Tristan vol 1. writ. 2014

By Asa Montreaux, pen name Andrew James

My parents split up and I thought it was the

perfect opportunity to escape the only things I’d

ever known. I told them that there fighting was

causing me too much pain and I was leaving to

live in Canada. My father assured me that I didn’t

need to go and do things all on my own. He was

going to come with me to Canada. Maybe I

should have left on my own. But I could never say

no to the man.

You see I was born in Canada, and this is why I

have always been better than everyone else.

Canadians are better looking, more intelligent,

and talented at hockey than any other group of

people. Whenever I was given a hard time in

school, or in the alleyways, nothing ever affected

me. I had already won. I was Canadian, after all. I

rose above every conflict because after all I was

going back to Canada soon. When was I going

back to Canada? Next year. Next year when? Next

year, son. My experience of being a child clashes

with those pastoral images of the thing. I

remember feeling frustrated all the time. If I could

just have been given authority over my own life

but my only access to power in this world was

through my parent’s wallets. Sometimes, when

you’re growing up, you feel so frustrated that when

something bad happens, it makes you happy.

When my dog died I cried for a couple hours but

eventually my dog’s death became less about the

death of a companion and more about an event in

my life. My dog’s death could be one of those

moments when things change. I could be the hero

in my story and I could be inspired by my dog’s

death to be the bestest little twelve year old in the

world. I think this divorce thing is the same thing.

We like disaster, we love explosions. I took

advantage of the explosion to get what I’ve always


And I’ve always wanted to go back. The funny

thing about getting what you’ve always wanted is

that it always seemed so far away that you’ve been

living for other things. I was leaving my whole life,

which I had worked so hard at. It was so sad

because that life was so valuable, and there was so

much more work to do, and I would never see it

through to the end. Being a normal person is just

as rewarding as being a rock star if you’re good at.

We left Vancouver when I was three, but it was

already too late for me. I paraded around my

uncle’s apartment wearing his hockey gear,

however loosely, and I was already scoring the

game winner in game seven. I always wanted to be

a big time hockey player. Which is why it sucks

that I had spent my life in Houston, Texas. But we

had some good teams there. However I had just

run out of teams to play for, and I needed to leave

to play better hockey. I had been planning

something less explosive, like playing for the Dallas

selects, or Detroit Compuware. But this was just

one of those events in life which I really needed to

mean something bigger than Detroit Compuware.

I had visited Vancouver several times growing up.

Cities are always so much more attractive when

you don’t live there. A city will give you a free pass

if you are just there to visit. You pay a lot of

money when you’re visiting the city. But if you’re not

paying a lot of money, then the city is nearly as

hostile towards you as any new immigrant. You see

the seedy streets, and you ride on public

transportation with some of the sketchy

characters. Backpackers in Europe probably are

more struck by the harshness of life than they are

by the temples and jewels of antiquity.

Which is not to say I was wholly taken with

Vancouver. I was taken aback by skid row, and I

knew what that meant about the people who made

up this city. I knew that some people tried to help

the people on skid row, but I also knew that the

city was quietly making them extinct, shrinking

their areas with high rise buildings and coffee

shops, and raising the price of living and

transportation. As attractive as Vancouver is, as

comforting as it was to know that I would be

reunited with my cousins, to be returning from an

extended period away, I wasn’t coming for the city

or any of its people. I was coming for its hockey.

We chose to live within five minutes drive of

twelve sheets of ice. There aren’t twelve sheets of

ice in all of Houston. Just driving to the rink

everyday was a reminder that I would forever be at

a disadvantage. Ice time was the most precious

commodity for a hockey player. The team I

wanted to play for was the Northwest Giants. It

was a major midget team comprised of the best

players from Burnaby, North Vancouver, West

Vancouver, New Westminster, Squamish, and

Whistler. That was a lot of hockey players to draw

from, and a lot of good ones. Burnaby and North

Vancouver were home to the winter clubs. Those

winter club teams made me shake my head at how

good they were. It seemed as illustrious to play for

those teams as to play in the NHL. I revered this

team, and it was really very silly to be trying to

play for the North West Giants. They were the

number one nationally ranked team the previous

season. How was a kid from Texas going to

squeeze his way in there?

I suppose if I didn’t make that team then there

were other teams I could have played for. But I

was very very set on having things one way. I

didn’t know how to compromise. If I had known

how to do things like that then I probably would

have graduated a year early, like I was supposed to,

and gone off to a U.S. school, forgetting about any

call to Canada. As it was I was going to be

loitering around for my Senior year. I decided to

pretend that I needed physics and chemistry and

so I took them, all in all I still had three spare

blocks left. People stick around for Senior Year so

they can go to Prom, but I had left all the people I

had grown up with, and I don’t want to talk about



My father and I rented a four bedroom house. We

were perfectly aware that we didn’t need four

bedrooms, but we weren’t willing to live in a

regressed way. We had always lived in houses; we

weren’t going to live in an apartment now. The

exterior was dark blue, and stood well above the

street with an attic, the third floor, whatever it is.

With so much space, this way it seemed like maybe

my mother and my brother were still there with us,

though they had just gone to do some shopping.

Did I mention I have a brother. Well, I do, a

younger brother. I’m mentioning him now. There

was still two months before tryouts and two and a

half months before school started and I was

determined to make up for lost time. There wasn’t

enough ice in Texas. There were two stick and

pucks everyday at eight rinks, and I went to all of

them. Something about practicing on my own,

made it even more intense, and I think it was

easier to get better that way. There was no time

playing around. When I came home I would shoot

pucks until my hands started to throb. Then I’d

shoot a hundred more, then that would be enough.

After, I would go back inside, upstairs, and Skype

with Agnes, the girl I was supposed to go to prom

with, for three or four hours. She asked me a lot of

questions. My Dad worked a lot. He seemed to be

on an adventure too. Every once and awhile we

would watch a movie together on the flat screen.

That wasa good movie’, he’d say. ‘Yea, pretty

good’, I’d say.

I really liked the routine. It made me feel like I was

together. One thing I really liked was cooking for

myself. My Dad didn’t care much for it. Mothers

always want to tell their sons that their deficient.

They are obviously reliant on their mothers for

survival, and if they do cook for themselves on

occasion or even generally, they obviously would be

eating better if their mother was cooking for them.

At least, that was the way my mother was. I felt

healthier than ever before though. When I looked

at myself in the mirror everything in my face

seemed clearer. I think if my step mother were

here, the first thing she would ask if she were to

suddenly appear would be, did you miss me? And

there’s really only one answer to this, and she

would have already made up her mind anyways

that I was dying without her. But I didn’t miss her

in the least. My mother, who passed away, well I

miss her a lot. And I can’t think of anyone ever

replacing her, or really even being like her. It was

nice the way my Dad recognized I was together. It

was nice to be left alone. I seemed to have so much

enthusiasm, like I was five years old again. I was

reading a book every week, that seemed like a

good thing. like harry potter, all over again.

I was an outsider entering into this world, and I

couldn’t help but sense impending peril

everywhere. Something had changed in me since I

had left my home. I didn’t trust people so much

anymore. The people I had known all my life took

on a villainous quality that I had never noticed

before. The people I met in this world were

crawling over one another to reach success. I

suddenly believed every monster story I had ever

heard. The things in fairy tales existed and they

were right there in our lives. I didn’t want to be

friendly; I was there to become successful. This

was about divorce, but it was about me. My life

was my responsibility. I kept thinking about how I

was starting school. And the best scenario would

be that it’s as if I’m not there. I was practicing how

to look successful in the mirror. It was the same

thing as looking like you didn’t feel things. You had

to look a little angry, like you were trying to scare

people. I’m not trying to scare anyone, of course. I

wouldn’t have been ok with that before but it felt

appropriate now, for one reason or another. This

was a big adventure for us, and a lot of things,

from now until when we were to leave, could go

wrong. But if you could see all of that at once then

you could also see that it was possible to stay out

of any troubles.


