Coasting Down Memory Lane;
“What did you do?” Riley stared at Sidney wide-eyed.
“I simply told him to back off,” he replied, smugly. “I also told him what’ll happen if he doesn’t.”
“You threatened him, didn’t you?”
“If that’s how he chooses to perceive it.” He backed out of the driveway. “Look, Riley, I love you – ridiculously so – and he’s a slug. I’ll do whatever I can to keep you safe and happy,” he said before she could respond. “And, I really don’t care if you want me to or not.”
She sat there stunned. His answer wasn’t what she had expected to hear from him. When Sidney said or did things like this Riley could feel her heart melting. He had, she knew, so many sides of him that are very rarely exposed to many people.
She turned to him, smiled. “Thank you.”
He quickly glanced at her, smiled, and took her hand in his. “You’re welcome.”
A few minutes later they arrived at the arena. They were practicing in the Mellon Arena as Southpointe was being occupied for the day. The arena seemed empty when they walked in, but later proved otherwise when Coach Dan Bylsma ran past them chasing Jordan Staal with a large water bottle.
Riley watched them race by her and Sidney and down the hall. They were screaming and laughing the entire time. Like children, she thought. The guys seemed to be having more fun.
“He’s a good coach,” Sidney said as he and Riley made their way to locker rooms. “I have to get changed now.” He kissed her lightly on the lips. “Practice starts in fifteen minutes.” He gave her hand a quick squeeze then disappeared through the large door that was marked with a large picture of a penguin.
Riley walked over to the ice and picked a seat that was a few rows up. She never liked being in the first row at a hockey game. When she was seated she took a deep breath and let it out slowly. For the first time in who knows how long, Riley wasn’t expected to report back to her boss with a full article on how practice went. This time it was different. This time she was just there to watch the love of her life play the sport that he enjoyed.
Hockey, she mused. Hockey was what brought them together the first time, six years ago. And hockey was what had reunited them. Hockey was a huge part of both their lives. It was his career and hers. It was what had brought them to where they stood now.
Shaking her head, laughing a little, and getting comfy, Riley prepared to watch the show.
As she watched, she pulled out her notebook. The newspaper she occasionally wrote for had asked her to write a little introduction for the readers about the 2008-2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The idea of it was more descriptive then anything. They wanted the readers to feel like they were there, watching the game for themselves.
She started it off slowly, it wasn’t due for a few more weeks but she decided that this was how she’d pass some time.
She could picture it all perfectly.
The lights were set to a low dim, the announcer’s voice boomed. The crowd roared. Spotlights displaying the picture of a large, fierce-looking penguin criss-crossed over the freshly cleaned ice. The chants began just seconds before the home team stepped on the ice. The crowd got louder.
A few boos where hollered when the visiting team stepped on. Both teams, consisted of twenty men each, warmed up on their end of the ice. Both set up in the widely popular butterfly drill. Pucks crossed from end to end, passed tape to tape, and shot into the net. Some stretched, some were being interviewed, and some skated around scoping for colourful, homemade signs with interesting sayings on them.
Everything came to a halt when the national anthems were sung. Five skaters and a goalie of each team stood on the ice and faced the flags; the other fifteen players stood on their respective benches and bowed their heads in respect.
As the home team’s national anthem began the crowd cheered and sang along loudly, their hands on their hearts.
Once over, they prepared for the puck to drop and the show to begin.
Yes, she could see it all. She could feel the intensity and only hoped that her readers would too.
Looking up, Riley saw that all of the guys were standing at one end of the ice, coach at attention. He was giving instructions for a new drill. And Sidney would be leading, naturally.
Soon after, they switched to another drill. This one seemed to be more physically draining than the others. It dealt more with fore checking and back checking – a vital part in the game.
Turning her head at the sound of feet walking across the sticky floor, Riley smiled at the woman dressed in a black tracksuit who looked like she’d just stepped out of the spa. Her long black hair tied loosely in a ponytail, her skin shining, and her makeup-less face glowing. Yup, Riley thought, she looked like she’d just been pampered for a good few hours.
“Hey, Rye,” she said it so sweetly with her beautiful French accent.
“Hey, Vero. How are you?”
“Oh, I’m good. How about yourself? I haven’t seen you in forever.”
“I’m doing well. And yes, it has been a while.” Riley closed her notebook and shoved it into her bag.
As Vero sat in the seat next to Riley, they began to talk about clothes, hair, makeup and boys.