyle Callahan

Hi, I'm Kyle. I'm an advisor at LiHigh School. I've been involved in progressive education since I was in high school. I was an original member (and student representative) of the Progressive Program at Green Mountain College, and for my Master's degree, I attended Goddard College, which started the trend toward progressive education in the 1960s. Along with teaching at LiHigh School, I teach courses in creative writing and communications at Green Mountain College. I live with my wife and daughter in Poultney.

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