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Sitting on the bench at the edge of the frozen lake, Shari let out a long sigh. Trying to push away feelings of loneliness and despair, she blinked back tears. She needed to forget Tom. He had cheated on her, blamed her for it, and then broke up with her. Even two months later, sometimes the sadness still overwhelmed her. How could she ever trust someone again? Was a good relationship even possible?
She stared out at the icy scene and shook her head, ignoring the biting wind that swept her hair across her face. It didn’t matter. She needed to simply decompress and get over him. The view of the lake helped her relax and let go of the anguish. There had to be better days ahead. And for now, she needed to simply enjoy the day.
As she gazed out over the frozen lake, she became aware of a solitary man skating across the slick ice. His graceful moves on the ice were mesmerizing and she could not look away. There was something soothing, calming, and even exhilarating in watching him skate so effortlessly and beautifully.
Focusing on the young man skating, she began to relax. He was easy to watch and it was gratifying being lost in his movements. Handsome and graceful, he flew across the ice with flowing, elegant moves. After watching him for an hour, she felt relaxed and more at peace. She sent a silent thank-you to the young man, and she left.
Over the next week, she found herself drawn to the frozen lake at the same time every day, hoping to see the attractive stranger. He was there almost every day. She had no idea who he was or what his story was, but she felt like she could watch him skate for hours and never be bored. Watching him helped her believe that a better future was possible.
She wondered what he did when he wasn’t on the ice, and she was lost in her thoughts when he suddenly skated toward her and slid to a stop in front of her at the edge of the grass.
He looked at her, a shy smile on his handsome face. After hesitating a few moments, he waved at her.
Biting her lower lip, Shari smiled and waved back. His smile grew wider, and then he turned and skated off.
Heat moved through her, and she was even more intrigued now. Whoever he was, something about him touched her, and she wished she could have a chance to get to know him. Maybe not all men were bad.
The following day, she couldn’t wait to get to the lake, and she arrived early, eager with anticipation. Not seeing him right away, a wave of disappointment moved through her, and she wondered if he would show.
Then he was there, smoothly skating across the ice, and she could not stop smiling. He seemed to look right at her, and she tentatively waved. His face lit up and he waved back, then skated toward her. Was he carrying something? She wasn’t sure.
He reached the edge of the grass and gave a small smile. “Hello.” His voice was deep, smooth, and warm.
Feeling excited but also shy and wary, Shari licked her lips and answered softly. “Hello.”
“I’m Kevin. What’s your name?”
He nodded. “Do you ice skate?”
She shrugged. “Not since I was a kid. I liked it back then, but I fell and hurt myself and never skated again.”
His smile grew bigger. “Would you like to skate with me?”
“I don’t have—”
“Here. I have something for you.” He brought one hand forward from behind his back and held out a pair of white ice skates. “See if these fit.”
He walked across the grass to the bench where she sat and held them toward her. “They were my sister’s. You look about her size. Maybe they’ll fit you.”
“Are you sure? I—”
“Yes, please.” He sat down next to her, and his voice was warm and soft. “I would be honored if you would try them.”
“Okay.” Shari took off her shoes and tried on the skates. At first they seemed a bit loose, but when she stood up, her feet filled them out better, and they were surprisingly comfortable. “I think they fit.”
“They look good on you.” He stood up and held out his hand. “Shari, would you please join me?”
“I don’t think I’m very good, and I’m still a bit scared of the ice, and—”
“Please.” His face reflected kindness and hope, and she felt herself flush.
She took his hand, and the warmth of his hand enveloped hers, spreading through her.
He led her down the grass to the ice and supported her as she gingerly stepped onto the smooth surface of the frozen lake.
She looked nervously at him. “I’m a bit scared. I haven’t skated in years.”
He still held her hand, and he squeezed it gently. “It’s okay, I’ll help you. You’ll be fine.”
Feeling a bit wobbly and unsure, she glanced at his face. He was watching her, ready to support her and hold her steady.
Kevin smiled and leaned toward her. “Just relax and let me lead you.”
Standing just behind her and slightly to one side, his arm firmly around her, he guided her farther out on the ice, starting slow and gradually building up speed. Feeling supported and stable in his arms, she relaxed into a skating stance and let him lead her.
As they glided over the ice, she felt nervous but giddy, and she became more comfortable as they skated. His firm support helped her feel comfortable and confident, and she enjoyed it more and more as they skated. They flew across the ice, the wind brisk on her face, and she wondered why she ever stopped skating all those years ago.
His voice was reassuring as he leaned in and relaxed his grip. “Just relax and keep going. You’ll be fine. Trust me.” Then he spun around in front of her, his hands firmly holding hers, as he gracefully skated backward, pulling her forward. His eyes sparkled and shone with delight as he watched her.
At one point, she began to wobble. He laughed, spun back behind her, and, supporting her firmly, guided her across the ice as though it were second nature to him.
Elated and exuberant, Shari felt like they were flying. She felt her soul and spirit soar, as they swiftly and effortlessly moved and danced across the frozen lake.
