I just want to remind everyone reading this that it is just a story that I've made up in my vividly twisted imagination and that I adore Sidney (as anyone reading any of my other stories can clearly tell). Also that life is not black and white but various shades of gray and you should never be quick to judge anyone...
“Melody?” The moths fluttering around the porch light are my only company as I step up to the door where my mother, in her velveteen track suit, her hair in curlers, stands, mouth agape as she surveys her daughter standing on her doorstep.
“Mom.” It catches in my throat when I say it. I would so much rather that it would have been my dad to answer the door. He wouldn’t have looked expectantly behind me for an entourage or a limo or something. I suppose that is how she would expect the fiancée of Sidney Crosby to travel and not the single yellow cab, the driver at least waiting until I get inside. “Can I come in?” I ask, waiting for her to open the door more than a crack.
“Yes…of course darling.” She finally holds the door open for me and I slide sideways past her, dragging my bag behind me.
The house smells stale and faintly of that too flowery perfume she likes to wear. I can hear the TV on in the living room, hockey of course. Just like almost every house in Canada, glued on a Saturday to Hockey Night in Canada. I hear my dad laugh and glance down at my watch. Between periods…must be time for Coach's Corner.
“Is something wrong?” my mother asks, hovering like a hummingbird. I can almost picture her wings going a mile a minute behind her while she stares anxiously at me. I catch her looking down at my hand to see if the ring is still there. They are. They both are.
“I just needed a break. Is that okay with you?” I ask, feeling suddenly like the petulant child I am, ready and raring for the argument.
“Of course it is baby,” she says, smiling and grabbing my head in her hands like it’s a basketball, planting a kiss on the top of my head and for a moment I think she’s actually glad to see me. “Tea?” she asks, and I nod, following her out to the kitchen.
It looks the same as it always has. The four chairs pushed in to the small wooden table against the far wall, under the window looking out to the backyard. Washer and dryer across from the harvest gold stove surrounded for some reason by brick and the matching gold fridge standing alone at the end of the galley kitchen across from the thick, white Irish sink.
The sink brings memories flooding back as I stand there listening to her run water and then plug in the electric kettle, her flip flops making a heavy sound on the linoleum floor. There is a window over the sink where I stood every night, washing the dishes because my mother wanted every scrap of food off of them before they went in the dishwasher, those few pieces we owned that she would allow to go in the dishwasher. I’d look out that window and right into the kitchen of the Crosby’s.
Sidney would be there, at the table, doing homework, Troy watching over him like a bear over his cub. Trina would wash the dishes, until Taylor could reach. Sometimes Sidney would get up to get a glass of milk and he’d look over and wave. I remember how that wave made me feel. Like my heart swelled so much and my chest got so tight I couldn’t breathe. I’d smile and wave back, my hands covered in soap suds and he’d laugh.
“You should have heard that Don Cherry…,” my dad begins and then stops, mid sentence, his entire expression softening when he sees me. “Melody,” he says simply and then it all falls apart. The tears start and then my daddy is holding me and for just one single minute, I’m that little girl again, in love with the boy across the back fence and my daddy is the only one who knows.
“Gone home?” Max’s head suddenly appears over the back of the seat in front of me and I nod. “Home New York or…?”
“She’s been in New York. No, she’s disappeared back to Coal Harbor. Something about being home sick,” I shrug. I’d had a surprise dinner planned, but that will have to wait. “I can’t imagine Mel ever being home sick enough to go see her mom, but….” Again, I can only shrug. Who can understand women?
“How long for, did she say?” Max asks as I pull out my game boy, ready to give Dupes and Tanger another shit kicking.
“A week, maybe, if she could put up with her mom that long, which should be a trick,” I add, thinking about the way her mother and she could get into it and how we’d all sit at our kitchen table wondering if tonight was going to be the night they’d kill one another.
“She must be close to her dad,” Max adds, and I pause, staring at the loading screen on my game boy. Close to Al? That hardly seems possible? I’m pretty sure Al was afraid of both of them but….
