Since I was 4 years old, I wanted to become one of the top skaters in the world. I saw my mom praising my older sister, Melanie every time she succeeded in her jumps and spins. I had to be better than Melanie so Mom would be more proud of me. I started going to the skating classes which I had begged for out of jealousy. But was this the right choice?
“No-like this! You have to be more graceful here. Soft… yes! No, keep your speed!” My coach, Maggie, is instructing me for the competition next month. It’s important, so I’m working on my practices harder than I usually do.
Coach Maggie flashes her turquoise eyes at me.
“Let’s perform the whole program once, shall we Hannah?”
“Sure…,” I say with a yawn. The next moment, she slaps me on my face.
“What was that for?” I scowl at her.
“You were yawning. “Pull yourself together when we’re practicing, okay? Or you’re the one who’s going to get hurt,” she chides, putting in the CD. I roll my eyes and grunt.
Then the music starts. It’s the Phantom of the Opera. The music of the murderer who got his face ruined by vitriol and tries to make his daughter a star, by appearing on the stage with a mask.
My first jump is a triple axel with my right hand up. My heart starts to thump faster and harder. Cold sweat trickles down my spine.
Here we go! I kick out my right foot behind, consciously using my outside edge and jump. Something’s wrong. Really wrong. Too much force and speed into the jump? Can I land properly? Suddenly, I recall the burning pain in my left calf that I damaged long time ago, by crashing down from my triple axel-double toe loop combination. It’s the same situation as that appalling incident, this jump is, and I’m using too much force and speed….Fear overwhelms me which gives me an adrenaline rush. I tuck my arms hard, my eyes trying to shut; my whole body disobeys my orders. It’s stiff like stone, ready to fall flat on the solid ice.
I want to close my eyes now, I’m going to fall….
Contrary to my estimation, I landed perfectly on my axel. Probably better than usual. If this was a competition, this jump would’ve been highly evaluated for its good-looks. But how…how did this happen?
“Wonderful jump you’ve got there! How did you manage it so well?” Coach skated toward me with her admirably long legs.
“I don’ t know…. It just came out of nowhere. I was gliding in for the jump and the next thing I know, I thought I was going to crash onto the ice, but I just…didn’t,” I explained, still struggling to understand how this miracle could’ve happened.
My mind started to race. Why not doing it again? I still remember the exact sensation I got at the time. It made my blood freeze and to my surprise, I was also enjoying that thrill. The icy cold breeze sweeping across my flaming hot cheeks; my vision was blurring; there was a ringing in my ears. My mind was going crazy, I couldn’t think straight. I jumped upwards with intensity unlike my usual self, and consequently, I landed clean.
“You know what? Nothing comes out of nowhere. Perhaps you should try it again to see if it wasn’t just a spur of the moment,” Coach Maggie insisted vigorously. I positioned myself, imagining my jump in slow motion like the wire frame computer image. I wanted to jump that fabulous axel again and enjoy the pleasant feeling from the adrenaline rush in spite the soreness in my knees. Yea, I know I’m getting addicted to it. Though it’s okay right? It’s not like I’m using marijuana or heroin.
I glanced towards Coach Maggie and the music started. Remembering the steps, I danced carefully yet strenuously to where I jumped my axel before. With all my heart, I leapt into the air, rotating three and a half times. Nervously, I came back down, positive of my perfect landing. But instead, I was thrown hard onto the rigid surface of the rink.
“God!” I suddenly felt a piercing sensation in my left knee like someone just stabbed me with a knife. I can’t stand this pain anymore, my eyes begin to water, interfering with my sight, and they start to overflow. Torrents of tears come streaming down my face. I rub my eyes, but it continues running like it doesn’t know how to stop.
Coach Maggie comes running towards me with a horrified face.
“Are you okay? Does anything hurt?” she inquired, rubbing my back with her bony hands.
“My…knee…,” was all I could say. The pain was distressful, I could barely speak. If I let my voice out, I might shriek in agony which will disturb the other skates here. So I just keep on massaging my swelling knee furiously.
