Home For the Holidays

Wolf Creek, Montana, December 2002

It was wonderful to be home in Wolf Creek again. For two days, Eric Lansing wasn’t a skater; he was simply a son, a brother, a cousin, a nephew. He felt more relaxed than he had in months.

And when it was time to skate again, it was with children who thought he was the greatest thing in the world.

Christmas morning was met with the usual bustle of grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins as young as five, all converging on his parents’ house to open gifts over coffee and doughnuts. Afterward, Eric and Jamie headed off to the Wolf Den to practice for that evening’s benefit show—duly loaded down with a supply of cookies for the young skaters from Eric’s mother.

Some of the children he would skate with that night were there already, and Eric was the focus of their attention as soon as he stepped into the rink. Cheerfully he greeted them, answered questions, promised to demonstrate jumps and spins. As he warmed up, he watched them and dispensed advice, feeling perfectly in his element.

"Mister Lansing?" a woman’s voice called out over the children’s clamor. Eric turned, pushing off toward the boards to meet the summons.

The young woman was small and sweet-faced, with long auburn hair and green eyes. Clad in black tights, a maroon wrap skirt and a matching top, she was clearly dressed to skate. Somehow she seemed familiar, but he couldn’t pin a name to her.

"Eric," he corrected her as he reached the boards, extending a hand.

With a dimpling smile, she accepted the handshake. "Rebecca Woodward. Becky," she added, dismissing formality as he had done—or perhaps attempting to jog his memory.

Whether it was intentional or not, the name made a connection, and Eric arched his eyebrows. "Not Becky from down the street? The little girl I used to see around the rink?"

"You remember that. Oh, my gosh." She blushed darkly. "I admit it. You were the reason I started to skate. I used to have the biggest crush on you when I was little… before you moved away."

This time it was Eric’s turn to blush. "Really."

It was so hard to get used to the fact that ladies around the country, and perhaps the world, thought he was attractive… but with Becky, it didn’t feel awkward. An admission of a childhood crush was something new and touching.

"I don’t remember seeing you here for the show last year," he recalled.

"I was living in New York then. Up until this year, I’ve been working as a show skater. Now I’m trying to break into the choreography business, and this show is one of my first jobs." Becky shrugged. "I guess I came back home because I wanted to be… I don’t know. More settled."

"I so completely understand that," Eric agreed with an emphatic nod. "I’ve done it all in skating. What I’d like to have now is a little more of this." He gestured broadly to take in the children on the ice, and the parents in the stands: family.

"Yeah," Becky agreed softly.

After a long moment of thoughtful silence, she looked up at him. "Well, how about helping me round up the kids? We need to get started on tonight’s opening act."

"Yes Ma’am," Eric replied, and with a cheerful salute, he glided off toward the children horsing around on the ice.

© 2003 Jordanna Morgan