If he thought putting up with me when I was PMSing was bad, it was nothing compared to how I grieved. I was in a thousand different places at once. I wanted him near me; I wanted to be alone. I wanted to cry and be miserable; I wanted to relive the wonderful memories and enjoy them. I wanted to talk about my grandfather; I wanted to pretend like nothing was wrong.
Through every mood swing and every change of heart, Sid did his best to accommodate me and do what he thought I wanted him to. He left me alone when I pushed him away, but then he held me when the tears spouted forth. Sidney was simply amazing throughout it all, and I definitely felt like I didn't deserve him. I felt horrible that I was putting him through all this, but it's not like I could automatically stop and make things go back to normal.
This was only Day Two of the grieving process. I wished that I knew how long this would take and when I could expect to stop hurting. I knew I couldn't press a button or flip a switch and have things be hunky-dory again, but I just hoped for some sort of distraction to get my mind off the matter. Something. Anything.
As much as Sidney was afraid to leave me at home alone, he knew he had to go to the morning skate on Monday. "Do you want to come with me to the skate around?" he asked.
"No," I replied, plopping down on the couch and tucking my legs under me. "I don't feel like leaving."
"Oh. Are you still going to come to my game?"
I looked up at Sid. Honestly, I wasn't sure if I wanted to attend the night's game against Carolina. I didn't feel like putting forth the effort of showering, getting dressed, having to put on a happy face, and seeing everyone, only to have to hear them say how sorry they were for me. Those looks that they would give me; they wouldn't do me a bit of good. But the look that Sid was giving me now told me that I should probably come along. This could be my welcome distraction. "Sure."
He smiled and leaned down to kiss my cheek. "I'm glad to hear it. I mean, I know this is tough for you, but I'm glad that you're going to be there."
"Would it be okay if I sat up in the box today?" I called after him as he was headed for the door. "I don't want to be around the girls. They're going to feel bad for me, and then probably not talk all night because they'll be afraid of what to say."
"Sure. I'll talk to Mario."
"He doesn't know, does he? I mean, please don't tell him. I can just do without the pity."
Sid walked back and kissed me again, and I worried he would be late. "Is it so wrong that they just want to express their sympathy?"
"Yes," I sighed. "I know that they're sorry. I know that they feel bad. They're my friends, so I know all that. But I don't want them to act differently around me. That's what's going to make me feel worse."
"All right. I'll clear it with Mario, but it shouldn't be a problem. I love you," he said, this time leaving for real.
I wanted to yell out to him that I loved him, too, but the words caught in my throat. I knew that everyone felt sorry for me, but they would just pussyfoot around the issue. At least with Sid, he knew when to push me and when to let things slide. I couldn't have made it through without him. And he had at least met my grandfather; he knew this was difficult. But he also knew I needed tough love, not wimpy pats on the shoulders and "I'm sorry to hear about your grandfather"s.
I did my best to go about the day as normally as I could manage. It was a game day, so I needed to shower and dress, cook Sid's pregame meal. At least that would keep me busy enough during the morning and early afternoon that mind would preoccupied. So that's what I did. I had to remember that I wasn't the only one in this house dealing with some issues. The Pens were still losing, and Sidney was still torn between playing his best to get on the Olympic team and doing what was best for the team to get them out of their slump. In a few weeks, though, the final selections would be made and Sid would know for sure—although there was never any doubt in my mind—if he was playing for Team Canada come February.
"You do know that you don't have to this, right?" Sid asked as he woke up from his pregame nap and began to raid the kitchen for his snack. I was busying myself with laundry and ironing his dress shirt for the night's game.
"Yeah. But it's good for me to do something. Idle hands lead to a wandering mind," I explained. I held up his shirt and realized that I was probably ironing in more wrinkles than I was effectively taking out. This was not my strong suit.
Sidney took the iron from my hand before I could do any more damage and began to smooth out his own shirt. The doorbell rang, and I answered the door while Sid worked.
"Geno, what are you doing here?" I asked, thoroughly perplexed to see him on the porch.
"You teach me today?" he questioned back, his eyebrows raising with his voice.
"Oh shit," I mumbled quietly. Evgeni let out a loud "Huh?" to let me know that he didn't catch my remark, but I ignored it. "Okay, come on in." I waved my hand to encourage his entrance, even though I was mad at myself for forgetting. Sure, I had a lot on my mind, but I remembered to call off work for the week, so I should have remembered to cancel with Geno, too.
When Sid saw Geno, he said, "Hey man, what are you doing here?"
Evgeni held up the dictionary in his hands and said, "Learning."
Sidney scrunched up his face and looked at me, pushing the issue further. "But it's Monday, and a game day. Did you schedule this?"
I shrugged. "I must have."
"If you want me leave..." Geno started to stay, encouraged by the look on Sid's face which told me that he thought I was trying to get back into the swing of things too quickly.
"No, Ev, I don't mind. Just bear with me if I appear... unprepared," I explained. Sidney shook his head but didn't contradict me.
I really was unprepared. I guess I didn't remember agreeing to tutor Evgeni today, because I had nothing new planned. We ended up spending the first fifteen minutes of our hour-long session reviewing questions we had gone over previously.
"What do you think the team needs to improve on to start winning games again?" I quizzed. It almost seemed ironic that I chastised Sid for his automatic responses when I was starting to teach them to Geno.
"We need play consistent. Put puck on net. Be aggressive. Shift momentum our favor—"
"You mean to say, shift momentum in our favor," I corrected.