Before I was anywhere near ready school started. I

walked myself up to it from our house and before I

went inside I knew I wouldn’t like it. I walked into

the building and I wasn’t sure if I was in Burnaby,

British Columbia or if I was in South Korea. I felt

like I should be wearing one of those masks people

wear on the streets of Tokyo, if only so the smell

of noodles wasn’t so strong. Really, though. I went

to my first class, which was shop. The teacher

sounded like a veteran of Vietnam, cursing twice

during the class and excusing himself glibly. The

first project was to build a cabinet, but I figured I

could use the first class to save my energy, so I

pretended to spend a lot of time working on a

pencil design. My next three blocks were spare,

and I decided to go home and sleep. I was

certainly going to take this adjustment thing slowly.

My last class was Calculus and I came back for it. I

sort of liked the teacher. The math was interesting.

I didn’t mind it. Right after class I left school and

went home again, successfully having no

interactions or confrontations on my first day.

The second day was more interesting. My first two

classes were Chemistry and Physics. To my horror,

I was forced to get to group work, and I got to

know quite well one of the fellows in my physics

class. I went home for lunch, but I didn’t really feel

like eating anything. When it was time to go back

to school, I lugged my hockey bag with me. It was

the first day of Burnaby North Hockey Academy.

A bus pulled into the horseshoe where parents

dropped their kids off, and all of the kids were

putting their bags in the bus. Some of them were

very lively and some of them were very quiet, new

to the program as well and observing how

everything worked. All the same it was easily the

most obnoxious bus ride I’ve ever taken. Several

times the driver pulled over and said he was going

to turn around if we weren’t quite. Every other

day Hockey Academy kids left school at lunch for

an hour and forty five minutes of ice time. It was

quite the contrast from my life in Houston. If only

I had ice time as readily available as we have it

here, as they have always had it here. When we got

to the rink, there were three rooms. One was for

the girls. Yes, there were girls in the hockey

academy, and resultantly there was a significant

amount of drama in the hockey academy. They

were all very nice and sweet, except for when we

tired from skating hard and they were fighting

amongst themselves. The drama was also present

in the dressing rooms set up for the guys. I only

saw a handful of players go into the first dressing

room, while the majority of players crowded into

the second dressing room. It was my first day, so I

was feeling a little hesitant to make waves and

went to the second dressing room, and I was

crowded in on one side of the dressing room,

while five or six guys took up the majority of the

dressing room. One of them was Paul Spelling, the

young phenom. He was remarkably skinny, and

not particularly tall either. The only things that

might have given him away, had I not seen him in

magazines and the like, is the intensity in his

expression. The first fifteen minutes of the ice time

where ours to work on whatever we wanted.

Spelling and a few other players were playing a

game of crossbar, trying to hit it as many times in

a row as possible. Spelling had the most. He was

very good at it. He had an amazing release. When

the drills started, I saw for the first time how

effortless a skater he was.

I had one of those bad skates. I felt like I couldn’t

breathe, and as if there was lead in my veins. It

seems that when I get too worked up, I get those

feelings. By the end of the session, I was hating

myself for making a bad first impression. But

having had that experience a few times already, I

wasn’t surprised when, in the dressing room, it was

if I was every bit as undifferentiated as before the

ice time. There were too many damned teenagers

in that room, and they really were quite loud and

obnoxious. I’ve always equated not standing out

with sucking, and as I sat there I felt unsure of

myself, as who knew how good the players in

Canada were.

I was coming to realize that I had too much to

deal with, and I was feeling tense and I was

powering through exhaustion. At this point I

would have tried to power through that, thinking

that I could work myself into better shape, but as

time would go by I would realize that human

beings have limitations. I felt largely excused from

doing homework on only the first day of school,

and that helped. My father didn’t get off work

until six, and so I was going to have to wait at the

rink until he could pick me up. 8 rinks is equipped

with quite lovely lounging areas, and so it wasn’t so

difficult to lounge there for three hours. They had

a heavenly ninety inch tv, and I saturated myself in

their NHL package. I flipped back and forth

between five and six games at once. The lockout

had only occurred a few years back, and the game

since then largely consisted of power plays. That

was the only thing that seemed to matter anymore,

the power play. I sipped my powerade. When I

used to go to tournaments, I would drink three or

four of those a day. Looking back, my electrolytes

were probably fine without them, but goodness did

I believe that powerade helped. It was

marvellously advertised. Rather than make me feel

better, it seemed to make me want to sleep even


My father arrived. He said hello the way he would

and then he asked me how my day was. I told him

a little about the hockey academy, and my classes,

not saying but suggesting that it had been a much

better day than it actually had been. He sort of

nodded and continued listening to sports radio.

There really wasn’t anything else to talk about. My

step mother always insisted on talking about

something, but never about anything important. I

never felt like her child, but like a pawn which she

was trying to whip into shape, as a defeated and

very meek protégée, that took a lot of abuse and

liked it. They should be so lucky to get off with

just that in this tough, tough real world, she might

say. I liked that about my dad, that we could drive

together, and we could just be quiet together.

I hung up my equipment to dry. As we ate dinner

we watched the Canucks game. My father got very

into games, his way of watching hockey was funny.

He was in another world, another world of

masculine virility and manly codes and honour

and war. I suddenly realized that we were running

away from something. Like any child that had ever

read a fairytale or any teenager that ever read a

comic book, we were getting our kicks out of a

world of wish fulfillment. Whatever we were

running from, it would catch up with us. Life

could be ignored only for so long until it started to

spin around inside you. I was watching the game,

and I had that feeling again, like there was lead in

my veins, and I knew what it was now, it was



I really don’t know why, but I went to school the

next day. I had no intention of listening to

anything my teachers had to say. In Calculus,

anyone could have mistaken the doodling I was

doing for note taking. I went home and slept

through second block, lunch, and third block, and

then I came back for physics. I walked in when the

class was full up so I didn’t have to sit next to that

kid who had talked to me two days earlier. He

seemed alright, it was nothing personal. Five

minutes into class I started thinking about tryouts.

They were coming up soon. They were this

weekend, in fact. I have never considered it a

possibility that I wouldn’t make the team, but what

if that feeling came back like it did at hockey

academy? I used to think that worrying wasn’t

thinking, and that worrying was somehow

unhealthy. But I realized the thing to do is just to

worry your heart out, and you find within yourself

the answers that calm you down. Pretty soon

you’re thinking clear thoughts. I trust myself a lot

more now, and I can act based on my thoughts

and know that I’m right.

I thought like this for the entire class, and I was

quite pleased with myself for successfully being

there while not being there. I began to pack up my

things. I would go home and make a pizza, and

watch the O.C. That kid I thought I had avoided

came over and said hello, his bag in his hand.

Dammit, I thought, I’m going to have to walk out

with him. I smiled meekly at him, and I told him a

little bit more about my life back in the states as we

walked out of class. In the hallway, we looked at

each other, and I could see that his eyes were quite

bright. He had assumed that I hadn’t sat next to

him because I was shy. He was opening doors for

me, thinking that was what I wanted. ‘Hey,’ he

said. ‘Do you want to come to the cafeteria with

me. I’ll get you something.’ ‘Okay.’

His buddies name was Kenneth, and I

nodded at him, but that wasn’t enough, he wanted

to shake hands. He found it infinitely pleasing that

I was from Texas and took to calling me that right

away, the first time I heard that eponymous nick

name. They were the best of friends. I sort of

loathed being there. I thought they had just

bumped into each other by accident, but now I

realized that they probably met in the cafeteria

after class like every day.

Your in the hockey academy, right?’


Oh yea. Have you watched Paul Spelling



Is he really that good?’


