Saturday, February 27, 2010

49.) Nothing

This is where I take the opportunity to thank my readers, followers, and commenters. I'm glad to see that you are enjoying this, because it's definitely different and sometimes a bit of a struggle. But knowing that I have such ardent readers keeps me going. Truly, your insightful comments mean the world to me, and make continuing that much easier. You're all brilliant! So, thanks again. I hope you like this installment, too.



Soundtrack Song - The Script, Break Even

What were the odds? How could it be that she was here, and I was here?

We’d never been in this restaurant before, but TK said that Kelsey was really jonesing for some Chinese food, and if Kelsey wanted it, well, that meant TK wanted it, too. And anywhere TK and Kelsey went, Heather and Staal went as well. If TK and Staalsy were going to go out for food, then they were really going to go all out; all-you-can-eat was their kind of style. Goligoski and I were just tag-alongs, with nothing better to do and no one else to spend our afternoons with.

It was just going through the motions, what I was doing. Being out with my friends, when I wanted to hole up in my apartment. They had let me isolate myself for a while, pursing their lips and biting their tongues when I turned their offers to hang out. But eventually, they started dragging me out without giving me the option to turn them down. Which was why I was here, at this restaurant, in the first place.

God, I was miserable. Kelsey and Heather told me that it was all my fault; I should have never left. But they didn’t really understand about how I needed to sort out the things in my head. Charlene helped a lot, because she had gone through something eerily similar—but while she was entirely sympathetic, Charlene had also reminded me that I was the lucky one. Not Jo. Because I hadn’t lost her in the accident. She said that Jo was still alive, and for that reason alone, I should have never let her go. I should have run into her room, grabbed her, held her, and never let her go.

Charlene gave me great perspective on the situation. Even though I had meditated each day in order to talk to Luc, it was nice to speak with someone who could talk back. I could hear her as she choked up on the line while we spoke, identifying and empathizing with me. She listened thoroughly and tentatively as I went through what I was feeling and thinking before she told me what she thought. She stated her viewpoint soundly and firmly, but never outright told me that I had acted foolishly by walking out and letting her go.

However, I did let her go, and as a consequence, I lost her. She was so angry when I left, but I was so confused and so distraught that I didn’t think she was one hundred percent serious when she laid it out on the line: stay, or go and go forever. In fact, I called her bluff. But apparently, she hadn’t been bluffing. When I showed up at her house the next day, willing to try to talk things out with Charlene’s advice under my belt, Tubby answered the door and quickly told me she was napping, still royally pissed at me, and that I should just back off and give her space, if I knew what was good for myself.

That wasn’t easy news to hear. I had driven by her house a few times since then, thinking that maybe, if I just tried again and knocked on her door and she saw me, that we’d instantly be able to reconnect. After all, a connection like the one we shared couldn’t fizzle out easily. Each time I thought I had mustered up the courage to get out of my car and go knock on her door again, I chickened out... worried that she’d still be fuming and not ready yet. Before I knew it, weeks had passed.

When she came into the dining room of this particular restaurant, though, she didn’t look upset, or even remotely sad. She was wrapped around her friend’s back, a smile curling the corner of her lips. He deposited her at the booth in the corner. Jo looked good, like she was doing well despite her injuries. She was dressed in a cute little outfit, a little skimpy for the cold December weather, but still cute. Maybe not dressed to impressed, but not like she didn’t care about her appearance. That was so Jo, to wear whatever she wanted without caring about the temperature outside. So carefree. Looking put together, too, with her hair braided and some make-up on. I guess maybe I expected she’d still be upset, too, but she most definitely wasn’t. There were doodles and drawings all over her casts, and part of me wanted to go over just to get a better look at that, to see what she covered herself with.

Goli nudged me with his elbow. He was sitting beside me at our table, and we were arranged so that only he and I had a good angle to see that booth. He nudged me to let me know she was there, but I already knew. And I had to wonder... why—or how—in the world we were both in this tiny restaurant at the same time.

I continued to watch as Tubby left the table. Jo looked bored as she waited, looking around for something to keep her interested. Suddenly, as if instinctively, her eyes met mine across the room. She shook her head and looked away, like she didn’t even recognize me, and it hurt. Had she just forgotten everything we’d gone through? Over it, already?