“Maybe, I don’t know. Why are you so worried any way? Oh I get it, you want to do my bachelor party while she’s away and can’t stop you from hiring every hooker and stripper in Pennsylvania?” I ask, almost hopefully, but Max shakes his head and slides back down, disappearing from view.
“Go easy on Max,” Dupes says quietly, digging his elbow into my ribs. “He’s doing his best, really, you have no idea.”
“I know he’s not hitting out there like he should be,” I mutter, almost under my breath but I know Dupes has heard me by the shrewd sideways glance I get before he puts his ear buds back in and returns to staring out the window. “Alright Tanger, prepared to be taken down,” I holler back and hear Tanger snigger and say something rude in French as his game character rolls out from behind a bush and opens fire on me. “I said prepare I didn’t say…grrr, grenade!”
“This is partly my fault, I suppose,” my father says quietly, rubbing my back in slow, even circles as I hiccup and sob intermittently, my head on my pillow, an old, well loved teddy bear clutched to my chest. “You’re so much like me…but I hoped that maybe you would be stronger,” he sighs, digging his fingers into my shoulders, which hurts and feels good at the same time. “Did I ever tell you how I met your mother?” he asks, and sniffing, I turn to look up at him but his gaze is far away, back some time in the weed infused past of tight jeans and mullets I suppose.
“Highschool right?” I ask, wiping at my nose with the back of my hand which is only slightly better than wiping it on my bedspread.
“She was something, your mother. But then she still is,” he sighs and that has me dragging myself up vertically so I can stare at him in disbelief. “Oh I know she can be a terror but then…she always was. You don’t think she got to be Miss Lobster fest just because she was the prettiest girl in town did you?” I narrow my eyes at him, trying to figure out why my father is waxing poetic about my bitch of a mother. “You were supposed to have some kind of civic involvement, candy striping or singing in the church choir, that kind of thing. Your mother…she spent all of her time down at the rink hanging out, trying to catch Troy Crosby’s eye,” he continues and now my mouth is hanging wide open and my eyes too.
“Troy? Mom was after Troy?”
“Sure, most of the girls were. He was good, a good goalie…not a good guy,” my father corrects himself, and then looks down at me with this look of fatherly concern as he cups my chin. “Sidney…he’s never laid a hand on you…in anger has he?” I shake my head but the entire time I’m shaking it I’m thinking about those ham sized fists of Troy’s and I begin to shake. “Oh, I’m not saying he’s ever laid a hand on your mother…can you even imagine?” he laughs. “He’d still be digging his way out of that grave. No…he just had a rep, mostly among us guys. He was tough, still is I imagine,” my father says quietly, running his hand through his thinning hair. “Your mom was glorious, the prettiest thing I’d ever seen but she was Troy’s, no doubt about it. They went everywhere together, her hanging off his arm and off of his every word too.” I tried to shut my mouth but I could see it, my mother, Troy, they were a lot alike. “I wasn’t very coordinated. I didn’t skate well. I could curl,” he added, with an amused grin for a moment that nearly reached his eyes. “But then girls didn’t go out with guys on the curling team. I could fix things, most things, but I wasn’t big like Troy, and I didn’t have a mouth on me…never have,” he added with a sigh, reaching out touch my cheek gently. “My mom, your gran,” my father continued without stopping, “said something very wise to me then. I was so in love with your mother, you see. I could hardly eat or sleep. Your gran said to me one day that boy is going to let her down, she said. Just you be there to pick up the pieces, she told me. I didn’t see it, but I did like she said, I watched and I waited and then one day I saw my chance. You see, Trina followed her brothers around like a silent, kicked little puppy. She wasn’t pretty like your mother, didn’t have nice clothes, not even much of a personality. She was a sweet girl, I’m not saying she wasn’t, but even boys on the chess club didn’t look twice at Trina, but she loved Troy the way I loved your mother and she had one thing she could do that your mom wouldn’t.” My father looked at me then, with a very serious and a very sad expression on his face. “When Troy found out Trina was in trouble…I think you call it up the spout?” he asked with a wry grin.
