It had been a long night last night with the kids, but Andy still wouldn’t have missed it for the world. Even though he was still tired, he still had to go to work in the morning because Miss Riley Anderson had some ice hockey to practise. He didn’t mind at all.
As he had his Pearrific green smoothie for breakfast, he began to start thinking about Riley. They only met each other two days ago, but they had been friendly with each other since then and he already liked her. In fact, even though he knew it was unrealistic, he started to think she was the most beautiful lady she had ever seen in his life.
Then he remembered her breaking up with her irresponsible boyfriend last night. He wondered wherever this would be a good chance to ask her out before someone else beats him to it. But then he remembered three things. Firstly, she was a very busy and dedicated ice hockey player and probably wasn’t into looking for a boyfriend now. Secondly, she had just broken up with her ex-boyfriend and thought she was still upset about it. Thirdly, he remembered that he had never had what he would call a girlfriend before. At college, he would have hung out with some girls but with his male friends as well. He had never been with a girl on his own. So in the end he didn’t know the first thing about girlfriends and decided not to risk it.
The morning was a warm one. So warm that Andy was wearing a blue t-shirt and black shorts as he roller-skated to the ice rink stadium. Even though it was tiring, he was glad that he was either skateboarding or rollerblading to work. He thought it was giving him the exercise he needed for the day and it saved him money going to the gym or buying a city bus pass.
He was shocked when he arrived at the stadium. It was closed off with police cars and tape all around it. Some officers were backing the crowd and news reporters away.
Andy’s emotions were panicking as well.
“What happened?” The Anger struck out. “Is it just a little burglary or something?”
“What will we do?” The Fear asked. “Andy will be put out of a job.”
“Now, let’s stay focused here, guys,” The Joy said. “The more we find out about this mystery, the clearer it will be to us.” Then he looked through Andy’s eyes and saw an African American with a beard and glasses. “Here we are, Mr. Thompson. Let’s go ask him.”
Andy went to Mr. Thompson, the manager of the ice rink stadium. “What’s going on, sir?”
“There’s been an arson last night, Andy,” Thompson said. “We don’t know much about it, but the police are investigating it further. I’m afraid you can’t work here for at least a whole week, Andy. I’m so sorry you got up early for this. I tried ringing you.”
A week? Andy was upset to hear that, but he knew moaning and nagging to his boss won’t change anything so he decided to rise above it. “Thank you for telling, sir.” He started walking away.
“I’ll call you when you’re need again,” Thompson promised.
Andy thanked him again before he carried on walking. Even though he was relieved he still had his job, he was worried about what he would do until then. He had been so used to being a workaholic that he wasn’t use to free time. He wouldn’t volunteer at World Vision until three days. And there was nothing to do at his small apartment. It was so small that it would take him half an hour to clean up. And there was no TV for him to see all day or video games for him to play as he was used to working. And there were no new books for him to read. And he had no new money to buy a new book or a new game to play.
“But I have to practise!”
Andy stopped. He turned and saw Riley arguing with Mr. Thompson. She was not wearing her usual brown jacket and her white trousers as she had been wearing for the last few days. Andy thought it was the blazing hot weather that persuaded her to wear a yellow vest and pink shorts.
“The stadium needs to be repaired before you can go back on the ice, Miss Anderson,” Thompson said.
“I’m in the Olympics,” Riley protested. “How am I going to practise?”
“I’m sorry, Miss Anderson,” Thompson said, “but I just can’t let you in.”
“I can help you.”
Riley turned around. “Andy? You can really help me? How?”
“Well, it’s not ice, but there’s a playground that’s a five minute walk away. I got two roller blades. I can practise with you.”
While Riley was making her mind up about Andy’s offer, her emotions were worrying about it.
“Could he be lying?” Fear asked. “Is he tricking us?”
“I say we decline his offer,” Disgust said.
“Why?” Joy asked.
“Because we only met him three times and we don’t know him. He could still be a stranger.”
“But what about Riley’s dream?”
“He’s not even taking Riley to some ice,” Anger snapped.
“I think we should stick to what we know,” Sadness added.
The other emotions agreed, except Joy.
“This is when we need to break out of our comfort zone,” she said. “Besides, she knows how to defend herself. Remember when those thugs at school tried to take her bag, but she slammed them into the brick wall? So, let’s take the risk.” She pressed the console down.
Riley smiled. “Okay, Andy. I’ll follow you.”
“Great,” Andy cried happily. “Oh, before I forget.” He took his green rucksack off his back and got out a pair of white roller blades with pink laces. “I don’t much about skating, but I thought if you would us these…”
“I would keep my skating up,” Riley said.
“Exactly.” He was amazed with how she finished his sentence.
She took them, took off her white trainers and put on the new roller blades. They fitted her feet like a glove.
“My sister Molly used to have them,” Andy replied. “But she grew out of them and wanted to give them away. So I kept them in case anyone wants or needs them.”
“Well, I need them now. Let’s go.” Riley led the way.
