Sunday, October 3, 2010

135.) Revelation

Soundtrack Song - Mumford and Sons, White Blank Page

Jo never called. I was tempted to call her, but I had already tried so many times to no avail that I decided to wait for her cool off enough to try and contact me. However, it was turning into a long wait.

My first couple of days back in Montréal was spent lying around the house. Mom was very gentle and careful around me, bringing my meals up to my room and talking softly about nothing specifically. When I was lying down on the bed, she would sit there with me and rub my back. It felt like a summer from two years ago. I was hurt, and I needed the familiar comfort. After a while, she got a little worried, but she didn’t say anything to try and lift my spirits or kick me into getting up and doing something.

It was a loss. There was a schism, and I lost the one person I was currently closest to. I didn’t just break up with my girlfriend, but I had also had a falling out with my best friend. She was the only person who fully understood me and accepted me, and I didn’t have her as a part of my life anymore.

I tried to console myself by saying that it was for her own good; if this is what it took to keep her in Pittsburgh to finish her schooling in a good environment with no risk of disturbing that, then I would make myself live with it. Jo was a star, just like the stars we gazed at after watching sunsets, and she deserved to shine as brightly as she possibly could. I’d never met anybody like her before, and I was going to miss her, but she had apparently made her decision and there was nothing I could do about it.

The days blended together until I didn’t know what day of the week it was. The only thing I did know was that it wasn’t quite July yet. Almost, though. I should have been worrying about hearing from Hughes and my contract and what was going to happen to me. It was so hard to care about anything.

The door flew open one afternoon; I couldn’t tell you what day it was or how long I had been in Montréal. Charlene barged in as I lay in bed, staring up at the blank ceiling while wearing nothing but shorts, since it was too hot to worry about dressing decently. She startled me, the sudden commotion a disturbing force in my otherwise calm world. Mom had been tiptoeing around me since my return like I was a scared, skittish animal. Not Charlene. She wasted no time.

“Kristopher frickin’ Letang.”

“Hi, Charlene,” I mumbled, resuming my supine position on my bed again.

She sighed. “Your mom called me. What’s up?” She waited for an answer until it was evident that I wasn’t going to give her one. “I know it’s about Jo. Tell me what happened, Kris.”

“She dumped me.”

“What?” Charlene shrieked. She stepped farther into my room and looked down at me empathetically. “Why? What happened?” I shrugged, not wanting to talk about it. It hurt too much to talk about it. “I can’t believe she’d just break up with you out of the blue. Something happened. Tell me, Kris, please.”

I inhaled shakily, unsure if I could get through an explanation. I hadn’t told anyone all about it yet. “We had a fight.” Charlene waited patiently for me to continue. “I don’t know, Char, I didn’t think it would get so bad. I told Jo that I wanted her to stay in her university in Pittsburgh instead of try to transfer.”

“Why?”

“Because,” I told her. In my head, that was good enough for an answer; however, Charlene gave me a look that explicitly told me that it was not, in fact, nearly good enough for her. “Because I didn’t know where I’m supposed to be playing this season, so she wouldn’t know where to apply—and even if she applied, she still wouldn’t be able to start right away, and she just started university and has only one semester under her belt, and I knew that she needed to keep up with it. It took a lot of talking and convincing and coaxing for me to show that she should go for her degree, and I would feel so bad—”

“Wow,” she whispered, interrupting my rambling. “You are so selfish.”

“What? How does that make me selfish? It’s for her, for Jo, for her benefit—”

“No, it isn’t. It’s not for her. It’s for you. Did you just hear yourself? All that work you put in to convince Jo to go back to school. Because otherwise you would feel so bad. You never thought about how she felt during this, did you?”

“You’re just twisting my words around,” I whined, throwing an arm over my eyes. “This is about Jo. I just want her to be happy. She deserves happiness—”

“Oh, and of course, you know best, right?”

“Will you stop cutting me off? Don’t ask me questions if you won’t even let me answer.”