“No dad, we call it pregnant,” I said quietly, still slightly in awe of the entire idea of this love triangle…or was it a square?
“Well, anyways, she caught Troy in her net with that and your mother…she was…devastated, humiliated…and I was there, just as your Gran had told me to be. I gave your mother a shoulder to cry on when almost everyone else in this town was looking at her like maybe she deserved it. Your mother is a proud, proud woman,” my father added, affectionately I thought as his gaze searched mine to see if I understood what he was trying to say, and I thought that I was beginning to. “Now I’m not saying that I regret it, exactly. Well I have you, don’t I? And I imagine Trina feels the same about Sidney and Taylor. I’m not sure I’d give you up for anything but…I loved the idea of your mother. I didn’t know a damn thing about her until…well until it was a little too late and you were on your way and it was my turn to do the right thing,” he added capturing my face in his hands. “I’d hate for the same thing to happen to you my love. It would rip my heart right out if you kept chasing a ghost.”
It’s like my balloon just popped, the rug’s been pulled out from under my feet and my all day sucker fell on the floor all at once. I start to hiccup and sob and my dad pulls me closer and pats my back and I hear him telling me it’s going to be okay but to me it feels like a yawning chasm has just opened up in front of me and everyone’s yelling ‘jump’.
“But I want him,” I manage to sputter, feeling like a spoiled child throwing her binky on the floor.
“I know you do, I know but sometimes what you want isn’t actually what you need,” my father tells me quietly and I groan, wanting to throw myself on the floor and have a good old fashioned temper tantrum with some kicking and screaming. As if that would do any good.
“Why does everyone tell me that!” I snap, pushing away from my dad and getting up to pace the room instead. Feeling like if I don’t pace, I’ll put my fist through the wall.
“That might because we’re on the outside looking in. Sometimes it’s easier to see when you’re not…involved,” he says carefully and part of me, the part of me that is still open to listening to reason, knows that what he’s trying to tell me makes sense, but then there’s the part of me that’s tossing her binky around….
“If you don’t even love mom then how do you even know what I’m supposed to feel?” I ask, wanting him to be wrong, wanting to point the finger somewhere else.
“Your mother and I…we settled. Is that what you want, for either of you?”
“We should get ahead of this,” Pat says patiently as I look over the proposed announcement in front of me. It’s simple, straightforward, and there really isn’t anything for me to object to and yet I can’t make myself pick up the pen to endorse it. “If you leave it, there’s just going to be speculation and you’ll end up answering a lot more questions than I’m sure you’d like to,” he adds, tapping his pen on the folder in front of him.
“I just don’t get how this got out, we’ve been so careful,” Nathalie reaches over to cover my hand and looks at me apologetically.
“When you start making grandiose plans like we’ve been putting together, something like this is bound to come out,” Jennifer Bullano, head of communications for the Penguins shrugs her shoulders, like it’s nothing, because I guess it’s nothing to her. Which I guess is fair because I mean, it’s not her personal life splashed across the sports section of the Post Gazette.
“It was bound to happen,” I mutter, not wanting to point fingers, although the more I think about it, the more I’m beginning to think that I know who to blame for the leak. “I just wish we had time to prepare her. I mean…Mel’s gonna come back to a lot of attention and maybe I shouldn’t have waited this long to introduce her to you guys so you could prepare her but….”
“Can I just say,” Pat grins as he opens the folder in front of him, “you couldn’t have made it any easier. I mean, practically no past, wholesome girl next door…,” he begins, pulling a copy of her yearbook picture out of his file and I find myself staring at it, thinking how much Mel is going to hate that picture getting out.
