The May 3rd Story (Story-A-Day May!)

rumored to be the inner courtyard

rumored to be the inner courtyard

Today’s caveat: I skated for the first time since before surgery, I worked on getting ready for an art festival tomorrow, and I went to a birthday party. I’m tired. Very tired. But I refuse to give up this early in the month, and I wanted to add another character to the mix. So. Here’s today part. With more time and energy…but at least something is written!

The three teens stood close together under the trees around the Asylum. The moon glowed through the branches, but only a sharp eye would have seen the young people standing there. They wore black, as they always did, and hoods hid their faces.

Sneaking into the Asylum had been Hannah’s idea. She’d longed to see what was inside for as long as she could remember. It was rumored that her grandmother lived in the Asylum, but whenever Hannah asked her parents, they hushed her and reminded her that all of her grandparents were dead.

The boys with her had quickly agreed to join in her adventure. Of course they wanted to go. That’s what they said. Neither would ever admit otherwise to Hannah when under her gaze. But looking up at the high walls, both boys wondered if they liked Hannah that much.

She sensed their hesitation. “I’m going first,” she said. “Don’t follow me if you’re scared.”

The boys insisted they weren’t scared. They said one of them should go first and make sure it was safe.

“My plan. My glory,” she replied. In her gloved hands she held the hook and the rope she’d stolen from her father’s workshop. She stepped out from under the tree, steadied herself, and tossed the hook up. The first few tries sent the large hook hurtling back at them. They boys jumped backwards. She kept trying.

Eventually, the hook caught. She pulled herself up. At the top of the wall were spikes and embedded in the concrete was broken glass. It took effort, but she’d been training for this. She managed to balance herself with one foot on each side of a spike. The heel of her boot cracked a bit of glass. She could see into the courtyard. Finally, for the first time she saw the front doors of the Asylum.

A light glowed above the grand doors, but otherwise the building was in darkness. The moonlight reflected on window panes. She was surprised that there were no bars on most of the windows. She’d assumed there’d be bars.

One of the boys called to her.

Hannah looked over the grounds, and it seemed safe. She was about to say something to the boys, when the sound of a rusty hinge caught her attention. She looked up at the roof. She gasped.

A boy in pajamas was climbing out a window. The roof was steep. Surely the child was going to fall.

Hannah bent down and picked up the rope. She began to coil it into her hands.

“Hannah?” said one of the boys. “What are you doing?”

With all the rope in her hand, she let it fall to the other side of the wall. The little boy, she notice, was still standing on the roof, his hands outstretch as if he were catching moonlight.

“Han!” said the other teenage boy down on the ground. “Hannie!”

She looked down at the two of them, gave a wave, and began her journey down into the Asylum.

And the American family is?

my kiddo skates fast

My students–who come from all over the world–were asking me about American families. Why do we make our kids leave home at 18? Well, I don’t think we make them leave, but we do seem to have a different attitude about children leaving home. I had a hard time answering their questions though. My own experience growing up and leaving home wasn’t typical (what is typical?) and I can’t represent every population and all the views…

I have to remind my students that Americans aren’t all like me. So often I ask them, “What comes to mind when you think of an American?” “Blond.” Sigh.

But that is something else all together. The last few days they’ve wanted to ask about families. One student believes that American parents are fine with their kids getting hotel rooms and that kids take drugs because their parents do.

It was a long conversation and I know I failed to explain the half of it. How on earth do you explain the American family?


A while ago a woman told me that she thought roller derby was bad for women. “Men knock each other down. Women are supposed to support each other.”


Well, I don’t do derby. But I’ve met a lot of derby girls over the last few months, and most of them–like most people–are supportive of one another.

I skate speed.

Refreshing things about quad speed skating–Daintiness and fragility need not show up. Competition is about winning a race, not about getting a man’s attention. Excessive politeness is a waste of time. Don’t say “sorry.” Even tonight I practice I said sorry to a woman when I had trouble slowing down in the line and had to put my hand on her back. She laughed. “No sorry,” she said.

I said sorry again.

And we both laughed. “Stop that!” she said.

Saying sorry in life is a wonderful thing in the right situation, but women say this far too often and for things they aren’t responsible for.

The hardest thing for me is the fastest-to-fast line. You get in order of your speed–just like it sounds. Fastest skater in front and so on. This requires you have a good grasp on your ability and that you don’t feel bad if you get better than your friend and move up. You don’t let someone in the line in front of you to make them feel good about themselves. And you can’t fake modesty or doubt and put yourself too far back. Really? Me? I’m going to put myself in place where I’m basically saying, “I’m faster than you.”

And if you’re wrong, it will quickly become clear.

And D– will yell at you.

The other day the line was beginning and D– looked at me. “Are you sure that’s where you should be?” she asked.

“Um, I don’t know,” I said. In truth, I thought I’d gotten a tiny bit faster than the woman ahead of me, but I wasn’t comfortable asserting myself.

The next practice I moved up a place in the line, and no one questioned me.

I have a similar problem in writing. It is still hard to say, “I’m a writer.” That sounds so ridiculous. And then to say, “Read my work” seems crazy. Rude. Egomaniacal.

Part of me must think a bit of that though or I wouldn’t be writing and talking about it in the first place.

Also, I think it is okay for women to take part in a sport where we knock each other down. It isn’t the end of civilized society.