You have physics with Laurel?’

Oh. So that was his name. That was nice to

know. ‘Yea we just had it then.’


It wasn’t a very nice cafeteria. Despite the

fact they met there often, they didn’t stay there

long. ‘Were going to take off now,’ said Laurel.

Where you headed?

Home I guess.’

Where do you live?


Oh really? I’m just up at Kitchener. Want

to walk with us?’

Nah, I have to pick up a few books before I

forget about it.’

O.K., later bud.'

Well, that was alright. I walked towards the

other building, towards my locker. I didn’t have to

grab any books because I didn’t have any to grab,

and I didn’t have a backpack to put them in. I had

left a cliff bar in there. That was worth grabbing.


Tryouts came around finally, and I was very

excited. From what I had gathered speaking to

people around the team, the team was already

picked. That was hardly surprising. At most there

were one or two spots that were ‘available’, and

perhaps a couple more if certain players played

well below expectation, and some kid from

nowhere played exceptionally well, like me.

Whatever my numerical chances, I was entirely

convinced of my inherit greatness, ready to

unravel this weekend (I’m being mildly facetious).

The Burnaby winter club was not a very

nice rink. It was kept going, it was built, by the

parents or the alumni who cared about the place,

a club in every sense of the word. I showed up a

little late I suppose, and I was shocked to see that

the dressing room, the tiniest one I had ever seen,

was full with every player except me, and they

were all fully dressed, contemplating the game. For

a moment I felt wholly unprepared and

unconfident, but I couldn’t hold that feeling as I

saw that all of these kids looked very scared and

tense. Rather than wanting to be there and be

already dressed, I preferred never to go in that

dressing room. I found a chair and dressed in the

hallway. As I was putting on my jockstrap one of

the mother’s walked by, but I don’t think she saw

anything, and she certainly didn’t know who I was.

I liked this feeling of separation. It was far smarter

to be out here, in the quiet, then in there with a

bunch of tense strangers.

When we got out there you could tell who

the returning players were because they were

wearing their gear from last year. On the first shift

I skated the puck out of zone and went one on one

with one of the defencmen. I made a couple of

moves, and I got by him, had a decent shot on net,

didn’t score that time. The play went like that, it

was very sloppy and it was hard to get things going

out there. Those same tense kids in the dressing

room were the same tense kids on the ice now. But

by the second period, the immense talent was

easily evident. Things became easier. The best

players started to stand out, and five goals were

scored before the third period. Things hadn’t

clicked for me yet, but they did then. I made some

agile moves and some good passes that would have

been sure goals with a better player. Finally in the

last five minutes, I scored two goals. I was pleased

with myself because it felt like just the beginning

of something wondrous.

Normally when there isn’t more than a

three hours break between games, I’ll just leave my

bottom equipment on. I did just that, and I

resisted watching the second game, instead I found

a quite place in the other building of the club, in

the lounge area, and I read my favourite book, the

Great Gatsby. Gatsby, old sport. I think I would

look a lot like Gatsby. I once called my stepmother

old sport. It felt right for some reason. I recall she

was less than fond of the term, though.

It was the best feeling to be on the ice

again, and I couldn’t have cared less whether I was

playing for all the right scouts or for a full house.

That’s the place to be when you’re an athlete, if

you’re any good, where it’s as if you were still just

a little kid, playing for no other end. It gets tough

to maintain that in a sport as rough as this one,

though it is good to try. The play in this game

seemed to have continued where the last game had

left off. The pace was a little frantic, but that’s

where I want to thrive. I’m the guy that can slow

things down when I get the puck. If I’m not

scoring all the goals, then I’m at least winning the

puck possession. As it was, the game was going

exceedingly well. I scored another two goals. I was

feeling pretty confident about my chances of

making this team. Our team won this game

handily, and this was the way it seemed it was

going to be. Our team was stacked, probably

because no one had considered that I was on this

team. Right after us, Spelling was on the ice. His

team was less stacked than ours, but he made up

for it all on his own. He scored six goals in that

game. I was full of awe about him as a player. If

you wanted to know how good you were, you

compared yourself against Spelling. So where did I


The following day was the last day of

games, and the first round of cuts. I had two more

games to show myself. At this point, the coaches

knew who was getting those few open spots. Now I

was jockeying for a good position in the lineup.

Was I going to be fourth line or first line, if I am

going to be so dauntless as to declare that I’ve

made the team. My preliminary thoughts were

confirmed. At the start of the third game, the

assistant coach came onto the bench, and he made

line combinations. There were four lines of

players, but he only made two lines. The kids that

didn’t make it were rather bluntly informed so at

that point. Playing with better players, that seemed

to help. In that third game I didn’t score any goals,

but I had six assists. Following that game, the

players in the dressing room were quiet and glassy

eyed. Collectively, we knew that it was all over,

though the temptation to add up all of the things

you had done, reconsidering the plays you had

made with an extra sense of heroism, building

yourself up so that if the coaches neglected to

notice how good you were, then it was through

some obvious personal fault peculiar to the whole

coaching staff.

In the last game, the stands were empty and

we weren’t playing for anything. One evaluator

had been there for the first period, but he had left

to join the coaches, to make final decisions about

which players to continue with. I was thankful for

this really, I’d done enough and I was tired. I

didn’t make any attempts to get to the net, or

make any offensive rushes which might have

meant I had to get back on the defensive side of

things. I stayed on the defensive side of things,

rather, and made some very deft passes here and

there. It was a very low scoring game, I suppose

everyone being tired and complacent by that


Then, after the game, was the first round of

cuts. I really didn’t know why they couldn’t just

post them. Although I hated the waiting, it was fun

to watch players come out of the office and try

and read their faces, I knew hardly anyone so I

wasn’t about to ask them. The ones who made it

generally were beaming, by which I mean not

necessarily smiling, but full of colour or something

or other.

When I was almost in the office, the next in

line, I was a little nervous because I wasn’t sure

why the meetings were taking so long. I thought of

questions a coach might ask, and I thought about

how he would ask them. The kid who went before

finished his meeting, and he came through the

door pale as an agoraphobic. I caught the door

and went in, and sat down opposite the head


Name and team.’

Tristan . The red team.’

He turned a few pages, seeming to have

previously guessed I was someone else. He already

had a very stricken look. Though it wasn’t a brutal

face; it was a boyish one, and he wasn’t anyone

who had anything to take out on people, he came

from money and ease. Now, his face took on a

threatening aspect. ‘O.K’, he said. ‘We have a lot

of returning players from last year. I’ve got five

players at junior A tryouts that are coming back.

But good job so far.’

O.k.’ I said.

You obviously had a good showing today, and

we’ll see you at the skate tomorrow. It’s at 2 30. Do

you understand?’

Yes. See you tomorrow.’

O.k.’ he said, and went back to looking at

his clipboard. That was my cue to leave, and I did.


Well, that’s good son. I’m proud of you.’

Thanks, Dad.’

Well. Work hard tomorrow.’


How’s dinner.’

Really good.’

It’s not bad.’


How’s Agnes.


You emailing here.’


Why not.

I am. Just not as much lately.’

I taped the Penguins game.”


Agnes was extremely worried I had

forgotten about here, and she was worried I was

seeing someone else. Neither was true. I just found

it difficult to find things to say anymore. Our lives

weren’t connected by locality anymore. I couldn’t

see any scenario where I would ever go back to

where I had come from. We shared that world, as

much as two people barely seventeen year olds

can share any world.

