Ice skating

Text: Ice skating

Night time and Alberto feels like this drive is something he has been waiting for his whole life— This kind of strange perfection.  It’s the outskirts of Campbelltown in the dark and there isn’t much to do except for the driving. There is the moon and a few spindly trees and dirt roads that lead out to fence posts and an endless stream of nothingness. The moonlight casts shadows onto the spindly arms of lonesome trees. He imagines that the trees are reaching out to them as they drive. He likes to think that the noise from their car gives the trees some sort of comfort while they stand out there, all alone in the velvety darkness.

After all, night time is when cars go ice skating.

Alberto knows about the ice skating, Billy knows about it and now they’re showing Shrey. “Faster,” Billy calls from the back seat and Alberto speeds up and hits the breaks shortly after so that they slide forward for a few kilometres on the dust that turns into a plain of smooth ice below the tires of his brother’s car.

“You're crazy,” Billy’s girlfriend Shrey calls out.  Alberto turns up “Girl From Ipanema” on the radio and watches the two of them make out in the rear view mirror. The moonlight sifts through the window and breaks upon  Shrey’s bare legs like puzzle pieces.  Billy rubs her knee and inches his hand up closer between her legs. Billy gets all the girls.  Alberto doesn’t get any and isn’t that sure if he is interested anyway, but he likes to watch Billy. He feels like there is something here that he can learn, something he might need later.

This time, they have stolen Alberto’s brother’s car. Usually they ‘borrow’ Billy’s senile grandfather’s truck but Billy has been itching to try their game on Adam’s mustang ever since he brought it home. Alberto took the car for Billy’s birthday because he didn’t have any money to get him anything else.

“Time for a drink?” Shrey says passing their bottle of whisky to the front seat of the car. It is said more like a demand than an offer and Alberto takes it mostly because he doesn't know how to say no. It has the taste of Shrey’s lipstick. Alberto imagines that this is what sex tastes like, kind of sticky and sweet, with the aftertaste of anaesthetic.

When he hands it back, Shey looks flushed and excited like she’s ready for the future to keep coming and coming. “Figure eights,” Billy calls and Alberto dutifully obeys, swerving into the front of someone’s five-acre plot and back again, and back. He watches the trees standing at the side of the road, looking at him, astonished.

Outside, the world is just getting darker. Inside the car, everything is lit up and alive. “Lets go crazy,” Shrey calls pouring the whisky into her mouth so that it streams from the sides of her mouth.

Alberto drives faster, hits the breaks and turns the wheel as hard as he can. The world goes into slow motion. They pirouette, again and again. Alberto feels as though he is watching the whole thing from the outside of his own body looking back at himself. Shrey is screaming. Billy is laughing.

Alberto is outside of himself and then, literly-- he is on the outside.  He feels his body fly through the windscreen.  He is sure, on later reflection,
that he turned and waved as he flew threw the night air. He remembers that car lit up on the inside and hurtling through the night sky like a shooting star.

After that, he doesn’t remember too much.  At least he doesn’t remember the few months after that, or yesterday. Memory is no longer a tangible, reliable thing, not since the accident. He knows exactly what he did last week but not what he did this morning. He knows that Shrey didn’t live, he knows that Billy couldn’t look at him any more, he knows that Adam punched him dead in the face as soon as he recovered for ruining his car.

And he knows that at night time he always thinks of ice skating and stars made from the metal frames of cars, pirouetting their way slowly through the night time sky.


Derived from

Accompanying photo by Or Hiltch

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  • Anonymous's picture

    24.04.09 — Gretchen Miller

    Terrific image - I laughed

    Terrific image - I laughed when i saw it...

  • Anonymous's picture

    20.04.09 — d.

    Felicity, I agree with

    Felicity, I agree with everything Gretchen says. There is wonderful imagery here. You really put us into someone else's shoes.

    I think you are wise to know when to let it rest - you are in good company - people like Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Lord Rutherford and of course Wordsworth all knew to 'let their ideas rest' before going back for another 'think' - and look how successful those people were when they followed that strategy!!!

    I like it the way it is, but agree with Gretchen that some of the phrasing needs tightening up - you will see that for yourself when you have let it rest.

    Next point you made on the Forum ......

    Does it NEED to be shorter?

    If not, disregard my next comments. They are just meant to offer a strategy, not be a criticism (sometimes I seem to be not quite so gentle as Gretchen.)

    If you are looking at ways to 'craft it differently', let me suggest that YOU decide if you want the reader to have a specific picture and detailed description, or whether you are happy to be more allegorical and more illusory - in which case you will have to realise the reader may paint a mental picture different from yours. For example, I thought the 'hard-edged' description of the damage to the brain came in abrupt opposition to the impressions you were magically offering in the same paragraph. This is OK , but one way to shorten it may be to choose which emphasis you want overall. Analysing it this way may help YOU decide how to restructure it to be a bit shorter - but I repeat, ONLY if it really needs to be shorter.


  • Anonymous's picture

    23.04.09 — Felicity Castagna

    Thank you for your comments.

    Thank you for your comments. There are lots of things to think about here. Your comments and Gretchen's have both been very useful. Lots of thinking and editing to do!

  • Anonymous's picture

    15.04.09 — Gretchen Miller

    Well. This is such a

    Well. This is such a powerful moment you've captured. This strange twilight place. And then the exact sentence where it turns around and you're catapaulted into another zone... it's almost like you don't want it to stop, you want to be Alberto floating away in space, waving from the stars.
    It's short and sharp and a fine example of what you can do with a few hundred words.
    I reckon you could go through and tighten it up in places, just a little...w atch your grammar and spelling... (this could remain present tense for eg: Billy got all the girls. Alberto didn’t get any and wasn’t that sure
    if he was interested anyway but he liked to watch Billy. He felt like there was
    something here that he could learn, that he might need later.)

    Nice one. thanks.
    (City Nights producer)

    PS - it would be great to have an image with it - you can find great images on Flickr.com - do a search on car, night or somesuch, and then do advanced search - down the bottom you can choose to have creative commons licenced images only - they're legal to use - dont' forget to credit!