Sunday, August 10, 2008

FORTY-SIX

I hurried up the stairs, careful not to spill the contents of the tray, admiring the delicious breakfast spread out in front of me. I had woken up about an hour earlier and made my way into the kitchen to make Sid his favorite breakfast—banana pancakes, complete with real Canadian maple syrup. On a separate plate I had placed a sliced bagel smeared with cream cheese above a few slices of bacon, forming a smiley face. Cheesy, sure, but I knew he'd appreciate it.

I hoped he was in a better mood this morning…when we arrived home from the arena last night, he didn't talk much. We lay in bed and he watched the game twice, making me wish I hadn't TiVo'd it. I made sure his ankle was elevated and the four ice packs were in place before I drifted off to sleep.

I pushed open the bedroom door and set the tray on the night table. "Wake up, mon cher," I whispered, lightly brushing my lips against his.

A small smile played across his face and he made a happy, contented sound. "What's that smell?" he asked thickly.

"Breakfast," I replied.

He pulled himself into a sitting position, wincing slightly when he shifted his right ankle, and I set the tray on his lap and crawled under the covers with him.

"A smiley face!" he said with a laugh. "You're so cute." He kissed my forehead. "But seriously, Karine, you can't do this for me…if I eat breakfast in bed everyday I'm not playing, buy the time my ankle is healed I'll weigh, like, 400 pounds." He paused, cut into the pancakes, and his face brightened. "You made me banana pancakes?" he asked excitedly.

I nodded and laughed. He sounded like a little boy. It was amazing what an effect food had on his mood.

"I lub oo," he said through a full mouth.

"I love you too, Sid," I replied, giving him a peck on the cheek.

"So," Sid swallowed and took a sip of orange juice, "you're coming to Montreal with me today, right?"

I grimaced slightly. "You're going? Are you sure you should be traveling?"

"The trainer said I should be fine, as long as I use my crutches and ice it as much as I can. And you'll be there to take care of me," he added.

I sighed quietly. This was the first time the Penguins were playing the Habs in Montreal this season, so Sid probably didn't know that my parents, Amélie, and Guillaume would all be joining Uncle Mario in the box he owned at le Centre Bell. I wasn't very anxious to see them, since the last time I was in Montreal it was because Sid and I were not speaking and I had basically been in the middle of an emotional breakdown.

"What's wrong?" he asked, sensing my hesitation. "I thought you'd jump at the chance to see your precious Canadiens."

"My family will be there," I replied bitterly.

"Ohhh," Sid replied, munching on his bagel thoughtfully. "Maybe I will just stay home, then," he teased.

I punched his arm playfully. "It shouldn't be too bad." I was trying to convince myself more than I was trying to convince Sid. "I mean, I have to talk to them eventually…they have to know I'm no longer moving to Paris, and I guess they should know we're living together."

"Mario will stop your dad when he tries to kill me, right?" I couldn't tell if Sid was joking.

"He won't try to kill you," I replied. Not with all those witnesses around, anyway.

***

My stomach was tied in a tense knot when the team bus pulled up the le Centre Bell. It was only three o'clock, so I had roughly four hours before I had to face my family, but I was already worried about how they would react to Sid and I being together again. While my parents absolutely adored him, I was sure the memory of me showing up on their doorstep earlier in the month, looking like I had been crying and drinking all night, was fresh in their mind. Also, I wasn't sure how to explain how it happened…how we were back together. It was hard for other people to understand the pull Sid and I had for each other. Like we were polar opposites, hopelessly attracted to one another no matter what happened.

Sid and I watched the guys practice, and then hung out with them in the locker room until about six o'clock.

"Okay," I said sternly once Sid and I were in Uncle Mario's box, "we don't have ice, so you have to keep your ankle elevated." I found a folding chair and set it up in front of him. "Are you comfortable?" I asked as he rested his right leg on the chair.

"Not really," he admitted. "But I'll deal."

I looked at his ankle and shook my head—it looked even worse than yesterday. "We should have stayed home."

"Relax," Sid replied. "I'll be fine."

