Washington, 1999 — As soon as she stood up, Heather Jones began to regret accepting her eleven-year-old twin nieces’ requests to roller-skate with them.
But she had already promised and she never broke promises.
She started forward and wobbled. The girls watched as she tried to keep her balance. “Have you ever roller-skated before, Aunt Heather?” Courtney asked.
“Uh…once. When I was a kid-whoa!” Heather’s left foot flew out from underneath her and she grabbed the porch railing to catch herself. She brushed back a strand of wavy blonde hair. “Hey, do either of you have a scrunchie I can use to put my hair up?”
Lori came over and handed her a pink one off of her wrist. “Thanks,” Heather said. She sat back down on the bottom step and pulled her hair into a ponytail. “Okay, let’s go.”
“You sure you wanna do this?” Lori asked, blue eyes skeptical.
“Of course,” Heather said. That didn’t sound convincing. “Practice makes perfect, and I really need it.”
“Okay.” The twins chorused, heading for the sidewalk.
“Hey, wait for me!” Heather called after them as she followed. For the first fifteen minutes or so, she managed to keep up without falling once.
“Don’t go too far ahead girls–girls?”
They zoomed down an incline, squealing with delight the whole way. Heather gulped, following.
As she came down, she noticed a young man with messy red hair sitting at the bus stop near the bottom of the hill. The twins came to a stop near him and watched as she came past without trying to stop.
“Aunt Heather, look out!”
A pair of arms grabbed her around the waist and pulled her away from going into the street.
“Oh, th-thank you,” she said to the man. “I-I don’t know why I wasn’t stopping myself.”
“You’re welcome,” he replied.
“Are you okay, Aunt Heather?” Lori asked. Heather nodded, making her way to the bus stop bench and taking off the roller skates. “Sorry, girls. Maybe another time.”
“You were right, Aunt Heather,” Courtney said. “You really do have to practice.”
“You think?” Heather said. She sighed and rubbed her forehead. “The things I get myself into sometimes…”
“Eh, it happens to everyone at some point or another,” the man said, sticking his hands in his jean pockets.
“True,” Heather said. She looked up at him, noting his eyes were light brown, close to an amber shade.
“I’m Heather, by the way,” she said. “Not that it matters, but…” She shrugged.
He smiled. “I’m Ethan,” he said. “Ethan Robinson.”
© 2018 H.S. Kylian
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(This post was last updated June 19, 2019)