My Imaginary Boyfriend, Episode Eight: Electric

It's here! It's here! It's finally here! Better late than never, eh?

Previous episode:

"Are you sure this is a good idea?"

"Sure it is. Nobody comes out here this time of night." Rykel pulls my bobby pin out of the lock and hands it to me with a grin, shadowy in the lack of moonlight or streetlamps. I slide it back into the back of my French braid.

I fiddle with the thin strap of my purse hanging over the shoulder of my faded black Hunger Games t-shirt. "But is it safe? I mean, there's no security cameras or... or alarms, or anything?"

I can barely see the outline of his shoulders shrug under his black t-shirt as he slides the old padlock off the door handles. He turns to face me, still grinning, eyes hidden in the darkness. "Here? Nah. This rink is the only place still open out here and it closes at eight. Even the druggies and creepers don't bother with this side of town." He slips his rough, warm hand into mine as he mumbles, "That might have something to do with my previous visits, though."

I can't help but giggle. He opens the door to the roller rink and leads me inside. "What?" I strain to make out anything, but it's too dark. The smell of old shoes clashes with that of cleaning spray.

"Don't worry about it. Yes, we're perfectly safe here." Rykel releases my hand. After a second, blinding light floods the building.

I blink several times to adjust. To the left, a ghost town consists of a run down concession stand, DJ sound room, and kiddie play area. On the right stands a room lined with shelves of roller skates and blades. The scuffed tan and red rink reflects bits and pieces of the light. "Not too shabby in here."

"It's the only rink in town." Rykel climbs up into the window of the skate storage room and disappears between shelves. I drift over in that direction and wait outside the room for him. He continues talking, but I can't really understand what he's saying. Something about location and business and only rink in town. He returns to the window with one pair of skates, which he sets on the counter before turning to the shelves on right. "Babe, what size are you?"

A skitter runs down my spine. I'm not sure I'll ever get used to his pet names - or if I really want to. "Seven and a half, probably. It's been a while since I've been skating."

He emerges from the shelves and slides my skates across the counter to me. Grabbing his own pair, he slides back over the counter and hops down.

I've only managed to lace up one skate when he stands and grins at me, blond hair flopping over one side of his face. "Ready?"

I laugh. "Give me a minute." He waits while I finish lacing up the second skate, then stand shakily. "I think I'm ready now. I'm gonna have to go slow at first, though."

He shrugs. "Works for me. Can't promise to slow down for you."

I roll my eyes as he rolls out onto the rink and sets off. It takes several shaky steps for me to make it to the rink, where I grip tightly to the chipped railing. After a few pulls along the railing, I push away and cautiously set off.

"Eh, you're not that bad."

I glance over my shoulder to see Rykel fly past me, grinning away. I laugh. "Hey, careful! You're the only one here to get me home if any injuries occur."

He just laughs back at me. "C'mon, I know you can go faster than that!"

I shake my head, but I do start to push myself. It only takes a few minutes for me to adjust to wheeling around. Even if it has been a while since I last set foot in a roller rink, I've had plenty of practice. Soon Rykel and I are at a steady pace, staying somewhat in rhythm with each other. After a few quiet times around the rink, he heads off of the rink without warning. I can't stop without falling, but I try to slow down. "Hey, where you going?"

There's no answer. I shrug and keep skating. A few minutes pass before music blasts from the speakers around the rink, effectively scaring me onto my hands and knees. Rykel reappears just in time to see me pulling myself up at the railing.

"A little warning would've been appreciated." I have to raise my voice over the music, but I'm not really upset. I did notice the radio station flipped on is my favorite, not the channel preset on his cycle radio.

He smiles sheepishly and shrugs. "Sorry!" With a lot more ease than I'd imagined him capable of, he slips up to my side and holds out his hand. "Shall we?"

I grasp onto his hand. "Just don't blame me if we go crashing down. Keeping steady on my own two feet is hard enough."

He laughs and waits for me to set the pace. We speed through one, two, five, eight times around the rink like this. Hand in hand, my favorite singers filling the otherwise empty rink. After two songs, a man's voice echoes through the building, announcing the hokey-pokey.

I stare at Rykel for a second before we both burst out laughing. "Really? They have this pre-recorded?"

"Now that I didn't know."

We ignore the hokey-pokey music playing and stick to our pace. When it ends, I expect the radio station to switch back on. Instead, the announcer's voice again fills the room. "Alright now, the kids have had their turn. Let's go for something a little more laid back. It's couple's skate time!"

I roll my eyes when the song switches on. It's an old-ish song I've heard I don't know how many times. My parents both have it on homemade CD mixes my dad made back when they were dating.

Rykel groans and stops skating. I swing my arms out to keep from falling over at the sudden stop. "You've got to be kidding me."

I chuckle and shake my head. "It's not that bad. Just... overrated? I'm sure the radio will come back on as soon as it's over."

Only after I tug him along does Rykel resume skating. I mimic the low, slow voice of the singer while we skate, making both of us laugh. Then Rykel stops and rolls over to the center of the rink, where he starts doing spins and sharp turns. I watch him show off.

"Your cycle give you practice, did it?" I tease.

He grins and skids to a stop. "Oh, sure it did! Wheels are wheels."

I take the hand he reaches out to me. Instead of leading me back out to the sides like I expect, though, he pulls me in and starts doing something resembling a trick spin and dancing.

"What are you doing? Rykel, I'm gonna fall. Rykel, Rykel, stop!" I'm somewhere between screeching and giggling. "C'mon, seriously!"

My right foot slides out from under me and I fall back onto the floor, my sides aching with laughter. He trips over my leg and falls onto his hands and knees, also gasping.

"Rykel!" I let my torso lay back and fight to stop laughing. "You're... you're nuts."

He crawls over to me and puts one hand on each side of my head, grinning down at me. "I know."

My laughter fades and I smile up at him, feeling silly here on the floor. I start to ask for him to help me up, but the words dissolve on my tongue.

Because Rykel is no longer grinning down at me. His electric blue eyes take on a look I've only seen once before, dancing in that parking lot outside the movie theater. Neither of us grins, or laughs, or speaks. Instead, in less than a second, his eyes close and his face rushes towards mine. Before I can close my eyes or even register what's happening, his lips press against mine.

I don't know why. Maybe it's because of the shock of the moment. Maybe it's the adrenaline from the skating, the laughter. Maybe it's because it's at least three in the morning and I'm on the opposite side of town in a roller rink a celebrity helped me break into. Maybe it's the conductivity, the same phenomenon that occured the day I met Rykel in the gas station.

I don't know. All I know is that the jolt that shoots through my body at that kiss is unlike anything I've ever felt before... then I black out.



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