I’m 5 years old, maybe younger, definitely preschool. I’m wearing my hooded blue cordoroy coat, zipped in snug, wearing ice skates and standing on the edge of the rink.
Near the railing.
In fact, I’m hanging on to the railing for dear life, watching the other kids skate and laugh and fall down and get back up again.
I look at my hands, knuckles white, death grip on the rail.
Every time I move my feet, I feel the blade cutting into the ice and slip. Each foot seems to want to go in different directions. But if I hang on to the rail, hard, as hard as I’ve ever gripped anything in my entire life… my feet can’t go far.
One finger starts to loosen… knuckles slowly turn flesh-colored again… One finger slowly moves itself away from the others, twitching from the release of tension, but ready in an instant to resume clutching the rail.
I slip. I grip harder.
The sounds of yelling and happy voices are muffled by the thick warm material of the coat, somewhere behind me. Out on the rink. The volume of their joyful noise rises and falls as they circle the rink.
The cold slowly penetrates my protective coat.
I manage to let go, briefly, nanoseconds’ worth, my palm separated by bare milimeters of air.
True story. For several certain values of True.