He nodded and repeated that phrase to himself a few times with his eyes closed, trying to brand it into his memory. Sid stepped into the kitchen, kissed my right cheek, and told us that he'd see us at the rink later.
When the door closed behind Sidney as he headed to his Range Rover, Geno lowered his voice. Which didn't make sense, because now we were the only ones in the house. "I have two secrets."
I smiled at him. "Are you going to tell me what they are?"
He nodded. "Yeah. First one. I surprise you today. You not tutor me today. I just come over."
"Well, that explains why I'm so confused. Why did you come over?"
"I sorry you sad. I want to, uh, cheer you up."
"Oh, that's really nice of you, G. I appreciate that. Yeah, you definitely made me feel a little bit better," I admitted, flashing him a genuine smile that had been buried all day. I grabbed his hand and squeezed it to let him know that I truly did appreciate his gesture. Not only did tutoring him distract my mind, but he was so fun to be around that I almost forgot all about it. "What's your other secret?"
"I break up Oksana."
I was startled by this bit of information. "What? Geno, why?"
He shrugged. "You right. You say, 'follow your heart.' And I did."
"But you didn't say anything to me last week about this. I thought things were fine. What changed?"
"I not tell you. I not tell no one."
"You mean, you didn't tell any one. No double negatives," I corrected.
Evgeni laughed at me. "Here I am, have serious conversation. And you still correcting me."
I blushed a little. "Yeah, and I'm not even supposed to be tutoring you today. But I am trying to be serious here. What made you change your mind? And none of the guys know?"
He shook his head. "I not tell any one," he repeated, halfway correcting himself. "I no want anyone to know. I see... I see how V look Flower. And I see how you look Sid. Oksana? She never look me like that. And she get mad I learn English. She really mad you teach me."
"But you have to learn proper English. She should understand that."
"No, not so mad that I learn. She mad you teach me."
"Me?" I shook my head. "I don't get it."
"She jealous, I think."
"That's so ridiculous," I muttered. "She knows I'm with Sidney."
Geno nodded. "Yeah, she know. But she still not trust me. She say...."
"What? What does she say, Evgeni?"
He let out a deep breath. "She say I like you."
I laughed. "Well that's just silly."
"First off, I'm with Sid. And second, I'm not nearly as pretty as she is. I mean, why have a cheeseburger when you can have filet mignon?"
Cocking his head to the side, he said, "I don't understand."
"I'm just saying that it wouldn't make any sense for you to like me, so Oksana is blowing things out of proportion."
So many things happened at once that I think if I had blinked, I would have missed it all. I felt Geno's fingers squeeze my hand, and I realized that when I had reached out to touch him, I had never let go. Was he trying to tell me something—something that I didn't want to hear? I blushed fiercely and pulled my hand away, but not before I noticed that Sid had come back into the kitchen, mumbling about forgetting his phone and throwing his routine off. He stopped in his tracks; I wasn't sure if he had seen that or not, but something in his eyes told me that he suspected something as he looked at me, and then Evgeni, and then at me again.
"Sidney!" I exclaimed, my shock from Geno's gesture and Sid's surprise return escaping through my voice. "You came back!"
"I didn't even get out of the driveway before I realized I forgot something."
"Oh, well, Geno and I are done for the day, so do you mind if I ride to the Mellon with you?"
"You're done already?" Sid asked, still looking between the two of us.
"Yes. Aren't we, G?" I questioned, flashing a look at Evgeni that let him know he'd better agree with me, or else.
"Yeah. Done," he said, standing up and gathering his book. "See you at rink."
As Geno left, Sid focused his attention on me. "Okay, so what was that all about?"
"What was what about?" I innocently tried to brush it off.
"I don't know, whatever it is I walked in on."
"You didn't walk in on anything," I tried to assure Sid, but not sure if I could be so sure of that. I racked my brain to explain this away. "We were comforting each other."
Sidney raised an eyebrow at me, and I hated that he could see through me. "You were comforting him?"
"Partly. He broke up with Oksana."
He snorted. "It's about time."
"That's a shit thing to say, Sidney. He's torn up about it."
"No he isn't. We all told him that she wasn't good for him, and it's not like he was faithful to her anyway."
"He cheated on her?"
Sid looked at me like I was a five-year-old, and I should have known better. "You're really naïve. Of course he did. She lives in Russia."
"Wow, you're so nonchalant about this. Is this something I need to be worried about, too? That you'll cheat on me when you're away?"
"No, of course not," he said, stumbling over his words.
"Well, you make it sound like all hockey players cheat on their girlfriends."
"Not all. Just... some," he continued, digging himself into a bigger hole. Sid ran his head through his hair, signaling his distress.
"Whatever," I said dismissively. "I get what you're trying to say, even though you're doing a horrible job of it. He was upset about it, even if you don't understand why."
Sid looked like he wanted to press the issue and say something else, something important. Instead, he changed the subject. "We'd better get going. I've already screwed up my routine, and now we're going to be late."
I nodded and followed him out to his Range Rover, cursing myself the entire time. I wanted a distraction; I practically begged for it. And I got it, in the form of a tall Russian. Sid interrupted us before I got to the bottom of the situation, and now this was going to eat at my nerves until I figured out what exactly was going on in that crazy Ruski's head. Add that to the excitement of the game and the stress of needing a win tonight, and I was up to my ears in distraction.
My Favorite Five (2015)
1 year ago