Andy said goodbye to Mr. Thompson again before the police caught his attention.
“I’m grateful for all this, Andy,” Riley said as she skated next to Andy, “but why do you want to help me?”
“Well, I don’t have anything better to do and I hate being bored,” he replied.
“So what are you going to do until the stadium is repaired?”
“I don’t know. I suppose I could go back to my family for a week.”
“Or if you want to stay, you could help with my hockey.”
“But, Riley, I don’t know the first thing about hockey. I can’t ice skate. And I never even made one good snowman.”
“Well, you don’t know until you tried. It might be one of your hidden talents. Take me for example. I never thought roller-skating and ice-skating are not so different. Well, they are different, but my point is it’s helping me to keep my skating up.”
Soon they arrived at where Andy said he would take her.
“A basketball court?” Riley started to feel that she was lied to and betrayed.
“I know there’s no ice,” he said, “but I’d say it’s as big as an ice rink and there’s no one using it. It rarely gets used.”
Riley had a look around and saw that the court was as big as an ice rink. And there was nothing in the way at all. She put her bag down and got her hockey and sticks out.
“Now, if I’m going to be helping you out,” Andy said, “how about you helping me by introducing the world of hockey to me?”
Riley’s emotions weren’t too sure about what was going on.
“What does this Andy think he’s doing?” Anger roared. “Is he trying to trick her into doing something she doesn’t want to do?”
“But what choice does she have?” Joy asked. “Either she trains like this or she doesn’t train at all and she will out of practise for the Olympics. Now if anyone has better ideas, now’s the time to tell me.”
After waiting for twenty seconds and getting no hands up or anyone even opening their mouths, she pressed the console.
Riley smiled again. “All right, let’s begin.”
After giving Andy one of her sticks, she showed him how to hold the stick correctly and how to aim the hockey quickly before whacking it. Then she gave him a demonstration of how it works.
“Okay, Andy,” she said. “In your own time.”
Andy skated to the hockey and his stick around it. He whacked it to under the basketball hoop (which they were using as hockey nets). He gave it his best shot but he felt embarrassed after he fired and he couldn’t look at where it was heading.
“You scored!” Riley cried happily.
Andy opened his eyes and the hockey was under the basketball hoops. He felt very impressed. He didn’t want to jump to conclusions, but he started to think that Riley was about hockey was one of his hidden talents.
“Now that you can score,” Riley said, “I’m going to teach you how to defend yourself.”
“Okay, bring it on.” Andy went to collect the hockey. He dragged it to the centre and Riley showed him how to the rival team will try to take it from him and play dirty tricks on him. Then she showed him how to defend himself from them.
“Now, let’s give it a try,” she said.
Andy caught the hockey with his stick and pushing it towards the basketball hoop. Then Riley caught it with her stick and whacked it away.
Andy skated after it. Then she saw Riley trying to knock him down with her elbow, but he skated forward, dodging it. He caught the hockey. She got the hockey as well, but his stick knocked hers away before scoring another goal.
After another half an hour of training Andy who managed to keep his success up, they decided to take a breather and drank some bottle water from her bag.
He sighed. “I think you’d make a great coach.”
“Seriously. You know, if either you can’t continue your Olympic career or you retire at the age you’re suppose to retire, you could teach the next generation of ice hockey. Like being an Olympic coach or opening an ice hockey group for little kids.”
“Hmm, that’s a thought,” Riley said. She didn’t know whether he was being polite or charming, but she liked it. It was cheering her up. And she thought she would have no options this morning.
“You know, you could start with the kids at the World Vision Orphanage,” Andy suggested. “They need to get out of orphanage more. Too much I-Pads and TV. They don’t know the joy of playing with toys like I did when I was their age.”
“Well, I’ll see how I do with you first,” Riley said as she got up. “Let’s go.”
They got up and continued their training. Riley told Andy now he had learned the craft, it was time to learn how professionals would do it. He didn’t know how it was going to play out, but he did when she was doing what they did before only faster.
It was too much for Andy but it wasn’t easy for Riley after. After too much skating and whacking and running after the hockey, Andy fell down and Riley collapsed onto him. They weren’t upset, but they laughed together. As they kept on laughing, they kept their eyes fixed on each other. And they were enjoying it.
Then Andy’s phone rang. Riley quickly got off as he answered it.
“Hello?” he answered. “Oh, hi, Mom. Hmm, yeah. This weekend? Not a problem. In fact, you guys couldn’t have picked a better time to come. Okay, I’ll see you later. Bye. Love you.” He turned his phone off and turned back to Riley. “My mom and my sister. They’re coming this weekend. I’ve got nothing better to do because the stadium is under repair.”
“Maybe I could drop by from after practice,” Riley said.
“Yeah, you could.”
Then her watch beeped. “Oh, well, I’d better head back home. Care to skate back with me? My mom’s making some pancakes tonight.”
After thinking about it for five seconds, he immediately said, “Sure. Thank you.”
“No, thank you for helping me with this.”
Andy smiled as he followed her.