Wednesday, February 24, 2010

47.) WWLD

Soundtrack Song - Toby Keith, Cryin' For Me

“I’m going to tell Tubby that you’re dressed and ready to leave,” I lied, watching as she sucked her bottom lip into her mouth and bit down, her teeth digging into the soft pinkness.

But Jo saw right through me; I was feeling claustrophobic and needed to get out of there and away from her. I needed space to think. She knew that, which is why she said, “Don’t you dare walk out that door. You do this all the time. When you’re hurt and upset, you wall off and don’t let anyone in. This isn’t the first time you have pushed me away. Remember your shoulder?”

Instead of trying to play it off, I admitted, “I’m not pushing you away. I just can’t do this.”

“Do what, Kris? You want me to just shut up and not tell you when I think you’re acting like an ass? Well, too late, because you’re acting like a total ass. You wanna tell me when I’m wrong, and then not listen with that holier-than-thou attitude? You wanna dish it out, but you can’t take it?”

I shook my head. How could I even begin to explain to her what I was thinking? Jo wouldn’t want to listen anyway. It had nothing to do with how she wanted to chastise me—and I could tell by the fiery look in her eyes that that was exactly what she wanted to do. She could say what she wanted, if she wanted to, but that wasn’t why I needed to get out of this room.

It really just hurt me to see her reclining in that bed, completely unconcerned for her own well-being. Jo wasn’t upset at all about getting in the accident; she just was worried about that damn jacket. She wasn’t sad at all, and she didn’t apologize for it, either. In fact, she was cracking jokes, which weren’t funny. She was just... so nonchalant about the whole thing, and I was miserable. My chest was aching, feeling empty, devoid of my heart.

“Say whatever it is you want to say,” I sighed.

Jo exhaled slowly and formulated her argument. “You want me to move on. You think it’s silly that I’m upset over James, when he’s already dead and I’m not.” She crossed her arms over her chest and took a deep breath. “But you’re doing the same thing here.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are. You are so stuck in your ways, like, worse than anyone I’ve ever known. I’ve learned so much from you, but it’s like I’ve taught you nothing. You’ve gotta be more flexible in life. Accidents happen, and they happen even though you try to avoid them. Sometimes, there’s no one to blame and you can’t point fingers. You have to just accept that as a part of life, Kris.”

“No,” I countered. “There’s always something that you can do. Some way to have control over the situation. Maybe that means playing it safe—”

“There’s no such thing as a safe bet. Living life means taking risks. Hell, life is one big risk. You never know what’s going to happen when you wake up in the morning.” Jo paused and changed her approach. “Kris, how am I supposed to take a chance on you, when you won’t take a chance on me? When you flat-out refuse to take chances, period?”

“You’re a dangerous chance. When I woke up this morning, I didn’t think that I’d be here, looking at you. In a fucking paper dress.” I pointed to her discarded hospital gown. “Covered in bruises. Held together by plaster. Jo, you could have died.”

“But I didn’t! I’m a pretty tough broad, Kris. It’ll take a lot more than a little wreck to get rid of me.”

“A little wreck? A little wreck? Look at you, Jo!” I pressed my palms against my temples, trying to understand how she could blow it off so easily. “Whether you think so or not, you could have died. And you don’t give a flying shit. You treat it like it’s nothing. And where would that have left me?”

“What?” Jo screwed up her face, tilting her head to the side. “What do you mean, where would that have left you?”

“You... you live too large. There’s no room for me.”

“Wait a second. What? I-I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she stuttered and stammered, appearing perplexed. “Where is this coming from? I don’t even know.... There’s plenty of room for you in my life. I made room for you. I, I mean, how can you even say that? How can you think that?”

The look on her face was almost as heartbreaking as the news I had received of her accident. It would hurt to leave, but it would hurt to stay, too. “Is that it? Are you finished?” I asked, resting my hand on the door knob, poised to go.

“No. No, I’m not finished,” she said forcefully, trying to stand on her good leg.

“Sit down,” I instructed softly, not wanting to see her do anything to hurt herself. Anything else.

“Fuck you! Don’t tell me what to do!” Her face turned red from yelling. She hopped toward me once, her hand on the bed and trying to maintain her balance. “Don’t go,” she cried. “I need you, Kris. Don’t you need me? Has this meant nothing to you?”

I thought about telling Jo that this had really meant a lot to me, if not everything. That’s why it hurt so damn bad. That’s why it was killing me inside to see her so physically damaged, and especially to see that she didn’t care. She knew about Luc; since she had experience with losing someone close to her, she should have known how much it would upset me to see the same thing happen twice. She knew how adamantly I felt about it, and how important it was to me. And, she freaked when I was injured. So wouldn’t she expect the same of me?

