Friday, February 19, 2010

43.) Not Again

Soundtrack Song - Boys Like Girls, Go

The doctor gave me good news. I could start skating again after the weekend. It wasn’t as good as being able to lace up my skates at this very moment and hit the ice, but it was a step in the right direction. It was a hard date, something concrete. Something to look forward to.

The guys were all out on the ice, and I didn’t hang around to see them or talk to them. It sucked, not being able to be out there with them. Under other circumstances, I probably would have felt lost, but I didn’t feel that way right now. I had somewhere to go, somewhere to be; Jo gave me a sense of direction during this difficult time for me. Without her, I’d probably still be brooding in my apartment about this whole ordeal.

I headed to the deli early, knowing that I was going to beat Jo there. She was always late; late for work, late for appointments, late for everything. Jo couldn’t be on time to save her life, so I ordered my lunch and decided to wait it out. We said we’d meet at noon—meaning I showed up fifteen minutes early, and Jo would probably show up half an hour late. Fully expecting this to be the case, I ate my sandwich in peace, my phone sitting on the table next to my bottle of Dasani as I waited for the call that I knew was coming: Kris, I’m so sorry! I’m running a little late, but I’m heading out the door right now. I’ll see you soon!

As I ate, feeling starved, I was glad that Jo had finally, for some reason, listened to me. It’s not that I didn’t like her hair as is, because I did; it was cute and it suited her, somehow. But it wasn’t her. It was a way that she hid and disguised herself, and she no longer had any reason to do any of that. It was also a way that she kept people at bay. With a tough-looking exterior, she intimidated other people. Jo, underneath that, was a sweetheart. No one got to see that, though.

It was a defense mechanism, and I knew what that was like. For a long time, I wanted to keep people at arm’s length because I didn’t want to let anyone else hurt me. Not that Luc did it on purpose, but when you experience pain, you want to do whatever you can to make sure you’ll never feel it again. However, that was a shallow life, and that’s why I decided to make long, lasting relationships with the people around me. Make them count.

See, Luc’s death made me steadfast in my beliefs. It didn’t really change me; instead it fortified my philosophies. But Jo dealt with death in the completely opposite way. She did a full one-eighty. She wasn’t the person she used to be, and she’d never be able to be that girl again—but that didn’t have to be a negative thing. That’s what I wanted to show her.

In the process, though, she taught me a few things, too. Jo showed me that it was okay to take some time for myself. That I didn’t always have to make sure that everyone else was taken care of first, because sometimes, the best thing you can possibly do is worry about yourself foremost. And it was okay to try new things every once in a while. And have fun. You can’t ever forget to just have fun.

I heard the door to the deli open, and I looked up. Instead of seeing Jo, I saw Staal and Heather. After they ordered, they joined me at my table. “Sup, Tanger?” Jordan asked, plopping down in the seat that was obviously too small for him and looking uncomfortable.

“Waiting for Jo,” I told them.

“Did you bring the handcuffs with you?” he laughed.

I sighed as Heather shot us a very confused look. I shook my head, not wanting to explain. Heather changed the subject. “How’s she doing, Kris? All recovered?”

“Yeah, I think so.” My phone started to ring. “In fact, that’s probably her, telling me she’ll be here soon.” It wasn't Jo’s number on my screen, but the timing was impeccable. It had to be her. “Hello?”

“Kris?” The voice was deep and raspy, and definitely not Jo’s. It sounded familiar, but I couldn't quite place it. “It’s Tubby.”

“Oh, hey man. Uh, how’s it going?” I asked. I couldn’t place the voice because it was, quite possibly, the last voice I would have expected to hear. I could only imagine what he wanted to talk about, and none of it was going to be good. I braced myself to hear him berate me again for something that wasn’t my fault.

“Uh, well, I've got bad news. Jo’s been in an accident....”

Tubby kept talking, but I couldn’t hear what else he was saying. I wasn’t sitting in the deli anymore with Staalsy and his girlfriend; it felt like I was suddenly somewhere else, at another point in time. I was leaving my apartment, heading for my car. The wind was chilly as it whipped around my body, but the sun was warm. Just another typical late May day. I was fishing my keys out of my pocket when I got the call, from my agent with the worst news of my life. I thought he was just checking in, like he usually did. Making sure everything was okay, since we were in the Finals. But it wasn’t an ordinary call.

“Kris, I’m sorry. Luc... he was in an accident. He was on a motorcycle, and he crashed, and well, I’m sorry. But he... he died.”

