|Short Story Contest
Generations of Hockeyby Taylor Chiu
During dinner one fall night, the phone rang. The sharp brring, broke the quiet talk of our family meal. We let it go for a minute, contemplating whether it was a solicitor or a friend. Finally my dad jumped up to get it. I'm glad he did, for it was my call to stardom.
"Hi, this is the coordinator for the San Jose Sharks. Is this the coach for the local hockey club?"
"One of 'em."
"Well, we're wondering if your Under-six team could play during the half-time of a Stanley Cup Play-off game."
"Of course! Just tell us where and when."
The talk went on like this for about ten minutes. Daddy's face had a shine to it, like a child's during the holidays. His dinner was cold when he joined us again to tell us the news.
"Taylor, how would you like to play in front of the fans at a Shark's hockey game?" This excited my brother more than me, who was ten at the time, because he understood what an opportunity this was. He didn't worry about shyness or self-consciousness. But when this information finally sunk in, I jumped for joy.
"What a question! Woo-hoo!" I ran around like a maniac (most six-year-olds are) until I heard something else:
"You'll be playing in front of 18,000 people."
The Sharks were down against the Toronto Maple Leaves. Eating a hot dog, I was jumping up and down, screaming for. . . for nothing, really, just screaming, but I had totally forgotten exactly why I was there. Then, 27 minutes into the first 45-minute half, Daddy nudged me and I nudged the other pint-sized players back to reality. All us little stars-to-be paraded down the arena steps to the private underground hallway. There, we were led through the maze of rooms and halls to the locker rooms. What a city it was down there! To a four-foot-tall little girl, that place was huge. People were bustling every which way, carrying water bottles and towels, wearing referee uniforms or pushing vending carts.
Daddy handed me my gear, which I reluctantly put on. It's not the most comfortable thing to wear this while playing, nor is it that glamorous: shin guards, knee pads, socks, cup, pants, shoulder pads, elbow pads, jersey, skates, gloves, mouth guard and last, but not least, helmet. I grabbed my stick, and we headed out.
At the door to stardom, we stood and waited, hungry to play, thirsty for the sensation of winning.
Bong! The bell sounded, and the Maple Leaves came pouring off the ice into the hall. As they trudged by, they smiled and bonked us on our helmets with their sticks. But they had no teeth! Nada, zippo, zilch. Years of hockey had knocked them all out. I sure was glad that the new rule said: NO MOUTH GUARD, NO PLAY. I shared a glance with all the other little players, and we burst out laughing. Just as our giggles settled, the time came. We stood up as tall as we could, which wasn't very tall, and skated out onto the ice.
"Go get 'em!" I heard. "Break a leg!" "You can do it! Come on!" We lined up, me in left wing (forward) and the other girl in back. Three boys filled in the gaps. We faced a big, intimidating team with flashy black jerseys. It was clear by looking at their size that their hockey club didn't even have a cute little Under-six team.
The whistle blew and I charged ahead, a fierce expression on my face, trying to beat them down with my look. But they swept past me with the puck in control. They broke away from the cluster of sticks and pads. One especially huge boy in a scary black jersey stole the puck and headed for the goal. He shot, and from luck only, he scored. (Well, maybe a little skill was in there.) We grudgingly lined up again against those "men in black" (They had no girl power.) But they burst forward again, dodged past me, then past the other wing, decked (faked out) the defense, and the same superman scored again.
"Deja vu?" I wondered aloud. But we returned to face them, even more determined. And this time we were ready. We pushed into them, and quickly gained control. I stayed open, and soon enough, the puck popped out in front of me. I had clear ice from the halfline on! I dribbled, I swerved, I shot real hard... but not hard enough. The goalie filled up the whole net. Only six inches on either side of him would allow a player to score. Instead, a big, black-shined bully turned the puck around, swiveled, and ensured their victory--one more goal. The whistle blew, and we left the ice and our chance for fame behind.
"So, then what happened? Did ya' get 'em back? Did ya knock their teeth out? Didya', Gramma?"
"No, Sonny, we left the rink feeling quite defeated. But I'll never forget my time on the ice. And now it 's your turn, Sonny. Go get 'em! Break a leg! "
"Don 't worry, Gramma I'll score for you! "
*THIS IS BASED ON A TRUE STORY
"This is a good treatment of a different topic. It avoids the obvious as it builds suspense. The twist at the end is enjoyable."
One more week to vote!
Don't forget to cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 29th. Stay tuned for the results in the July 21st issue of the Palo Alto Weekly.