“We could use a little more to go on, but we’ll work on that when she gets back,” Jennifer adds, reaching across me to pull out one of the photos taken at her run way show in New York. The two pictures couldn’t be much more different. In one, braces, no make-up, hair pulled back in a simple, serviceable pony tail. In the other, a glamour goddess that looks nothing like Mel, to me, anyway. “For now we’ll just do a simple engagement announcement, back home, here…maybe in some small Canadian press…then maybe we can do something in Whirl…,” Jennifer continues, adding the picture my mom took of the two of us at Christmas. The closest thing I could come up with for a posed shot. I stare at the picture and think that neither of us looks completely happy but then with Troy looming in the background….
“You’ll still get asked some questions,” Pat continues, and it’s his turn to look apologetic.
“Unless you want to put out a statement and then you can just refer to that,” Mario offers, but I shake my head.
“I’d just rather not deal with it until after the play offs,” I reiterate but the looks on all of their faces tells me that argument just isn’t going to hold water.
“Cat’s kinda out of the bag here,” Jennifer begins and I nod, holding up my hands in defeat.
“I know. Just…put out the announcement, whatever and then I’ll just say I don’t want to get into discussing my personal life until after the playoffs and apologize to my teammates for the distraction and hope that it sticks,” I sigh, pushing my chair back from the table. “So if that’s all, I want to get my nap in before the game.”
I hear them still chattering even once I’m down the hallway and I know that I should probably be calling Mel to give her a heads up but I want to keep my head in the game.
Besides, I have something I have to do first.
“Haven’t you learned anything?” I ask impatiently, kicking open the door to Lauren’s room.
“Have you heard of knocking?” she snarls back.
“Have you heard of privacy?” I snap back. “The stuff on face book last year, was stupid but this? Are you that starved for attention Lauren?” I ask, wishing I could wring her neck, but instead I just stand there, hoping that I look disapproving.
“What’s the big deal anyway?” Lauren shrugs, rolling over onto her back dismissively. “It’s not like it wasn’t going to come out in a couple months,” she adds, reaching to put her ear buds back in.
“I thought you liked Mel. Don’t you think it would have been nice for her to have some warning before it went public?” I ask, to which Lauren barely gives a shrug.
“I thought you liked Mel. Don’t you think it would have been nice for her to think you cared enough to let it be public?” she asks, glancing at me and then shoving the ear buds in and making a show of turning up the volume on her iPod. Feeling like I’ve been firmly put in my place, I turn and head down the hall and up the stairs to my rooms, my head throbbing.
“All done your meeting?” a sleepy voice asks as I push the door open to my room.
“For now,” I sigh, pulling my t-shirt off over my head as I walk around into the room.
“Coming back to bed?”
“Yeah,” I smile, the throbbing disappearing, or rather, migrating south as my gaze falls appreciatively on the sight before me as she raises the sheets off her smooth, athletic body. “Definitely.”
“Come here, let mama make it all better,” Charline grins, patting the empty spot on the mattress beside her and I ease my way beneath the sheets and into her arms with a sigh, and try not to think about how I really should be getting my nap, knowing damn well there will be no napping now.
“I thought you had to be back at McGill today,” I moan as she runs her fingertips down my chest.
“Tonight. We fly out tonight, why? Do you want to get rid of me already?” she purrs, wrapping one of her long legs over mine.
“Nooo,” I groan out loud as she curls her cool fingers around my dick. “Quit school, move here,” I sigh into her fragrant neck.
“I don’t think your little fiancée would like that too much, do you?” she asks, her hand sliding around to cup my balls.
“Maybe you could teach her a thing or two,” I growl as I bite down on her shoulder.
“Do you think she’s up for a threesome?” Charline asks, giggling as I roll her over onto her back, her long, dark hair fanning out over my pillow.
“Probably not,” I reply honestly, “but a guy can dream can’t he?” She laughs and pulls me down on to her and I let her pull me back inside of her, and I bury myself there in her warm, moist center and telling myself what Mel doesn’t know won’t hurt her and if this is one last fling before I settle down then it will be out of my system and as one of Canada’s goalies wraps her legs around me, I promise to myself that I’ll redouble my efforts in getting closer to Mel, when she gets back, and then I banish all thoughts of her from my mind.