The Skater and the Composer
Blades swished on the ice and sprayed light snow in the air as Carrie ended her practice session. The five foot three inch brunette, shook loose her pony tail as she stepped off the ice. Her legs shook from the hard practice session and she was breathing deeply. Sectionals were not too far away and this was the time to push, push, and push. Or so her coach was always saying to the skating pair. Carrie’s thoughts flickered to Carl and his long illness. She hoped and prayed he would be back on the ice in time for competition. However, she despised the stereotype of the “cute brother/sister team”. They really did make a great team. He was disciplined and focused, while she was showy and fun, which created the balance that had made them the up and coming pairs team on the level of great pairs teams like Tai and Randy and Kitty and Peter.
The Carl and Carrie Olan pair’s success had been clouded recently by Carl’s extended illness. At first, it just seemed like a long cold, and then he became weak and lethargic. The diagnosis turned to Mono and six weeks off the ice. Carrie tried to train alone, but it was not the same. She worked diligently to cheer up her brother and even cooked some of his favorite dishes like home made chili and home made lasagna. Carrie tried not to worry, but for the nineteen year old, the idea of missing skating competition seemed like the end of the world.
Carrie slipped on her skate guards, making sure to protect her expensive blades, and strode over to the locker room while she thought about their costumes. She would use black, red and gold—bold colors to go with their bold routine. She designed the costumes herself even though she could have easily gone with one of the many experts. Her sponsors would willingly pay for it, but the petite brunette loved being involved in every detail of her skating world. The legendary pianist and composer Jonas Mann composed the bold, daring music specifically for her. Her coach Lori Land insisted this was the way to go. The music played hauntingly in Carrie’s dreams at night creating a connection to the composer even though they had not met. She knew Jonas was 37, had never been married, and he was known worldwide for his liaisons with starlets. His dark hair, held back in a ponytail, smoldering dark brown eyes, broad shoulders, and a firm jaw line, softened by that dimple in his chin, yes—he was any woman’s dream. Carrie thought he looked stoic, but sad in most of his media pics. She sighed, maybe we will meet some day, she thought.
The cold spray of the locker room shower jolted her out of her thoughtful mood. Gees, she thought, when are they going to get a new water heater at this rink? The New Town rink looked good, but there definitely was room for improvement. I have got to get out of Minnesota, Carrie mused. New Town, a recent suburb development north of Minneapolis had attracted many families and businesses, but Carrie longed for adventure. She thought ahead to future days with skating shows and a possible sports media career. “I just have to put in the hard, physical work now and it will pay off later”.
She quickly dressed in her jeans and a sweater. As she left the rink she called out a good bye to her favorite Zambonie driver, Rick. Carrie flashed her famous smile and her green gold eyes glittered with appreciation for his hard work to make the ice flawless for her. She zipped her ski jacket, pulled on mittens, and braced herself against the bitter January wind.
A short two blocks walk through the snow and Carrie arrived at her brick trimmed town home. She and Carl were renting the town home to be close to the rink. Their parents still lived in the city. Carrie tried the door and it was locked. Damn, she thought, and searched for her key. Finally, at the bottom of her handbag, she felt her key ring. Whew, she definitely did not want to crawl through a window, again. As she opened the door, music trailed through the house. The warm heat of the apartment welcomed her in the door. Carrie recognized the music and remembered one of their pairs routines with a smile. Once inside, she thought instantly of food. Bananas and chocolate milk were her two favorites after a long practice. Gulping the milk, she felt some energy return. Carrie looked around the kitchen at the modern wood and marble fixtures that were typical of the development.
I have got to put up a few decorations, she chided herself, the place would look more homey.
“Carl”, she called out and received no answer.
Puzzled, Carrie walked up the stairs to her brother’s room—his music must be too loud, she thought.
For some reason, she began to feel a cold chill. She knocked and then pushed Carl’s bedroom door open. He was lying on the floor in a pool of blood. The room blurred and tilted sideways. She gazed at his lifeless body and the gun in his hand. Quickly she turned and ran down the stairs, falling down the last steps. Grabbing her cell off the counter she dialed 911. The world didn’t make sense—she started breathing rapidly—
The operator answered…
“Please, someone, my brother killed himself”, she sobbed
Dropping the phone, she ran outside sobbing. The police began to arrive. Carrie threw herself into the arms of the first policeman, and he held her as she collapsed. I am losing my mind she thought, she felt her throat tighten, and she felt like she could not breathe.
