Marissa double-knotted the laces on the rented roller skates. The tan high-tops had four bright orange wheels with one wheel studded at the toe to be a makeshift brake.
Sitting on the bench, she rolled her feet forward and back over the worn, star-covered fluorescent carpet.
“I haven’t been on skates in about twenty years,” Marissa said.
“Just twenty?” her friend, Rachel, poked.
Marissa raised her eyebrows and turned her head to the side, questioning the truthfulness of the statement.
“I won’t admit to more than twenty.”
“Don’t worry. I was right there with you,” Rachel said. “Remember skating to the song ‘Supersonic’ by some rap group. I can’t think who.”
“Supersonic, motivating rhymes … la la da da. I forget the rest of the words.”
“I could never hear the words.”
“Because you were skating with the boys!”
Marissa waved off the comment proudly. “Uh, you were too. We had all the guys coming up to us.”
Marissa looked down to her feet laced into roller skates and then up to Rachel.
“They might be coming up to us again, but, this time, for a different reason,” Marissa said.
“We came here tonight, so we’ve got to skate.”
Marissa gripped a nearby chair to prepare to stand. Knowing she would be on her wheels, she had a recurring worry of falling on her ass in front of all the skaters in the rink, the giggling pre-teens and veteran skaters. Her game plan now was to go in circles slowly around the rink and not hit the floor. If momentum and gravity took control, she would grab any wall or anyone for safety.
Her hands tightened on the chair. She heaved herself up. The skates rolled forward, and she bent backwards and forward at her hips to get balance. She held onto the chair for dear life. With very little balance, she feared a black-and-blue butt and, worse, a bruised reputation.
“I’m going to need a lot of support.”
Rachel tried to encourage her. “You’ll be fine. Hang onto me.”
“You, how can I hang on to you? We’ll both be on the floor.”
Marissa took a deep breath and let go of the chair. She grabbed Rachel’s hand. She squeezed tightly.
As they approached the entrance to the hardwood rink, they watched very young kids stomp their skates on the floor, like they were trudging through thick mud. Two giggling girls slowly glided by, while looking across the rink at a cute boy. A teenage guy zipped by in a pair of black skates, florescent green wheels and matching laces. He was flying forward and then spun to roll backward. He was no amateur. And another duo of girls followed him, although they struggled to keep up.
Marissa rolled with Rachel to where the rough carpet and the hardwood of the rink met—what might be considered a cliff.
Laser lights of all colors spun over the floor and up the walls concurrent with the pounding music.
“Oh my! Why did I do this?” Marissa shouted over the music.
Rachel rushed ahead with Marissa in tow before Marissa had a chance to change her mind about skating or be only a spectator on wheels leaning against a waist-high wall. Rachel and Marissa squealed like they had squealed together twenty years ago. Their squeals now were for different reasons.
Marissa’s mind returned to that bygone era.
Marissa was a boy-giddy teenager. She skated easily to the double-time beat of Supersonic, by J.J. Fad. The rink’s oversized speakers blared out the heavy, straight electronic beat. The reverberations rebounding, echoing, around the room, thudding in her chest. The lights swirled overhead and whirled and danced on the hardwood floor. All in precise unison. Bright changing colors, moving in rhythm with J.J. Fad.
The teenage Marissa had no fear of falling. She was smooth and capable on her skates. She raised her hands and grooved to the music and rapped along with the group. Enraptured in the ambiance. Hands raised and hips rocking side to side.
She wore her acid-washed jean shorts and a New Kids On The Block T-shirt. Each face of the boys from Boston bounced on her chest.
Across the rink, she saw Jeff Lass. Cropped dark hair, his strong chin and a tone of tenacity and tomfoolery mixed with a cute butt, all packed in tight jeans. He wore his custom pair of black racer skates. Airbrushed with “L’Ass” on the side of each skate. As much as he was good-looking, he was a showoff.
“There he is,” Marissa said to Rachel.
Rachel was a teenager too with smooth skin and long, teased hair. Marissa always had been intrigued by her blue eyes that knew only what “could be” in life: Boys and cool clothes.
