TITLE: The Only One
GENRE: YA Contemporary
Shae Mackenna inhaled deeply as she walked down the cinder-block hallway, skates blades cushioned by the rubber carpeting underfoot. The slightly musty tang of brinewater, punctuated with strong overtones of rancid hockey equipment told her she was home.
She let out her breath as she arrived at the players’ bench, stepping towards the closed gate that kept her on the wrong side of the ice. She waited to make eye contact with any of the men out on the ice. After she rapped her stick over the boards, one finally looked her way.
“Hey,” she called out through her helmet cage. “Can I play?”
The nearest players glided to a stop in front of her, open-mouthed, red-faced and puffing. They looked at each other, each waiting for someone else to answer her question.
“I said: Can I play?” Shae asked again, drawing out each word enough to be clear but not so slowly as to insult them. She puffed out her chest a bit, looking several of the guys straight in the eye. It was a minor detail that ice level was a few inches lower than the bench area; right now, she needed every inch she could get.
“Look, no offense, sweetheart…” started one of the chubbier, shorter players, which Shae met with a scoff. Calling her sweetheart was only something her father could get away with. It wasn’t cool from a total stranger, especially some out-of-shape plug.
“What’s the big deal?” she asked, keeping her tone casual. “Gimme five minutes. If I can’t hack it, I'll leave.”