The thing about Agnes and I is we had

been friends since we were 11, when we had a

class together. — I suppose it wasn’t just in my one

class, it was also my French class, and my English

class, and my History class. That sounds more

significant than it really is, as most of my classes

were with the same people, because honours was

only so many people. But we were always around

each other, even if we weren’t talking all the time

or even or sitting next to each other. She was so

motivated. She wanted to be a doctor, as probably

ten million other American kids do, and she

wanted an Ivy education. We were studying all the


I know as much as that I felt compelled

unto something new and it wasn't as simple as I

wanted to finish school and it wasn't as simple as

moving away from home. When I walk late at

night, and those noises that so are tiring during the

day: the chatter in the hallways; air conditioners;

traffic; sirens; then my perceptions open up, I draw

forward; the trees against the star-smitten sky, the

undulating city lights, the street lights colouring

the pavement green; then my mind can stretch

way out into the future and I feel like I'm in an

infancy; like my life hasn't even begun yet, nor

should it have. I just get this feeling like I should

create a higher aim in life; something never done

before and intricately set out for me. That thing, I

am certain, is there. But I have no words for it. I

have only the words around me, and I wonder

whether I will ever find those proper words. If I

could only express what I am feeling in those

moments, but I can't retrieve it through memory,

if I could recreate it then it might not take words

to share it.

As much as I wanted to keep the feeling of

anonymity and adventure, and steer away from a

return to the suffocation of an environment in

which every one knew who you were, people had

been seeing me and perhaps talking about me, and

my desire to keep to myself only displaying that I

had an interesting internal life and drawing on

what was inevitable all along anyway--forgive my



In the the entrance meetings he said that he

expected us to be good students. He gave the

impression that he was keeping an eye on us. He

would need to if Universities from the states were

calling him. Though every tuesday and thursday, I

would lean back in my chair in chem, and there

would be Paul Spelling, walking right in to class

with little worry, five minutes late.

The first game of the season was

approaching; we were taking a road trip to the

interior of the province. The practices were more

challenging than my previous teams, like 30 km

sprints with the choreographic intensity of a

symphony. The previous years team had gone

undefeated, though they were then swept in the

second round of playoffs. The pressure was on the

coach to repeat last years regular season

performance, and then better it with a post-season

triumph, a regional championship. The talk was

that we were even better than last years team,

though that was hard to believe. My spot on the

team seemed quite set. I would be as high on the

depth charts as I could be while still being behind

Spelling. It would be tough to get points if he was

going to get all the ice time, all the power play

time, all the passes.

You can imagine that if I had enough will

to put together this trip, then I could deal with this

adversity. If that meant that in every second of ice

I received, I had to be that much better, than the

only option was to convince yourself an unflagging

full-out effort however insane was the only way to

approach the game.

The first set of games would be against

Prince George. They were a big, rough team and

generally one of the better two or three teams in

the league. They had knocked out the Giants last

year, and they were the defending league

champions. All week at school I couldn’t help but

to consistently visualize the upcoming games. I felt

a keen anxiety about getting pushed around and

beaten up. That didn’t prevent imaginings of end

to end rushes and top shelf goals from the halfboards.

We were to gather at the BWC for the bus

to drive us up to Prince George on Friday

morning. It was our first road trip and a long one,

and I suppose if we were going to go then we

would go and we would have ‘a bonding

experience.’ I had my new Macbook with me. My

father for years had been saying that there was

nothing special to Apples, though my MacBook

Pro convinced me otherwise. It felt very good to

wield it. It was almost a necessity to fitting in on

this team, as everyone had iPhones and all of

those privileges of upper class youth.

I sat nearer the front of the bus.

Everyone wanted their own row on the coach so

they could get comfortable, so everyone was pretty

spread out, except for in the back where the

returnee’s from last year and a few of the players

were busy i.m.’ing as many girls as possible on

their phones. It was smooth going and we stopped

half way through our trip in Kamloops for Lunch.

We had Joey’s, as we would have many more times

in our adventures in carb-loading and good eating.

We would rack up many a dollar and many an

appetizer from then to the end of the season.

Being nearer the front this time, I could listen to

the Coaches conversations. They talked about

getting out to scout players to be affiliates, they

talked about past players and teams, they bantered

a little.

The highways were long and straight and

then there were no highways. The roads were

winding and vertical and the cliffs steep and the

views hard and enveloping, mountains standing

solidly and the waters primordial, still, the skies


It was nearing four 0’clock when we passed

a sign indicating Prince George ahead. When we

got to the hotel it was pleasant, it was four stars,

and I headed up to my room once we got our keys

and just crashed on the bed. There was so much

information coming my way, so many sensations

that I had felt and I fell asleep until 6 when we had

dinner prepared in the hotel, and then tickets to a

WHL game that night.

I can’t say I knew who many of the players

out there were, but in talking with the guys I got to

know who to watch. There was Colis Holman, a

sixteen year old who had a decent midget season

for Prince George last year, and was playing really

well tonight. There were some other good players,

many of them were from Burnaby or at least the

Lower Mainland.

The crowd was enthusiastic and a good

turn out considering that it was only a town of

70,00 when all counted up…I didn’t at all feel

enticed towards playing in this league, though

several of the group I was sitting with would play

in this league, and I felt okay knowing this. They

would have the times of their lives, I don’t doubt

it. But for me, schools south of the Border


Prince George beat Seattle 3 to 2, and

Holman had two goals. He was the only real

stand-out. Walking back to the hotel through the

town, I couldn’t help feeling that it was a romantic

little place, street lamps here and there with a soft

white glow, a few small groups peopling the

tranquil streets, away from the stadium, almost

back to the hotel, which admittedly was situated

rather unromantically against a major road.

Though, once inside, I felt enveloped in a

quietness, reading.

When I got our wake up call, it didn’t take

long to get dressed and make my hair look semipresentable

so I could head down for breakfast.

Keane was a little reluctant to wake up, but

eventually he got up when I reminded him it

would be a bad idea to be late to breakfast.

It was a rather relaxed atmosphere at

breakfast. We had an evening game, so there was

the whole day to prepare. There was a lot of

appropriately muffled though still juvenile laughter

going around. I loved being on the road when I

had a full breakfast of eggs and sausages and toast

and a full plate of fruit. I took my time eating so as

to digest everything well. I would be nervous later

in the day, it was important to get everything now

down. Who knew what I would feel like when we

were to have dinner at five.

Everyone seemed more friendly today, in

something of an inquiring mood. Where in Texas

did you live? What were the teams like? It was all

fine and well, as quiet and reserved as I was.

After breakfast I put on my sweater and

headed out for a walk. This is the peculiarity of

my temperament. There was no one else on the

team that would take wandering solitary walks. I

thought about the game, I visualized different

scenario’s and how I would need to react. I

reminded myself of things I needed to do on the

ice and the way I play when I play my best. This

all might sound a little excessive, and indeed it

might be, and I will tell you all about Peter Twist

at some point along here. But yes, my mind drifted

to wondering whether this game really meant

anything at all. Couldn’t I be doing something

with my time other than preparing mentally? I

might as well have drifted into an evaluation of my

life as whole and found a copy of “No Exit” in a

bookstore and just skipped the game. No—I

started heading home and I’d catch up with Keane

and do something silly and inconsequential to

escape the pain of being alive.

Keane brought his PS3. I doubted he would

be allowed to have it if Iain knew, and there was

an eeriness to Albert where you figured he knew

things he shouldn’t. The whole room smelled like

lotion. I jumped on my bed. We played NHL 09

and I beat him twice, though certainly there were

many interesting spin moves and Michigan moves

that gave him some sort of style points.

At dinner we had a rather sumptuous

assortment of pastas. I ate well…fine…and I got

on board the bus. We only had to wear our track

suits to out of town games(aside from the Macs

and playoffs). The rest of the time we had to wear

suits. If there is one thing about this generation

that I cherish it is iPods, and I played my favourite

songs to arouse good feelings. Walking off the bus,

I tried to look composed and serious and focused,

though not psychotic.