“Should we catch up with him or just fall on our butts? He’d come pick you up, ya know.” Rachel winked as the pair rolled ahead.
“He would, you think?”
Marissa covered her mouth in giddiness. She couldn’t stop this flush of innocent infatuation. She loved the idea of Jeff swooshing over to rescue her, carrying her away to somewhere wonderful. A castle, a picnic along a quiet stream, wherever as long as she was in his strong arms, while his brown eyes stared into her soul, into her inner spirit, desiring to know her.
Across the rink from Jeff, the teenage Rachel and Marissa skated. They were hand in hand, linked together by both the guy and their need for best friend support.
Coming to the turn, Marissa lifted her right foot and crossed over her left, smooth and easy. Then she reversed, turned backwards, to skate facing Rachel, holding both of her hands. It was a skill she hadn’t practiced. It came naturally and was easy.
With his showoff’s speed, L’Ass caught up with them.
“Ladies, lookin’ good and good lookin’.”
And he sailed by.
Marissa’s smile brightened her face, with a whoosh of teen puppy love.
“I think he likes to be called Jeff, not Jeffrey,” Rachel said.
“Really? Do you think he heard me? Is he upset?”
Marissa grimaced at the thought of upsetting the hottest boy around.
“I don’t think he heard you. Just smile back at him. He’ll forgive you. Let him kiss you and you can call him whatever you want.”
“Oh, shut up.” Marissa swatted.
Suddenly, in real-time, Rachel flopped on the floor and brought Marissa down with her. The women laughed together.
“We need a break.”
“We didn’t make it around the rink even once!”
On their feet, the pair struggled along the wall, holding on like it was the cliff’s edge. Finally, they found benches away from the rink.
“I’ve always enjoyed skating with you.” She took Marissa’s hands in hers and nestled them into her lap.
“We began here.”
“Do you remember where?”
Marissa pointed to a corner off the rink.
Marissa looked softly at Rachel. “Could we act it out? It’d be more fun than falling again.”
Like earlier, Rachel helped Marissa onto her wheels.
Beyond the long row of lockers was a small space in the awkward design of the oval, oblong building.
Rachel pushed Marissa in.
“It’s much smaller than when we were fifteen.”
They began to act.
“Ever kissed a boy?” Rachel asked.
“If you’re going to go out with Jeff, you need to know how.”
“Who’s going to teach me?”
“You’ve kissed before?”
“Want me to show you how to kiss?”
Their eyes met, again, just like 20 years ago.
“Want me to?”
Marissa closed her eyes tightly and pooched out her lips.
Rachel grabbed Marissa’s head and pushed her mouth against those pooched lips. A moment later, Marissa tried to pull back, assuming that that was kissing. It was how her parents kissed at home. However, Rachel didn’t let go.
Marissa felt the push of a strong tongue. She loosened her lips and relaxed her mouth. She too started to move her tongue. Hers and Rachel’s tongues touched. Its roughness, wetness, and warmth. Their hands slid across each other’s bodies. Marissa held onto Rachel’s jeans to avoid falling again. Their kissing lasted until Marissa felt a halo of perspiration along her forehead. She broke the kiss.
“Where did you learn to kiss like that?”
“Did you like it?”
“We could go to my house and kiss some more. I know other things to do too. Want to?”
“What about Jeff?”
“Let’s work on kissing each other first. He’s only good on skates. Nothing else.”
“How do you know that?”
“I know boys. And girls should help each other first. We can learn what we like best.”
“Let’s go to my house.”
“To learn more about kissing?”
“Yeah, kissing. We can do more too, if you want.”
“I’ve tried more than just kissing. I loved it all. It makes me warm to think of it.”
“What else have you done?”
Rachel darted her eyes to the floor.
“Everything, even with a guy?”
“No, just with girls. It was amazing. I could not believe what it felt like. I want to show you. Try it with me, please?”
“Of course, I want to. You know, you’re making me feel excited already.”
Rachel ran her thumb over a soft nipple pushing Marissa’s T-shirt.