Saturday, August 9, 2008

FORTY-FIVE

I absent-mindedly played with the bracelet Sid had bought me for Christmas while I sat in the stuffy waiting room. They had taken Sid directly to the X-ray room when they arrived at the hospital, so I hadn't seen him yet. He had been in there for half an hour…probably nothing to worry about; they just wanted to be thorough.

My phone vibrated in my hand and I flipped it open after glancing at the ID. "Hey, Syl," I greeted.

"It's me," Marc replied. "How is he?"

"I don't know…he's still getting X-rays. I haven't seen him yet."

Marc let out a frustrated sigh. "Will you call when you find out anything?"

"Sure," I replied with a smirk. I now had an entire list of people to call once Sid got out of X-rays. Uncle Mario, Troy and Trina, Lauren, and now Sylvie. "How's the game going?"

"Not well," Marc replied. "There's eight minutes left in the second and Tampa's up two-nothing."

I groaned and rested my head in my hand. The happiness that I had felt earlier about where my relationship with Sidney was going evaporated the moment I stepped foot in the hospital. The gravity of the situation hit me—Sid was hurt. The leader of the team was in the hospital, and no one knew the specifics or degree of the injury. It was having a heavy effect on the team's performance. "I'm going to go bug the nurses again," I said to Marc. "They're giving me grief because I'm not family, but I'll throw down the gloves and make them tell me what's going on."

"Okay," Marc replied with a chuckle. "Remember, a few swift punches, jersey over the head, and you're done," he added, playing along with my hockey fight analogy.

"I'll call you soon, Marc." I flipped my phone shut and confidently approached the nurses' station. "Hi," I greeted the young, blonde nurse with a sugary sweet smile. "I'm Karine Lemieux; I'm here with Sidney Crosby. I was wondering if you could tell me what's going on with him?"

She hesitated, obviously debating whether or not she could tell me anything. I was hoping the use of my surname would help persuade her, but she shook her head. "I'm sorry, Miss Lemieux, it's hospital policy that we can't disclose information to anyone but family."

"But I'm his girlfriend," I replied, trying to keep my annoyance in check. "We live together."

She shook her head again, this time less resolutely. "I'm sorry."

I closed my eyes and gritted my teeth. If I didn't get answers soon, I was going to march into the X-ray room myself, and God save whoever tried to stop me. "What if you spoke to one of his parents?" I asked, trying to compromise. "I can call his father right now."

The nurse glanced around apprehensively, probably looking for a superior nearby. "Well…I guess I could give his father some information," she replied quietly.

"Excellent," I said with a smile as I scrolled to Troy's number. He answered on the second ring.

"Any news, Karine?"

"No, Troy, they won't tell me anything because I'm not family." I couldn't help but shoot the nurse an annoyed glance. "But the nurse will talk to you."

"Sure, sure, put her on," he replied.

The nurse took my cell phone and walked to the far end of the station, much to my frustration. I strained my ears to hear what she was telling Troy, but she was speaking too quietly. I sighed and tapped my fingers on the counter impatiently. Honestly, I didn't know why she was bothering. Troy would tell me everything anyway.

About a minute passed before the nurse returned my cell phone to me with a self-conscious grin. I gave her a tight smile in reply and raised the phone to my ear. "Well?" I asked, aware of the anxiety in my voice.

"She told me he has a severe high ankle sprain. He's out of X-ray now, and they're fitting him with a walking cast. He'll be on crutches for a while, though."

"Any idea how long before he can play again?"

"You'll have to talk to the trainer about that. He's in room 298, if you'd like to go see him."

"How did you get her to tell you that?" I asked incredulously, glancing at the uptight nurse. She was frantically typing something on the computer in front of her. She seemed very jumpy, like she was afraid of getting into trouble.

"I have my ways," Troy replied. I shook my head. It was easy to see where Sid got his charm.

"Thanks so much, Troy."

"No problem. Take care of him, Karine."

"Will do." I snapped my phone shut and hurried to the second floor. I cautiously peeked into room 298 and saw Sid sitting on the edge of the bed, surrounded by two doctors and the trainer.

"Karine," he said, smiling when he saw me standing in the doorway. "I didn't know you were still here."

"I've been in the waiting room," I replied. "They wouldn't tell me what was going on because I'm not 'family,'" I replied, using air quotes around the word.

Sid rolled his eyes. "Sorry."

"Not your fault. The nurse spoke to your dad on the phone, so I got all the info. How do you feel?" I glanced at his right ankle. It was wound tightly in an Ace bandage, but I could tell it was badly swollen and bruised.

"I've been better," he said, wincing as the team doctor gingerly applied pressure to his ankle. "How's the game going?"

"You don't want to know," I replied. Sid looked pained, but not physically this time. I knew it was killing him to be away from the arena when a game was going on. "So he'll be in a walking cast?" I asked the team doctor, wanting to divert Sid's attention, even if it was to an equally unpleasant subject.

The doctor looked surprised that I knew this. "Yes. He'll need to be on crutches for the first few weeks, though."

"The first few weeks…" I replied quietly, throwing a questioning glance at Sid. "How long will he be out?"

Sidney averted his eyes to the floor and clenched his jaw. Uh-oh.

