The next laborious circuit around the edge of the ice rink is very slow, but Victoria manages it without falling over. Julia skates back and forth nearby, offering encouragement. When they reach the entrance gate they find Anne waiting.

‘Looking good,’ she says.

Victoria looks at her doubtfully. Gran is usually honest, for a grown-up.

As if she has read this thought Anne smiles. ‘Well it’s only your first try,’ she says. ‘Do you want to go out in the middle? We could hire one of those walker things.’

Victoria’s concentration has been so fierce that she has not registered anything but the guard rail that she clings to. Now she looks around, even turning her body a little. This time her feet do not slide away and she manages to stand upright.

She sees what Gran means. In the middle of the rink people are pushing themselves around on individual frameworks that slide over the ice.

‘Yes please,’ she says.

Anne gets a walking frame and pushes it onto the ice. Gingerly Victoria transfers her weight from the guard rail to the frame. But now what?

‘Push it,’ calls Anne helpfully, but she is safe on land.

Victoria pushes carefully at the frame and feels her feet slide backwards.

‘Hang on,’ says Julia. She skates up behind Victoria and put her arms over Victoria’s so that they can push together. In this fashion with Victoria half-pushing and half-dangling between Julia and the frame, they manage about twenty metres. Even Julia is puffing now.

‘What say I go round the front and pull you.’ she says.

For some heady moments, with Julia pulling, Victoria feels herself whisked across the ice. This is it, she thinks, this is how it was in Frozen. She does not see the shed they are in, badly in need of a clean-up and a coat of paint. She replaces it with the snow-capped mountains and icy lakes of her imagination.

Three girls not much older than she is whisk past laughing. Victoria begins to smile. That will be her soon. Julia, encouraged by the smile, speeds up. Victoria’s feet move more slowly than the frame and she falls flat on her front, banging her nose.

Julia pulls her up and helps her to the gate where Anne is waiting to hug her.

‘Had enough?’ she asks, checking the poor nose.

Victoria nods miserably.

‘That’s good,’ says Anne, ‘because I’m freezing. Let’s go and get a drink.’


Mel is watering the front garden when they pull up. ‘How was it?’ she calls, coming over to the car. All three women turn to Victoria.

‘All right,’ she says.

She sees her mother’s expression. ‘Thank you Grannies,’ she adds.

She turns and trails into the house.


Anne rings Mel later that night to see if Victoria has recovered.

Mel laughs. ‘Don’t worry,’ she says. ‘Vic’s had a better idea. Next time she wants you to take her rock climbing.’