My Best Friend - Tim McGraw
“Hey pretty lady…” Alex whispered as he came up behind a tense Evan. His volume didn’t matter, no matter how soft he was trying to be, she still jumped visibly. “Sorry!” He said, his voice returning to normal volume as she looked over at him, clutching her chest.
“Oh, holy shit, Alex!” She moaned, “you scared the living crap out of me…” Sighing, she glanced beside her and reached for the lamp, pulling the small cord. “What are you doing here anyway?” She asked, motioning towards the TV, where the game still on. “I’ve been worried sick, sitting here waiting for you to come back out… what were you thinking anyway?! I told you to be careful and you… you… you charged at him!
I know he’s an idiot but, you could have seriously hurt yourself.”
She exhaled loudly, resigned, as she swatted a pillow off her lap; the same pillow she’d been squeezing flat, through the entire game.
With the light on, shining brightly around her, this time when she looked up at Alex, she saw him. Really saw him.
She felt the air whoosh out of her body as her eyes grew wide and her jaw fell open. “Alex…” She managed to squeak out, through deflated lungs, as she stood up to face him.
“It’s not as bad as it looks…” He quipped, trying to put on a brave face as she inched towards him. In truth though, he was almost light headed with the stinging after affect of being repeatedly punched.
He tried not to grimace when she reached out to touch his face, but he couldn’t help it.
Evan didn’t know what to do, so she traced her fingers gently along the swollen, tender skin. Her fingers lovingly caressed the bruising flesh of his left eye and cheek bone, working their way down to his now, discolouring jaw line; before moving back up to run over his split lip.
He sucked in his bottom lip at her touch, the sting causing moisture to rise in his eyes as he watched her reaction, carefully.
When she couldn’t hold it in anymore, she gave into the tears, withdrawing her hand from his lips, and placing it on hers. She covered her mouth and looked away from him, trying to move back to the couch.
“Evan… hey…” Alex cooed, grabbing onto her and pulling her back towards him. That turned out to be a mistake though, as she glanced down to feel what was rubbing against her bare arms, scratching and irritating. Alex quickly pulled his hands back, trying to hide the annoying, obvious, wrap that had just given him away.
She glared up at him, and he rolled his eyes, holding his hand back out in front of him. She stared at it for a minute before turning around and walking away from him.
“It’s not broken.” He said finally, not bothering to mention that he didn’t exactly know that for sure yet. “It’s really not a big deal-”
“Do not patronize me Alex Goligoski! Don’t you do that! I’m not an idiot… you’re a hockey player… you need two fucking hands for that and…” She trailed off, jabbing her finger in the air, pointing hastily at his busted hand.
Alex watched her storm around the room, the way she way she always did when she was in a bad mood, only usually it wasn’t because of him.
He let her go about her business, listening to her mutter and watching her walk circles around her new apartment.
Sitting down, Alex watched the rest of the game by himself, not bothering to say or do anything else.
When Evan finally calmed down enough to get the Ben and Jerry’s out of the freezer, Alex knew she was finally approachable. He turned off the end of the third period, not even bothering the check the score, before making his way into the kitchen.
She was leaning back in the chair, her legs up against her chest; her toes hanging over the edge of the chair as she shovelled spoonfuls of Mission to Marzipan into her mouth.
“I’m sorry Evan, please don’t be mad at me.” He said simply, pulling out an empty chair and dragging it towards her. He sat down, grabbing her feet and pulling them towards his lap.
He wrapped the long fingers of his good hand, around her foot, gently massaging the bottom with the padded part of his thumb.
She continued to eat as she stared at his hand. He took that as a cue to continue, running his hands along every part of her foot, alternating his movements between hard and soft.
Evan finished the container, feeling sorely disappointed in herself for eating the entire thing. She dropped her spoon into it and set it down on the table gently, before retracting her feet. Placing them on the floor, she met Alex’s gaze for the first time since her blow up.
“I’m not mad… I just wish you didn’t do that. I asked you to do one thing for me - stay safe - and you couldn’t do that.
Jeff’s a lot bigger than you…” She began to explain, laughing slightly as Alex raised his eyebrows at her, doubtful. “I don’t mean like that, you perv.” She shaking her head as she felt the smile spread across her face. “I meant height and weight wise… plus, he’s been in fights before.
