This is kind of a shorty but there was a couple of things I wanted to do before the next chapter so bear with me.
“And what’s complete bullshit about that is, in the last game, if I’d done that…no penalty. But this guy…this guy won’t put his fucking whistle away and even if he didn’t call a penalty he’s warning us that next time he will. All I want to know is, why can’t they call it the same every game. Or better yet, have the same refs for each game?”
I smiled and nodded, agreeing, because in theory, I agreed but the problem was, I was bored and it was all I could do to stifle a yawn behind my hand.
I used to listen to this for hours, I thought as I watched his full, pink lips move as he continued to go on and on about Devorski, who the players endearingly call Doughnuts. Not only did I use to listen to this for hours but I would argue, vehemently, right along side of him and I would understand everything he was saying. Of course, then I would have watched every moment, every second of the game and could have given the box score right off of the top of my head.
Now, as I watched him gesticulate passionately, I felt…nothing.
No, not nothing…I felt apprehensive.
Could I do this? I asked myself as I sipped at the chilled white wine and leaned back into the jet that was massaging my back, letting my feet float up into the water. Could I listen to him like this after every game, analyzing and over analyzing every play, ever scintilla of action over and over again until even he grew tired of the sound of his own voice. Could I, if we had one child? Two?
Worse than that, I was beginning to realize we had nothing else to talk about, or so it seemed. He shows absolutely no interest in what I do, doesn’t want to hear about the petty squabbles the gay cloth cutter has with the Puerto Rican seamstress that I work with. Every time I even try to talk about designs I’ve created or the upcoming fashion shoot, his eyes literally go blank and I know that he’s gone somewhere in his head; somewhere where he can think about hockey.
We don’t talk about anything else. Nothing else.
It’s nothing like when Max and Tanger were in New York and Max could have stayed in the Waldorf with Tanger but he didn’t and we stayed up all night eating popcorn and watching Sex in the City and talking…for hours.
“A seahorse? A seahorse can’t be your favorite animal,” I snorted, tossing a white, fluffy, butter covered kernel towards Max whose nose wrinkled up and he actually managed to look tortured by my accusation.
“Why not? It’s like a horse,” he began and even he couldn’t keep a straight face.
“It’s a fish. No, it’s not even good enough to really be a fish. It’s a basically a giant sea monkey,” I snorted, popping a kernel into my mouth that had a particularly envious dusting of salt on it.
“Hey, seahorse males have the babies, I think that you should give them extra points for that,” he pointed out, making that a-ha face and practically daring me to contradict him.
“Well if we’re going with that kind of argument, then fine. A female praying mantis beheads her mate and eats his brains after coitus,” I grinned over at him and watched his eyes go wide.
“I’m almost scared for Sid,” he laughed, and I felt my cheeks go bright red. “Favorite flavor of ice cream,” he asked immediately as if he actually wanted to avoid my being embarrassed.
“Chocolate,” we both said at once and then started laughing again.
“What’s your favorite colour? No, wait, I think I know this one,” Max shut his eyes tight and a slow, sly grin spread across his face. “Purple, right?” I nodded, and felt my forehead wrinkle as I wondered how he knew. “You had that purple Duster you used to drive. I think I remember Sid telling us how you used to work on it out in the driveway.” There was something about the way he said it and then licked his lips, like the thought of a little grease and a wrench in my hand was a dirty thought. “Plus you wear these all the time.” He reached out and his fingertips brushed the edge of my ear where a second set of earrings are embedded behind a pair of silver hoops, the amethyst studs that my father gave me for my sixteenth birthday. “You never take them out,” he added, his fingertips then brushed back my hair gently, sending a shiver down my neck. His hand fell away, almost reluctantly and then the brash, mischievous Max was back. “Favorite band, no wait, I know this one too,” he said, getting up to grab my iPod where it had been sitting beside my purse, like he needed to get away from me, like he needed to put some space between us. “It’s one of those Finnish bands that Ruuts was always listening to,” he continued, scrolling through the music on my iPod and I had a moment where I thought that this was almost an invasion of privacy and yet it never seems like that with Max.
“They’re called HiM and I thought Metallica was Ruuts’ favorite band,” I countered, which caused Max to stop and think, which was comical in and of itself.
“I didn’t say they were his favorite, I just said he listened to them,” he replied, continuing to scroll through my iPod.
“Looking for something?” I asked, watching him standing there with my purple metallic iPod appearing so small in his big hands.
“Favorite song,” he mumbled, and that made me laugh. Not the question, just the idea of a favorite song. I didn’t have one, or it depended on the day. “Do you and Sid have one? A song?” he asked and then looked up at me, a wary, almost awkward look on his face. I stared back at him and blinked like an owl.
