As some of you know, I was going to leave this story at Chapter 17 but I just couldn't leave Sidney like that. Then I was going to leave it at the last chapter but I was inspired by an idea that came to me out of the blue. I hope you agree, this is a great ending and who knows...maybe it leaves room for a sequel
"Is that all you're eating?" my mother asks, looking across the table at the cheese sandwich on my plate and then up at me. "You have a big day tomorrow. You can't just eat that."
"Leave him alone Trina," my dad interjects, and I spare him a small smile before biting into the bun to stop myself from having yet another one of those conversations with my mom where I have to tell her that I'm fine. I know she worries, and I guess I've been a little quieter than I usually would be when I'm home, but still, I can do without all her worried glances and general fussing. I guess the good thing is, if she knew the whole story it would be worse.
"Are you going out with some of the guys this afternoon son?" Troy asks, not bothering to look up from the paper, but I just shake my head. I know that I should be more sociable. I mean that is why we're in PEI, to visit with some friends and relatives but that's just more people to ask how I'm doing and how do I explain why I should be over the moon but I'm not? "Any plans?"
"I thought I'd do some shopping. There's…just some thing I was thinking of getting," I answer quietly, staring down at the two bites I've taken out of my sandwich and wondering why I feel full. I haven't had much of an appetite lately, but this worries even me.
"Want some company?" he asks, folding the paper over but still avoiding eye contract, which I appreciate.
"Not really," I reply honestly, which garners me yet another worried glance from my mother. "But thanks anyway. I just want to…walk around a bit I think."
"That's probably just as well," Troy nods, folding the paper over and running his thick fingers over it, pressing it along the creases before looking up at me. "You do have a big day tomorrow. You probably won't have much time to yourself. It's probably a good idea to have a quiet day."
Nodding, I give him a grateful look that he returns with a wink. It's good to know he understands and where my mom can't seem to allow herself not to worry, my dad knows I have it all under control.
Still, he doesn't really know all of it.
For instance he doesn't know that she's dead. He thinks the girl I wanted him to meet said no. That we broke up over it.
Not that I told him that. He sort of…made it up on his own. I don't know why I haven't corrected him on it. Maybe I should have but I haven't.
Feeling for my keys in my pocket I push my plate forward and my chair back, giving my mother a hopeful and apologetic glance. I'd usually clean up after myself but I know she's itching to do something for me. Better this than actually sit down and talk.
"You go," she smiles brightly, her usually plain jane school teacher expression transformed as she looks up at me. "You'll be home for dinner?"
"You bet," I smile, glancing over my shoulder to wave at my grandmother who's sitting in the sunroom, her cat on her lap, drinking her tea and doing her crossword.
I have to get out of this place. It's too quiet. It's too easy for me to think too much.
I'm already beginning to think that I don't remember what she looked like. I never did have a photo of her, or one with her for that matter. Jordan's girlfriend promised to send me one but now I'm almost praying she doesn't. Maybe that would make it easier, not to remember, not to have a reminder.
Tomorrow I won't have time to think but today…today I need to get out of the little house by the water and stretch my legs. I need to get some fresh air and clear my head. I need to find something to occupy my time.
My fingers are already itching for a hockey stick. I hate jogging but I've been doing that, just to fill the time in the early hours of the morning. That's when it's the worst. Well…that and late at night or pretty much any other time that I'm alone, in bed. That's when I can't help but think of her, of the way her skin smelled and the way her body felt tucked up against mine.
Giving my head a shake, I climb into the car and crank the ignition. I wish I could drive fast somewhere. Driving fast makes you concentrate. But most of the roads are narrow around here and there are too many tourists in the summer. Damn Anne of Green Gables. I don't know what girls get out of that stupid story anyway. I never did like red heads. Hossa, you jerk.
Pointing the car down the road, I head into the town.
Town…that's funny. It's more of a village really, with a lot of touristy shops, knick knacks and tea towels and decorative spoons. Shit like that.
I'm not really sure what I need but I've had the feeling since I got up this morning that I need something. I'm just hoping that I'll know when I see it, that it will jump out at me.
Traffic slows to a crawl as the cars line up at the first stop sign, tourists plugging up the cross walk, taking their sweet time meandering across the road. I don't know why it bugs me. It's not like I really have anywhere I have to be, but I feel impatient all the same, my fingers drumming on the steering wheel as I wait for the light to turn.
When I press the gas pedal again, traffic barely speeds up to twenty and I can feel my teeth clenching as I stare at the license plate in front of me. Quebec. Damn tourist. Do they even know about Anne of Green Gables in Montreal? Don't they have their own stories I wonder as I let the car roll forward, glancing at the shops as we crawl past at a walking pace, still wondering what it is that I think I want.
Then I see it, a book store, and I realize that's what's been niggling away at the back of my mind. That conversation we had, Randi and I, about using my spare time to do something other than play video games. To expand my mind, to learn something, teach myself something, keep my mind active.
