To say I was in no mood for hockey, would be a huge understatement. I also was in no mood for a game of twenty questions from my mom on the way to the arena. She could sense something was bothering me, but I was determined to remain tight-lipped about it.
I don’t know what the consequences are for missing a tryout, so there I was again, struggling through the lobby with my 50 pound bag. I found a quiet corner to get dressed and kept it very business. A few minutes later, Mark walked in. He skipped over and sat right next to me. Not the best place for him to go, considering I had decided to end my new friendship with him.
“Hey Danny-boy! What’s up?” He asked, with entirely too much energy.
“Hey” I replied, barely over a whisper. Making sure to not make eye contact.
“Ummm…Daniel? Are you ok?”
I answered with my ‘I don’t want to talk about it’ gaze.
“Kayla said you weren’t in class after lunch and she didn’t see you after school to like, catch the bus.”
“You talked to Kayla?”
“Well…yeah. She came and found me after school to see if I knew where you were. She’s like, way worried about you dude. Did you talk to her?”
“No…not yet. She texted, but I didn’t reply.”
“Dude. Is this about lunch? Seriously, that was no big deal. I think you’re overreac…”
“Look! You don’t know what you’re talking about. Ok? Just leave it alone” I nearly yelled, as I stood up and left. Mark was too stunned to respond, as he watched me storm out of the locker room. As I edged toward the ice, I had to struggle to hold back tears. I felt so awful for treating him that way.
I skated my way over to my spot, wondering how I could possibly be mean to Mark. I’ve got so much history with him and he’s so nice. I wasn’t able to dwell on it for too long, as he slid in next to me.
After some awkward silence, Mark hesitantly asked “Are you ok Danny? You kind of got me worried too.”
“I honestly don’t know. I’ve just got so much on my mind. I’m kind of going crazy. I’m really sorry about earlier. I don’t know what that was all about.”
“It’s ok…maybe I shouldn’t have brought anything up.”
“No. No. It’s not that. I just…ahhh. I hope hockey will give my mind a break.”
The whistle blew and we all skated to the center ice dot.
“Gentlemen. Tonight we are going to only skate a few drills, then we’ll play a long scrimmage. I have two lists. Find your name and report to that bench. If you go to the bench on my right, put on one of the blue jersey vests. If you report to the other bench, put on the white jersey vest. We are blending the first and second year players tonight. Ok. Let’s go.”
When it was time to report to our benches, I saw that I was blue, and Mark was white. I also saw that Derek was blue. Finally something went my way today. At least I didn’t have to worry about playing against Derek.
The scrimmage was much more evenly matched than last nights. Both sides were exchanging chances and the score was very even. At one point I was striding with the puck at my own blue line, looking for an outlet pass. I caught a player streaking to an open spot, so I fired him the puck. It was Derek, and he caught it in stride, went in, and scored. It’s pretty common in hockey, that after you score a goal, you seek out the player who passed you the puck and say ‘nice pass’ or celebrate with them. Derek circled away from the net after his goal, when he saw the pass came from me, he quickly turned the other way, not acknowledging me for the helper. Whatever.
A bit later, I was matched up against Mark’s line. A puck squirted into the corner, behind the net, and Mark and I both chased for it. He got there first, but I was right on his heals. I pinned him to the boards, as we both battled for possession of the puck. As he was smashed up against the boards, and I was smashed up against him, he comes out with “oh baby. That’s the spot. That’s the spot. Yeah. Right there!”
We both busted up laughing, but I wonder if he had any idea what he was doing to me. Needless to say, he won the battle, as I lost myself somewhere between a wish and a daydream.
On two more occasions during the scrimmage, I set Derek up with grade A scoring chances. We were sitting on the bench after a shift and he looked down to where I was sitting with the defense group, and said “what the fuck are you trying to do? Do you think this makes us cool or something?”
I was thrown off, to say the least. All I could come up with was “huh?”
“What’s with all the passes?”
“Ummm, you were open? I don’t know.”
“Well it’s not going to help you ok? I don’t like you. I won’t like…”
Before Derek could finish his rant, the coach jumped in. “Derek! Shut it. This is the first time I’ve ever heard a kid get mad about a teammate helping him have the best game of his career. Not another word!”
The rest of the scrimmage was pretty uneventful. No more passes to Derek, and no more encounters along the boards with Mark.
The scene in the locker room went a lot better than before the skate. I was actually in a pretty good mood (the healing magic of hockey) and Mark and I both seemed to have forgotten my little hissy-fit from earlier. Having Mark right next to me, gave me a much better opportunity to spy on his body. It only got better, as I was expecting. A flawless, sexy specimen. My god how I ached for him.
I got home and saw an email from Kayla. I decides to enjoy a shower and get ready for bed, before reading it. I was kind of dreading it, because of how I can make a big deal out of not much. I didn’t really know what to expect. Another reason for me to put it off. When I finally ran out of distractions and delays, I opened it up. It read:
Where have you gone to and why won’t you talk to me? I’ve been worried sick, because this is so not like you. The only reason I know you weren’t abducted or ran away is because I saw you drive off with your mom this evening. Yes I was watching for you from my house, because I love you that much ok.
First I will apologize for my inappropriate groping this morning. I don’t know what came over me, but sometimes I can’t control myself.
Second I’m sorry about lunch and Mark. I will be honest and say I’m way jealous of him. I guess I’ve been spoiled to have you to myself. I don’t want to lose you, but I’ll have to learn to share you. I did talk to Mark today after all. You should have seen his face when I came up to him to talk. He didn’t know what to think. He is very sweet Daniel (but not like you) and I’m very happy for you, that he’s back in your life. I can tell he thinks the world of you.
I’ve been thinking a lot about you today. I really hope you are ok. As close as I feel to you, it always seems like you hide some of yourself from me. You’re a real man of mystery lol. But seriously, not funny. You are my best friend Daniel and I would like to think you can trust me with anything. I’m here for you. Good and bad. I know I rely on you a lot and maybe I throw too much at you, but you’ve always been there for me. Let me be there for you too. I hope I hear from you soon!
I wiped a tear from my eye and read it a couple of more times. I felt awful again. I am so lucky to have a friend like Kayla in my life, yet I selfishly treated her like I did today. I understand her jealousy too. It makes sense to me now. We’ve spent almost every day together since we met. God! I’ve got no idea what to write back, but I have to write something.
I sat at the computer for 15 minutes, without hitting a single key. I decided it would be better to simply talk, so I wrote:
I’m sorry. Talk tomorrow ok? Love you too.