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Going for Gold

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“Angela, komm schon, mach deinen Mantel zu, damit wir gehen können.” Reinhardt calmly said as Angela struggled to zip up her much larger royal blue coat as they stood in the Arena parking lot. The snow falling like sugar on her face and platinum blonde hair. The satisfying zip noise finally came after 5 tries as Angela followed the much taller Reinhardt into the big beautiful Fitness Arena. She had been there a couple times- but it was a long time away. Or at least to Angela’s seven year old standards it was a long time away. The teenage boys with their bags in tow as they walked in front, beside and behind Reinhardt and Angela. Angela was happy to say hello and watch the boys goof around- the boys always saw her as their little team mascot. She had a little lion hat and everything that resembled the Lions on their jerseys.

Angela ran ahead of Reinhardt as they got closer to the big glass doors that opened automatically, the voice overhead welcoming her to the Knorr Arena as she said a bright and enthusiastic hello to the AI. Her glowing pink and green skechers lighting up with every step she took- the pure pride and joy of her seven year old life. She turned around to look for Reinhardt, quick to desperately chase after him as he walked to the front desk, 20 steps about 7 of his own. As her hand reached grabbing his coat sleeve she was led down a browned and red brick hallway to the changing rooms, a big one marked above it. Angela of course- couldn’t be in a boys changing room. She didn’t wanna catch their cooties! - or that’s what Reinhardt said. Her short blonde bob bouncing in her face as Angela sat on a chair that was a little too tall for her, Reinhardt explaining in quick German that he’d return in just a moment as he handed her his phone- a game already loaded up for her with a big smile on her face. Honestly she couldn’t be a happier seven year old. It was a good friday by her standards, she got to skip school that day for the long drive up from Augsburg. But after that entire drive Angela still felt like a little rocket wired with sugar and vinegar. To her standards though, it was a good day.

Arguably things had been getting way easier lately, Angela had been staying with Reinhardt for a while now after her parents took that job at a Children’s Hospital somewhere in Canada. Of course she missed them all the time but she had Skype calls, they sent her Birthday presents and Christmas presents. At first Angela practically begged for them to come home or bring her with them, but after nearly two weeks of explaining Angela finally got the sad but true memo. They were simply too busy for their own child. After that, Angela eventually noticed that the Skype calls got farther apart and they never joined the Skype call for Angela’s Christmas choir the year before- or her birthday party that year. They had even told Angela they would have to call her the week after her birthday.

They were just too busy and they didn’t care that they were busy.

But even now, almost two whole years later Angela was having a lot of fun with Reinhardt. Going to different places in Southern Germany every few weekends, playing his little videogames on his phone while he aggressively coached an entire team of equally aggressive teenagers. Then exploring the big stadiums and arenas they went to, every once in a while staying in a hotel and getting to skip school just like today. Skipping school for Angela had gotten less important for her a while ago, after all she was excelling in everything, not that it was hard for a seven year old to do basic education. But every weekend was like a little extra and entertaining holiday- and Angela had lot’s of holidays.

Every little click on the phone in front of her kept her utmost attention as Angela played Geometry dash 5 on Reinhardt’s old phone. Her legs swung off the chair as she focused every little ounce of attention she could on pressing the screen at the perfect moment.

Every little beat gave Angela the signal to tap the phone screen again before the screen- turned off- the screen's little battery blinking on and off now. It was dead! No!

Tapping the screen again and again to see if it would turn on Angela grew frustrated as she turned to the change room door- hearing Reinhardt but not seeing him.

“Reinhardt!” She called loudly into the room- hoping he would hear her as she looked at the screen on his phone. The blinking battery was still going off as she called desperately two more times for Reinhardt before the tall 7’4’’ man peeked around the corner.

“Angela? Was ist los, ist etwas passiert?” Reinhardt looked down at her with an almost petrified look on his face- worrying about her every second as a new parent of this kid.

“Dein Telefon ist gestorben.” Angela said quietly and almost a little ashamed of her loud volume, showing him the screen, Reinhardt’s entire body relaxing with the single statement. Sighing softly.

“Lass mich mein Ladegerät suchen..” He said with a deflated tone as Angela lit up with happiness as Reinhardt disappeared back into the changing room that Angela could hear full of loud teenage boys being the rowdy and energetic selves they were. Angela impatiently looking at the screen expecting a miracle to happen. But eventually the big tall man emerged from the room again, his beat up charger in hand, and his winter coat gone. The changing room was probably much warmer than the halls were

“Dann suchen wir uns eine Steckdose.” Reinhardt said with his normal confident tone as Angela nodded trying to find the same confidence, grabbing the sleeve of his long sleeve now as she passed boys who looked equally as rowdy as the ones who Reinhardt coached. The boys shuffling past them into other change rooms the same rowdy yelling now all muffled into one room as Angela and Reinhardt pushed open two big blue doors that went into a massive lobby- a big swimming pool across the hall, and more skating rinks in other chunks of the arena. Overwhelmed by all the fun Angela gripped Reinhardt’s sleeve walking with him to where they were big windows facing the Arena they had just come from. The Arena looked so small from afar, and everything looked funner through a window. Pulling out one of the chairs at a table, Reinhardt quickly set up the charger and helped Angela’s messy and uncoordinated hands put the charger into the little slot on his phone.