Smiling to myself, I point the car into a parking space in front of the bookstore and let the car glide to a stop.
Okay Randi, I sigh, turning off the ignition and gripping the steering wheel tight. So this is going to be your legacy to me is it? Books?
Shaking my head but still smiling, I pocket my keys and climb out of the car, locking it behind me as I step up onto the sidewalk and stare into the window full of – what else – L.M. Montgomery books. Anne of the Island, Anne Goes to School….Anne, Anne, Anne….
Shrugging, I decide to give it a shot, feeling a sort of cool breeze blowing at my back as if to urge me forward, I push the door open, cringing at the high tinkling sound of the bell above my head. I walk past the figurines and other Anne knick knacks and head towards the back of the store, hoping there will be some biographies or something else more…interesting.
"Huh. Who knew?"
I look up at the voice, assuming like the egotist I am I guess, that the comment is aimed at me. Instead I find myself looking at a young woman with long dark hair, smooth pale skin wearing a leather jacket and holding a motorcycle helmet under one arm and a book titled The McMillan Brothers, PEI's Hockey Legends in her other hand. Curious about her cupid's bow lips as well as the book she's holding, I walk towards her and peer at the book.
"Who knew what?" I ask, glancing down at the pictures she's looking at and then reaching for another book from the same shelf; that biography that Randi had teased me about - Don Cherry's Hockey Stories and Stuff.
"I didn't know there were any hockey players from PEI," the woman says, looking up at me quickly and then turning the book over to read the back cover.
"There's a few, actually," I reply slowly, leaning carefully against the book shelf, going for casual. "Steve Ott, Nathan McIver, Brad Richards…," I begin, to which she looks up at me with narrowed eyes.
"Really? I recognize those names," she smiles and then rolls her eyes. "I mean, I know Brad Richards played for Tampa and now Dallas but…."
"So does Ott…or at least last time I checked he did," I add, wracking my brain to remember where Nathan is playing, thinking it might be the AHL but….
"You're one of those guys who does really well in hockey pools right?" she asks with a grin, snapping the book shut and replacing it on the shelf. Smiling to myself, I have to bite down on my lip not to laugh.
"I've never really taken part in that kind of stuff," I reply honestly.
"Well you should, if you know stuff like that. I could probably use your help. I sucked in my last office pool. I mean, I did okay but I thought like Eric Staal would have way more points but I guess Jordan took care of that huh?" she grins, and I find myself grinning back at her and following her lead as she heads into the automotive section.
"He sure did. He was pretty proud of it too. I bet Eric still hasn't heard the end of it," I laugh, thinking about how cool Jordan was at the end of that series, like it didn't matter, until he got into the dressing room and wanted to break out the champagne.
"I bet he was," she says quietly, turning to look back at me, her gaze moving slowly from my RBK cap down to my flip flops and back up. "Oh shit…wow…I'm a fucking moron," she mutters, closing her eyes as her cheeks turn a bright pink. "You're him…you're Sidney Crosby…and you must think I'm a fucking idiot." She sighs, pressing her finger tips to the bridge of her nose and muttering a number of colourful curse words under her breath.
"I don't, no," I laugh, taking off my sunglasses as she slides hers up into her hair, pressing her bangs back and revealing a pale raccoon like mask where the sun hasn't turned her face a healthy golden colour, and a pair of emerald green eyes. I stop breathing altogether. Green eyes…. "What…what's your name?" I ask, stumbling over my words and thinking I'll pass out right where I stand if she says Miranda.
"Mya," she says, smiling brightly, pulling off her black leather riding glove and offering her hand to me. Feeling the small hairs on the back of my neck standing on end and the palms of my hands going clammy, I wipe my hand off on my shorts before taking the one she's offering and shaking it. A bolt of electricity shoots up my arm and I could swear she feels it too as her eyes widen and she glances down at where our hands are joined.
"So…uh…are you from around here?" I ask, pulling my hand back and flexing my fingers, wondering where the shock came from. There's no rug for me to have dragged my feet on and the air outside was humid if anything….
"No, no, I'm just doing a cross country thing," she replies quietly, as if she's grown suddenly shy, lifting her full face helmet for me to see, by way of description. "You know, before I knuckle down and get going with my Masters degree."
"Masters? Really? Dalhousie? King's College?" I ask, assuming she must be from nearer home, Halifax maybe.
"Not exactly," she says, her cheeks turning bright crimson as she turns away and begins to poke at the spines of a number of large coffee table picture books, pulling one out and flipping through the glossy pages. "I um…start at Point Park in September."
"Point Park?" the name is familiar but I can't quite place it.
"Pittsburgh," she adds, glancing up at me with a raised eyebrow, "journalism and communication." My attention is dragged to her lips, her red lips and then back up to those green, green eyes and my heart stirs in my chest for the first time in weeks.
"Do you wanna get a coffee?"