Uncle Mario and Aunt Nathalie joined us in the box shortly after. "Hi, guys." He greeted Sid and me with a smile. Uncle Mario always had the same look on his face when he saw Sid and me together—extremely happy, and slightly nostalgic. I wondered if our relationship reminded him of the beginnings of his relationship with Aunt Nathalie. "Your father called a while ago…they should be here any minute. Amélie and Guillaume can't make it tonight, though."

"How disappointing," Sid muttered sarcastically under his breath. I elbowed him gently and threw him a warning glance.

"They didn't know you were here," Uncle Mario continued. It sounded like a question.

"Oh, yeah, I forgot to call them."

"I see," he replied, cocking one eyebrow. He glanced at my hand, which was resting on Sid's thigh, and Sid's arm draped across my shoulder, and smiled again. "This should be interesting," he added quietly.

I exhaled loudly, causing Sid to chuckle. "I think it's adorable that you're still afraid of your parents," he teased.

"I'm not afraid of them," I replied a little too defensively. "I just know they won't be happy when I tell them I'm quitting my job and voluntarily becoming unemployed so I can stay in Pittsburgh with you."

"And then you get to tell them we're living together," Sid added in a falsely joyful tone.

"You haven't told them yet?" Uncle Mario interrupted. I shook my head. He groaned and looked at Aunt Nathalie. "Maybe you should call an ambulance and tell them to be waiting, Nat. Because I'm certain Alain is going to have a heart attack."

"Do you have to tell them all of this now, Karine? Can't you wait until we're all safely back in Pittsburgh?" Aunt Nathalie added.

Although Uncle Mario and Aunt Nathalie were teasing me, I knew there was an underlying seriousness to their voices. They were just as worried about my parents' reactions as I was. "I thought with everyone around, my father will have to control his temper. He wouldn't want to be caught screaming at Sidney Crosby on national television."

Sidney tensed up. "Is he really going to freak out?"

"No," I replied, giving his thigh a reassuring squeeze. "If they get mad, they'll just leave. Besides, they're going to be angry with me, not you. Who knows? They might even be happy about all of this."

I hoped Sid didn't notice the skeptical look on Uncle Mario's face as my mother and father entered the box.

"Karine!" my mother exclaimed excitedly as I stood up to greet them. "Why didn't you tell me you were coming?"

"I didn't know I was until this morning," I replied. "Sorry I didn't call."

"Are you feeling alright, ma petite citrouille?" my father asked. "You look a little pale."

"I'm fine, Dad." I gave him a hug, too, and returned to my seat as they greeted Uncle Mario and Aunt Nathalie. Nerves were attacking my stomach—I wasn't sure how to approach telling my parents everything.

Sidney grasped my hand and traces small circles on my skin with his thumb. I glanced at my mother, who was staring at our intertwined fingers with a blank expression.

"Hello, Sidney," she said icily. My father turned to look at us upon hearing her cold tone, and cocked his eyebrow when he saw Sid and me sitting extremely close and holding hands.

"Hi, Claudine," Sid greeted brightly. He was acting like nothing was out of the ordinary. Good game plan.

"How are you?" my father asked in a controlled tone. I knew it was killing him to make small talk—he wanted to know what the hell was going on.

"I've been better," Sid replied.

"Yes, I heard about your injury. High ankle sprain, eh?"

"Yeah…out six to eight weeks."

"That's a shame," my father replied unconvincingly.

An uncomfortable silence crept into the box as my parents continued to stare at Sid and me. "So…you two are…" my mother started.

"We're back together," I replied.

My mother was genuinely surprised, whereas my father looked confused. "How?" he demanded.

I couldn't help but smile at his strange question. "Actually…there's something else I wanted to tell you, too. I'm quitting my job at PPG. I won't be going to Paris."

"You found a new job?" my father asked, still looking confused.

I hesitated. "No…" I admitted reluctantly. "I've been looking, but nothing's come up. So I'm just going to stay in Pittsburgh and keep looking."

My mother looked extremely annoyed. "You're staying in Pittsburgh now? What made you change your mind?"

I glanced at Sid and we exchanged a smile. "My priorities have…rearranged," I replied.