I relived that moment, over and over like a broken record in my head, until Heather reached out and brought me back into the present. “What is it, Kris? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“No. No, please, God, no. Not again,” I mumbled to myself. It was happening, all over again, and there was nothing I could do. And I couldn’t go through this again. My chest tightened, and I thought for sure that my heart was just going to completely stop beating altogether. I licked my lips and spoke into the phone, avoiding the concerned looks of my friends. “Is she...?” I couldn’t even finish the question. My mouth did not want to form that word, dead, because I couldn’t even think it. My brain purposely wouldn’t come to grips with that idea. It couldn’t be; she couldn’t be. I would know, somehow. If she were dead, I would be able to feel it. You can’t be connected to someone like this, like the way I was connected to Jo, and not be able to know somehow.

Since I didn’t feel any different, that meant that Jo had to be okay. She had to be okay.

“No, man. Oh, no, I didn’t mean to worry you like that. She’s not dead.”

“Okay. She’s alive,” I repeated, letting that sacred bit of information wash over me. I finally exhaled and remembered to breathe. I knew it... I knew she was okay, because I would have known otherwise. I would have known.

“Pretty banged up, though,” Tubby continued. “That’s about as much as I know right now. I don’t have the details about what happened. She’s at the hospital, being taken care of, so they haven’t let me see her yet. Since I’m not family, they won’t tell me anything, and I can’t get a hold of her dad. I thought you’d want to know. That you’d want to come down, too.”

I placed my elbow on the table and cradled my head with my free hand. “I’m just glad to hear she’s okay.”

“Hey, me, too. From what I overheard, the accident wasn’t her fault. But still. And, of course, she was wearing her helmet—”

“Wait,” I interjected, cutting him off with complete disregard for whatever else he had to say. “Her helmet? She was on her bike?”

“Uh, yeah,” Tubby clarified. “Didn’t you hear me say that before? I said she’s been in an accident. She swerved to miss a truck and skidded on her bike.”

That’s when I closed my eyes and pressed the palm of my hand against the bridge of my nose, hoping that the firm pressure would alleviate the ache in my head. She wasn’t supposed to be riding anymore. She told me that she wasn’t going to be riding anymore. We had reached that understanding weeks ago, before her birthday. She had said that we would deal with it in the spring when she could ride again.

This wasn’t supposed to happen. Not now. I mean, it wasn’t supposed to happen ever, but not now, after she told me that she wasn’t going to be riding. Why did she choose to get back on her motorcycle? Why today? Why, when she knew she was coming to meet me? Why, when she knew how I felt about it?

I should have told her I’d pick her up. I never should have suggested that she meet me here at the deli. After all, I’ve always come and gotten her. I’ve always driven. Why didn’t I do that this time? If I were driving, the accident wouldn’t have happened. And even if it would have, she would have been in a car, where there’s a metal carriage surrounding her. And seatbelts. She would have been safer with me.

But then again, if it hadn’t been for me, she wouldn’t have been on that bike in the first place, headed in that direction, with the sole purpose of meeting me for lunch. If I hadn’t have suggested this morning that she get her hair dyed back to its natural shade, or offered to take her to a salon and offered to pay for it, she wouldn’t have had a reason to be on the road this morning. Or would she have been out and about anyway, headed for another destination?

I couldn’t play these mind games. So many alternative decisions could have changed this, but maybe changing the circumstances wouldn’t have changed the outcome. Knowing this, I tried to figure out what I should do.

“Kris? You still there, man?” Tubby’s voice echoed through the phone.

“Yeah. I’m still here.”

“So, are you coming down? I know she’ll probably want to see you.”

“I....” I hesitated. “I don’t know.”

I hung up the phone, unable to talk to him any longer and force myself to confront my fears. It wasn’t about cowardice, but about self-preservation. I just couldn’t deal with it; it was too tough. At least I knew she was okay. Right now, that was all that mattered. But I couldn’t go see her. I just couldn’t face her.

“What was that about, Kris?” Heather asked, looking a little timid but still trying to pry the information from me. “What happened? To whom?”

“Jo. Accident,” I told them, placing my phone on the table and covering my face. Honestly, I felt so numb, stuck in disbelief. There was too much to try to digest at once. It was relieving to know that she was okay, but I was still so scared and upset.

“But you said she’s okay, right? I mean, she is okay?” Staal asked, speaking up.

I nodded. “I guess so. She’s in the hospital.” I wanted to yell and scream in frustration. I couldn’t believe this happened... again, that someone else I cared about was in a motorcycle accident. Weren’t there some statistics, somewhere, that stated this could only happen to an individual once in their lifetime—like how lightning never strikes the same place twice? Why was I being struck twice?

“Poor girl. Geez, how much can she possibly go through in the span of three days? Jord, we should go visit her. Can we visit her, Kris?”

