I glanced at myself in the mirror. I concluded that I looked appropriate for a summer hockey game that would have basically no fans. I was cute without trying too hard. When Zara and Valerie showed up at my door I saw that they were dressed the same way, much to my relief. I got into the car and we headed to the rink.
Sidney had been playing hockey all summer with his friends and other guys that played, but I’d never gone. It wasn’t exactly closed to the public, but it also wasn’t advertised. Fans never went to watch the summer hockey games. The guys didn’t take the game seriously, they just wanted to skate to keep up their skills. Today was the last game of the summer and Zara, Valerie, and I had decided to go cheer on the guys.
A few days had passed since the night Mason had shown up at my door. Sidney and I had woken up the next morning and didn’t really talk about it. We’d just gone on like it was a normal day. I wasn’t sure how else to go about things. Yes, I was in love with him, but he was leaving for Pittsburgh in less than a week. The last thing I wanted was for the last few days with him to be awkward, so I went on like I always had with him.
“Do you want to go down and see the guys before the game?” Zara asked.
“Is that a good idea?” I returned.
“We do it every time we come. They’re always dressed this close to starting, and no one gets mad because they don’t take the game seriously,” Valerie explained.
“Okay then, let’s go.” I followed the two of them down a hallway to a door. We could hear male voices on the other side. Zara knocked loudly on the door before opening it.
“Cover up, boys!” she called out.
We walked in to the locker room to a bunch of greetings. I realized that I recognized just about every guy in there. Most had been at Sidney’s at one of his parties, or out with us at some point. Sidney caught my eye as I walked in, and he smiled over at me. I walked away from Zara and Valerie and made my way over to him.
“What are you doing here?” he asked. He was mostly dressed, but on top he was just wearing an underarmor shirt. It showed off the muscles in his chest. I had to tear my eyes away.
“We decided to come watch the last game and they wanted to come down and say hi to everyone beforehand,” I told him.
“Well, since you’re going to be here, want to grab dinner with everyone after?” I smiled and nodded.
“Sounds good.” I looked past him into his stall. I’d never been into a locker room with Mason before, and I’d always been curious about how guys kept their stuff. “These your sticks?” I reached out to grab one, and Sidney grabbed my hand before I could.
“Don’t touch them, please,” he said in complete seriousness. I looked at him strangely.
“Sid hates having people touch his sticks after he tapes them up before a game,” Caden threw in from the stall next to us. “One of his little superstitions.” I looked back at Sidney and laughed.
“It’s not funny!” he exclaimed. I laughed harder.
“I didn’t realize. I apologize,” I told him between laughs.
He rolled his eyes at me before putting on his shoulder pads. I turned and started talking to Caden and playing with his sticks when I noticed Sidney walk away from his stall and around a corner. I put Caden’s stick back and stepped in front of Sidney’s stall. I stretched a hand out towards a stick, and then hesitated. He’d kill me if he knew I’d touched it.
“You’re playing with fire,” Wes called over to me. The entire locker room went silent as I grabbed one of Sidney’s sticks and posed with it.
“It was nice knowing you, Misty,” Walker cracked. I grinned and pulled a pen out of my purse.
“What the hell are you doing? What the hell is she doing?” Caden asked as I took the top off and made a little smiley face on the tape just under the knob. It was small enough that unless you really looked, you’d never see it.
“I’m going to see what happens if he uses the stick I touched before a game,” I announced. I placed the stick carefully back in its place as the locker room broke into nervous laughter. A moment later Sidney came back around the corner. I simply grinned over at him.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” he asked.
“Have a good game, Crosby,” I said. I turned and Zara and Valerie followed me out of the locker room.
We took seats at center ice and the game started not long after. There were only five other people at the game, and they looked like family members. Not wanting to be “those” girls, we kept quiet during the game, talking only amongst ourselves as we watched. I couldn’t help but smile and laugh at each of the five goals Sidney scored that afternoon. I couldn’t be sure until after the game which stick he’d used, but I had a feeling.
Once the game was over, a public skate began and the three of us grabbed some hot chocolate and sat in the lobby to wait for the guys to shower and get dressed. As Walker, Caden, and Wes filed out of the locker room ahead of Sidney, they each shook their heads at me with smiles on their faces. Despite not having any media to speak of here, Sidney was still one of the last out of the locker room. I saw him carrying the couple of sticks he'd brought with him.