It was a nice building, not very old. We had

a long time to get ready. I put on my running gear,

and then I put on my gloves and grabbed by stick

and my smart ball, and went to warm up my

hands. This was a long time ritual, and I felt like a

big deal during these moments. I am a very good

stickhandler. We had our team run then. We

lapped the rink twice, and then did some standard

dynamic warm-up stuff—knee raises, leg kicks,

lunges, etc. What I remember most fondly is our

games of footie: trying to keep the soccer ball in

the air. I wasn’t the best on the team at this, I

would have had to have been at least part Italian,

but I won sometimes, and the whole team enjoyed

it. In this way we were on level with NHL teams,

who warmed up in just this way.

Eventually we had our gear on, our sticks

taped, and the Zamboni was preparing the ice.

With all due apology to Coaches, pre-game

motivation speeches are to be forgotten, and

when I got out on the ice there was a lot of

adrenaline pumping, and my hands were a little

jumpy, but I was ready for a season of dangerous,

fast-paced, worthless, meaningless hockey.

I wasn’t expecting to start the game —

again, I’m a kid from Texas. I didn’t get on the ice

until the second line change, and I have to say that

I had a great shift, very energetic and all of that. I

found that everyone else was really nervous. There

were a couple missed passes, and a few odd-man

rushes given up by our team in the first period.

Our line only had a few shifts in the offensive

zone, most of the play was in the neutral zone. I

was trying really hard to be an unselfish player.

Although I played really really selfishly when I

lived in Texas — which I sometimes got in trouble

for, actually which which my teammates used to

yell at me about — because I just kept scoring

goals. Here I figured players would be more adept

at a team game. But I would soon realized that the

more often you give the puck to your teammates,

the more often they stop giving it back. I finished

the game with one assist, but I only had one shot

on net, and it was from the half wall. Overall I

think I played a smart game. I avoided checks like

I had to being the skinniest kid on my team, likely

in the league.(I must have had three percent body

fat). Well anyways I played smart, the way the

coach had drawn it up in practice, and then etc,


After the game I wondered at what where I

was. It was so hard to make your expectations of a

thing into reality. My day-dreams were filled more

with thoughts of the rewards that would follow

from being a star athlete, than of the actual

process of being a star athlete. As I was waiting for

face-offs, or just having a sip of water I tried to

make the moment feel very momentous. Looking

back instead of trying to make it last forever, I

should have tried to make it go by as quickly as

possible. Try to power through to the reward.

People say that you should just enjoy being on the

ice, but the game is not the fun part. The game is

the part that you can’t wait for it to be over.

For the second game, which was at 9:30 the

next morning, I felt emotionally drained. There

had been so many nerves, so many thoughts going

through my head the previous day, there had been

so much anticipation of that moment that I was a

little spent the following day…it didn’t seem to

matter because we won handily, and the stands

were much emptier. The only unfortunate thing is

that I only had one assist in the second game as

well. It wasn’t such a big deal, it was only the first


On the drive back to van city I listened to

my iPod, and watched the mountains go by in the

window. I was thankful to be doing something with

my weekend other than partying, even if I couldn’t

say that I was hanging with my best friends; it

would be a long, long season and even if hockey is

just a game, my life had taken on a much different


The next day I made it to school nice and

early and I went to the library like I used to and

read some of my physics textbook. It wasn’t great

morning reading, then again I wasn’t having

breakfast and coffee in the library. We’re clearest

in the morning, which is probably why people

seem to study late at night, in other words pull allnighters,

because who would study the textbooks

assigned by high schools in their right mind? Well,

I’m perhaps over dramatic, and on this occasion I

wanted to do a bit of catch-up, or else I would

have read something more pleasing. Thank god I

was done with my English classes because there

was no way I could be adequately assessed in a

school like this. It was great preparation if I

wanted to study Engineering in China.

Nonetheless I felt fairly comfortable by now,

more or less going to hockey school and not going

to the high school at all. One person was catching

my eye from time to time as I moved around the

school. I don’t think she knew who I was, but she

had probably heard about me. I would see her

congregated with a few people, smiling and

laughing politely, and there was a little glimmer of

recognition in her countenance and we both knew

we were there. She was there and I saw her pale

looks, her tall slender body. My eyes saw and every

time I saw her thereafter, my whole being seemed

to soften a little, until eventually everything within

sight seemed to soften as well.

Beginning the semester I had been much

more inclined to read in the library during my

copious spare time, though now I was being a little

more social. There were a lot of people to meet

going around, and I was liking Canada a lot.

There are indeed many things to like about Texas,

but the political environment or the religious

fundamentalism were not reasons to like living

there. I was starting to think about Allister a lot

and thinking how they were getting along together.

It made me uneasy. All the way down there and I

could have no influence over the way my step

mother treated him. From everything I was

hearing things seemed alright, though I felt like

they might get worse, and I would start to feel

guilty about having left home. But I couldn’t have

expected that he would be staying when I made

the decision. Now I knew I had to get through this

year, working with as much intensity and

simultaneous grace as I could manage, and with

some divine help we would all make it through it

and be in a better position next year. I went home

right after school, though I felt like soon there

would be many adventures or at least diversions.

The Canucks later were playing and I watched the

first period, and then i curled up in my room and

read articles, and talked on messenger for a bit. i

didn’t have Facebook. I thought it was fake or for

social climbers or something like that. Now i have

it only because it's basically a part of reality now.

When i got it i was determined to try and change

the Facebook culture, or at least in some way have

one that was different and somehow part of a

mass culture yet without the mass culture

psychology. i like Facebook, even though i still

think we use it too often and our time on it should

be kept to a minimum.

i was expecting Agnes to be online but she

wasn’t, and i was feeling a little adverse to calling

her. i’d done enough thinking for the day.

Tomorrow practice started again, and there would

be no time to breath until next monday…


it was starting to become a little crisp

outside. The temperature was beginning to

fluctuate, where somedays we would have

summery weather, yet more and more we would

have days where i in particular would shiver. i

think i adjusted rather quickly being in good

shape. But at first it was enough to give me the

sniffles. in Chem. class, i didn’t want to blow my

nose in class, so i asked to go to the washroom. i

closed the door gingerly, and at the same time, i

saw Maisie come out of a door very demurely

just ahead of me on the other side of the hallway.

i walked in my rhythmic pace. She walked about

the same speed. Maybe a little slower. i think

normally i wouldn’t have said anything. i didn’t

feel nervous. i just really hoped i didn’t make any

weird noises, because i really needed to blow my

nose. Your Maisie, right?

Yea. Your Texas, aren’t you.

Well, i prefer tristan. but i’m, as far as i know, the

only person here newly arrived from houston.

Do you take offence to me calling you



Your weird.

i try.


Maybe i’ll stop being weird when i’m older.

For now I prefer the term enduring.

i’m going to go to the bathroom.

Why? What’s the rush?

i have to get back to class.

i saw into the classroom when you opened

the door, it was just you and one of the teachers.

i have to run.

Well, okay.

She turned around, though she looked back

at me before i couldn’t see her anymore. She

looked at me, though she didn’t portray any

emotion. They were very clear eyes, sans malice.

And, she needed only to survey me for a split

second, and we reached an understanding. i

wouldn’t say she had me all figured out, no—she

had not met someone like me before. i was sure of

this. When she left my eye sight, i hurried away

quickly —but not too quickly — and i blew my

nose thoroughly.

Later, practice was less than fun. i was

beginning to find the Coaches slightly sadistic.

Much of what we did day-to-day felt like

disciplining. i don’t think we need to do so much

extra conditioning. For that reason i was happy to

be in the hockey academy. The extra skills practice

was extremely useful. Moreover it was fun, and the

time we spent in the dressing room, or just

lounging at lunch time, i’m sure that’s where any

real learning might have happened. it seemed we

were all good kids, whereas many other kids in the

school were busy smoking and working, we were

exercising, creating strength and balance,

coordination, and studying …….