"Six to eight weeks," the trainer replied.

I inhaled sharply. "Oh, Sid," I said quietly, rubbing his forearm.

"It won't be that long," Sidney replied determinedly. "It's only a sprain; it will heal fast."

I rested my head on his shoulder and continued rubbing his forearm. Even though Sid was bent on returning to the ice as soon as possible, we both knew he couldn't play until he was 100 percent. Otherwise, he could reinjure himself and be out even longer.

"Could we please get the cast on?" Sid asked the doctors gruffly. "I want to get back to the arena before the end of the game."

The doctors glanced at each other. "You need to elevate and ice your ankle," the trainer replied. "You probably shouldn't go back to the arena tonight."

"I need to talk to the team," Sid replied firmly.

I squeezed his hand. Even now, when he was in an obvious amount of pain, he was still the team captain. He felt it was his responsibility to tell his teammates that he wouldn't be joining them on the ice for at least another six weeks.

I sighed quietly as he kissed my forehead. It was like I was channeling all his emotions—I could feel his disappointment, regret, but most of all, worry. What would happen to the season with Sid out? Everyone had been feeling very positively about the season so far…although no one came out and said it, we were all certain the Penguins would make it to the playoffs. But what now? How would the team react to not having their captain on the ice?

***

"They're going to be so pissed at me," Sid muttered as he hobbled through the players' entrance and to the locker room.

"They won't be mad at you," I argued. "They'll be worried." I wanted to reach out and hold his hand, but his crutches made that impossible.

"No, they deserve to be mad at me," he replied. "I was so stupid…I had so much time to switch my position so I didn't hit feet-first."

"Stop," I said gently. "Don't think about it anymore…just concentrate on getting healthy again. They need you." My phone beeped and I flipped it open to read the text message from Sylvie: 3-0 Tampa Bay. I groaned softly.

"What's wrong?" Sid asked as we sat on the bench in front of his locker.

"We lost," I replied, resting my hand on his thigh reassuringly.

"How bad?" he asked reluctantly.

"Three-nothing," I said, my voice almost a whisper.

Sid winced and shook his head. I wished I knew what he was thinking…although it wasn't too hard to guess. I was sure he was finding some way to blame this loss on himself. "You're not the entire team, Sid." My voice was still quiet, like I was afraid speaking too loudly would make this all worse.

"I'm the captain. I wasn't on the ice and the team lost. This is my fault."

I opened my mouth to argue, but the first team members entered the locker room, silent and wearing looks of defeat. Jordan, the first man through the door, froze when he saw Sid and me sitting on the bench. His eyes took in the crutches leaning against the locker, and the walking cast on Sid's right foot, and he groaned loudly.

"How long?" he asked as he moved to his locker and pulled his jersey over his head.

"Six to eight weeks," Sid replied.

The rest of the team echoed Jordan's groan.

"Is it broken?" Ryan asked.

Sid shook his head. "High ankle sprain."

There was a beat of silence as they all allowed this information to sink in. The atmosphere in the locker room was very uncomfortable, but I knew it wasn't because they were angry at Sid. They were disappointed by their loss to Tampa, and they were worried that this game was a precursor to the rest of the season.

I gave Sid a peck on the cheek and stepped outside as the guys began to get undressed. I couldn't help but smirk when I thought of all the girls who would kill to be in a locker room full of naked hockey players.

I sighed and leaned against the wall, waiting for Sid so we could go home. Six to eight weeks was a long time…the earliest he could play was the end of February. I found one small spark of happiness in everything that had happened tonight: my decision to quit PPG, regardless of if I had another job, meant I would be around to see him take to the ice again.

Six to eight weeks was a long time, but I would be here for it.

"What are you smiling about?" Sid asked as he exited the locker room. I noticed a slight edge to his voice…totally understandable in light of tonight's events.

"I love you," I said, giving him a kiss on the lips.

"I know," he replied as he shifted on his crutches.

"No, I really love you. I realized tonight that you are my entire world…I'm willing to give up anything to be with you. I want to spend the rest of my life with you."

Sid smiled for the first time all night. "Are you proposing to me?" he joked.

I rolled my eyes. "I just want you to know exactly how much you mean to me. I can't believe I was stupid enough to consider leaving you for Paris. A career opportunity seems so trivial compared to the chance to be with you."

Sid rested his forehead against mine. "I love you more than you could possibly know. And if this was any other day, I would pick you up and carry you to our bedroom and show you exactly how much I love you. But…" his eyes trailed to his right foot.

I chuckled. "I'll take a raincheck. Let's go home."

6 comments:

Kaity said...

Aha! I loved it (:

Update again soon, please

Kimmy said...

Aww, what a nice chapter.
I loved it!!!

Update soon!!!

Anonymous said...

All I can say is, AWWWW!
Update today, please?! :]

KylieD32 said...

Such a cute chapter. Left me with a smile on my face. I look forward to your updates every day! :)

Tay Tay said...

I am SO glad she isn't leaving! RELIEF! Please write more, I am dying to know what happens!

If you wanna check out my story, It's called

You Were Only Waiting for this Moment to Arise

www.valfanfic.blogspot.com

Please check it out! Thanks!

Lauren said...

I love them - they are too cute!