Thursday, July 24, 2008


I woke up in my room the next morning, unable to remember how I had arrived there. I glanced at my alarm clock and saw it was already ten o'clock. My family had probably been up for hours already.

I took a quick shower, got dressed, and found Sidney in the living room playing with Julien. I smiled and leaned against the doorway as I watched Sid and Julien push small toy cars across the carpet.

"VROOM!" Julien screamed as he crashed into Sid's car.

"Oh no!" Sid gasped. "You totaled my car!" Julien ran out of the room giggling. Sid finally noticed me standing in the doorway and came over to give me a kiss. "Morning," he greeted. "How are you feeling?" He rubbed my arm and looked into my eyes, concern evident in his expression.

I sighed and averted my eyes to the floor. "I'm fine, okay?" I grumbled. "You promised you wouldn't bring it up again." I couldn't help but be a little annoyed by Sidney. I hadn't wanted to tell him about Chantal, but now that it was out there I wanted to forget it again.

"Okay," he replied quietly. The concern still didn't leave his face.

"Do you want to get out of the house for a while?" I asked, eager to change the subject. "I still have a little shopping to do."

"You're not done yet?" Sid asked incredulously.

"No. I shop best under pressure. Besides, I'd like to show you the city."

"Alright. Let's go."

We pulled on our coats, hats, and scarves and stepped into the freezing Montreal day. It had snowed last night, blanketing everything in a blinding white cover. I slid into the driver's seat of our rental car and drove to my favorite neighborhood of the city.

Sid and I walked down the street hand in hand, looking at Christmas-themed window displays and drinking in the holiday atmosphere. Although it was Christmas Eve, everything on the picturesque street was open, including my favorite coffee shop. I dragged Sid inside and got us both hot apple ciders. We sat at a table against the front window.

"I feel kind of guilty about getting Amélie a gift card," I said.

"You should have gotten sedatives for her son. That would be the best present she'll ever receive."

I laughed. "Did Julien stress you out?"

"I have never met such a hyperactive kid."

"You two were cute playing together. He seems to like you."

"I'm sure he's okay in small doses. But I played with him for almost two hours before you showed up."

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to sleep in."

"It's fine. Julien actually saved me from his father. Like you said, Guillaume talked about his job without ever actually telling me what he did."

"Only two more days," I said, patting Sid's hand gently.

"Actually, I was thinking. I love being here with your family, but it's weird not being in Cole Harbour, you know?" I nodded, feeling guilt slowly creep into my body. I was glad Sid had wanted to spend Christmas in Montreal with me, but at the same time I felt badly that he wouldn't be with his family. "So," he continued after a moment's hesitation, "why don't we fly to Halifax tomorrow night?"

I smiled widely and leaned across the table to kiss Sid. "That is the best idea you've ever had. But that means I need to go buy presents for your parents and Taylor." I finished the last of my cider and stood up. "Let's go. We have more shopping to do."

Sid groaned and followed me out of the coffee shop and into the busy street. "How can you shop so much?"

"It's a God-given talent, Crosby. You should understand that."

We finished our shopping and returned home around four to get ready for church. Christmas Eve Mass was a tradition with my Roman Catholic family. For as long as I could remember, we would get dressed up and walk down the street to Notre Dame de la Paix for the six o'clock service. Mass would last until seven, and then we would return home for Christmas Eve dinner. When I reached the age where I realized Père Noël didn't exist, we began opening presents after dinner, but now that Julien was around Père Noël had made a comeback and I could be expected to be awakened by a hyperactive three-year-old at six in the morning on Christmas day to open gifts.

I pulled my burgundy dress over my head and asked Sid to zip me up as I checked my hair in the mirror one last time. I slipped on a black cardigan and inspected Sidney's outfit. He was wearing a navy suit with a soft blue shirt and blue-striped tie.

"You look good," I said, smoothing his tie and giving him a peck on the cheek.

"You look better," he replied as he nipped at my neck. "I love this dress."

"So stop trying to take it off," I said with a laugh. His hand had wandered to my back and he was trying to undo the zipper. I swatted it away and he pouted.

"We're leaving in five minutes!" I heard my mother shout. I slipped into my short heels and ran my hands down my sides. We could hear Julien in the hallway, running around and screaming something about his pants.

"Ready?" I sighed. Sid nodded and we walked downstairs and waited in the foyer for everyone. My father was already there, standing awkwardly by the door with his hands in his pockets.

"Looking good, kids," he said pleasantly. He glanced at his watch and sighed. "Amélie is still trying to get Julien dressed. If they're not down here soon we're leaving without them."

My mother hurried down the stairs, looking absolutely glamorous in a violet dress. "Karine, go check on your sister," she ordered as she fastened a pearl earring.

I took the steps two at a time. The moment I stepped into the upstairs hallway, I could hear Julien screaming. I opened Amélie's bedroom door and found Julien throwing a tantrum on the bed while Amélie held his tiny pants and pleaded for him to put them on. Guillaume stood in the corner with his arms crossed over his chest, not saying a word.

"NO NO NO!" Julien screamed, pounding his fists against the mattress.

"If you don't get dressed, Père Noël won't come tomorrow!" Veronique snapped.

Julien thought about this for a moment, granting a few seconds of silence. Amélie sighed, thinking she had won, and wiggled him into his pants.

As soon as she had his right leg secured, Julien started yelling again. "I…DON'T…WANT…TO!" he screeched.

"You don't what to what?" Amélie looked like she was about to cry.

"I DON'T WANT TO!" he repeated.

"Guillaume, please help," she said, sounding completely exhausted.

"What am I supposed to do?" Guillaume replied nonchalantly.

"Um," I interrupted the unpleasant scene awkwardly, "we're about to leave."

Amélie looked at me, and then back at Julien. "Julien, please," she said once more. Her eyes were glistening and I knew she was in danger of crying from frustration and anger.

"NO!" the three-year-old screamed.

I heard Sidney coming up the stairs. He placed his hand on the small of my back and said quietly, "Your parents are losing it down there. If we don't leave soon I'm afraid your mother is going to explode."

"I'm trying," I hissed.

Sidney approached the bed where Julien was still screaming incoherently. "Hey, Julien," he said, "if you come with me to church Aunt Karine and I will give you your present early."

Julien brightened. "Okay!" he said as Sidney gently slid his pants over his tiny legs.

"Thank you," Amélie said quietly to Sidney, her voice breaking. Guillaume picked up his terror of a child and went downstairs.

"No problem," Sid replied with a charming smile. I watched my sister exit the room and for the first time in my life felt sorry for her. As much as she liked to pretend she had a fairy tale life, that little episode revealed that it was anything but. Sid held out his hand for me and I intertwined my fingers with his and we walked with the rest of my family to the church at the end of the street.


Aeryn said...

Aww, so cute. I always thought that Sid. would be amazing with kids, and you totally captured that! :)

Anonymous said...

Haha. I really like this story!

I bet Sid wishes he was actually able to walk around Montreal without being completely mobbed! :) Even for his first NHL game here in Vancouver he had to have police escorts when going to and from GM place!