About thirty minutes later, he guided her back to the grassy bank, and he gently supported her as they walked across the grass and sat on the bench.
He squeezed her hand. “Thank you for joining me and for trusting me. I hope you enjoyed that.”
She laughed. “Thank you. That was amazing and so much fun. And you are incredible — you skate so well. How are you that good? And why are you out here every day?”
“I am a skating instructor, and I love to skate. I teach ice skating at a rink a few miles from here, and, when the weather allows, I come here on my own for the pure joy of it.”
“You are beautiful to watch.”
His eyes sparkled. “So are you.”
Shari giggled nervously. “You said these are your sister’s skates. She won’t mind me using them?”
A deep sadness moved across his face. “She was injured a few years ago. She used to love to skate. But she was in an accident and never fully recovered. Then …” His eyes watered and he looked away for a minute before he could continue. “She died last year.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry.”
“But this is good. You have given her skates new life. She would be happy to see them being used.”
“Was she as good as you are?”
He smiled. “She was very good. She used to compete in various competitions.” He shook his head, lost in thought. “After her accident, I used to take her, in her wheelchair, out on the ice, and I’d push her around. She loved that.”
“You were very good to her.”
He gazed into her eyes. “Would you please have dinner with me?”
Over the next few months, their friendship quickly blossomed into a passionate and intense romance, and Shari moved in with him a year later. Two years after that, Shari gazed into Kevin’s eyes. “You’ll be okay,” she said to him.
Kevin shook his head and sighed. “I know, but it’s so frustrating. I hate the recovery from surgery and not being able to do what I love. I need to skate.”
“I know, sweetheart. But you’ll be fine. The knee replacement surgery was successful, and now you just need time to recover.” She stroked his face. “And I’ll help you every step of the way.”
“Thank you,” he said softly. “I just wish I could put on my skates and fly across the ice again.”
“You will. Just give yourself time to heal.” Shari sat up straight. “Hey, I have an idea. Do you remember what you did for your sister?” He turned to look at her, and she continued. “You pushed her in her wheelchair across the ice. I can do that for you.”
“What? No, that’s not—”
“Please let me do that. You’ve spent your life helping others. And you do so much for me. Let me do this for you. Please.”
Kevin gazed at her and then smiled. “Are you sure?”
“Yes! Absolutely. In fact, let’s do it now.”
He laughed. “You can’t be serious. I can barely walk right now.”
“Exactly. And that’s the point. This will bring joy back and remind you of what you have to look forward to.”
He fixed his eyes on her and then finally nodded. “Okay. Maybe that will lift my spirits.”
Thirty minutes later, Shari parked the SUV next to the frozen lake. Heart pumping with excitement, she got the wheelchair from the back, brought it to the side of the car, and helped Kevin get into it.
He snorted. “This is weird.”
“This is amazing,” she answered. “You’re gonna love this.”
She put on her ice skates and wheeled Kevin to the edge of the ice. “Ready?”
“I guess.” He chuckled. “It feels strange, though.”
“Hold on,” Shari said. “I’m not a skating expert like you, but this will still be fun.”
She pushed the wheelchair onto the ice, held onto the handles, and skated forward. The chair kept her stable and boosted her confidence, and she skated faster, gliding the chair out into the middle of the lake, sliding across the smooth surface.
Kevin started laughing. Then he whooped and hollered and laughed more as they flew across the ice.
Finally, Shari headed back toward the grassy area, skating and pushing the chair as she went. When they got back into the SUV, Kevin turned to her. “I can’t thank you enough for that,” he said.
Shari smiled. “You’re very welcome. I loved that too.”
Kevin let out a long breath and stared out the window.
After they were back home, Kevin reached forward and ran his fingers through Shari’s hair. “That was amazing, and for so many reasons. First, I was able to experience a little of what my sister felt all those years ago.” He shook his head. “And even more than that, you brought me such immense joy and showed me what I have to look forward to. I was so caught up in fear and pain and frustration … but you changed all of that into a positive. You gave me hope again. Thank you.”
“I’m glad, sweetheart. I would do anything to help you.”
He gazed at her. “Hey, can you do one more thing for me?”
“Yes, of course, anything. What is it?”
“Would you please marry me,” he murmured.
She smiled and kissed him. “Yes. A million times, yes.”
“And I want to get married on the ice.”
She laughed. “That sounds perfect.” She kissed him again, lingering there. “The ice has given us so much.”
“Yes, it has. And this is a way of honoring that and giving back.”
“I wish your sister could be here.”
His face softened. “We are honoring her as well, as her skates helped to bring us together.”
“Yes, and we met there on the ice.”
Kevin picked up her hand and gently kissed her palm. “And you woke up something in me that I didn’t think I could ever feel. You are incredibly special.”
Shari blinked back tears as her eyes burned. “And you helped me learn to trust again and to overcome my fears. You are very special too.”
She leaned in and pressed her lips to his, the kiss deepening and growing more passionate. “Giving back is a good thing.”
“It sure is,” he murmured, as he reached for her and kissed her again.
Copyright © 2021 Lynn Miclea. All Rights Reserved.
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