“I’m sorry, but God, Kris, you’re acting like a dumbass.”

“What’s your problem? I never did anything to you.”

“I can’t stand to hear you say that you just want her to be happy when you’re the one making her miserable! She’s your goddamn girlfriend, and she just wants to be with you. And you should want to be with her—”

“I do. Holy hell, I do. But this isn’t about what I want.”

“So you go from selfish to selfless. You’re not a martyr, Kristopher, so stop trying to act like one. You love her. She loves you. I’ve never seen two people who fit together better than the two of you. You should be with each other, not apart. Now, this fall, forever. When you love someone, you gotta be with them as much as possible, because you’ll never know when you can’t be together anymore.”

I felt bad for Charlene. She was missing Luc and channeling all that energy into my situation, since we could do something about it and still be together. Her lip quivered. “I’m sorry, Char.”

“No, this isn’t about me. Yeah, I miss him like crazy. I wish that he was still here. But this is about you and Jo, and how you guys are making a huge mistake.”

“She wouldn’t answer my calls. So what am I supposed to do?”

“Go back to Pittsburgh. See her. Tell her that you wanna be with her.”

I shook my head. “But that still doesn’t fix the problem. I don’t know where I’ll be, and I don’t want her quitting her schooling in Pittsburgh just to follow me around.”

“You say that like she’s a lost puppy,” Charlene scolded, looking down her nose at me. “She’s a full grown woman. So treat her like one.”

Sighing, I mused aloud, “You didn’t follow Luc to Vancouver. You stayed to attend the University of Sherbrooke.”

“And don’t you think that I regretted that? After what happened? All that time that I could have spent with him, wasted?” She shook her head. “The things I would do to have all that time back. You... you still have the opportunity to be with Jo. Don’t fuck it up.”

Charlene stayed with me a little longer. She persuaded me to get up and get dressed so we could go out. After all, she reminded me, I had a Cup party to plan. Blake had planned it all out with whomever, and I once again was getting the Cup on the same day I had it the summer prior: August fifth. I had a little over a month to figure out what I wanted to do and get everything organized. It was a hard thing to care about at a time like this, but Charlene tried to get me focused.

“Do you know what you want to do for your day with the Cup?”

“Um, probably what I did last year. Fundraising so families who can’t afford equipment for their kids can afford it. Dinner somewhere, I think. And then a party or something.”

“Who are you inviting?” she asked in a sneaky manner.

“Family. Friends. Teammates. You know, the usual.”

Not getting the answer that she was looking for—namely, if Jo would be invited—so she pushed more. “Any special girls?”

“You,” I laughed, nudging her with my shoulder. She laughed, too, and then dropped the subject. We checked out a few party venues that afternoon, and Charlene didn’t bring up Jo again.

Mom did more than just call Charlene to try and boost me out of my funk; she had called a former teammate—someone she thought could lift my spirits, but quite possible the last person I would have wanted to see. I was in no mood to put up with Talbot’s antics.

Max’s approach toward me was very different than Mom’s or Charlene’s. Mom pussyfooted around me, Charlene was very direct, but Talbo didn’t even talk about it at all. I wasn’t sure what he knew, since he avoided the subject of Jo all night, but I knew that he knew something because he took me out to a club and treated me like he did when I was one of his single teammates. We had already done the catching up about the ends of our seasons, but I really didn’t have to tell Max much, since he knew the Sharks had won the Cup. Now we were just hanging out, the formalities all out of the way.

“Look at all these fine-ass women! This is place is jumping. And you know that you will have your pick, Tanger,” he said, taking a seat in the VIP lounge. He got comfortable and scanned the room. “Two-time champ, they’ll be crawling all over you.”

I shrugged, looking out into the crowd but not really seeing anyone. There probably were some very attractive women out there, but it’s not like I wanted any of them. I wanted someone hundreds of miles away, someone who didn’t want me. The faces around me were just background.

“You should be celebrating, mon ami. A summer to reward yourself after the hard work you put in all season.”