“Viel Glück mit deinem Spiel, Schatz. Wenn Sie noch etwas brauchen, holen Sie mich, aber lassen Sie mein Telefon nicht hier, sonst wird es wahrscheinlich ein Dieb nehmen.” Reinhardt warned as he gave Angela's messy blonde hair. Her laugh echoing in the big lobby as she patted down her hair trying to fix the mess.

Reinhardt walked away after that with his quick pace, off to go shout at a bunch of teenagers and direct their team to a hopeful victory. Angela’s sky blue eyes still dead eye focused on the battered phone as the charging battery painfully and slowly filled with yellow then turning green after what seemed like an actual millennia before the screen went from the black background battery to a bright white- It was on again! Like magic the phone turned back on, giving the little solid notification just a little too late that Reinhardt’s phone was about to die- Angela must have just pushed the notification away while she was focused on the game. But to her nothing mattered anymore- nothing was stopping her from beating that 5th Level- nothing. The electronic music boosted itself up again as Angela started the level with a renewed determination, hugged close to the wall to keep herself connected to Reinhardt’s equally battered charger.

She could keep herself busy too- just like her parents. Then maybe she could go live with them because then they wouldn’t worry about keeping her busy- she could become the best at this game and keep herself busy.

 

Well that’s if Angela wasn’t seven. Within 20 minutes the game got boring like most things did for children her age. She had tried beating level five like- a billion times and she still couldn’t get past one part. It sucked. There had to be something that Angela could keep herself busy with, or her parents would never let her come live with them in Canada.

Standing from the table, Angela grabbed the quick charging phone getting up as she pulled the phone cord roughly from the outlet- something she had a horribly bad habit of. Breaking about three of these flimsy charging cords all by herself- Reinhardt and her were the clumsy two who accidentally destroyed things left and right.

Wandering down the various halls, Angela passed a grand basketball court, a quick paced badminton game and she was just about to pass another big skating rink. She just couldn’t stop herself from wandering- there was so much to see and to be kept in one little hall was a horrible crime to Angela. She wandered to the upstairs past the windows that showed her the big skating arena- but it definitely wasn’t hockey. There were two people on the ice, looking about Angela’s young age but maybe a little older by her guesses. Standing in the middle of the ice as parents enthusiastically clapped and looked at the two. The two wearing more fancy clothing than any hockey player would wear on ice. The girl was wearing a velvet blue dress- her face looking like a forced smile- like she had eaten a lemon! Her hair tied tight into a ponytail, the boy looking like he was forcing the same smile but a little less grumpy as her. The voice above speaking in thick german, Angela’s brain adjusting quickly to the familiar language.

“Bitte Willkommen, Amelie Guillard und Gérard Lacroix von Frankreich.”

Watching the two of them Angela watched as the music started- she had absolutely zero idea who would play sports to this song. This was boring- it was such a slow song! Walking farther down the hall Angela peeked her head into an open door seeing two teenage boys- about two years older than Reinhardt’s team stretching, one holding his leg over his bright blonde hair and the other on the floor holding a splits- Safe to say Angela immediately kept walking warded off by the fact that they could do that. Stopping at the next room Angela peeked in to see one two ladies who looked similar. One was again, about Angela’s age. The other was probably her mother clearly frustrated as she tried to get her daughters long red hair into a braid.

Binneas. Stop moving your head, you go on in 40 minutes and you still have to warm up your jumps- Moira.” The woman said, grabbing her tense daughters shoulders with frustration. The girl whipped around with a certain special sass to give her a death glare. The women’s accent was thick- nearly too thick for Angela to understand, but she made do.

“You can’t even do a braid in your own hair.” The girl- Moira she guessed sneered to her mother as her mother sighed. Her accent was equally as thick as her mothers as the two fought like it was normal. Her mother getting up from the mat where she was restlessly pulling on her daughter's hair.

“Fine, if you think you’ll do much better at it, make a dog's breakfast of your hair then and go skate looking like a mess. See how well the judges grade you on that.” Her mother practically spat in her face as she stormed out of the room ignoring Angela who was just standing there watching. Moira’s face turning to Angela’s now- the blonde girl fully ready to have her own stern and brutal insult thrown at her.

“She’s terrible at braiding hair. Makes a mess of my hair herself.” The girl added directing her complaints to Angela now as Angela quietly walked into the room. Still adjusting herself to speaking and understanding English as a whole. The girl in front of her had messy red locks that sat just below her boney collarbones. But even to Angela she could tell that she didn’t like her hair- that or she just did a really bad job at taking care of it. It looked a mess even without her mother trying to fix it- Angela and her control issues- she just couldn’t handle the idea that she had messy hair and that girl was gonna go do something- In public like that. Thinking for a moment, Angela thought of how to word it in English properly, her face shifting to a look of concentration.

