A Trojan Gift

Flash
Dini Armstrong


Photo Credit: Marco Catini/Flickr (CC-by-nc-nd)

The entire shelf is full of them. Has been for months. Pristine, untouched, snow-white ice skates, laced up all the way; immaculate bows like piped icing on a Christmas cake. The sharp metal blades hidden under plastic protectors.

“Can I touch one?” My voice is so quiet I have to repeat the impossible wish three times before the shop assistant notices me.

“Are you here with your mummy and daddy?” She eyes me up and down, takes in my dirty coat, the woolen tights, holes at the knees.

I know she can smell me. The kids at school tell me I smell. A lot.

Out there, on the ice, I can fly. I am fast, I can jump over branches sticking out, nothing trips me up. Not like all the others, better than them. I can stay there until the floodlights come on. Later even. Every day, until the ice melts.

I take off one of my grubby mittens and reveal the roll of cash I’ve been clutching under the wool.

“My uncle gave me the money so I can buy a pair. Is it enough?” That much is true. I make my eyes big and innocent.

The shop assistant smells of perfume. Her hair is twisted up at the back like the ladies in Hitchcock movies, the ones I am not supposed to see yet.

“What size are you, sweetheart?”

I am not sure, so I check the number under my wellies. It’s a one.

She hands me a pair.

The white leather smells brand-new, the skin of a dead animal, maybe a unicorn. I don’t ask for change, just leave her standing there, shouting something after me, I don’t know what. I am out of the door before she can get to me; I am fast.

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Dini Armstrong, now Scottish, has worked in journalism and psychology. She is currently completing an MA in Creative Writing and has published short stories and flash fiction. Her pithy style got her into trouble from age six, when, after writing a particularly seditious piece about a vengeful cat with explosives, she had to promise never to write again. She lied. Twitter: @ArmstrongDini | Facebook: @GermanScotsAuthor | Email: dianaarmstrong[at]yahoo.com