“Let me take you to the hospital. You might have broken your leg,” Coach mumbled, staring apologetically at my knee. She carried me on her back to her red Porsche outside. Until I reached the nearby hospital, I was crouching on her back or was in the car, holding my knees tight. So I barely remembered what I saw until the doctor took the X-rays of my swollen leg. The doctor called me into his room with a serious look in his eyes, and proclaimed that my knee was gravely damaged; it needs approximately 3 months or more to recover.
I couldn’t believe him at first. It was shocking to know that I can’t compete in the regional championships that’s in a month. It’s the ticket to go to the next National Figure Skating Championships (Nationals). And now, it’s gone. I collapse onto the floor, dejected by the news.
What am I going to do now? Do some rehab? It’s outrageous not being able to skate….
Two months had passed and I’m possible of walking, but not fully recovered to do the jumps and spins. I even tripped over when I was doing the basic crossovers!
I’m lost…. All these months, I’ve spent time stretching and training but what is the point in doing this? I never really liked skating anyway. I just wanted to be a normal teenage girl, doing perfectly normal things.
Just when I was thinking of quitting my skating classes, a male journalist came rushing in, taking pictures of me.
“NO journalists! Now get out or I’ll call the police!” Coach Maggie yelled at him in an impolite manner.
“Hey, let me talk to the guy for a moment, Coach,” I called out.
“…WHAT? No YOU stay away from this man, Hannah,” she warned me anxiously, shooting a meaningful glance.
“Why? He’s not going to harm me or anything, right?” I eyed him to go out and I also dashed out.
“Hannah!” I heard her screaming at me, but I ignored her and kept on jogging to my secret hiding place: the back of the ice cream shop, diagonally to the front of the skating rink.
“Thanks for helping out, kid,” the guy said with a relaxed smile.
“No problem. Ow!” My knee started to hurt again, thanks to running down over here.
“Yea, it’s just that I broke my leg a couple of months ago.” I sighed.
“Then it’s not okay! You should go back to that rink and have you looked by a doc,” the journalist advised me.
“No, I’m never EVER going back there EVER!” I demanded.
“What happened to you? What’s going on?”
“Have you ever felt lost, like ‘why am I doing this?’ ”
“Yes, and I know a couple of skaters who used to think that.”
“Yea, that’s what’s going on. I don’t want to skate anymore, I feel like I’m back to being a 4-year-old, not being able to skate like I want to.” I drop my gaze.
“Oh…. But you know what? Most of the great skaters who are injured usually feel the same way you do now. Though they don’t just give up their dream. You must have had something you liked about skating to have kept you doing this for so long. Believe in yourself, I know you can do it.”
“Do what?” I asked nonchalantly.
“Going to the Nationals (National Figure Skating Championships) again of course!” he exclaimed.
“W…what do you even know about me?” I challenged.
“You forgot what job I’m doing? I know a lot about you. You’re Hannah Alexander, age 17, goes to Fitzburg high, got 2nd place at the 2009 Nationals….” “Oh…. So you do know a bit about me,” I interrupted him.
He smiled chivalrously. “Yes.”
“And what is your name?”
“Rob. Robert Kingsley.”
“Nice to meet you, Robert. You… never mind.” I put my hand out in front of him to shake hands.
“Me too, and what about me?” he asked with a quizzical look and thrust his hand out. Just when we were about to shake our hands, his black berry rang.
“Oh, sorry it’s from our office. I’d better take it.”
“Sure, I don’t mind,” I said and looked up at the clear blue sky, closing my eyes shut and remembering the fun times I had here.
“Sorry, I really have to go now.” I told Robert apologetically. All this time, why haven’t I noticed? I loved skating and its part of my life, I can’t quit for such a small injury!
“Go! Let me see your improved performance next competition!” he said cheerfully and pushed my back.
I grinned and took off to where I belong.
Six months after the accident, I was already back to normal, or even better. And miraculously, I was even nominated to skate in the Nationals tomorrow despite the injury!
Right now, I feel like I can do it tomorrow, to take 1st place this time.