My phone vibrated in my hand as I was about to open my contacts list and I literally jumped up off the bench and threw my phone at the rink, hoping that it would shatter. At the same time, I managed to trip over one of my skates and ended up on my face in ankle-deep snow, which didn't cushion my fall very well, so I was kind of in pain. I heard an exasperated groan and looked up as I untangled myself and pushed back up to sit on the bench, but Yvette's stare made me feel uncomfortable enough to wish I had never moved. All at once, a pair of arms wrapped around my shoulders and a body collided with my own so quickly that I couldn't register what was going on, and I may or may not have screamed... a little bit.
"Sen, are you alright? What happened?"
I took a deep breath and sighed in relief, releasing the tension in my body and relaxing into Alena's embrace. When I answered her, my voice was weak, and I could barely hear it over Alena's strongly beating rhythm. "My phone scared me so I killed it." I heard her chuckle softly, and a hand came up to run through my hair. I closed my eyes. The feeling of someone running their fingers through my hair is something I don't think I could live without. It sends this shockwave of shivers running down my spine, and it doesn't matter who's doing it as long as they're doing it right. I don't really like having my hair ruffled like I'm some kind of child because it's a little demeaning and it just messes up my hair; there are very few people in this world who know how to do it right, and I should know because I've traveled the world and met people from all different countries. Ah... that didn't come out right. I mean... I wasn't.... I didn't.... I didn't mean it like that; I wasn't thinking like that at all.... I mean.... Never mind. I just like it when people run their fingers through my hair. Unless of course their hands are dirty, in which case I could really do without, but I'm not going to say anything because that's rude. I let Yvette ruffle my hair with salt and French fry grease on her hands, but maybe that's because I'm a little scared of her. Just a little. Mostly I respect her. Sort of. But Mom says I sound like I'm trying to convince myself more than anything else. I'd believe that — I'm not sure whether I really do what she says because I respect her or not, but she is older than me, so I do respect her. Of course... she's not that much older.... I mean, she's only... I don't know how old she is. She looks... forty? Thirty-five? I mean twenty! She looks like she could be my sister!
Okay. It's because I'm scared of her.
Speaking of Yvette, I felt something tap me on the forehead and looked up to see her standing there with my phone, smirking. "I'm surprised that this thing can hold up to your abuse.... It's your boyfriend, by the way. He wants to go on a date with you."
Instantly, I jumped up and grabbed it to see what she was talking about, though I had already guessed. And of course, I had guessed correctly. Viena. Furiously I began texting my response with Alena and Yvette hanging over my shoulders. I'm not busy at all; at least I won't be in about five minutes. Practice is almost over. Pick me up? I clicked the SEND button, hoping that neither Len nor Yvette had time to read what I had written — seriously, I'm a pretty furious texter when it comes down to it.
Len was the first one to say anything. "A movie date, huh? Shouldn't you bring your big sister along to chaperone?"
"He should. We don't need him coming back to us sore and unable to compete this weekend. Besides that, he's still got classes, and wouldn't it be embarrassing if it hurt to sit down?"
It took a minute before it really sank in and I felt the first fallen snowflakes melt on my cheeks as the heat began to rise. "Wait... but Viena's not.... He's my best friend; I could never think of him like that. And even if I did, he could never be attracted to someone like me. He could do much better. He probably has a really pretty girlfriend, anyway."
"That's right," Len mused, sitting back on the bench and staring up at the darkened sky as the snow broke free and drifted gently, flake by big fluffy flake, to the ground to join the rest. "He's straight, isn't he?"
"Sucks for you. Maybe you shouldn't bother pursuing something you'll never have and getting your hopes up everytime he asks you out like this, huh?" Yvette took my phone and waved it in front of my face to stress her point. "You need to focus on your skating and your classes, Ksenia. You don't have time for useless fraternization. Give up."
I was ground into the dust. My eyes burned with tears and my chest tightened so that breathing was nearly impossible. It's true, I'm impossibly sensitive, and I hate it. It's not like I'm really even pursuing Viena for anything more than his friendship, and I've had that for as long as I remember. He's kind of the closest person to me besides Alena; but that's mostly because we're twins, and there's no closer relationship between two human beings than being born and raised together. I mean, I held Alena even closer than I did Viena. No.... I don't know. Maybe.... Some days I'd take Viena over her, especially now as she plucked my phone out of my hands and started reading through my texts to see what I was up to and who I was talking to. At that moment, I wanted to grab it back and tell her that it was too bad she had lost hers in the field with those dumb animals of hers, but I held my tongue. I let her comment on all the other men I'd been talking to, and how I shouldn't if I really wanted Viena that badly. I couldn't even tell her that we were just friends and nothing else. I couldn't. I can't. Maybe I think it's because I'm scared that if I fight it, she'll get mad at me and leave, even though I'm certain that she wouldn't. But what would I ever do without her if she did? It's this thinking that's probably going to have me living with my parents for the rest of my life, and as depressing a thought as it is, I'm happy with it. I'm happy with thinking that the rest of my life could be spent traveling from rink to rink all over the world in the winter, and baby-sitting Feliks until he's old enough to look after himself in the summer. I could just stay here in the small ranch house, about fifteen minutes outside city limits, and even after Len left eventually I would remain behind.
I always would remain behind.
That doesn't even bother me. I like the way things are now, and I never want them to change.
Even the sound of others' rhythms... I wouldn't feel comfortable without those to lull me to sleep at night, though I'm constantly cursing the distracting secret. A secret that only my parents, sister, and Yvette know about. If I thought I could trust others with it, I would tell them, but how would you go about telling them? "I've heard it since I was born, the rhythms of other peoples' souls; but that doesn't make me crazy, even though I might be the only one." I wouldn't want to talk to me anymore either. Despite the fact that I'm silently cursing it every second of my life... it's something constant and familiar, something that I can rely on to be there time and again without fail. It's comforting, especially to hear those that I know so well so close and I know that they're alive, and they're there with me. Sometimes it's all I need to know that everything will be alright, to give me confidence and force me to keep moving. Funny to think that when I was younger, it used to distract me from schoolwork and that it severely limited the amount of friends that I had — the other kids thought it was weird that, when our first grade teacher had left the room and we all jumped up to play around in her absence, that I could tell the others when to get back into their seats even though she didn't return for another thirty seconds. Funny to think that, even now, years later, when I heard Viena's rhythm enter the arena when I was practicing in town, I always faltered the next jump or spin. He always picks the best times to walk in on me.
Viena's rhythm... I don't know what it is about it... but it always makes me nervous.