Peter J. Atwood fiction

I like words, and more, words that are used well. This is where I collect them. Most I come across in the works of other authors, but on occasion I find some in the wild myself.


The janitor at the ice rink skates figures. His arms arc over his head for a pirouette, then extend in practiced elegance for a glide—a dancer who disappears, one imagines, when he unties his skates and picks up his broom.

Perhaps he is not the janitor at all, but the incongruity of his fluency on the ice with his blue-collar attire provokes my imagination: a figure-skater who once won applause and medals and loved his art too much to forsake it when his limbs grew infirm. He accepted the job of janitor at a shopping-mall ice-rink so that he could continue to skate everyday. No audiences applaud or cheer, but the children with their mothers circling the boards turn their heads and stare—as do I—at the surprise of a solitary old man happy at play, dancing to a melody only he hears and remembers.