I only agree to go ice skating with the girls, because the more time I have on my hands to think, the worse off I become. I want to try and get over Rory, not pine after him.
I thought that over the course of a few days, this feeling would go away and I’d be back to my normal self again. That hasn’t happened.
So, I put on my best smile, meet with the girls and pretend to be having the best time of my life. I try on (at least) three different pairs of skates, before finally settling on a pair that fit my feet. And then I join everyone on the ice.
Harper is instantly at my side. I haven’t been out here for longer than five seconds and she’s already scoped me out amongst the crowd.
“Congrats on getting one of the highest results in the class Skye.”
I try to keep up with her. My left leg gets in the way of the other and I fall backwards onto my bum. A sharp shooting pain lingers there and I wince at the sudden discomfort. Harper extends a hand and I allow her to help me back up. I grip onto the side frame and pat down my wet bottom.
Harper is holding back a laugh. “Go on. Let it out,” I tell her firmly.
At that, she throws her head back, her whole body shaking with laughter. I find myself laughing along with her. It was pretty funny. I just hope nobody caught my embarrassing moment on film.
“I hate this,” I confess, glancing down at myself. “I look ridiculous. I don’t even know why I agreed to come here. I can’t even skate.”
“Let me teach you then.”
She grabs hold of my arm and starts leading me towards the middle of the ice.
I cling onto her for dear life. “Woah! What the heck are you doing Harper? I want to go back! Are you trying to kill me?” I screech, as we pass more expert skaters that, let’s be honest, are only here to show off.
“It’s okay Skye. I’m not going to let you go. Trust me.”
I swallow down my nerves, as she takes us on a short journey around the rink. Sheryl waves to us frantically and in doing so, causes a traffic jam. A group of people collide into the back of her and they all fall down one by one.
We move around the rink several times for me to get used to it and it’s actually not so bad. I’m having an okay time.
I turn to Harper. “I want to see if I can get from here, to over there on my own,” I point to where the fence is, just a short distance away.
“Are you sure?”
“Alright. I’m going to let you go now then. And remember, don’t worry about falling. Forget about the ice. Just pretend you’re walking on solid ground.”
Right. I can do that.
Slowly, her arm is lowered and I stand on the ice alone. I carefully place one foot in front of the other, staggering slightly.
Baby steps. That’s all it takes.
Don’t fall. Don’t fall. Don’t fall.
The sun is going down and I suck in the cold air. I’m glad I’ve done this. It’s been nice to let my hair down and enjoy a day out with my friends for a change. I didn’t realize how enjoyable this would be.
I reach the safety of the fence and punch the air. “I made it!”
Harper is doing her own little victory dance on the ice and I’m smiling hard. “Woo! Go Skye!”
My moment of happiness lasts for a split-second, until I’m brought crashing back down . Sadness washes over me and I’m ready to go home.
When our time on the ice is over, I kick off my skates and check my phone.
I’ve had a few missed calls from my mum, but I’ll just see her when I get back.
The bus ride back to Barnett is long and exhausting. The girls are still hyped up from the trip and Sheryl keeps going on about this boy she bumped into on the ice and how friendly he was in escorting her to the other side of the rink.
I mostly stare out the window, avoiding conversation altogether.
My mobile starts ringing again, just as my eyes close. I accept the call and lower the phone to my ear. “Hello?” I yawn.
“Skye, are you on your way home?” Mum asks.
I jolt awake. “Yes. Why? Is everything okay?” I press.
“Yeah. Everything’s fine.” She says and I sigh in relief. “I just wanted to know when you were getting back.”
“Soon. I think my stop’s next, so I won’t be long.”
“Alright. See you soon.”
An hour later, I’m dropped outside my house. “See you after the Christmas holidays guys!” I shout into the bus.
Harper waves at me. “Bye Skye! Have a nice Christmas!”
The doors close and I cross the road, clutching onto my backpack. I open the door and step inside. The house is quieter than usual.
