It is 3:08 in the afternoon. Class is out. Ice is at 4:00. Graeme is waiting patiently outside the school for his grandma to pick him up and drive him to the arena. It is not cold, but the winter is coming so it is starting to get dark early. Graeme hops into the front seat of his grandma's car and she folds his chair into the back as the trunk was full with his hockey gear.
It is a 5-minute drive to the rink and during that time Graeme thinks about what he is going to practice on the ice. He is excited about skating.
"Goodbye Graeme, your mom will be here when she's finished work." As grandma drives off to pick up Graeme's sisters, he hauls his gear through the doors of the arena. There isn't anybody around. The lights are off and only a few spot lights shine onto the ice surface. Graeme moves past the posters of great hockey players, who grew up playing in that same arena. Down the ramp he picks up speed and heads towards the change room. Graeme drops his sled by the bench and heaves his hockey bag on to the ground in the change room.
There he changes out of his clothes and into his hockey gear. First, some warm pants to go under his pads. then his shoulder and elbow pads followed by his sweater and helmet. Graeme grabs his gloves and sticks, and heads out of the door back towards the bench.
Nobody was there. No arena employees or other skaters, no fans or family. Only the zamboni was there to watch Graeme as he pushed himself onto the ice. It was quiet as the ice crunched under Graeme's skates. He thrusts himself forward with a swift push on his sticks and let himself glide the full length of the rink. Graeme grabbed a puck and practiced stick handling. Forehand to backhand then right hand to left hand. Graeme felt the weight of the puck and quickly became more confident with it. In a quick motion Graeme shot the puck at the net, missing the top corner and causing a loud bang as the puck hit the glass behind.
For an hour Graeme continued to push himself to his limit on the ice. He would sprint as fast as he can or practice his agility between dots often picking up picks stick handle with on the ice.
Eventually, Graeme's moms showed up to take him home. He was not ready to go, but he was hungry and tired. Graeme got off the ice, changed and was ready to skate again in a week.