The next several hours blurred together. Her grandparents came to pick her up, her parents came, relatives came…….the pastor, the doctor. She swallowed some pills and drifted off for a few stolen hours dreaming of Carl at the beach, on the ice, at school….he was alive….it’s all a dream. Then she opened her eyes and sat up on the cream leather sofa, her eyes focused and she saw all of the people….the doctor, family, friends….No—its true —he is really gone. The mind numbing, soul suffocating pain came back. How could she go on…..
Carrie spoke on behalf of her brother at the funeral to a crowd of thousands. It was important for people to remember everything about him that was special, decent, and good. The police investigation concluded that his bout with mono had changed his brain chemistry—clinical depression was the diagnosis.
Carrie refused to set foot on the ice. She refused to take phone calls or visitors. She stayed inside, listened to music, and watched home movies of her brother. Once a week, a therapist visited her and tried to get her to talk and she would stare blankly at him with tears trickling down her face. She could not talk about her feelings, when she tried, she would dissolve into hoarse sobs. Her parents, her coach, friends, and family members worried and felt she was slipping away from them. They waited, prayed, and hoped Carrie would make some sort of progress.
The haunting music of Jonas Mann played in her head and Carrie dreamed of skating with Carl one more magical time. That morning she awoke and pushed her hair out of her face. She went to her dresser and found the CD…playing the song, she hummed and went through the routine in her head. Carl would not want me to live like this—she looked over at his picture—the same brown hair and green eyes—people thought they were twins—and they were 11 months apart. So close—they knew each other’s thoughts.
Why, Carl,—Why did I not know you were in so much pain? She whispered aloud.
Her stubbornness started to return. I don’t know how—but I will go on…she thought. She looked at another envelope sitting on her dresser unopened. The sender was Jonas and it had arrived six weeks earlier. Carrie reached for the package and tentatively studied it. Her address was hand written, she noted. She sighed and started to set the curious envelope down. A voice inside bugged her and urged her to open it.
Dear Ms. Olan,
I can not even come close to imagining your pain at this time. I have thought of you since the moment I heard of your brother’s death. You have inspired this new song. Please listen to it and it is only for you.
If you need a chance to get away from everything, you may use my condo in Oahu for as long as you like. The keys and address are included in this package. I am not on the island at this time of year and you would have the place to yourself. Think of it as one artist reaching out to another.
My soul is with you,
The CD was labeled only with her name. The first few strains were achingly sad, yet the song changed into a strong courageous ballad. Tears welled in her eyes at the beauty and strength of this song created just for her. Carrie dialed her mother’s number
“Mom, I am leaving town”—she announced.
“Carrie, no—we need you”…her mom pleaded.
Carrie thought about her mother. Her creative flair, her desire for her children to be all they could be, and her unending perfectionism. Her mom had big dreams for her children and Carrie knew that her mother was suffering, too.
“Mom, I can’t be here in this town anymore—I have to get away and figure things out—I feel like I am slowly becoming a non person….try to understand.”
“I am trying to understand Carrie, no matter what, I love you.”
Guilt crept into her heart, she knew that her mother loved her. Carrie did not have the energy to fight or argue, but she needed this-to get away.
“I have to go—I am leaving tonight”, Carrie said quietly.
“Where will you go?,,,”
“I don’t know yet—but I will call you….” Carrie lied to keep her mother from worrying. Once safely on the island, she would call her family.
The blue green ocean soothed and quieted Carrie’s mind. She hugged her knees as she sat on the beach. Her hair blowing loose from her pony tail, eyes closed, and chin tilted up to the sun, she wore a half smile.
She could not believe that she had been at the beach for three weeks already. Her parents were anxious about her being so far away. Her days were laid back, but had fallen into a routine that involved a jog on the beach in the morning, followed by some yoga, then some reading and writing in her journal. Sometimes she went into Honolulu to people watch, but time seemed to slip by quickly. The bright sun coaxed her towards beginning life again. She felt a shadow cross over her and looked up to see a tall, broad shouldered man.
