For the whole month of December twelve-year old Will had been telling his parents he wanted a new pair of skates for Christmas.
Will felt a new pair of skates might help his game. He had a good head for hockey but skating was his downfall. A lot of times, he just couldn’t get into the play quickly enough because his wobbly ankles failed him.
In the lead up to Christmas, he maintained a persistent public relations campaign. Over dinner table conversation, he would drop a comment here and there. Hey Dad, you know Andy two doors up? Last year, he got a new pair of skates for Christmas and he’s become a really good player.
During the last community league hockey game before Christmas, Will turned around for a puck, lost his balance, and fell flat on his face. A few of the other kids laughed at him. He held back tears. Who was he kidding? This wasn’t the first time he fell flat like that. He didn’t just stumble, he hit the ice like a kid hitting the water in a belly flop – hard, loud, and painful. It was obvious this wasn’t his game. He was great at road hockey. He could outrun all the other kids and score goals. Add ice and he sucked.
He stopped talking about new skates at the dinner table. He wished he hadn’t even started the whole stupid campaign. Will vowed to drop hockey next year and take up bowling or ping pong.
Christmas morning came and Will opened his presents going from smallest to largest. The very last present, wrapped in a large box with a bow, was a new pair of skates. They were sleek, black, shiny, and they were fantastic.
A few days later, he and his parents drove to a nearby outdoor skating rink. Will entered the small, unheated change room to lace up his new skates.
He stepped on to the ice surface and glided around, feeling a little firmer in his new skates, but fighting a slight wobble as he made sweeping turns. He knew in his heart that skating and playing hockey was never going to be his sport.
After a while, they all got cold. It was time to go. Seated in the change room, Will wondered how to fake being enthusiastic about his new skates. Outside, his parents were standing there waiting for him. His dad noticed right away. Where are your skates, he said.
Will’s heart sank. He ran back into the change room. No skates. Had they fallen off the bench? No. Had someone hung them up somewhere? No. It was too much to bear. In a matter of a few moments, they had been stolen. Will, how could you do this, his father screamed. Do you know how much they cost? Will, this is absolutely awful, his mother icily chimed. His parents got him what he wanted and look what happened. After enduring Will’s entreaties for a month, they had every right to be angry.
Will hung his head in shame. They drove home in silence. He went to bed in silence, not saying goodnight to his parents. Nor did they say goodnight to him. Lying in bed, Will dreamed of baseball season. He could run fast. He could catch the ball. He had an arm like a cannon. Best of all, no one stole baseball gloves.