Skaters

Skaters

A Story by roarke
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A seasonal tale

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A line of ice skaters scuffed their blades along a frozen creek that wound between stubbled rural fields. Above them, a full winter moon had started to dissolve, fading away, fizzing as it went. The skaters slid haphazard along the winding creek, the fine grind of their blades muffled by dry, bare thicket and spike grass deep in winter slumber. The farm land on either side was untilled, fallow. None of the skaters had brought any food or canteens with them only their ice skates and dark woolen coats, scarves and hats. The group ranged in ages from young to old, they didn’t seem related by family or obligation. The dissolving moon cast a dulling glow on the surface of the ice, but none of them thought about what would happen if the moonlight were suddenly extinguished. At this hour of the night, none of them were thinking of very much at all. Far off in the unseen distance, a lone dog barked, barely audible above the scraping of their skates. The group continued along the creek’s bends, stretching further into wilderness without anyone taking a position of leader. Every so often, some spun in little circles, their mittened hands waving up and down. Some helped each other from periodic falls. If they noticed the diminishing moonlight, none mentioned it aloud. Snow crystals blew off the upper bank of the creek when the wind gusted, making a tinkling sound, the temperature dropped, but the skaters never felt the wind down on the frozen creek bed. There were sixteen travelers until at one point -a narrow, frigid part of the creek- one of the skaters stopped,  letting his arms fall to his sides. An older boy, not yet a man. He stood and looked after the swaying backs of the group continuing on. The boy knelt down and removed his tie-on blades from his boots, stood and looked once more at the group, now further away, their forms harder to distinguish from shadows.  A long stream of breath trailed from the boy's mouth as he hung his head and turned in the direction he previously traveled. He walked alone on the frozen creek bed, re-tracking scar marks on the ice around bends and twists. A dipping wind lifted his chaffed chin and he could just barely make out the signal of the barking dog. The boy climbed the snowy creek bank and headed in the direction of the dog's lone call. 


© 2016 roarke



Author's Note

roarke
Where these little diddies come from, I have no clue. Probably comes from my formative years obsessed with Etch-a-Sketch......

Critiques and comments most welcome

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Featured Review

i'm reminded of Jack London's Call of the Wild as i finish this work. you have a finely-tuned knack for leading a reader on a softly rotating journey, just like these skaters you describe. i appreciate how this piece concludes with what i see to be the boy moving toward his distant calling. to me there is a latent message that we should take that risk of following those calls as they shower upon us, and discard our fears and overpower them with will toward courage. beautiful work, good man. as always, i'm impressed and honored to read your work on this site.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

roarke

1 Year Ago

Thank you for your reading time and humbling compliments. Glad you enjoyed the story.



Reviews

This small perfectly formed story seems to me very filmic. I could see the storyboard entire in my mind and that is a testament to how fine it is.

Posted 9 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

roarke

9 Months Ago

thank you Ken. Every time I write something like this, I know there's more to be said, ... just not .. read more
i'm reminded of Jack London's Call of the Wild as i finish this work. you have a finely-tuned knack for leading a reader on a softly rotating journey, just like these skaters you describe. i appreciate how this piece concludes with what i see to be the boy moving toward his distant calling. to me there is a latent message that we should take that risk of following those calls as they shower upon us, and discard our fears and overpower them with will toward courage. beautiful work, good man. as always, i'm impressed and honored to read your work on this site.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

roarke

1 Year Ago

Thank you for your reading time and humbling compliments. Glad you enjoyed the story.
Where do they come from? I often ask the same question. At any rate, this has a menacing feeling to it. Reminds me of the ballad of the Big Muddy, without the Captain. Nice sketch.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

roarke

1 Year Ago

Thanks SF, appreciate the read and comment.
I really love little vignettes like this & yours is fresh & unexpected. Thru-out the first half, especially, you made vivid use of imagery, using all the senses. I was transported to a snowy hillside, observing these folks, mystified by the final scene. There's a sense of foreboding & the reader is expecting something bad to happen. But since this is an open-ended story, we'll imagine the worst instead. Good job.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

roarke

1 Year Ago

Ah, life is made of moments, not time. I'm surprised at how you might have taken the ending, whether.. read more
barleygirl

1 Year Ago

Thanks for the added insight on your ending. I definitely had not analyzed it that much, but I like .. read more
One of things a good anecdote has over a classic plot/conflict/climax/denouement issue short story is that it gently pushes to a certain spot and then allows us to extrapolate from there--and so this, with its finely-tuned descriptions leading up to the departure of the manchild. Done without this level of skill, the piece would seem to be pretty thin soup, but this is a damn meal.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

roarke

1 Year Ago

Thanks W.k. I'm still messing around with "reader narrative input" concepts, still new and unfamilia.. read more
This comment has been deleted by the website administrators.
These finely written words conjured crisp visual images. A keen observer, you are. The boy who ceased to follow the others and followed the dog's bark is an interesting development that could easily be pursued.

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 2 people found this review constructive.

roarke

1 Year Ago

thanks Sam, yes I do want to do something connected with the why and hows etc of the dog barking for.. read more
I had an Etch-a -Sketch of a earthquake ruined by the Mona Lisa...or was it the other way around....have had many a night like the one you describe here...only not skating...i can barely stand to two feet..lol

Posted 1 Year Ago


1 of 2 people found this review constructive.


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Added on February 9, 2016
Last Updated on February 9, 2016
Tags: flash fiction, short story, fiction, ice skating, rural, off beat, winter, full moon, william calkins, roarke

Author

roarke
roarke

About
Bio I've been a professional teacher, artist and musician for over thirty years and I currently pursue an off-the-grid homesteading lifestyle. I'm continuing life's journey, accepting and creating n.. more..

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