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The Encounter with Woolly Aliens
By Colleen Messina
1 Cheryl was silent during the car ride. Why had she ever agreed to do this? She had gone sixteen years of her life without ever once wanting to learn how to ski. Then John had offered to teach her. Like a love-sick fool, Cheryl had agreed.
2 When they got to the ski slope, the entire place looked like the set of a sci-fi movie. Cheryl felt as though she had landed on an alien planet. Strange-looking creatures dressed in neon-colored, woolly outfits ran rampant. Some had fluorescent tentacles on their heads. They were everywhere, moving noisily on huge, metallic feet with a knock-kneed gait and carrying pointy weapons on their shoulders. Why am I here? Cheryl thought.
3 "Come on, Cheryl, we have to get our ski passes," John called.
4 Oh, yeah. John was her sole reason for being here. She was not going to impress him by standing here. "Coming," replied Cheryl. Her breath formed white clouds in the icy air, and it hurt to breathe deeply.
5 Cheryl hoisted poles and skis on her shoulder with one hand and grabbed her backpack with the other. Her toes crunched tightly into her ski boots, and she discovered that the knock-kneed gait that looked so strange was the only way to walk. The day was perfectly clear, and the blue sky overhead looked like a shiny, inverted bowl.
6 "I'm glad we got here early," said John. John was muscular and lithe, and Cheryl was willing to bet that he easily skied down the steepest and most advanced double black diamond slopes.
7 "Yeah, me, too," said Simon. "How are you doing, Cheryl?"
8 "Oh, fine," she mumbled, feeling a slight loss of composure as she watched the confident skiers skim effortlessly down the slopes and stop sharply in a spray of ice crystals. She realized it had been naive to think that she might impress John. Her friends had thought it was an ingenious plan for Cheryl to get John to give her a skiing lesson, but now she was not so sure. She thought perhaps sixteen was much too old to learn this sport; the five-year-olds she saw on the bunny slope seemed to be doing better. Maybe she should pretend to have an asthma attack or something. It wouldn't be an admirable thing to do, but Cheryl felt like she needed to do whatever it took to get home again. Then John smiled at her, and her fickle heart changed again. She'd try!
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