Okay, I was scared. I admit it. You would be, too, if you knew how guys talk in the locker room at hockey practice. If anyone found out what I was doing at Rum River Ice Arena that early in the morning in the middle of summer vacation, I’d be dead meat.
“See you tomorrow, Ben.” Shannon held the door so I could get my bike through. The heat of the sauna that is Minnesota summer hit me. It was just getting fired up at this hour.
“Yeah.” I scanned the parking lot to be sure no one was looking. I wouldn’t want anyone thinking I was like Norman B. Skagway, the Third, a.k.a. Skag the—well, you know what I mean. I’m not. But if one of the guys saw me coming out of the skating rink at this hour, he might ask questions. I could hit harder than anybody else on the hockey team—they don’t call me ‘Copperhead’ just because of the color of my hair—but that’s not what I was doing there at that hour.
“Excuse me.” Madeleine pushed past, dragging a pink suitcase on wheels with a goofy picture of a Barbie doll in figure skates on it.
Her case ran over my toes. “Ouch!”
“Well, get out of the way! Why do you bring your bike in here anyways?” Maddie was only eight, but I guess hanging out with ‘big kids’ like Shannon made her think she was one of us. “It’s not like anyone’s going to steal it.” She flicked her yellow ponytail off her shoulder.
Shannon cleared her throat, and I tried not to look at her. Nobody was on the tennis courts. Only a couple old people in sweats jogged around the football field.
“Bike thieves, huh?” Shannon let the door swing shut. It caught my shoulder and squashed me between my bike and the doorframe. She gave me a disgusted look. “I may be new to Rum River, but I’m not stupid. In a town this small someone would recognize your bike if it were stolen.” I couldn’t exactly tell her that being recognized was what I was afraid of.
Skag reached from behind me and pushed the door open again. “I’ll help you, Ben.” He knew what kind of talk would go on in the locker room if anyone found out I was here.
The only other person in sight was Shannon’s mom, waiting in the SUV for Shannon to describe every minute of her practice. She would be inside supervising if Shannon let her.
“Hey, Shannon,” Skag said as we stepped outside. “Wanna come over later and play computer games? I got this really cool one.”
Skag might have a name that made you want to puke, but his father got him all the latest electronic gizmos. I guess it wasn’t his fault he got stuck with that name, after all, he was ‘the Third.” But I couldn’t believe he had the guts to ask a drop-dead-gorgeous girl like Shannon over. I chewed the inside of my cheek. Why didn’t I ask her?
“See ya, Norman,” Shannon said. Skag was smiling when he started up the road.
“Bye, Ben,” Maddie called. She heaved her pink case into the back of the SUV. She wasn’t Shannon’s sister, just a neighbor, but she always rode with them. Maddie had a crush on me. I wished it were Shannon.
LeAnne Hardy has lived in six countries on four continents. Her books come out of her cross-cultural experiences and her passion to use story to convey spiritual truths in a form that will permeate lives.
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