Chapter 19

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Caroline and Abby shared many memories on the ice. Their mothers loved to skate and often took Caroline and Abby when they were children. Together the two girls had learned spins, first in place, and then camel spins with one leg high in the air. They helped each other make costumes and laced each other’s figure skates. Slung over Abby’s shoulder by the long knotted pink laces were worn white figure skates. Abby recalled the late winter day when she first saw them. Each year her mother would drive the kids across the county to Floyd’s Skate Swap. Floyd’s was an Old Dutch farm in complete disarray. The animals had taken over the premises and roamed freely. Determined to get there before the swap closed at three Emily would speed most of the way. Abby, Caroline, and Michael droned the “Sanford and Son” theme song the whole way up the dirt driveway while Emily futilely tried to keep order from the front seat. After lumbering the make shift parking lot to find the driest spot to leave the Volvo, the kids draped last year’s wrecks around their necks and set off running toward the field stone skate swap in the bottom of Floyd’s barn. As potentially embarrassing as this situation could have been for the teens, all the kids in the county participated in the swap. Hundreds of pairs of exhausted black and white figure skates, a good selection of clunky hockey skates, and dozens of strap-on runners with tattered leather ties crowded what used to be the leather tack end of the stable. They were in every size from toddler to adult. The skates the kids brought with them were turned in to Floyd’s freckle faced teenage daughter. Floyd’s daughter sat at a table with a clipboard. She rated the incoming skates as used, still in good condition, and recorded them for a credit so the children could quickly scout out a new pair. Michael wore hockey skates so his selection had more to do with getting the right size versus how many socks molded his foot to the skate. He went right to work. The girl’s choice was a bit more delicate, to them at least, and they inspected each pair of figure skates with persnickety attention. The kids had come to the skate swap late that year and the skates had already been diligently picked through. Abby found a bright white pair she liked. The skates appeared barely worn however her mother told Abby they were the wrong size and that there was no way she could squeeze into them. Then Emily brought Abby a pair she had found in the back, a pair that was unique to the other white figure skates because of the trim. All of the other white figure skates had white piping for trim if there was any trim at all. The white skates that Emily held had thin pink piping for trim. Abby’s eyes went wide. The skates seemed so new. Emily told her that on the way home she would replace the dull grey laces with pink ones to match the trim, and though the laces had to be replaced a couple times over the years the skates still fit. The last skates from the last skate swap Abby had been to with her mother. That was the year Emily was diagnosed with cancer. That was the year Abby’s mother had died.

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