Red Roller Skates

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Red Roller Skates

The alley of cottonwoods rustled in the summer breeze as the gang of boys from her school gathered at the junction. A ramp marked the private lane to the door factory and estate. Grey smoke billowed from pallid brick chimneys. She looked up between the two rows of giant trees, their crowns held the band of baby boy blue. They teased her with scraps of peer talk. Their roller skates screeching on the hot tarmac. They dared to skate the lane while one of them watched out for cars. She lived just up the road. From her upstairs gable window she overviewed the scene. But not that day. She had put on the new roller skates she got on her birthday. Their red colour seemed to betray her secret scheme. She sneaked over to the lane when no one else was there, in the evening light, when the gang had gone home for dinner. She skated tentatively first. Bolder and faster she got with every passing day relishing the feeling of exultation when she sped along. It was of freedom, defiance and weightlessness. All of a sudden they appeared out of thin air. The boys. Two of them only had her face pushed into the winter snow a few months ago. The dread was recompiling. They circled her, mocked her red roller skates. Nobody could help her now she knew. Her family would be in the back of the house, out of view. She considered shouting but her voice was subdued by angst. Once more she looked up to the sky between the towering trees, her guard of honour. She turned towards the mob and struck a deal. The one that wins would be granted a wish. They held their bellies in spasms of laughter. But curiosity prevailed. They lined up. The watcher of the lane counted down. The race was on. Ere the last cottonwoods signalled the finish line the mood of the chase had changed.

She looks out over where her red roller skates adorn the deck. Every lace speaks of an astonished boy face, every eyelet of an exclamation of disbelief for on that evening she had won the race and her wish was granted.

Excerpt from the manuscript of “The Nut-Shell Tales”

Upcoming Short Story Collection by Andrea Connolly

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