Writing inspired by the SWC creative writing prompt:

Three, thrice, third, threesome, triple, trilogy, triplets: What does the number three mean to you?

Triple Three

By Janice Cutting

I may have mentioned my love of skating and all things ice. The blade of a skate is curved. It’s called the rock of the blade, which in itself is quite cool because it certainly was my rock for a long time. I re-found my love of skating when life had become a little off-balance and it pulled me back together, like the centrifugal force of my spin.

The rock of a blade also has a deep hollow along its length, creating an edge on either side. Inside and Outside Edge. If you push off and lean on one of the edges, and just glide, you will make a perfect circle. The circle always has a diameter of 8 x the length of your blade in diameter. Physics I guess. Physics gets everywhere.

Well so far no mention of the number three, you say, and it’s our third birthday. Not our eighth birthday.

Well, here is where the three comes in. If you change direction on your circle – any direction – you will make the shape of a 3 on the ice. Perfectly formed for everyone to see. Skating loves 3s. It loves three steps in dance, three jumps, three turns, and triple jumps. Triple axels, triple salchows, triple loops and triple cherries.

When I first skated at the age of 3 plus 10, Ok 13. I used to love doing the specialist element of ‘compulsory figures’ in the early hours of the morning. Usually 6am not 3am – we were not that crazy. The ice had been laid so that it looked like glass, but with the texture of smoothed just-set icing. Each step you took would make a mark on the ice, so we would carefully tip toe to our ‘patch’, a little rectangle of space we could call our own. We would mark out two circles by measuring each of the diameters with 8 steps of our blade, heal to toe, and scratching little cross hatches at the mid and end points. Then we would set out on the slow, methodical making of circles.

Left outside, right outside forward

left outside, right outside backwards

Our tracks, which we had to repeat 3 times each side had to be no wider than 3 cms. It required absolute precision.

And then the really good part. The 3s. Forwards to backwards, inside to outside, we changed direction half way round the circle with a little 3-turn. It was mesmerising and soul settling. Almost like worship, but without the deity.

The ice rink was so cold in the early hours of the morning that the heat of our bodies would create a bit of a temperature change and a fog would build on the ice. It would rise up and trickle past your ankles, obscuring your feet, so that you could only feel the circles in your head to be sure they were there. But you knew.

The fog would rise gently until your head was literally in the clouds, rendering you blind, not just to your 3s, but to everything else around you. The sweet sound of the blades crinkling, chinking and cutting through the ice became muffled in your ears.

It almost took as long as the figures lesson for the fog to rise above all our heads. When it did, we were released to blast around the whole ice pad at full pelt, jumping and spinning, turning and twirling, air whistling past, disturbing the fog above our heads.

Our spirits freed.

Did you love Janice’s story as much as we did? Triple Three also celebrates Sunday Writers’ Club’s third birthday. Thank you, Jan for the best present the clube could hope for!

Readers, we’d love to hear from you!

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