the disaster of laughter

A pair of hot-pink-on-white roller skates were directed immediately at Maribel’s face.  Immediately following this realization was feeling as though her pulse would explode directly through her temples.  Then a high pitched scream.

“OH MY GAHHHHWD!  Are you okay? Maribel, SPEAK TO ME!”

She held up her hand to quiet Gwynn, who was now bending down, her face a balloon hovering sideways to Maribel’s consciousness.

“Shhhhh…I can hear you just fine.  Please help me stand up.”

Now another balloon hovered next to Gwynn’s. “I’m here, let’s help you up, carefully. Now Gwynnie, get her other side.”

Peter, the hot dog slinger, roller rink deejay extraordinaire, and only employee of Skate Barn to have completed his First Aid training, was next in line for management.  He held one of Maribel’s arms gently, Gwynnie the other.

“It’s only because I can see there’s no bleeding of fractures we’re gonna move you.  You were a hazard out there, in the middle of the rink.”

A snicker from Gwynnie evoked a piercing stare from Maribel, but that hurt her head more.  “Ohhhh ooooh Ohhh,”

As Peter directed her to the side of the rink, and she grasped the padded wall all the way around, embarrassment took over pain.  She should’ve never tried to leapfrog Gwynn.  It was the worst idea she ever had.  Oh, and if Trevor had been watching…

She glanced around rapidly.  He was not here today, at least not yet.  The two girls had arrived directly after school.  Extensive practice was necessary to get down their routine.  Now, thought Maribel, skating routines are a bad idea too.

Now Ian was there. Please, Jesus, if you’re there, make him go away, please make him go away.  No such luck.

“Mari, that was the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen!  I mean, you went butt up!  Then on your head, man, I’m sorry, but that was…” now Ian was in horrific fits of laughter.

“GO away, Ian.  I need to assess her.”

Ian laughed. “I’ll bet you do, Peter, I’ll bet you do…”

Then, after walking daintily on his toe brakes to the edge of the rink, skated out smoothly into the crowd.

“How many fingers, Maribel?”

“I’ve got just one for you.”

“Quit kidding around, how many fingers?”


“Okay, now face this way. I need to see your pupils…uh huh, seems normal.”

Gwynn was trying not to cry, but Maribel could tell her friend was about to lose it.

“Gwynn, who brought you here today?” Peter asked.

“My mom.”

“Okay, are Maribel’s parents at home? If someone can come get her, you can stay the rest of the hour then.”

“I don’t want–don’t want to stay. ”  Gwynn was openly crying now.

“Okay, but her parents need to know anyway.  She still needs to get checked out at a hospital.  Will you go call them? I’ll stay with her and make sure she’s still fine.”

Maribel wished El Senor would open up a whole in the roof of the Skate Barn and suck her right out.  Any other miracles God could think up to spare her mortification would also be fine.

Gwynnie came back, her skates now in one hand, a fleeing goddess in neon padded socks. Her words came out in one breath,

“Yourbrotheriscoming…Icalledmymomtoo… Gonnagotothehospitalwithyou… OhMariI’msososorry.”

“Okay, fine, Gwynn. That’s great. Maribel?”

She looked glumly up from her skates. The stopper had broken off the right one.  Her brother’s used pair. Boy’s skates. Not ruined, though, she thought, sadly.

“Mari, I’ll need you and Gwynnie to sit with me up in the booth until your brother gets here, okay?”

Sitting up in the booth, perched above the crowd, where everyone could see her? Oh that sounded wonderful. Simply brilliant.  It was entirely possible she would die of humiliation and then at least the whole thing would be over.

“Okay…yes…I guess. Gwynn, help me with my skates?”

“Yeah, sure, uhhuh.”  She glanced coyly at Peter, quickly recovered from her anxiety.

Gwynn was loving the opportunity to play nurse’s aid. She had been scoping Peter out since the first day Mari’s brother had taken them to Skate Barn.  Never mind that she was twelve and he was seventeen.  It was love at first sight, at least for Gwynn.  Peter didn’t seem to give her any more attention to her than others.

After successfully retrieving their shoes from the locker, they returned the skates.  Mari envisioned a guillotine at the top of the steps, as she slowly padded upwards.  That might be preferable, she thought.  Gwynn had practically leaped up, and was now at Peter’s side, beaming.

“It’s like you’re about to watch a gladiator event, or something.” Mari grumbled.

“What did you say?”

“Nothing…just nothing.”




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