From “Skating on Thin Ice”
“For the twelfth straight day, the high temperature will only reach single digits, setting a new record—”
I turn off the radio before I can hear the rest of the forecast. When I was a child, weather like this meant the pond behind my parents’ house would be frozen—glass-smooth and hard as tempered steel. We would gather on the shore, where some kind neighbor had lit a bonfire, and alternately toast our faces and our backsides while strapping on the high-topped, sharp-bladed skates.
The unsafe portions of the ice were clearly marked. Ominous red flags warning “Weak Ice” were posted on the thinner surface, and stiff brown ropes were strung from pole to pole, confining the young to the safer areas.
As a child, I obeyed the warning, but once safely into the invulnerable teenage years, I joined friends in daring each other to leap the cord and try their luck on the melting surface.
Most of the time, our luck held. Skate lines crisscrossed each other in ever-deepening slices, and sometimes the rifle-sharp crack from below the surface would scare us back behind the rope. But never for very long. First one, then another would tip-toe on skate point, and, seeing no widening breach, no ominous fluid darkness, venture back onto the thin ice.
But luck can not be tempted indefinitely without demanding payment. The year I was fifteen, eight older boys played crack-the-whip on the unsafe section, sending one of their own sailing out alone under the moonlight. A widening black line followed him, but there wasn’t enough time to stop. And, in the end, he was simply swallowed up like a long-awaited meal.
The shouts echoed across the darkening night, until someone had the presence of mind to call a parent, the police, the ambulance.
By then, it was too late.
There was no more skating on the pond after that, and the following summer, the neighbors banded together to hire an excavating company to fill it in—the largest single gravesite I have ever seen.
I have since learned that thin ice is not only a condition of winter, nor confined to stretches of frozen water. There is thin ice everywhere—between lovers and friends, between reality and obsession, between hope and despair.
And sometimes, the only warning you receive is the sharp crack just before the ice breaks and you fall through—to nowhere.
Title: Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories
Author: Nancy Christie
Genre: Literary Fiction / Short Story Collection
There are some people who, whether by accident or design, find themselves traveling left of center. Unable or unwilling to seize control over their lives, they allow fate to dictate the path they take—often with disastrous results.
TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER AND OTHER STORIES details characters in life situations for which they are emotionally or mentally unprepared. Their methods of coping range from the passive (“The Healer”) and the aggressive (“The Clock”) to the humorous (“Traveling Left of Center”) and hopeful (“Skating on Thin Ice”).
The eighteen stories in TRAVELING LEFT OF CENTER AND OTHER STORIES depict those types of situations, from the close calls to the disastrous. Not all the stories have happy endings—like life, sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t.
In these stories, the characters’ choices—or non-choices—are their own. But the outcomes may not be what they anticipated or desired.
Will they have time to correct their course or will they crash?
Nancy Christie is the author of the fiction collection, Traveling Left of Center and Other Stories and two short story e-books, Annabelle and Alice in Wonderland (all published by Pixel Hall Press).
Her stories have been accepted by print and online publications such as St. Anthony Messenger, Bethlehem Writers Roundtable, Talking River, Wild Violet, EWR: Short Stories, Hypertext, Full of Crow, Fiction365, Red Fez, and The Chaffin Journal.
She is also the author of The Gifts of Change (Atria/Beyond Words), an inspirational book that encourages readers to take a closer look at how they deal with the inevitability of change and ways in which they can use change to gain a new perspective, re-evaluate their goals and reconsider their options. Since its publication in 2004, The Gifts of Change has been released in three foreign editions.
Currently Christie is working on several book projects, including a second collection, a novel and a book for writers. The founder of “Celebrate Short Fiction” Day, and member of the American Society of Journalists and Authors and Short Fiction Writers Guild (SFWG), Christie hosts the monthly Monday Night Writers group in Canfield, OH.
Focus on Fiction The Writer’s Place One on One Make A Change
Social media links:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/nancychristie.writer Google+: http://gplus.to/nancychristie
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/NChristie_OH @NChristie_OH
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The book is currently for sale on the publisher's website. Check it out here.