You might be a protector Alex, but you’re not a fighter. I just don’t want to see you go down to his level… you’re better than that. You’re better than him.
I’m just sorry that this happened to you.”
“It wasn’t your fault Evan! I didn’t feel the need to punch Jeff because I feel sorry for you. I do, I mean, I hate what he put you through… but that wasn’t my only reasoning.
First off, I needed to do that for me. I’ve needed to do that for a really, really long time… and I figured, if you get to punch Richards, I deserve to punch someone too.” He smirked, grinning even more when he saw that he was having the right effect on her. “And secondly, Jeff had his chance, I told him if he fucked up again he’d be sorry… I wasn’t about to eat my words.”
Evan sat for a minute, nodding as she stared off into the distance, her eyes zoned out. “Wait… when did you tell him that?”
“When did you say that to him? After you found out he’d cheated on me?” She asked slowly, her giant blue eyes beginning to cloud with confusion.
Alex nodded slowly, still not following her. “But when did you talk to him after that? You never told me you talked to him…”
Alex stopped nodded, his mouth falling into a small ’o’ when he realized the issue. Swallowing his good-sense and ignoring the small voice that was screaming at him to cease and desist, he told her the truth. “That’s because I didn’t talk to him about it, after you told me… I said it to him before you told me…”
“Alex, that makes no sense. How could you tell him something that you didn’t know…? Oh…” She said, the last word coming out as a quiet breath. “You knew…”
“Evan, let me-”
“Was it like a hockey thing? Did everyone know? Did he fucking tell everyone?! Did everyone know but me?” She wasn’t asking, she was begging, pleading with Alex to tell her that she was wrong, that that wasn’t the way it had happened.
He reached out for her, gently grabbing her arms and standing up; pulling her up beside him. “It wasn’t like that… it was a secret, he didn’t want anyone else to know but Richards.
But Evan, I did know. Max overheard them talking and found out that Jeff was cheating on you… I know that I should have told you right away but… you loved him so much. I didn’t want to be the one to tell you, so I figured I’d give him the benefit of the doubt… told him to straighten up or I would tell you.”
She began to sob and Alex took a deep breath, trying to control his own emotions. “Then I found out that he was still doing it, so when I was at your house that weekend, I searched through his pockets until I found proof. I was the one that put the hotel receipt on the floor…”
Evan inhaled sharply, pulling back to look up at Alex. “That was you? But… why didn’t you just tell me?”
Alex shrugged sadly, trying to figure out how to explain this to her, how could he make her see that he was just an idiot when it came to her. He didn‘t do anything to hurt her or try and make things worse for her, every he did, he did because he wanted her to be happy. “Because… I was chicken shit… I thought you wouldn’t believe me, and then Max said-”
Evan snorted through her tears, loudly. “Max said? You did something because Max said to?”
“Max?” She said again sceptically, the hint of a smile playing on her lips, “since when have you ever listened to Max?”
Alex shook his head slowly, tilting it to the side as he regarded her; the fingers of his battered hand running down the soft skin of her jaw. “I’m not sure, all I know is that I love you so much I can’t think straight.
When you‘re on my mind… nothing makes sense but, everything seems like a really good idea… and you‘re always on my mind.” Embarrassed, Alex looked away, but not before adding. “I guess technically that does make it your fault then… if you’d stop being so god-damn amazing, I’d be able to make better choices.”
Half Alive - Secondhand Serenade
Alex and Evan had stayed up late, talking like old times. Their conversation had drifted from the painful incidents of the last few months, back to a more innocent, easy time.
She had fallen asleep in his arms on the couch, sometime around six in the morning, but Alex couldn’t sleep. Instead, he carried her to her room and laid her down on the bed gently, kissing her forehead before he headed for the door.
He wasn’t sure where he was going, but he just needed to stretch his feet and do something physical, something that didn’t require a lot of though. Right now, Alex didn’t want to think.
It was hard to lay there with her, knowing that everything was out on the table now, nothing was left separating them; but they were still separated.
He just didn’t get it, what else could he do? If she really wasn’t upset about him punching Jeff, then that had to mean she was past him, didn’t it? And if she was, then why didn’t she want to be with him?
Alex didn’t even realize where he was until he put his SUV into park. He couldn’t even remember getting in the vehicle, let alone driving to the arena.
