Monday, July 21, 2008

TWENTY-ONE

Instead of returning to my apartment, I drove to Marc and Sylvie's house. I was relieved to see Sylvie's gray SUV in the driveway, signaling she was home. I entered the house without knocking and found Sylvie in the living room, flipping through her portfolio.

"Hey," she greeted. "Isn't it a little early for your lunch break?"

I shook my head. "Left the office early. Last day," I stammered. "Water?" I fell onto the couch and clenched my eyes shut. I felt like I was about to pass out. My right hand was gripping the manila folder that Christopher had given me so tightly the pages were beginning to wrinkle.

Sylvie hurried into the kitchen and returned with a glass of water. "What happened? Did you tell Sidney?" I shook my head and handed Sylvie the folder. She opened it with a very confused expression on her face. As her eyes scanned the various documents all relating to Paris, she slowly began to understand. "They even gave you your plane ticket," she observed softly.

"Look at the date," I said between gulps of water.

She couldn't help but chuckle. "I'm sorry, this isn't funny," she immediately amended.

"Oh, no, it's hilarious. My entire life is a fucking joke," I spat. "I mean, not that it matters I'm leaving on Valentine's Day, because by that time Sid and I will have broken up."

"Wait," Sylvie interrupted. "You're going to break up with him?"

"I don't have a choice, Syl. What am I supposed to tell him? 'Sid, you're a great guy and I am madly in love with you, but I have to leave for Paris on Valentine's Day. PPG's forcing me to accept a promotion there because the universe hates me. I don't know when I'll be back, but you'll wait for me right? I mean, it isn't like you have tons of women throwing themselves at you everyday.'"

"He would wait for you," Sylvie replied quietly.

"I can't ask him to do that. It's so unfair."

"Are you going to be okay?"

I sat up and took the folder from Sylvie. "Yeah, I'm going to be fine," I replied with determination. "Because you know what I'm going to do? I'm going to bury this somewhere and not think about it until after January 1st. Because I'm going to have a good Christmas, damnit!" I yelled the last part, causing Sylvie to flinch. I jumped to my feet, feeling completely energized for the first time in a week.

I sped the entire way home, arriving at my building in record time. I ran up the stairs and into my apartment, where I shoved the wrinkled folder into my desk drawer. I brushed off my hands, feeling like I had been contaminated by even touching the plane ticket, and walked into the living room. I had an irrepressible urge to play hockey, but I didn't want to drive all the way to Southpointe and I didn't feel comfortable playing in the Igloo without Sidney. I glanced at the empty wastebasket sitting beside my desk and grinned. I set it on its side against the far wall of the living room and retrieved my stick and a soft street hockey ball from the bedroom. Standing in the kitchen, I raised my stick and executed the perfect slapshot, with the ball landing dead center in the wastebasket. I repeated this over and over, with each shot harder than the last.

"What the hell are you doing?" I heard Sidney ask after I was into my second hour of my indoor slapshot marathon.

"Accuracy drills," I replied shortly, hitting the soft rubber ball so hard it spun the waste basket around. I gave Sid a kiss. "How was Boston?"

"Cold," he replied. "Shouldn't you be at work?"

"We all left early," I lied.

"Cool. Nathalie is making the team lunch if you wanna come."

"No thanks. I need to start packing." Sid and I were leaving for Montreal as soon as his game on Sunday was over, and then were returning to Pittsburgh on the 26th.

Sid dropped his bag in the bedroom and retrieved a clean pair of workout clothes and packed a duffel bag with everything he would need for the game tonight. "Alright. I'll see you tonight, then."

"See you." As soon as Sidney closed the door behind him, I reclined on the couch. My arms felt like jelly, but I had succeeded in pushing Paris far out of my mind. As far as I was concerned, that manila folder didn't even exist.

***

By game time that evening, my zombie-like state had returned. I had spent the day packing suitcases for Sid and me, which was an activity that involved a lot of time for me to think. As I folded several outfits into my suitcase, I had thought about how I would be doing this with all of my belongings in two short months. I began to sob uncontrollably, glad that Sid wasn't around to see me. January 7th now loomed like an unpleasant deadline: by then, I had to tell Sidney about my job. He had accepted my lie that I had two weeks off for the holidays without question, but there was no way I could convince him PPG gave me a two month vacation.

I couldn't concentrate on the game at all, and it was over before I even realized we were in the third period. The Pens lost to the Islanders by two goals. As much as I hated to admit it, I was slightly relieved the Pens lost, because I wasn't in the mood to go out and celebrate a win. I knew after such a disappointing loss Sid would just want to return home.

Sid drove to the apartment, both of us not saying a word but for completely different reasons. I unlocked the door and immediately went to bed, while Sid stayed in the living room and watched television. I pretended to be asleep when he slid into bed beside me an hour later, but I was actually wide awake. I didn't sleep until four in the morning.

2 comments:

stovgirl said...

Okay, this story keeps getting better. Update soon, please :)

Lauren said...

Update again soon please!! :)