.. i continually made a point of being

friends with the female students in the group. Such

a thing is never as easy as being friends with the

guys — we are in the dressing room together, we

play in the same leagues and associations. Alice

was going back to her old school in the spring. My

other friend Jeanne was one of the better players

in the school overall. We spoke about my new


She is very pretty.

Yes. Did you talk with her? She’s really nice too.

i said hello to her, and we did speak briefly.

That’s sweet. Don’t hit on her or everyone will

think you are not a nice guy.

And why would they think this?

Because it looks like your trying to cheat on your

girlfriend. That’s a bad guy. I could see you being

the bad guy if you aren’t a little careful.

Thank you for the warning. i’ll be o.k.

Ya because i warned you.


We had our first family get-together. i spoke of the

state of the world and of earning millions of

dollars in the NHL, or where i might go to school.

Mostly however, i listened to my Aunts and

Uncles, and let them make the opinions of worldly

things. The younger ones stuck together. We could

just lie on the couch watching silly t.v. shows, and

be content. The relatives, even if I was getting

older, scared me immensely. I felt very safe when

all the cousins were together. At least then there

was a sort of surveillance, so no adult could come

and pick on me or ask me to do something without

feeling at least a little bit of guilt.

At Dinner, I felt some hesitation as to

whether I should sit with the adults, or whether I

should sit with the cousins. I felt in between, that

was all. The cousins where all sitting along the bar,

which was only just adjacent to the dining room,

so that a few times I ventured over to thank my

aunt — for her cooking, or to ask my Dad about

the Canucks score. I asked more for his sake, not

because I really couldn’t wait to know, but that

probably goes without saying. We do things for

people we love. It was a good evening, all in all.

Eva and I were growing closer spending time

together at these. She was the closest in age to me.

I went to bed pretty much right away. So much

had happened, I filed it all away for a few days

later, maybe when we would be on the ferry to

Nanaimo, and quite possibly for years later.


i woke up and I found myself missing my

little bro, and i was feeling more and more unsure

about how he was doing. The reports from my

stepmom sounded mostly what you would expect

at first, every things fine, we’ll see how he does

with the adjustment. But as time went along, her

reports were similarly unrevealing and evasive, and

i couldn’t help but wonder what was going on

between the two of them. A lot of the time she

wouldn’t make him available to talk on the phone.

Oh, it was the time change. Oh, he’s busy right

now. When i did get him on the phone, i couldn’t

engage him at all, he just gave one word answers

as if i couldn’t be much support and as if she were

listening, ready to take the phone back. He didn’t

seem to have a voice, she spoke for him, and that

concerned me. Then again, maybe i was just

overreacting, maybe i was just seeing my own

feelings of adolescent alienation reflected in him

or, you know, maybe i wasn’t.

Whether or not he would be better off

here, it’s hard to say. i would like to say that i could

take good care of him, or at least that here with

me and Dad he’d be safe and supported, and sort

of understood. Whereas there was probably no

understanding between my step-mother and him.

But the influence of our relatives might not be the

best things to introduce him too. And i don’t have

time to be his babysitter. Dad works all the time,

but my step-mother doesn’t work at all.

i miss my real mom and i wish she was here

for him. it’s not her fault, and i wish he knew

everything about her i know. Since then, i

sometimes feel like i have a kid of my own. But i

try not to think about it. My life I do try and think

is still my life. it’s pretty straightforward, i think.

that morning after our thanksgiving get-together,

my Dad called out to me from the table where he

was eating his breakfast. Hey kid, you’re in the



Ya, come look. See here, pretty cool, hey.

Oh it’s just my picture.

Ya but your names there too.

Ya pretty cool.

The caption was that we had an unbeaten

streak of ten games. it was pretty impressive. i

went into the living room where my laptop was,

sitting on the coffee table. i looked through

Facebook and commented on one or two things.

Usually i don’t, because i find most conversations

on Facebook to be totally inane, and yet still i have

the anxiety that were using it as a replacement for

face-to-face talking. No one values one-on-one

time enough anymore. i can’t say I followed any

profiles particularly, but lately my facebook

consumption if you will was far too much. Talking

to my friends from Houston, i missed being a part

of everything. Things were different here, it was a

lot easier to get depressed, especially if you

dwelled too long on the differences between the


i think i played pretty well, the next game. i

had two assists. i came home, ate another dinner,

restively watched t.v., and then I’m up again at 6

30 for the next game. The rest of Sunday flew by

and on Monday i had two classes and there was no

practice, so i went home and i got started reading

Faulkner. i really liked the short stories, but i found

many of the novels too reaching, the multiple

perspectives are really cool and all but seriously,

who wants to read a novel narrated by a country

bumpkin, or by someone with a strain of autism?

it’s very well to get to know people such as the

ones just referenced now, however i cannot say it

connotes with great reading pleasure. By the time

my Dad got home, i put the books aside for a

while and we talked about the step-mom and

Allister. Even my Dad was a little concerned about

what could be happening between the two of

them, as much as he ostensibly trusted her.

On tuesday i had a feeling i would see

Maisie again. i’m sure she was in the classroom

just across the hall, even though she said she

wouldn’t be. After class i walked by there, and

looked around for here but i couldn’t find her. it

wouldn’t happen this way. The next day, i asked

Jeanne if she knew her. apparently they were

friends and they had lunch together sometimes.

maybe next week, she said, i could come along.

Well this was good news, and i was looking

forward to it. i missed Agnes. But lunch was just

lunch anyways.

The coaches were starting to work with

players more individually now. At first, we would

work on positioning and breakouts and always on

the power play, though now we were watching

more video, they would say you’re not shooting

enough when you’re in this area, he’s not getting the

puck out of the zone, your gaps with forwards are

too wide. And we had more time to work on skills.

We had skills practices once a week, and more and

more we would do small area scrimmages, or have

time to work on puck handling.

Wednesday rolled around and Jeanne said her and

Maisie were going for lunch again if I wanted to

come along. I was a little nervous, and felt like I

was being a bit presumptuous, but I was sure it

would all be sterling eventually.

We walked out towards the courtyard

where on sunny days sometimes students sat at

break. There was a nook made by two ledges

separating the pavement and the greenery. We sat

there. She was already there, with one other friend

of hers.

The weather was crisp though the sun was

beaming. Maisie was flushed a little from the sun,

her dress rippling lightly in the breeze. She was

moving her fingers with her phone. They were all

very eager to gossip. They talked about this person

and that person, all very seriously. ‘i’m from the

eastern side, but the drama programs are better

here.’ it was good to know that about Maisie.

Jeanne used her hands too much when she was

speaking. They did not make up for anything. The

breeze was less frequent. Sometimes lunch hour

was very long.

I always wait for the winter to come, and

then I miss the thunderstorms. summer is when

the best one’s happen.

not here though.’

no, there isn’t,’ maisie said.

she sat very still, balancing us. Sometimes

students walked by us, but no one touched her

strange composure. ‘My Dad works for the

University. He is a professor of soulology.

A professor of what did you say?

I said he is a professor of biology.

Did i mishear you?

Yes I think so.

i was bored. i’d be in physics soon. it was more fun

to talk about parabolas than people i hardly know.

No I don’t think we’re going.

We should.

What day are you leaving?

Friday, but i’m dying until then.

We should perish in style.

i think i had eaten enough. i felt more interested in

the cocktail version of this. We walked to class.

Maisie’s was right by mine.

So, i wasn’t worth getting to know last

time?, i asked her.

i don’t need to get to know you. i can tell

how you are.

i feel in some way violated.


i can’t tell how you are. i can tell how most

people are. But you i’m still trying to figure it out a


That got a small smile from here. Well, you

better be quick about it or you’ll never get to figure

me out.