“Jonas?”, she breathed, seeing him in person for the first time. He is even taller in person, she thought.
He sat beside her and took in her big sad eyes and though she seemed to be acquiring the island tan, she still had dark tinges under her eyes.
“Carrie?” The composer asked softly.
“I thought you were going to be nowhere near the island?”, she queried, suddenly suspicious.
“Your mother tracked me down and made me promise to check on you. She is extremely worried.,” he offered gently.
Quickly Carrie became alert, and asked, “You didn’t bring her here with you, did you?.
“No, of course not. I came alone.” Jonas assured.
Carrie’ shoulders relaxed a bit and she became aware that she was dressed only in a bikini. Why should I be embarrassed, she thought, I have worn less on the ice in front of crowds?.
“The wind is shifting, it is time to go inside”. Jonas insisted. He stood and offered her his hand. As Carrie grasped his hand, she felt a jolt of electricity pass through her hand. She wondered if Jonas felt the same or if she was reacting from some school-girl crush. He did not let go of her hand and guided her back to the beach condo. The wind was indeed cool and by the time the pair reached the door, Carrie felt deeply chilled.
“Never go out on this beach without a sweater—the weather changes abruptly…”
Her teeth chattered and Jonas began to massage her arms and rub her back.
“Okay”, she said, we are back—“I can put more clothes on now”….
Jonas looked over body appreciatively for the first time., noting her muscular, yet feminine frame.
Carrie’s cheeks flamed red and she headed to her room for some sweats. Pulling on a pair of Nike sweats, she glanced at the photo of her brother on the desk. She picked it up and studied his smiling face. Guilt washed over her again. Why didn’t she see his pain? She should have been able to prevent this. Tears spilled onto the glass and any momentary joy she felt at meeting Jonas left her mind. Time seemed to stand still and then she heard a tap at her door.
“Carrie?” Jonas called as he pushed the door open. “You have been up here for about a half hour—everything ok?”
She couldn’t look up. Jonas circled around the bed and hugged her. Carrie shook and cried silently in his arms. Spending her emotions and feeling completely exhausted, she pressed into Jonas’s warm body. Another feeling washed over her and she wasn’t sure she recognized it- desire? love? gratitude?
That’s crazy, she thought. I don’t even know this man. But I do, her mind argued. I know his music and he writes for me, for my heart. She rested her head on his shoulder.
“Jonas, what are we doing? What are you doing, here, really?”, Carrie asked tentatively in a soft, shaky voice. Here luminous, sad, green eyes gazing up at him.
The composer carefully released her so he could look into her face. “Let me tell you a story. I have always felt that I have everything I want-everything a man could ever need. I have money, fame, great houses, and relationships. I love my music. I love what I do. Then one night, I had just finished performing in New York City. I was relaxing alone in my hotel. I was watching the news and your face popped up in the sports section. I listened to your interview and admired your drive, your spirit, and well, everything about you. At first, I thought what an admirable talent and person. Yet, I started dreaming of you and writing songs for you. I planned to meet you and get to know you.
Before I had the chance, your brother died…well I was devastated for you and scared for you, but I could not just turn up and say, Hey let’s get to know each other. I decided to reach out to you as an artist. When I knew you were staying in my house, I tried to give you a lot of time…then suddenly I couldn’t wait any longer. I am here, Carrie, because I …..” he trailed off
Tears began spilling down Carrie’s face. Now I have really blown it, Jonas thought.
“Jonas, before Carl died when you sent me music, I…I…dreamed of you often. I thought it was maybe just a crush…”Carrie stammered. Could this gorgeous, famous man really care for her? She wondered.
Jonas interrupted her thoughts, “I know this is too fast and too soon, but could you just let me in your life a little bit? Let me comfort you? Let me hold you….I don’t want to pressure you. Just let me be what you need and we can see where it leads.”
Carrie trembled a bit and leaned forward for a tentative kiss. His lips felt so gentle, yet firm. He smelled of ocean. Her world opened to the possibility of love and light after so much darkness and sadness.