My father exhaled loudly and my mother groaned. Sid squeezed my hand, and I braced myself for Hurricane Alain.

Surprisingly, it was my mother who spoke first. "Are you sure that's a good idea?"

"Mother, Sid and I have been through a lot. We've discussed all my options, and he totally left this decision up to me. I can't go to Paris. I couldn't bring myself to leave Sidney. He means too much to me. I know you're upset, but believe me when I say I wasn't expecting this to happen. I went to Pittsburgh because of a job, but I'm staying in Pittsburgh because if I left, it would break my heart."

"So you're telling me," my father replied, anger shaking his voice, "that I paid for you to go to McGill for four years just so you could quit your first job for some guy?"

I closed my eyes, inhaled deeply, and tried to remain calm. Losing my temper wouldn't do any good. "First of all, Dad, Sidney isn't just 'some guy.' I'm in love with him. You know I wouldn't be quitting my job if I wasn't head over heels." Sid squeezed my hand again. I appreciated that he was keeping quiet and allowing me to handle this. "And just because I'm leaving PPG doesn't mean I'm completely giving up on my career. I'll find a new job, I'm just giving myself more time to do it." I paused as my parents continued to glare angrily at me. "You can't tell me you'd rather have me move to Paris."

My father sighed and sat down in an open seat. "We didn't want to see you move to France, Karine, but we accepted it because we understood it's what you needed to do. We were proud of you for getting a promotion, even if it meant you had to leave the continent. Accepting the promotion was the mature, adult thing to do." He added extra emphasis to the worlds 'mature' and 'adult.' It was very clear that my father thought I was being immature by quitting for Sidney.

"You have to understand how this looks to us," my mother added, her voice somewhat more gentle. "You and Sidney have known each other since October…that's what, four months? And in that time, you two have had a lot of problems. What's going to happen the next time you have a fight? What happens if you break up? Did you stop to think of that?"

I thought about the 'problems' my mother referenced—it seemed like an entire lifetime ago that I had met Sidney. Our first fight, caused by Sid losing his temper during a long losing streak in November, was all but forgotten. He had managed to forgive me for lying to him about my promotion, and now our relationship was stronger than before.

"I've considered all of that, Mom," I replied. "While it's true Sid and I never had the perfect relationship, we've been through a lot together and it's only made us stronger. We haven't been together long, but I know we're going to be okay. I've been holding back—I was afraid of admitting how much he meant to me. I was afraid of getting hurt. But Mom, Dad, please trust my decision. I'm in love with Sid..I want to be with him. I need to be with him. Can you just try to be happy?"

My father sighed and shook his head. "I really hope you won't regret this, Karine."

"I won't," I replied confidently.

I was relieved when the teams took to the ice. My father would be too wrapped up in the game to continue the conversation, and my mother knew better than to interrupt Lemieuxs during hockey.

"That was…awkward," Sid whispered in my ear.

"I'm sorry," I whispered back.

"It's fine. I'm proud of you for standing up to them. I'm amazed…you didn't even yell."

I grinned. "I must be going soft."

"Are you going to tell them about the house?"

I winced. "Ah, Mom?" I turned to my mother, wanting to get this over with. "I need to give you my new address."

"You moved? Did you finally get a bigger apartment?"

"Actually…we got a house."

"We." She repeated the word like a curse.

"It's my house, but I wanted Karine to move in with me," Sid explained.

"You two are living together?" The anger was once again present in my father's voice.

I sighed and pressed the bridge of my nose between my thumb and forefinger. Once again, my parents had succeeded in giving me a migraine. I had a feeling this was going to be my last visit to Montreal for a very long time.

7 comments:

stovgirl said...

Lovin' it; keep posting please - this story is awesome.

Anonymous said...

Totally agree!- your story is awesome!

Lauren said...

I agree too - I love this story! Can't wait for more!

Kimmy said...

Oh man, I cant wait for more of this.

PMS!!!

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

dude your story just keeps getting better!
haha i love it.
please update soon[:

Tay Tay said...

haha, don't ya just LOVE parents?