Is that an innuendo?

i don’t think so.

What kind of time frame are you


A few weeks.

We walked for a while and we were on a

covered path, almost to her building. Are you

getting together with Jeanne soon?

She dropped her head a little, and after a

short pause she said they were going to do

something next week. We were at the southeast

building, and she said bye.

She went through the door, and i headed to

my first class of the afternoon and later that day,

cozied up in my room, i thought all about our

lunch. i did some homework, and i made myself

some dinner, and then i went to bed early, feeling

very content.


A few days rolled by very smoothly. My

Dad was doing well, hockey was alright, and the

weather was nice so i was spending lots of time in

the sun. i was at a park nearby on sunday with my

skateboard, which I still have, even though i rarely

use it. There was a nice little rail that i think was

for bikes. i tried a nose grind out a few times, but i

wasn’t wearing a helmet so i was just taking it easy.

After an hour or perhaps two, i sat down on a

ledge facing the school. There was lots of trees

around, i was in shade and the colouring was

green. i was sitting in front of a bush, so people on

the street or in the houses opposite the park

couldn’t see me, and if i spoke in hushed tones,

they couldn’t hear me either. My phone lit up. i

was wearing light shorts, so i could see its screen

through them. It was Agnes, who i hadn’t heard

from in a while, though i had sent a few messages.

She was sounding a little bit high strung, maybe a

little anxious. But i spoke softly and i think she

could feel that i was in a private space. Her voice

became less high strung, and took on the slow,

soothing tone I was hearing in my voice. She

didn’t say i haven’t heard from you in a while, and

neither did i, we just started talking where we left

off last time, although it wasn’t so smooth a

transition at first.

So i can’t decide whether i want to stay

local or leave the state. i still want

to go somewhere in the West but my

parents and everyone

want me to stay here and like

everyone is going to


Well i think you should probably go there,

it’s a pretty stellar

school. Its too big for my liking, but it would be

fun as long as you fit in. Which probably

only requires liking the longhorns and being at

least moderately conservative…

besides you already know half the freshman

class. Why start over when

everything is fine there?

Ya. Well. erm. what are you doing? Are you

staying over there?

That’s what we talked about. Probably for

next year and then we'll see. But don’t you

want to be back here? Ya, i do. But its

like we talked about. i have to see this through. If i

don’t see it through, then i’m

not the person i was a few years

ago, and I’m not the person i was when i was kid.


But it sucks being away from everybody. i

haven’t talked about it with anybody, but its

like i’ve just been ripped out of my own life.

i feel very alone.

Well then why don’t you move back here?, i

was moving the board

side to side gently.

After a pause i said to her i’m going back

just after

christmas so i’ll see everyone then.

Ya but thats not the same.

i know. but at least we’ll see each other.

Ya., We didn’t say anything for a few

moments. Then she told me some of her

friends weren’t hanging out with her anymore, and

she was hurt about it. She had always

gotten along with

everybody, and now for the first time she

was having a little trouble having time for

all the friends she had.

But i’m glad i’ll get to see you. i’m excited. i miss

you so much. i miss you too, i’m going to get going

home now, its dusk. love you. love you too. i

boarded home pretty quickly because it was all

downhill. The air was a little bit chilly now. The

soft light quietly pervaded everything around me. i

could see very well, with enough light to give

colour to the suburb, and just dark enough so my

eyes weren’t strained and they were receiving

ample light. My personal life was complex, but it

felt pretty good to be only seventeen.


The Mac’s happened in a couple months

and at practice we were preparing for it all the

time, the coaches were always talking about it. I

think coach’s talks are useful — and its like getting

one-on-one teaching all the time for the whole

school year — but it feels excessive and a little too

intense. Iain was actually pretty good at having

something different to say, he was always pretty

well prepared for practice. And in the gym they

were working us so hard — but I think we would

have been a much better team if he had us doing

actual strength building — even if the exercises

were hockey specific, all they did was tire us out

and use up our energy. And finals were

coming up soon too. I guess they were sooner on

the calendar, and were the more important thing.

Agnes had been bugging me about starting to

study for them, and I started with a little

reluctance but I started nonetheless. I did some

extra readings for English, which was well beyond

what most students were doing. I was writing a

short allegory based on Orlando. At home, I was

on my laptop and Agnes sent me something about

a festival in Austin when I’d be there. I didn’t feel

like going away while I was sort of away already.

Agnes’ facebook was still the most full, seeming to

represent a very full busy happy life. She had over

2,000 pictures she was tagged in and I didn’t even

know a lot of the people that posted on her wall,

and she seemed to be adding new friends all of the

time. I’m sure all that networking will steer her

right into med school and early retirement and all

of the things she wants, though she worries she’s

not going to be able to achieve. Lots of people

want that, and lots of people pray to God for them

as well. I felt like I had gotten to know almost

everyone in our year, though I wasn’t building a

massive facebook.

We had another get together with the relatives.

Eva and I went down by the beach and bought ice

creams. I don’t like mine. Why did you get it? I

wanted what you got but I didn’t want to copycat

you. You can have some if you want. No I like

mine now. You change your mind quick. I know

your right and I want some of yours again. Have a

bite. I took a bite of her ice cream. That was good.

That’s why I got it. Well I trust your decision

making when it comes to buying ice creams. She

laughed a little. The sun was halfway to the

horizon, and sunset was not so far away. There

were lots of boats on the water, there pace was

calm, not flustered with the five knot limit. The

water rippled and glimmered, the wind perusing

it. Did you miss me all the way down in texas. Did

I? So much, just intensely. Okay, don’t poke fun at

me. We went all the way down to the water and

walked with the water up to our ankles. We went a

little ways, and then turned back around, going in

little lines. We were together a lot when we were

kids. I remembered a lot of it. Ailein was

running around up by the picnic table, and we

went and sat down on a blanket where mostly

everyone had made there way now. I heard earlier

that Aunt Aimee wasn’t feeling well. And now she

looked it. Lloyd was sitting right next to her, and

she whispered something to him, and then he said

they had better drive to the hospital. I think a new

Luthais was about to come into the world. It was

late when we got home, and if only for a short

while, we had a little quiet and calmness.


At school everything was wrapping up for

the holidays. Whenever I was not on the ice I was

studying. There wasn’t time for much of anything

else. And yet it wasn’t unpleasant. I did study the

things I wanted to, by this point. On the ice,

whenever, I constantly thought about how much

energy I was using and if it might be too much. I

began to go a bit easier on hockey academy, so

that I would have energy to go full on with my

team. Away from hockey, I couldn’t avoid my

personal relationships. And I was chatting more

with my bro, and even though I couldn’t get him

to tell me very much about what was happening at

school or with his friends, we talked about a lot of

things, PS3 games that he plays a lot, the

explorations of our little dog hollander, about t.v.

shows. I was getting anxious to be back and see

what was happening with him.

The plane ride was less than an hour, and even

though we were well-behaved as far as hockey

teams go, our excitement was everywhere on the

plane. Anyone in a sour mood could have been

brought up a little. There were going to be a lot of

good players at this tournament, I guess some of

my teammates had played against them already, or

been at camps with them, or just knew there

names from the bantam draft. Parents and siblings

came, and restaurants, stores, proshops, they all

were involved in the tournament. As we landed, it

was dark, and the yellow lights of the city grew

brighter and brighter, the city’s property’s were like

big squares, the land exceptionally flat and the city

organized in a no-nonsense manner. All the same,

Calgary was sort of interesting. It was dry, near to

the rockies, and absolutely scorching in the

summers. We gathered our luggage and our

equipment and sticks, which looked very

impressive, everyone having four, or five of the

same sticks and always top of the line. For three

hundred dollars the sticks broke too often, but you

needed to have them to be successful. We boarded

another coach bus, and once again I put my ear

phones on. We were staying at the Westin in

downtown Calgary. Our room was nice, we had

two beds and another room with a couch and

another t.v., and the bathtub was well-sized, and

that would be about the only positive about all the

ice baths we would be taking. We went to dinner at

Earls, and this time everyone was there including

the parents, we must have filled out more than

half the restaurant. It was enjoyable. Things were

a little different here, there was a long bar with a

big open kitchen behind it so they could show off

their cooking—they did have lots of good steaks in

Calgary. Mine was good.