Glancing at the clock he wondered if it would even be open, it was only 6:48 in the morning.
Shrugging he opened the door and swung his feet down onto the pavement.
Practice wasn’t till nine, but that didn’t matter, he was sure he wouldn’t be practising anyway, maybe he could get in for a skate. Anything to take his mind off of… well, everything.
Deciding to test his luck, Alex headed into the rink, happy to find the back door open.
He passed a janitor on the way in, who nodded at him, not concerned by his early appearance at all.
He headed into the locker-room, flicking on the light, and flooding the dark room with a neon illumination. He quickly changed into his skates and grabbed a stick; for balance more than anything, he wasn‘t expecting to be able and hold it properly for a while yet.
Alex hopped out onto the ice, surprised to see that some of the lights had already been turned on. He skated towards centre ice, with his head down, when he heard the slap of a puck.
“You’re up early, St. Pierre… Or should I call you Matt Hughes? I don’t think St. Pierre gets hit quiet so much…” Coach Bylsma laughed, skating down the ice to meet Alex.
“I didn’t take you as an Ultimate Fighter fan…” Alex laughed back, not offended by the comment at all. “What are you doing here anyway?”
“I could ask you the same thing.” Dan countered, grinning as he glanced back down the ice at the empty net, full of pucks. “Just fuckin’ around really… I like to get out here sometimes before you guys… relive the glory days, or whatever they were.”
“Why’d you stop playing?” Alex asked as he glided behind Dan, stick still in hand.
“Knee injury. Missed thirty-one games in my second last season… and to be honest, I wasn’t the best player. By the time I was ready to come back and try again, they’d already forgotten about me.” He said, trying to sound like it was just something that’d happened, not anything that mattered, or still hurt.
Alex nodded, not pressing him. “You’re kinda like Coach Bombay… was that his name? The guy from the Mighty Duck movies?”
Dan laughed. “Yah… thanks… I think.” They stopped talking and skated around a bit; one trying to remember what it felt like to be alive, one trying to forget.
It was a half hour before they spoke again. “Thought you were suppose to be with a lady friend…” Dan asked, trying to appear nonchalant.
Alex shrugged. “Yah… it’s just, I don’t know.” He thought about leaving it at that, but decided against it, it wasn’t like he couldn’t trust his coach to keep something confidential.
“Did you ever want something so bad… but sometimes it feels like, it just wasn’t meant to be? Like something bigger than you, just kept fucking everything up?”
“Yah… like fate. Like fate doesn’t want you to have something, so no matter how hard you try, it’s never enough?”
Dan sighed, skating closer to Alex. He came to a stop in front of him and contemplated his words. “I know what you mean, I think. I felt that my whole career.
I spent my life wanting to be good enough and it didn’t happen. But now here I am… maybe I wasn’t a game seven hero back in the day, but I’m a Stanley cup coach now.” He grinned, patting Alex on the shoulder. “Sometimes, what we think we were meant to do, isn’t right. Sometimes you just have to accept defeat and take a step back, look around and find the thing you were meant for.”
Alex shook his head, it made sense for hockey, but he wasn’t talking about hockey. “But I don’t want to. I’m suppose to be with her, I already know that… I just can’t get it there.
It’s not like hockey, it’s not like I don’t have the ability… I just can’t connect the dots. I can’t complete the picture.”
Dan smiled, a warm, fatherly kind of smile. “Fate is just that… Alex, fate. Fate is when things work out they way they’re suppose to. You can’t change it or stop it… fate just happens. No matter how bad you want something… sometimes it just doesn‘t work out.
That doesn‘t mean you shouldn‘t try… do try. You always have to try… but sometimes… you just aren‘t meant for something.”
Alex started to turn, exhaling loudly. “Maybe, or maybe fate doesn’t just occur on it’s own. Maybe you need to make your own fate. What if, fate is really just, what’s suppose to happen… maybe sometimes fate needs to be forced onto the right path”
Dan gave a sad chuckle, watching Alex skate back towards the opening in the boards. He wanted to call after him, trying to find the words that would make Goligoski a little less sad. Finally he gave a resigned sighed. “You can’t force fate Alex.”
Alex turned back around, a genuine smile spreading across his face as he coasted off the ice. “Watch me.”
5 years ago