“No,” I replied honestly. “No, we don’t.”
“And then there’s the fucking SS Gill, hanging off of me like some kind of rabid dog humping my leg.” Sid is still going on about the game and I stare at him, feeling resentment and anger coming off of me in waves and feeling, at the same time, wonder that he can’t feel it.
“He can hardly skate. Hal Gill can barely skate backwards and skates like a duck on stilts forwards. You can get around him. You’re one of the best three skaters in the entire league and you’re bitching about that big behemoth?” I shake my head, climbing out of the hot tub and grabbing my towel all in one motion, wrapping it around me as if to make a shield of it. “You need to stop bitching and moaning and feeling sorry for yourself. Get out of your own head. You’re no good to the team like this, crabbing about what everyone else is doing instead of asking what you can do better,” I point out, sticking my feet into my sandals and turning to head into the house.
I hear his wet feet on the concrete behind me and then his arms are around me, pulling me back towards him, his body warm and solid behind mine.
“I’m sorry. I know, I do this all the time. Talk about hockey. You probably want to talk about what you’re doing. Come back in the water, tell me all about the uh…the fashion show thing,” he stutters because he doesn’t know what to ask, because he hasn’t paid the least bit of attention to what I’m doing and doesn’t care.
“What’s my favorite colour?” I ask, staring straight ahead, wanting him to answer quickly, and correctly.
“Ummm, green right?” he says, because that’s his favorite colour and of course I should have the same.
“No, it’s not,” I reply quietly, peeling his hands from my waist and pulling away from him. “We don’t even have a song. Did you know that? You don’t know what I do, you don’t know my favorite colour and we don’t have a song,” I sniff, blinking back tears before I run into the house, slamming the heavy wooden door behind me and sliding down onto the floor with my back against it.
It only took a few minutes before I could hear the tell tale sound of wet bare feet on hard wood floors and I hunker down, determined not to let him talk me around. I hear him stop on the other side of the door and I imagine him standing there on the other side with his hand raised to knock on the door, trying to decide if I’m worth it I guess, or maybe what he could possibly say but he then the footsteps fade and for just a moment everything in me want to scramble to my feet turn the knob and chase after him but I tell myself not to. ‘You’ve chased him your entire life. Let him chase you for once.’
But the tears flow all the same even though I can’t decide what I’m crying for. For myself, for the little girl that still loves him and wants him more than anything or for all the wasted time….
That’s when the iPod slides under the door. I stare down at the big, plastic classic white iPod and it takes a minute to realize that it’s dialed to a song. Picking it up, I stare down at the selection and then the tears start all over again, even as a smile tugs at the corners of my mouth.
Picking up the ear buds, I stick them in the hit the button to make it play.
I’m gonna check my scars at home
Gonna cash my chips and roam
Gonna walk before I fade to black
I’m gonna write a new resume
I’m gonna write you off the page
Slowly I push myself up to my feet and wipe at my tears, try to make my face impassive. After all, I’m supposed to still be mad but….
And in a little while
I’ll see the distant smile returning
Just like back in the days
When we were so naïve
It’s a song I’d listened to a lot the first summer he’d gone away. It was from an older Tom Cochrane album, I think it had been my dad’s but the song had stuck with me. I’d given Sid a copy of the album when he’d finally left for good. We’d listened to it in my car the night before he’d flown to Pittsburgh and left me behind, for good I’d thought at the time.
That distant smile returning
Just like a ghost in a dream
That we had way back when
Then she’ll turn and smile and say
Slowly I open the door to find Sidney standing there, arms crossed, waiting, watching my door. Taking the ear buds out of my ear, I go to wipe at my tears again but his hand is there first and then his arms are around me and I’m sixteen again, failing utterly to convince him that I’m happy for him and that I really do wish him well and he’s eighteen again, comforting me when it’s him that needs comforting.
Oh god I am, I really am my mother.
“I’m sorry,” I whisper against his shoulder and feel his chest rumble beneath my cheek as he laughs.
“For what? For reminding me not to whine like a little bitch?” he asks, tilting my chin up so that I have to meet his gaze, which I’m surprised to see seems to be amused and not angry. “For reminding me that you matter to me?”
“You have so much to worry about, I don’t want to be one of those clingy little bitches,” I mutter, which makes him laugh as he holds my face in his hands and presses a kiss to first one eyelid and then the other.
“You could never be one of those,” he grins, his voice and expression softening as he leans in to press his mouth softly over mine. “Come to bed?” he asks softly, and I nod, letting him lead me down the hallway.