Wednesday, June 25, 2008

PART ELEVEN

I took a deep breath before entering the locker room after Monday night’s game. The Devils had won by a goal, extending the Penguins’ losing streak to four games. The locker room was eerily quiet. A few guys glanced up when they heard me enter, but most eyes remained fixated on the floor, including Sidney’s.

“Ready to go?” I asked him quietly. He didn’t reply—he just slung his bag over his shoulder and walked out of the locker room, his head hanging low.

The tension in the car was palpable. The usually short ride home seemed to take twice as long as usual, and even when we entered the apartment Sidney had still not spoken.

Without a word, Sid sat on the edge of the couch and found the game on our TiVo.

“Sidney…” I protested quietly, but he clenched his jaw and ignored me. I sat beside him and rested my hand on his forearm. “Stop doing this to yourself. I watched you play today—you were the hardest working man on the ice. It isn’t your fault the team lost.” Sid didn’t even look at me. “Come on,” I stood up and tugged on his arm. “Let’s go to bed.”

“Back off,” he muttered, swatting my arm away.

I reached for the remote, but Sid grabbed my wrist and looked at me in a way I had only seen him use on the ice—his eyes were intense, determined, and angry.

“Sid, you’re hurting me.” He was squeezing my wrist so tight his fingers were leaving white marks.

“I said, back off,” he growled, pushing me away a little too violently for comfort.

I was completely shocked. “Get the fuck out,” I shouted, rubbing my throbbing wrist tenderly. “Get the fuck out of my apartment!” Hot tears ran down my cheeks and I ran into the bedroom and locked the door behind me. I crawled under the covers, still wearing jeans and Sid’s jersey, and stared at the ceiling until I heard Sid slam the apartment door behind him.

***

My alarm went off the next morning, but I was already awake. I had been staring at my wrist for the past two hours, watching tiny bruises form where Sidney’s fingers had been. It took a full minute to summon the energy to reach over and turn off my alarm clock.

I didn’t get out of bed. Instead, I picked up my cell phone, noticing I had seven new messages, and dialed Christopher Fox’s number. I got his voicemail and left him a message saying I had the flu and I wouldn’t be able to come in today.

The seven voicemails were all from Sidney, each one more frantic and apologetic than the last. By the seventh message, Sid sounded like he was in tears. “I’m so sorry. Please, Karine, please call me when you get this. Please. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

I erased it and my eyes returned to my wrist.

At some point, I dozed off and when I woke up it was noon. Sidney had called me four more times, and I was sure my phone at work had been ringing off the hook, too. I had to talk to Sid—there was no way I could just screen his calls for the rest of my life. But at the same time, I didn't want to hear his voice. The thought of seeing him caused my stomach to churn. I knew he was under a lot of stress, but what he did last night was inexcusable.

I flipped open my phone and scrolled to his number. He should be at practice, so I could just leave him a voicemail.

As expected, the phone rang four times before switching over to voicemail. "I think you should stay away for a while," I said simply, snapping the phone shut.

Sid called back an hour later. I swallowed hard and stared at the phone. At the last second, I picked up, knowing that if I didn't talk to him now he'd call back until I did.

"Karine." He sounded relieved and I could tell he was smiling. "Are you okay? I called your office and they said you didn't come in. Do you need me to come over? I'm leaving the arena right now."

"No," I replied thickly. I was on my couch, wrapping leftover Chinese food around my fork. I didn't have an appetite but I knew I should eat something. "I don't want you here."

"I'm so sorry about last night. I wasn't myself."

"I don't care. I don't want you here," I repeated.

"Karine..."

"You scared me last night. You hurt me, Sid. My wrist is bruised and every time I think of you I feel like I'm going to vomit. I know you're upset about losing. I know you're under a lot of pressure. But that doesn't mean you can take it out on me. I don't want to see you."

There was a pause, and I was about to hang up, when Sid asked in a damaged, quiet voice, "Is that going to change?"

"I'm not sure," I replied, feeling my heart sink. I snapped my phone shut and squeezed my eyes shut. I swallowed nervously and realized that if I let Sid back into my life, I may always be afraid to say the wrong thing. I knew he had a temper—all hockey players do—but I never, never thought he would purposely hurt me.

***

The week dragged on. I returned to work Wednesday, feeling exhausted and detached. I went through the motions of working and returning home to an empty apartment everyday. Sid hadn’t called since Tuesday, and I was relieved he was giving me the space I needed.

On Friday, Brad perched himself on the edge of my desk and asked why I wasn’t at Tré with Sidney last night. “The VIP room was packed. It seemed like the entire team was there.”

I inhaled deeply and closed my eyes. The guys probably went to Tré to celebrate their win against the Islanders. I hadn’t gone to the game or watched it on television. I was avoiding everything that had to do with Sidney Crosby.

Brad realized I was upset and apologized. “Sorry, did I hit a nerve?”

“Kinda,” I replied with a weak smile.

“So you two aren’t together anymore?” he asked quietly. It was fairly common knowledge that Sid and I were a couple, thanks to fan blogs and low-quality videos people had posted of us on YouTube.

I hesitated and ran my fingers through my blonde hair. “We’re taking a break,” I replied, using the cliché I detested so much. Everyone knew that ‘taking a break’ meant that a couple was on the verge of a breakup, but neither party wanted to be the one to end it.

2 comments:

giveupon-me said...

i love this story.

malina said...

PLZ UPDATE SOON
I LUV UR STORY!!!
~MALINA