Sunday, March 28, 2010

The key to Orion's belt

My first tale is inspired by the Significant Object Project (, where writers were given small objects to compose short stories around. Unlike those stories, this one isn't fictional. Enjoy

The old key sits in a clear box in the spare bedroom closet. It has travelled with me through high school, to university and the 4 homes I've shared with my husband. It belonged to my 3 sisters and my brother before it became mine. I have no idea how old it is.

Most times I'm oblivious to its presence. Other times I look at the key and then at my hand.

The scar on my hand - actually, I guess it really counts as three scars formed at the exact same moment - they remind me of Orion's belt.

They came as a result of an ill timed connection between my roller skate and the sidewalk. Perhaps it wasn't so much the timing as it was the placement of my roller skated foot just at the point where frost had heaved up the sidewalk. The true dangers of Canadian winters.

My hand was the only casualty. I was 8 years old. I didn't cry. Fairly amazing considering I'm still someone who can cry if looked at sideways.

I've always found it odd that that the scars grew with my hand yet have faded to the point where only I can really see them. Shouldn't they have stayed the pea size appropriate for a slight 8 year old's hand?

Ah but the skates are the true star of this story. They were a marvel. Metal wheels fastened to an adjustable metal plate and held in place by medieval inspired metal clamps that squeezed into your toes when tightened by that metal key. Without that key, the skates were little more than a household hazard that could take down an adult in a simultaneously hilarious and horrifying fashion.

The whole concoction was strapped to your ankle with a piece of crumbling ancient leather. Ankle support was not a concern in the 70s.

The metal wheels barely rolled along the sidewalk. I'm surprised the friction against the concrete didn't cause a wake of sparks. Now that would have been cool despite the potential for grass fires.

The skates, naturally, were hand me downs. In 1976 roller skating was possibly the coolest activity going. Those metals antiques? Not so much. What I craved were those magnificent disco era white leather boots with the smooth rubber wheels and a rubber break at the front.

Hence came my foray into a career as a failed engineer. I spent hours trying to convert an old pair of figure skates (another hand me down) by replacing the blade with the wheels from my brother's skateboard. I never figured out how to take off the blades. Luckily I was afraid of both power tools and my father. As with most times in my life, fear likely saved me from permanent disfigurement. I gave up.

It still astonishes me that I eventually managed to convince my parents to buy me those real roller skates for Christmas. Unfortunately I was not successful in getting them to buy me satin pants and a satin jacket to go with them. Though I mourned the loss of that outfit, I was saved from the horrors of 70s fashion.

Those old skates are long gone, although I'm fairly sure my mom waited until I moved away for university to get rid of them. Then again, if I was to search the spider infested cold cellar in their house I might find an ancient pair. If there were more than one, I'd challenge my sisters to a race - something we never did as children because our childhoods didn't intersect.

For more than 30 years and for the rest of my life, I have and will continue to think of those skates when I look at my hand. And that key, well it will come with me where ever I go.

No comments:

Post a Comment