“If I’m supposed to be celebrating, then what’s your excuse for being here?”
I asked him, wondering why he wasn’t training any harder this summer for his upcoming season. I didn’t want to tell him to go home and prepare for an early morning workout—I mean, we weren’t teammates anymore, so it really shouldn’t have mattered to me—but I thought that he should have been taking things a little more seriously.

“And what do you want to do, sit at home and mope? Be miserable?”

“Oui.”


Max sighed and shook his head, obviously frustrated with me. Everyone was getting frustrated with me, even myself. It’s not like I wanted to be sad... I just didn’t know what it would take to be happy again.

A server walked over and asked if she could get us anything. Max quickly eyed her up and then ordered a drink. She turned to me with a smile and asked, “Anything for you, sir?”

“A beer,”
I told her. At first, I didn’t even know that I had asked for that. But wasn’t that sad people did? Drank to feel better, or to at least numb themselves? That’s what I wanted to do, be numb or feel better.

The waitress smiled at me, either with pity or annoyance. “All right, sweetie. What kind?”

I looked at Max desperately, since I didn’t know anything about beer enough to clarify my order. Max cast me a confused look but replied with a brand or something for me so I wouldn’t have to be too embarrassed. The server nodded and walked away, leaving Talbot and I alone. He raised an eyebrow and asked, “Beer? Who are you?”

“What? I can’t have a beer?”

“Well, no, but I’ve never seen you drink before.”

“This coming from the guy who was always telling me that I needed to let loose and stop being so uptight? The same guy who always made fun of me for not drinking?”

“But I never complained about always having a designated driver,”
he retorted, thinking he was witty. The waitress returned with our drinks, and she handed me a glass of amber liquid. I had never tasted beer before, so I was surprised when I tipped the glass against my lips and gulped. It was bitter. Not at all pleasant. I screwed up my face, and Max laughed at me. “You don’t even like beer.”

I shrugged and made myself take a couple more swallows until the glass was half empty. Maybe that was the point, to self-inflict some torture and poison yourself a bit with alcohol as punishment. The process of atoning, I’m sure, wasn’t meant to be easy. But still, I had to wonder how people could do this on a regular basis—and enjoy it.

“Seriously, Tanger, you have to stop. That won’t help.”

“It won’t hurt.”

“If you miss her so much, why don’t you go see her?”

“The infamous Maxime Talbot is giving me relationship advice? What do you know about relationships, anyway? As long as I’ve known you, you’ve never had one.”

“Précisément. Because relationships are hard work, and I am lazy. But I’m smart enough to realize this and save myself a lot of unfortunate frustration. I haven’t seen a real woman worth all the effort. But you’ve found someone worth it, and you’re just giving up.”

“I tried. I did. I tried to explain, but it didn’t matter. And if this is going to make her happy, then I’ll be okay with it. I’ll make myself be okay with it. She’ll get to finish school according to her schedule, and she doesn’t really need the distraction while she should be focusing on her studies anyway. This’ll be easier on her....”
I could find a way to rationalize anything in my head. By saying it was for the best for Jo, it lessened the hurt a little bit.

“Always the martyr, non?” Max leaned forward in his seat so he was closer to me. “If it’s eating you up inside, shouldn’t you do something constructive to fix it? Stop sitting at home. Drinking certainly won’t help you. You have to do something. Find a solution.” He tilted his head to the side and added, “Are you even sure that this is what will make her happy? Are you sure this is what she wants?”

“No,”
I admitted. In fact, I was pretty sure that Jo hadn’t wanted to break up at all, but I had been trying to work through it and talk about it with her. She was the one who had walked away. Run away, really. But sometimes love wasn’t enough to keep together the happiest of couples. My parents had been in love, but that didn’t mean anything for them in the end.

And then it hit me: the realization that I had turned into exactly who I hadn’t wanted to be. I had forced my preconceived wants and expectations onto Jo and tried to make her live in a specific way because I thought I knew what was best for her, even when she was telling me something different. Marcel had done the exact same thing to my mother. He wanted her to stay at home to care for me while he suffered, thinking that he was doing it for the best of his family. And he ruined it.