Kelsey was the first of the others to notice that I wasn’t listening to their conversation. “What are you...? Oh,” she mumbled, turning slightly in her chair to see what had captured my attention. “Imagine that.”

I nodded to Kelsey, acknowledging that she had found out my secret as I pushed the rice noodles around my plate. Was it some kind of coincidence? Was it random? Was it destiny? Or maybe it something altogether different: Luc’s unspoken half of the conversation. Luc, finally talking back. Could it be, or was I just reading too much into it?

“You should go talk to her. See how she’s doing,” Heather said, trying her best to sound blasé and indifferent instead of encouraging or pushy.

“She doesn’t want anything to do with me,” I reminded her, stabbing at my food with no intention of eating any more.

“Dude,” Gronk finally grunted, inserting himself into the conversation like it was painful but necessary for him to impart his wisdom. “Chicks never know what the fuck they want.”

“Hey!” Heather interjected, crossing her arms in front of her and scowling. “Not true. Sometimes we just get... caught up in the moment and say things we don’t mean. Are you sure she meant it?”

“Pretty sure,” I grumbled. I hoped she didn’t, but I didn’t know if I were willing to risk knowing definitively.

“Don’t be such a pussy,” TK ordered, obviously feeling the need to throw in his own two cents. “Go get closure, or whatever it is they talk about on Oprah. If you don’t do something to snap out of this funk, you’re gonna get traded.”

“Yeah, to somewhere like Dallas. That’s worse than Florida,” Staal added. “Do you really wanna be a Star?”

Heather elbowed him, but I knew there was some validity to his statement. When I finally was put back in the line-up, I had posted two assists because I was so excited to be back. But since then, I had been kept off the score sheet. I wasn’t necessarily playing poorly, but I wasn’t realizing my “potential” either. And I heard all the trade rumors. I needed to do something to get out of this slump.

With one more glance in Jo’s direction, I caught her eyes once more. I didn’t need any further prompting; I stood up and took several long strides across the relatively deserted room. This wasn’t a well thought out move—I was just trying to capitalize on my chances. Isn’t that what it takes to get out of a slump?

I had wanted to do this for weeks, but I didn’t. I had wanted to see her, thinking that if we were together again, and I meant, just around each other, then maybe we’d be together again. She would let me explain, and maybe... just maybe... she’d understand. And this was my grand opportunity.

I slid into the booth seat across from her, hoping she’d look up at me. Jo’s fingers curled around the mug in front of her as she adamantly refused to meet my gaze. Her jaw ticked as she steeled herself to ignore me. Finally, I spoke first. It wasn’t poetic, but it was all I had. “Hey.”

Her eyes followed the lines of the table, moving from the wall on her right to the floor on her left. I guess this is how she felt when I wouldn’t look at her in the hospital. If there hadn’t been a cast on her leg, I’m pretty sure she would have run out the door.

“You look like you’re doing pretty good,” I added.

She shrugged. “I’m all right.”

“Good. I’m glad.”

“Sure you are.” She rolled her eyes.

“I am,” I sighed, softly. What did I have to say to get through to her? “I care about you, Jo. Don’t you know that?”

She looked up at me, then, returning my gaze with pain and uncertainty. “But you left. I....” she couldn’t finish her sentence, so she just shook her head and blinked back tears. Jo didn’t have to complete her thought for me to know what she was thinking: I’m so angry. I’m so mad at you. I can’t believe you left like that.

“I know I did. I had my own stuff that I needed to work through, but that doesn’t mean that it had anything to do with you. Well, yeah it did. Of course it did. But, I mean, not everything to do with you.”

“So, did you figure ‘everything’ out?” She stared at me intensely, as if she had X-ray specs and could see into my brain.

“I thought I had, but I guess not.” This wasn’t turning out the way that I had hoped, but I don’t think that I should have expected any different from Jo. She was stubborn and hardheaded. No way would she have changed her mind. I was a fool to think she would have. And what was I expecting, anyway? Hugs and kisses and Oh my God, I missed you so muchs? No, she’d obviously moved on already. “I know you’re mad I left. I probably would be, too. And I know that I’d probably be asking for too much if I were to ask for forgiveness, but... I’d like if we could still be friends.”