“Which stick did you use today?” I asked him. He gave me a confused look.
“Just show me what stick you used,” I demanded.
He held one out and I took it from him. I turned it around and looked just under the knob, where I’d placed the smiley face on one of the sticks. There the smiley face was, staring me right in the face. I began to laugh hysterically when I saw that the stick that had gotten him five goals today was the one I had played around with. There was just one more thing to check.
“Is five goals typical for you in these games?” I asked.
“Not at all. I just felt like I couldn’t miss today.” He was still giving me a strange look as I began to laugh again. I turned the stick and pointed at the face I’d made. “What the fuck is that?”
“When you walked away, I grabbed a stick and made that so I’d know which one it was after. I was doing an experiment to see what happened if someone touched your stick,” I told him.
I watched his eyes narrow at me and his lips tighten into a straight line. He was obviously less than amused at what I’d just revealed. He grabbed the stick and ripped it out of my hands. Then without a word he turned and stormed out of the lobby and towards his car. I knew I’d crossed a line and took a deep breath before following him out.
“We’ll miss you, Misty!” I heard Wes call after me. Sidney slammed the trunk closed after putting his stuff in the back before turning and seeing me standing there.
“I specifically told you I don’t want anyone touching my sticks, but you couldn’t help yourself, could you?” he half asked, half yelled angrily. The smiles and laughter were gone from me now.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it was going to be this big a deal. I wouldn’t have done it if I thought it would be,” I apologized. He stayed standing there, glaring at me for a moment without speaking.
“God, you just always do that. You just think you can fuck with people’s stuff and if nothing bad happens, it’s not a problem!” His scathing words hurt and I took a step back from him. I could see him making fists with his hands.
“I’m sorry,” I said quietly.
“I don’t ever ask for anything from you. The one time I do, you can’t listen. You have to disregard it!”
Sidney turned away from me and I felt like shit. Then I saw him start to shake. I’d made him so mad that he was shaking? Then I heard the sound coming from him. It took a minute for me to recognize it. Was he laughing? He turned back around to me with a shake of his head and a smile on his face.
“I scored five goals with a stick you messed around with,” he said in disbelief. I smiled back at him and giggled. “God, why can’t I ever stay made at you?” I put my palms face up and gave an exaggerated shrug.
“I guess I’m just too damn cute,” I joked. He threw his arm around me with a laugh.
“Let’s get everyone and grab dinner,” he suggested.
Two days later I was on Sidney’s boat with the usual group. He’d completely forgiven me for messing with his stick and even threatened to force me to touch every stick for each of his games for the upcoming season. Now we were just hanging out, enjoying a late summer day before Sidney had one last party at his place before he left for the season.
After lying in the warm sun for a while, I jumped into the lake to cool off. I was off in my own world as I swam around the boat, getting in a little exercise as I went. No one had jumped in to join me, and I didn’t mind. After a while I swam back over to the boat and pulled myself up the ladder that had been left down for me.
“It’s about time I move out and get my own place,” I heard Sidney saying.
“I don’t know. It’s not such a bad deal living with Mario. You don’t even have to see them if you don’t want to,” Walker replied.
They were talking about Sidney being back in Pittsburgh. I felt a knot forming in my stomach. I didn’t want to talk or think about Sidney not being in Cole Harbour anymore. Especially since after he left, I was leaving as well. After that, I had no idea when I’d see him again. I just knew that he’d no longer be a short drive away and I wouldn’t be able to see him whenever I wanted.
The conversation about Pittsburgh and Sidney looking for a house there continued as I lay back on a towel and remained quiet. Zara and Valerie both realized pretty quickly what was going on with me, since I wasn’t known to not participate in a conversation. Zara gave my hand a squeeze and gave me a small smile. I tried to return the smile, but just couldn’t. I spent the rest of the time on the boat doing everything in my power to ignore all the Pittsburgh talk.
After a few hours on the boat we made our way back to Sidney’s where the girls and I made up some appetizer like food for the party and the guys went on an alcohol run. Once we were done with the food, we took turns with the showers and began to get ready. We finished up just as the first of the people coming began to show up.
We made our way downstairs and mixed up some drinks before heading outside to hang out. I stood among the group of friends I’d made and knew that it might be the last time that would ever happen. Even if I were to come back and visit the following summer, it was still the last time this summer, and that saddened me. I wondered if I’d ever have another summer like this one.