I was turning into my dad, even when I had explicitly tried not to. That thought knocked the breath out of me like I had been knocked into the boards.

“You okay, man?” Talbo asked, concerned.

“I don’t feel so well,” I mumbled, setting my beer glass on the table. I had an instant headache, and my stomach was churning. “Can we go?”

He sighed. “If you want to.”

Max offered to let me stay at his place, but I told him that I just wanted to go home. I had too much on my mind, and it was taking its toll on my body. When I got dropped off at my house, I tried to make it inside, but I couldn’t, and I hung myself over the porch railing and threw up in the bushes.

A soft, light voice floated out of thin air. “Drink too much?”

I looked up. My eyes took a few seconds to adjust to the darkness of night, but I saw my neighbor sitting out on her porch. She had just witnessed me at me worst. “Uh, no. Well, yeah,” I replied, thinking that even half a glass was too much—too much for me. I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand and reached into my pocket for my keys.

She got up and walked off the porch and headed over toward me. “Are you okay?”

“No, not really. But I’ll be okay, I guess.”

“Here, let me help.”
She took my keys out of my hand and carefully selected one, sliding it into the lock on the door and releasing the deadbolt.

“Thanks, Julie.”

“No problem,”
she replied, placing her hand softly on my arm and pushing me toward the door. “Let’s get you inside.”

13 comments:

  1. Okay, the good news: an ass-kicking from Charlene and the realization that he was turning into his dad. And half a beer with Max, go wild Kris.

    So just when it seems like Kris is on the expressway back to Jo, the mystery woman from his past steps out of the darkness. Roadblock, oh no! I hope that Julie doesn't insert herself into this drama.

    Really like this line, you convey the idea perfectly: "I wanted someone hundreds of miles away, someone who didn’t want me. The faces around me were just background."

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  2. I don't trust neighbour girl. Especially since Jo is still mad and in Pittsburgh...

    Jay, please let Jo and Kris come to an understanding soon.

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  3. I need Jo and Kris back together ... it is killing me lol.
    Great chapter can't wait for the next update!

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  4. augh....you bring us to the top...he realizes what he is doing and then you bring in the neighbor...you are TRYING to torture us now aren't you Jay?!?!?!?!?

    Waiting patiently for the next chapter to see what boneheaded things Jo is doing...augh!

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  5. OMG!!! You're killing me here!!!

    I really was hoping that he would get on a plane and go back to her. I hope Jo is handling everything a little better then Kris is. If Jo goes out drinking there's no telling what kind of damaging she could do.

    I just want them to be together and happy again. I'm kind of mad at you for putting ME through this lol

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  6. If he sleeps with her, I will snap. Though I think he has enough sense not to, even though he's acting like a complete buffoon in regards to Jo. ahhh, this is killing me Jay.

    -Saf

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  7. Uh uh Hell nah. Julie. Sigh! The last time that harlot was brought up, I meantioned how she was going to end up being trouble for Jo..and Kris.

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  8. I'm over the drama between Kris and Jo

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  9. neighbor ho needs to GTFO.... yes I do have strong feelings about this story. :)

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  10. yay charlene, boo julie
    someone put a bell on that boy so nothing bad can happen
    now he needs to go find jo asap!

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  11. Jo needs to appear out of thin air and kick this Julie girl's ass. She's prepared to slut all over his drunk self!

    Jo just needs to come back actually.

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  12. Well I'm happy his mom called in the cavalry. I hope his mom called Jo too. But I'm betting she didn't. I thought he would at least try to call Jo after Charlene talked to him. You can always leave a message. The idea of Kris being drunk on half a beer amuses me. Hopefully throwing up helped sober him up, so he's aware that Julie is not Jo.
    I don't like that they are both with such nice, helpful and caring people. Just the kind of person you can find yourself invoved with before you know it!

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  13. I love how his mom called Max!
    I'm not liking Julie either.

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