I shrugged. “I guess.”

“Well, aren’t you going?” She was pushing me further in a way that I did not want to be pushed. I shrugged again, rubbing my forehead and trying to fight against the emotions that wanted to set in. It was easier to feel empty and numb. “Kristopher Letang, your girlfriend is in the hospital. What the hell does this mean?” she asked, mimicking my shrug.

“It means exactly what you think it means,” I snapped. “I don’t fucking know if I’m going. I don’t want to go and see her like that, after she knew I didn’t want her on that damn thing. For exactly this fucking reason. Because I didn’t want to see this happen to her, too. I didn’t want to have to go through this again!”

“But you said she’s okay. It’s not the same, Tanger. It’s not like Luc,” Staalsy said quietly.

I knew that he was just trying to help, but I hated to hear him say that. Jordan Staal, who was never serious, ever, was trying to advise me. “I can’t go see her. Not like this. I can’t. I just... can’t,” I told them, shaking my head and pushing away from the table, suddenly in desperate need of some fresh air.

7 comments:

  1. OH

    I dont even know what to say right now because well of the circumstances...poor kris...poor Jo
    ...I just want to sit here and cry


    no matter how sad this was it was a great update...hopefully kris will be able to go see her and not do what I'm afraid he might do

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  2. UGH ok so... I was waiting for this one, to see what happened, but now that it's here, I almost don't want to read it. I'm terrified.
    You have me fearing for the life of a fictional character, like she's my best friend... I don't know if that makes me crazy, or you a fantastic writer... let's just go with the second =)

    "The doctor gave me good news."
    ^^ Annnnnd I thought it was Jo. Humph! I got all excited like "Yay! It's not so bad!" But no, it's Kris... funny how I forgot everything that was going on in his life...

    "I had somewhere to go, somewhere to be; Jo gave me a sense of direction during this difficult time for me."
    ^^ Ugh, making me all emotional (Or should I say even more emotional).
    This would make me swoon on a normal day, today it makes me depressed and ___ ugh, I don't even know. It just makes me so sad.

    Ok the whole 'hair' thing... I mean, I know that he doesn't know what happened, but it's still the fact that he's sitting there, so innocently thinking about the things he *should* be thinking about.
    And he has no idea that Jo's in the hospital...

    "Just another typical late May day."
    ^^ Ok, no one else will understand this... but when Steele left, that's what it was, a typical day in January. I mean, I remember my whole world crashing down around me and walking outside, surprised to realize that things were still happening... that the world didn't stop.
    I remember thinking "how is it possible that it's still January, did I really just wake up a few hours ago?"
    ... in that one line you encapsulated everything for how Kris is feeling. He's so lost and confused and worried and upset, it doesn't feel possible that he can be the only one with all these emotions.

    “No. No, please, God, no. Not again,”
    ^^ No I'm bawling! Oh no... those words 'not again'... I knew he was going to say that but still... reading it...
    Poor Kris. I mean, I know that it was Jo who was hurt, and I obviously love her and feel bad for her, but... oh Kris...
    If I were driving, the accident wouldn’t have happened

    “But you said she’s okay. It’s not the same, Tanger. It’s not like Luc,” Staalsy said quietly.
    ^^ Ugh! You mention it in the next line but, Jordan Staal being serious. There's nothing like seeing your friends, the ones that always screw around, being serious - to make you realize the scope of a situation.

    This was amazing Jay, everything about it was so fantastic... I can't even begin to explain how wonderful and perfect it was.
    I'm totally bawling but it's only because you're such an amazingly, talented writer.

    Bravo.

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  3. kristopher freaking letang.
    you BETTER go see her.
    fdhgxkjdf how can you not!!
    yeah, you're mad at her, but she's your freaking girlfriend!!!
    suck it up and go comfort her.

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  4. Ughh Kris! You better get your little butt down to that hospital pronto! I know Jo will wanna see you as soon as she wakes up! It's time to put "I told you so's" and foolish pride aside and be there for her!

    But! On the other hand, I feel so bad for Kris</3 I can't imagine what would be running through his mind after going through something similar to this with Luc. It's gotta take a toll on the poor boy. ):

    Fantastic as always, Jay<3

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  5. I wanna kick Kris' butt so he moves it to get to her! Sure thing he doesn't think he can take that again! But she is his GIRLFRIEND!! Doesn't that say everything? Doesn't that tell him that he's supposed to be at her site in a situation like this???

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  6. Note to Kris: Knock, knock puddin' head, get your butt to the hospital, or else!

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  7. Jay that was literary genius! Bravo my dear. And kudos... I absolutely loved every word.

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