Chris sat across from his father and watched as ancient eyes searched for a landmark. “What year is it?” the old man finally asked.
“I’m not sure,” Chris replied. “I was hoping you could tell me.”
Chris did a quick calculation. His father would have been twelve.
“What’s it like?”
“Sunny,” he said, his wrinkled face transformed by a boyish smile. “My mom just…” Confusion clouded his expression and he abruptly sat back from the table, demanding. “Who are you?” A few seconds later he leaned forward and whispered, “Look, I’m sorry if we’ve met before, but…there’s something wrong.”
“No need to be sorry. I’m Chris.”
“Chris,” he pleaded, “do you know who I am?”
“I’m Nathaniel,” he said, eyes brightening. “So why are you here Chris?”
“I came to see my dad.”
The old man glanced around the room. “You be sure and remind him what a good son he has.”
I read about it in the newspaper. On the third page, which was weird because they usually put murders on the front page. I hadn’t seen her since that night at the roller rink, but I felt sadder than when my sister died. The roller rink was another world. Everything was reversed. Kids like me, who lived south of the tracks, we grew up in nice houses and went to church and got good grades and wore nice clothes and graduated from high school and went to college. Kids from the north end, all they ever did was fight and smoke Marlboros and give themselves shitty tattoos. I started dating a girl from the north end. She took me to the roller rink, and it was filled with kids who never did anything but fight and smoke Marlboros and give themselves shitty tattoos. Except now they were roller skating. Now they were rhythmic and graceful and artistic. Guys who’d put a knife to your throat for questioning their masculinity were pirouetting like ballerinas. I laced up my skates, stood, fell. My girlfriend helped me up, led me into the flow. Charlie Eckers, a crazy north ender who’d been expelled for spitting on a teacher, raced by then spun around and faced me. Skating backwards, he reached out and took my hands, said I was doing fine, told me to push sideways with my feet. A couple of rounds later, he let go and disappeared into the throng. My girlfriend was talking with some classmates wearing heavy blue eye shadow, the kind that looks like pool chalk. They were rumored to be sluts. All girls from the north end were rumored to be sluts. The next night I went alone. A pretty girl with dirty blond hair skated up and grabbed my arm. She was young, maybe thirteen or fourteen, but she already had those pool chalk eyes. She knew my name and told me hers. A few minutes later someone called it. She kissed my cheek and skated away like she was born on those little wheels. Later, I heard she wanted to fuck me. That’s what her friend told me, anyway. Exact words. I only went to the roller rink one other time, and she wasn’t there. I wonder if she’d still be alive if I’d fucked her. Not fucked. Hung out. Talked. Become friends. When she was older, I’d ask her to be my girlfriend. Maybe we’d get married. Have kids. We could go to the roller rink and watch them skate.
After receiving an MA in Mass Communications, Marc X unknowingly began a career as an advertising copywriter. His work would take him to Japan and eventually Singapore, where he has resided for the past 25 years. He currently enjoys writing short stories and micro fiction – the fewer words, the better.