Because it didn’t mean nothing.... That’s why I had to go. So I could think about things and figure out what I wanted to do. Figure out if she meant more to me than my deeply ingrained philosophy, outlook, and approach to life. Jo was okay, at least well enough that she didn’t imminently need me. Tubby would be there to take care of her while I tried to get my head on straight and prioritize.

So, I didn’t say anything. I turned the doorknob in my hand and opened the door.

Her eyes darted to my hand before she looked back up at my face. Jo shook her head and tried to appear strong. “If you leave now, don’t think you can just come back. If you go, you go for good. I don’t want to see you again.”

“You don’t mean that,” I told her, calling her bluff. She was scared and upset and unsure. “I do care about you, Jo. I just need to think.”

“About what?” She flung her arms out at her sides, questioning me. “If you care, you’ll stay.”

“It’s not that easy!”

“Yes it is, Kris. It is that fucking easy. So what are you going to do? Stay, or go?”

I left.

Tubby looked at me funny as I exited the room, obviously wondering what was going on. I shoved my hands in my pockets and just kept walking, not bothering to look up at him. He didn’t like me, so there wasn’t going to be any pleasantries exchanged. And if I had upset Jo, then he really wasn’t going to be happy with me.

The idea struck me, as I left the hospital: it was Jo’s perspective, about putting yourself before others, which I had adopted and obeying right now. And she said I had learned nothing from her.

I just needed space, room to breathe, room to think. Jo had me all confused. I wanted to stay, but I needed to get away. It was bad enough knowing that she had been in an accident, but seeing her... seeing the injuries... the image was burned into my mind’s eye. It was not something I’d be able to forget sometime soon.

I started driving home to my apartment, but I knew I wouldn’t be able to be there. That place had too many memories of Jo, of times when she would come over. Sitting on the couch with her, my head in her lap, as we watched Ice Road Truckers; standing in my kitchen, eating dinner; showering together in my bathroom; and lying in bed with her, and everything that entailed. I couldn’t go back there, yet. So I kept driving, no real place in mind to go.

My body moved autonomously, independently of my brain, so when I pulled up in front of the rink, I didn’t know how I had gotten here. It was an old, outdoor rink, one that I had seen a few times when I had driven around town, but had never stopped at before. There were shaky-looking metal stands on the opposite side, where I walked over and sat, all alone. Luc and I had practiced in rinks, much like this one, when we weren’t playing games.

At times like these, I wished Luc were still around. The irony of the situation was not lost on me, because I knew that if he were, in fact, still alive, I wouldn’t be in this position and in need of his help and advice. Everything would have been different. I wouldn’t be the person I was right now. I wouldn’t have cared if Jo rode a motorcycle because I would probably be riding one with Luc. Then again, I wouldn’t have had the need confront Jo about the issue and want to befriend and help her.

If I were adhering to my philosophy, I would want to tell Jo just to stop riding her motorcycle. That she should count herself lucky that it wasn’t any worse and learn her lesson about how dangerous it was—and give it up. But she enjoyed it too much and she was too stubborn to see it that way.

I tried to pretend Luc’s accident never happened. That he was here with me. “What would you do, Luc?” My feet rested on the bench on front of me, and I placed my elbows on my knees and then cradled my head in my hands. “How would you handle this?”

Jo and Luc were so alike that I knew the answer without imagining what he’d say. He’d get right back on his bike. He never gave up on anything, despite his ailments and injuries. Luc would have seen it as a setback, but nothing more. And he would have teased me for being a chicken, for taking things so seriously. Luc loved life and loved to live it fervently, with such carefree passion. He wouldn’t have let anything hold him back from doing what he wanted to do. He never did.

And most importantly, he’d want me to be happy. He was my best friend; that’s all he’d ever want for me. Jo—usually—made me happy. I was so worked up right now, though. My stomach was churning, my head was reeling, and I couldn’t sit still. I wanted to calm down, to relax, but I couldn’t. The last time I was feeling this worked up, when I injured my shoulder, I had Jo to distract and mollify me. I didn’t have that luxury this time around, because she was the reason for my anxiety.

I wondered why things happened the way they did. How was it that Luc’s crash was so bad and he died, when Jo was relatively unhurt? Was it luck? Circumstance? Fate?

If this were fate, why did I meet Jo? I thought, when I met her, that I was supposed to help. I thought it was a calling, a purpose, that there was a reason behind our meeting. I thought that I was meant to help and point her in the right direction in order to get her life back and achieve her postponed dreams. In some respects, I did, but not enough or not in time. Maybe it wasn’t destiny after all. Maybe it was just a random happening. But if it were random, then why did it feel so... epic? Monumental? Why did it feel like it was supposed to mean so much?

And why couldn’t just one thing go smoothly for me? Growing up wasn’t easy, when it was just me and my mom. It certainly wasn’t easy when my stepdad entered the picture, either. Because I had been the man of the house for so long, and then it was a lot of adjustment. Luc’s death. Getting injured. And now, my girlfriend’s accident. At what point was life supposed to get easier? Sure, there were a lot of good things in my life. Making it to the NHL. Being friends with Luc, for as long as that lasted. Meeting Jo.