I rub a hand over my face and let out a long sigh.
As I walk into the living room, I notice that we have company.
When I see who is sitting there, my heart sinks in my chest. “R – Rory?” I splutter, left in a daze.
Rory steps forward, taking in my appearance. He looks at me and I look at him. He opens his mouth and then closes it.
Mum quickly rushes upstairs, leaving us to talk. I thought she might have been up to something. I wonder how long he’s been here.
Rory averts his eyes and takes a step towards me. “Did you have a nice trip?” he asks, looking nervous all of a sudden.
I wrap the cardigan tighter around me. “Yeah. It was good.”
“I hope you don’t mind me being here. I just… I wanted to say goodbye.”
“What do you mean? Where are you going?”
“Things have gotten more complicated with my Grandmother, so my Aunt has offered to take over and look after Jenny as well. I’m leaving tomorrow… but I couldn’t go without seeing you first.”
Tears prick my eyes. Panic fills my lungs. “You’re leaving? Just like that?”
He cups the side of my face and I can’t help but draw closer to him. “It kills me to stay here and watch you hurting because of me. I don’t want you to feel uncomfortable or continue hating me from afar. It’ll be easier for you if I’m gone.”
No, it wouldn’t. Don’t go.
The words don’t leave my mouth.
I stare at him, but he doesn’t even glance at me. I don’t want to lose him again, but that’s exactly what I’m doing.
Why can’t I admit my feelings? Why is it so difficult?
“I don’t hate you Rory,” I say, biting on my lip so I don’t start crying.
A flash of sadness crosses his features, and it takes my breath away. Tears stream down my cheeks and there really is no point in hiding anymore.
“Have you changed your mind? I need to know. If you honestly don’t want me, you’ll never have to see me again.”
That’s not what I want.
The words are stuck in my throat.
“Even if we did have a relationship, there is no guaranteeing that we’ll be able to survive it.”
He wraps his arms around me, holding me close. I bury my face in his shirt and he rests his chin on the top of my head.
“Can’t we try?” He pleads.
I shake my head. “No. I’m sorry.”
He pulls away, and that familiar warmth disappears with him. He doesn’t spare me a glance. “Goodbye Skye.”
The whole house shakes as he closes the door behind him.
What am I doing? This is not what I want.
I yank the door open and glance down the street. He’s halfway down the road when I get to him.
“Rory!” He doesn’t turn around. “I love you!” I screech, probably waking the whole neighbourhood with that declaration.
He stops and slowly turns, his eyes widening in surprise. “What did you say?”
I storm up to him. “It’s taken me way too long to admit it, but I do love you Rory. I didn’t like what I became when you weren’t there. I don’t want you to go. That’s the last thing I want,” I say, all at once.
Rory’s mouth twitches and then a smile stretches across his face. His eyes are glimmering.
“You love me?”
“Yes! Do I need to shout it from the rooftops?”
“Well, I wouldn’t mind.”
I hit him across the shoulder and then he closes the space between us, placing his lips to mine softly. I lean into him and let him take the lead, as we cling to each other desperately. He cups the back of my neck with one hand and hugs me to him with the other.
It’s hot. Fast. Not nearly enough.
Reluctantly I pull away, both of us breathing hard. “I’m sorry for everything,” he says. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s fine. We can try to move on.” he tucks a strand of loose hair behind my ear. “So, what does this mean?” I ask him. “Where do we go from here?”
“Well, I suppose, since we happen to love each other, we should probably go on lots of dates.”
I give his lips another peck. “Sounds like a good idea.”
“We’ll figure out the rest when it happens.”
I have learned that it’s okay to love. Love is powerful – dangerous, but also exhilarating and beautiful. It’s not perfect like in the movies. It can be painful, yet amazing when you find the right person. Most importantly, I’m on the road to finding myself.
“I love you Skye Clemons,” he says, looking down at me.
For once in my life, I’m able to say those words back.