She snorted. “Friends? You want to be friends?”

I nodded. “Yeah. I mean, I know you might probably need more time. But you're here, and I'm here... and that had to have happened for a reason, right? Everything happens for a reason,” I told her, giving her a sad smile. It had to count for something.

“No, Kris. How many times have we gone over this?” she sighed. “Nothing happens for a reason. You just happened to be here....”

“I think this goes to show we’re meant to be a part of each other’s lives. At the very least, I mean.” I gave her a small smile. It was obvious that she hated me. Maybe, eventually, we’d be able move past it. “So, what do you say? Friends?”

Jo watched as she picked at her fingernails, no longer willing to look at me anymore. “I don’t know.” She glanced to some place behind me. “You’d better go before Tubby gets back. He’s not too pleased with you right now.”

“Yeah, I know. I figure the only reason I’m still walking and talking is because you haven’t sicced him on me yet.”

That garnered a laugh from her, and I felt like a ton of bricks had been lifted from my chest. “How many times do you I have to tell you? He’s really just a sweetheart trapped in an ogre’s body.”

“Yeah, well, that’s still pretty intimidating.” I turned around in my seat and spied Tubby, hovering around the buffet table and pretending like he didn’t see me talking to Jo. It was surprising that he didn’t storm over here and forcibly remove me from the table. Turning back around, I added, “When he tells you to back off, you listen.”

“‘When he tells you’.... Wait. Did he say something to you?” Jo tilted her head to the side, her eyes flitting between the two of us. “Kris?”

Tubby started making his way over to us, knowing we must have been talking about him if we both had been looking in his direction.

“It was nothing,” I dismissed with the wave of my hand. I began to slide out of the seat, ready to evacuate and head back over to my table with my friends.

“It was nothing, or he said nothing?”

“Nothing. So, if you change your mind, you know how to reach me.”

“Wait a sec, Kris. I....” She blew out a breath, her hands coming up to the sides of her face as she tugged her toque down on her head. “I’ll think about it.”

I nodded and tapped my hand on the table before turning and leaving. It would have been the understatement of the century to say that our little discussion hadn’t gone the way I had hoped, but it didn’t go as bad as I expected. I rejoined my friends as they finished their meals, with nothing left to do but wait.

8 comments:

  1. Friends? Kris, you big dummy! Tell her you're stupid for leaving and you want her back! ughhh.

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  2. kristopher.
    for being so goddamn good looking, you haven't got a very big brain under all that hair!!

    tell her how you feelllll! hahaha
    and then kiss her & tell her you love her (:

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  3. Kris you need to try harder!
    You NEED to get her back!!!!!

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  4. I'm glad to see that this 'separation' is tearing Kris up as much as it's hurting Jo. They belong together whether or not they see it right now. It's most certainly fate.

    I feel really bad that Tubby turned Kris away at Jo's door when he wanted to see her. Maybe if he hadn't been so pissed and would have let Kris in, they could have worked things out. I adore Tubby, but he has to control that temper of his better.

    Awa Jo! I know you're mad, but I reallllly think you should take Kris back. Friends? Ha! No friggin way. Like I said, they belong together. Even though Kris is hard headed and Jo is...fiesty for lack of a better word :P They need eachother<3

    P.S. Breakeven = love.

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  5. Ekkkkkkk. He wants to be FRIENDS. That's not a total heart break to a girl or anything?!
    : ( smooth move Kris! smooth move!

    Tubby also needs to back off a bit? Realize Kris IS a good guy, so he's stupid and messed up once. He's still good for Jo!!

    Great update! : )

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  6. Still not buying that this is a coincidence! I think Kelsey and Tubby had this planned. I'm glad to know that Kris didn't just walk away. They are both letting pride stand in the way of what they want. One of them needs to take that first step and admit what they feel and want.

    Love love love this story. But Jay could you not stir up the hockey gods by mentioning trade talk rumors!

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  7. Oh Tubby, you mean so well...interesting twist in this chapter, loved that he came to her, also!

    I think I can thank you on behalf of your readers for writing this amazing story...it is truly remarkable and something I bet we look forward to reading at the end of a long, hard day of whatever it is that each of us does in this world.

    ReplyDelete