I groaned out loud. Jo was fun. I did enjoy our time together. But was the struggle worth the happiness, in exchange? Were the fun and good times and shared affection enough to cancel out the pain? Because she was bound to be stubborn and difficult in the future, no matter what. Jo was always going to be synonymous with frustration and aggravation. Maybe I should just cash in my chips and call it quits while I was ahead, before I became too emotionally invested and this would be more difficult.

Laughter pulled me out of my thoughts. I lifted my head enough to watch as a bunch of kids dropped their bags and funneled onto the rink, forming teams and calling sides. I started wishing I was young again, like those kids, with the knowledge that I had today. There were so many things that I would have done differently. But I still couldn’t figure out what I should do about the present.

Still, I didn’t have any answers. I wanted so badly to talk to Luc, even if I thought I knew what he’d say to me. Hearing it from him would just be such a relief. But I couldn’t talk to him, so I decided to do the next best thing: call Charlene.

7 comments:

  1. Ughhhhh my little heart! Jay! What are you doing to me?! I got so sucked into this one... it was just so... so... perfect!

    “Kris, how am I supposed to take a chance on you, when you won’t take a chance on me? When you flat-out refuse to take chances, period?”
    ^^ This made me sad... it's not that I don't agree with what Jo is saying, it just seems like... kind of an irrelevant conversation to be having in this moment.
    Or at least, it seems like there could be better things to talk about... and that's not really true.
    He took the first chance by approaching her constantly, taking the steps towards their relationship.

    “You... you live too large. There’s no room for me.”
    ^^ CRACK! What was that... oh, just the rest of my heart... or at least... the only piece that was left intact... and now it's not.
    That whole statement is just, heart-wrenching. I feel so bad for Kris! I mean, I know Jo was in the accident but, oh Kris!

    "She knew about Luc; since she had experience with losing someone close to her, she should have known how much it would upset me to see the same thing happen twice."
    ^^ This is very true. If I was Jo, I would still be mad about the jacket like, very much though... but I like to think I'd be more in-tune with Kris.
    When he first came into my room, I think the first thing that would have come to mind... would have been the fact that his best friend was killed in the same type of accident that I just had.

    "The irony of the situation was not lost on me, because I knew that if he were, in fact, still alive, I wouldn’t be in this position and in need of his help and advice."
    ^^ Ugh... it's like... almost like he wasn't meant to have it all. He either got to have his best friend, or girlfriend, he can't have both.
    Without the heartbreak he wouldn't of met Jo...

    "Being friends with Luc, for as long as that lasted."
    ^^ Not sure what it was about this line... but it made me start bawling... and then I cried for the rest of the update.

    I really hope that he calls Charlene and that she's more sympathetic with him, but also tells him what's up.
    I don't think that either Kris or Jo are in the wrong here... I just think this shows how different they really are, the way they handle serious situations.

    I'm not sure if this comment made sense... if not... just know it was really great, and it made me all emotional and sappy lol

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  2. Ohhhh god.
    Big fight : (
    I didn't expect them to break out, or you know whatever is going on right now.

    But, I'm sure Kris will go back, Tubby will yell at him, he'll make love to Jo. Watch out for her wounds. No? Yes?

    Great update.
    I loved the end where he's just sitting in the stands wanting to speak to Luc. So sad.

    Can't wait for the next chapter

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  3. i want jo to be serious about what she said... kris needs to learn he can't just walk out like that

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  4. Totally threw me for a loop with this one, Jay. I so didn't expect Kris to leave like that ):

    This chapter really got to me. My heart breaks for Kris all the time and I know he wants nothing more than Luc in back in his life. But Jo's right. He has to learn to stop dwelling on the past so much. It's okay to miss Luc and it's okay to be sad, but you can't be afraid of living your life how you want to live it.

    I know Kris will come back eventually, but I hope it's sooner rather than later<3

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  5. I'm super angry at Kris for walking out that door right now. When he goes back (because we all know that he will) she better give him a hard time. haha.

    Besides that, I loved this chapter and reading about Kris' inner conflict with the whole situation.

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  6. Heartbreaking. Seriously, he really needs to let Jo return the favor and help him. Even if he just told her the shit in his head walking out wouldn't have been so bad. But, poor Jo, he really didn't give her any idea of the confict in his brain. I am dying here and I'm sure she is going to be super pissed in the next update. Can't wait for more.

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  7. Oh no he didn't...I know, I know, he did. This was such a heartbreaking chapter, but I loved how it showed Kris' internal conflict with changing his thinking. Jo is a tough cookie, but she is his tough cookie...he just needs to realize that!

    Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous!

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