“I will try?” Angela asked as she walked over with her cheery smile putting Reinhardt’s phone in her jacket pocket along with the cord and plug. The girl gave her an unsure look.

“Your hair is too short- your hands are super small- can you even braid?” She asked with her accusing tone giving Angela a look that resembled what she gave her mother- this girl was just so doubtful of Angela. She had forced Reinhardt to teach her to braid- and she did it to everyone’s hair who let her. Every braid was as perfect as she could get it.

“I braid. I try it okay?” Angela explained trying to calm this girl and her doubt as the girl sighed.

“I suppose you're my last hope.” The girl said exasperated just as much as Angela looked at the brush, water bottle, detangle spray? Okay this was good enough not ideal- But good enough.

“Yes. I brush first. Okay?” Angela said with her poor-ish English looking at her soft and pale face- noticing her different colored eyes- how pretty! They were a beautiful chocolate brown and a vibrant bluer than blue-blue. She had all the fine and gorgeous little features that Angela adored looking at. Faint and speckled freckles covering the entirety of her nose and cheeks- it almost made her little bursts of frustrated anger funny. How could someone who looked so.. Absolutely childish, get so angry and be so terrifying?

Clicking back to the task at hand Angela stopped staring at those different eyes, her hands reaching for the brush and detangle as she sprayed a generous amount into the back of her hair. Pulling the brush through the long locks Angela couldn’t help but mentally cringe at the knots in her hair. But she sat there for a good 10 minutes just pulling the knots out as the girl went on and on about figure skating, the little TV in front of them showing the ice that was below them. Moira noting every little thing about them. Angela surprisingly found her voice nice to listen to, her accent hitting every letter differently and so smoothly.

“Where is your voice from?” Angela asked unsure of how to put it in English still as the girl quirked her eyebrow.

“I am from Ireland. Do you mean my accent? Do you like it?” Moira spat back at her as Angela turned her head again gently. Angela nodding adding that to the millions of mental notes she had already taken about the conversation. But yes- Angela really liked her accent. It made her feel like giggling but also like it was honey in her ears as if she could lay down and just listen for hours- like a song.

Whence knots were out of her now silky hair, Angela couldn’t believe how much she loved this feeling. This was different then her friends- her friends made her just happy- but this was so much different. Moira’s voice made her melt with happiness and comfort.

“I never asked you, what’s your name?” Moira asked turning her head to Angela- her hands immediately reaching into Moira’s hair to turn her head back towards the TV.

“Angela.” She simply said looking over her shoulder with a smile Moira nodding as Angela carefully pulled her fingers through her hair. As Moira nodded her head tipping back a little as she began to separate her hair.

“Sit tall please- you're very tall to me.” Angela stood up to begin to braid her soft and sweet smelling hair as she carefully pulled hair from her long locks of ginger hair leaning forwards Angela pulled more hair from the top of her head.

“French braids are okay right?” Angela asked just hoping this sweet voiced perfect haired Irish girl wouldn’t turn sour on her and get mad at her.

“That’s perfect- are you done?” Moira asked clearly impatiently frustrated with the slow process of turning the hair over and pulling it together. Angela quietly fixes the hair ties as she nodded, moving to look at Moira nodding.

“Okay! Done, super long hair.” Angela added as Moira turned to face her now. The girl looked on in thought for a second.

“You're coming to watch me skate Angela, come on- you took twenty minutes to braid so now we have to go downstairs.” Moira stated- not even asking as she stood up slowly with her skates making her so much taller, Moira’s bigger hand immediately gripping Angela’s soft and small hand as she dragged her from the room. Down the hall past where the two boys were in the room stretching still, their conversation muffled through the door they had finally decided to close.

Being dragged all the way downstairs and into the actual extravagant rink, Angela remained in complete awe as she watched the woman on the ice holding her leg far above her head like that boy in the stretching room. As Moira walked past like nothing mattered. This was far more different than Angela had originally thought.

Seeing the girl from before- she looked even more upset than she did before. The boy trying to explain something in French- while Angela did understand French fairly well, she chose not to understand this conversation. Amelie pausing altogether to look at Moira and Angela. Seeing their hands together the girl somehow got even more grossed out and looked at Moira baring this look of judgemental look that told Angela all she needed to know, slowly pulling her hand away from Moira’s.

That dull shame she had when she had yelled for Reinhardt coming back as she pulled her arm away from Moira, briefly looking at Angela before she began to walk towards the box waiting there with an elderly looking woman.

“Come on,” Moira gestured for her to follow as Angela walked standing watching over the boards- they had no glass! That was so weird- this entire thing was weird. Moira’s skates were white and she had these awfully weird looking skate guards on. She too, like the girl beside her, had a dress on- Moira shedding the white and orange jacket to a red dress that matched her hair, her sleeves long and flowy bedazzled with simple yet beautiful patterns across the mesh bits on her sides.

Maybe Angela could be wrong too- maybe this wasn’t all boring. Or maybe it was because of how pretty Moira looked in red.