Our first game was the next day. I woke up

and then I nudged Keane for breakfast, not that he

needed much of one, and there was a buffet

waiting for us. It was different than our previous

weekends. There was a buzz in the building, and

there were so many scores, players to watch, things

to consider. We had a meeting, watched video

from earlier in the season, and talked about some

of the teams we would be playing, and then we

just hung around for the morning. We were at the

rink two hours before game time, and I taped all

of my sticks, and I am sure I have never taken so

long to tape them. I spent longer warming up my

hands too. I had a wooden hockey ball and it was

more fun doing toe-drags and flipping it up in the

air than the games ever are. But I was pretty

excited about this tournament, and the nerves

were something to be dealt with, I wanted to be on

my game, but at least I was feeling something.

The first team we went up against was the

Calgary bisons. They were rated fairly highly in

their league, though they were in the middle of the

pack in this tournament. One thing that was

noticeable is that there team was a lot bigger than

ours. But it didn’t turn out to be much of a game.

We won 8-0, which seemed to confirm our ranking

as the best team in Canada. Rankings, I don’t

think they mean too much. Regardless, the pace

was pretty fast, faster than our league is. We had a

game in the morning the next day and we won

that as well. Then we had a bit of time to

recuperate. The tournament was six games in six

days if you weren’t knocked out before the end.

After our third game, which we won pretty

handily, we had a day to recuperate and we

needed something to do. We walked around in

downtown Calgary, despite the minus twenty

degree weather. We went through the shops,

Keane bought things, everyone else looked.

That night there was a power outage in

downtown Calgary, but no one was sure just yet

what was the cause of it. We were in our hotel

rooms when it happened, and we went into the

hallways and talked about what the heck was

going on. Hey Keane, you happen to purchase a

flashlight today? No, but there is one on my

blackberry. For three hours, we used our phones to

light our ways. I wondered if it affected all of the

teams, or just the ones from different places. There

weren’t any winds, or particularly bad weather to

cause this large of an effect. Soon though it ended

rather as inexplicably as it started….

Our game went ahead, delayed a couple of

hours. At that point, we were already into the

elimination games, and if we won this game, then

we were automatically into the second round.

That way we wouldn’t have to play another game

the next morning. There were two other B.C.

teams here, and they had done o.k., though they

weren’t going to be placed very well for the

elimination round. Our last game of the round

robin was against the california selects. There

wasn’t really anywhere higher to play unless you

left California, so they had a bunch of veterans of

one and even some of two years. It was a close

game almost until the end. Some of their forwards

were really skilled, and they liked to go carry the

puck end to end like roller hockey players, and

they scored a few goals before our defence men

adjusted to their style. Spelling was the only one

who really stood out. It was hard to really get

space out there, or make plays, especially because

the Coaches were stressing quick puck movement

and safe plays. It was fun when he scored a couple

goals that game, because both moves were ones

that he practiced in hockey academy. A few players

came up to me. Joining the Canadians now, eh?

They thought that was funny.

By the end of the third period it was 3-2

but Laurence scored an empty netter and then the

game was pretty much over. Leonor and Lennie

scored as well. The coverage of the tournament on

the local t.v. news or in the papers all mentioned

us and most news sources did a profile on Paul.

When we got back to the hotel we had our ice

baths and I managed the requisite ten minutes.

That evening I talked with Agnes again and

we were all set for my trip down there as soon as

the Mac’s finished.

You played well and everything.


That’s good. I was looking things up on the web.

It’s pretty cool.

See I told you it would be exciting.

Yea it’s exciting. So, just get here and then I’ll tell

you like what plans we’re having and stuff.


I was going to join them in Austin two days after

they left, and she said she was super excited. I was

going to stay in the old house for four days, and I

wasn’t sure how that was going to go. I found I

was thinking about Maisie more and more. I had

been seeing her more often. I was with her the

next weekend after our first thing with Jeanne.

It was a quaint house. It was nice, not too nice. It

was new. Well furnished, a little bourgeoisie. Her

Dad was a lawyer or banker, I believe. We were

hanging out in the living room mostly. I guess her

parents were away that night. We did peruse their

liquor cabinet. There were a few quality malt

whiskeys, not too beady but with some bite. I guess

I wasn’t really supposed to be drinking, and if my

Coach new, he would be upset. I guess it can take a

lot out of you, but I’m pretty sure a moderate

night of drinking, when we didn’t have a game the

next day, well that’s nothing to be very worried

about. Maisie was sitting right across from me, and

I just wanted to talk with her. I enjoyed everyone’s

company. Gerard was even a pretty good musician.

We talked about the bands he liked but he lost me

somewhere around motor head, which isn’t

anything I like very much. Jeanne and Maisie got

up at one point and went upstairs. I had another

drink and they were smoking i guess but I can’t do

that. It was a nice house, but I didn’t like it that

much. I wasn’t having the time of my life with

these guys, but there was a reverential

quality to sitting on the floor somewhere

new but comfortable. I admit that I glanced at the

stairs a couple times to see when they were coming

back. It was another fifteen minutes before they

came back down, and then they went out back. I

think they might have been going out there to

meet someone, or just to talk about all of us

somewhere new, with something to look at… I got

up with something of an intention to join them,

ostensibly checking to see what they were up to,

and whether they weren’t ready to call it a wrap. I

opened the backdoor, they had closed the screen

door and the actual backdoor. Hey Jeanne said.

What are you guys up to in there. Just wondering

what you guys are doing. Just hanging out. Girl

talk. Ah. I was wondering, not that I’m ready to

leave yet, how everyone’s getting home. I am not

sure, we’ll decide later. can I sit with ya’ll for a bit.

It's nice out here.

Did you get in touch with Edwin yet? Not

yet. I think he’s still on his way home. About time

he gets back to me though. Whatever I’m sure you

can just see him tomorrow, Maisie said. Yea.

Edwin is totally out of it now. Ya they’ve all had a

lot to drink now. We should probably send them

home about this time. Ya. K all be right back

Maisie I’m just going to go talk to them and check

my messages upstairs quickly. Finally we were

alone for a bit, with some privacy. She had been

looking off into the distance softly, but presently

she turned her head and smiled at me. So do you

like me, tristan? Well of course I do. Really?

Because that’s what everyone is saying, just so you

know. I’m surprised. I thought I was being subtle.

You were kind of, but you’re always subtle so

everything is a give-away. Everything you do you

do on purpose. I just looked down after she said

that. What are you doing out here? Jeanne is

freaking about Gerard and like we’re just kind of

over it now. It’s almost two. Ya, I can’t believe were

still here.

So, do you miss Houston? Yes I miss it and

I wonder a lot of the time why I came at all.

Everyone knows why you came too. Again with

this everyone. Well they are all interested in you. I

don’t think she meant to say something with big

implications, she was just messing around a little

bit. I think she was almost resolved to go back

inside because it had been quite for too long

before I just told her ok so I like you a lot. You’re

right everyone knows. Do you have that feeling


Hmm. I’m not sure what you’re talking

about. Now I was looking at her again, trying not

to be pleading. It wasn’t so funny. She just said,

without much inflection, what are you going to do

about this? I averted my eyes, looking pensive, and

I looked at here again. We weren’t very far apart

now. I dunno, I said. I was looking at her with

seriousness now, and she mirrored my look. Then I

kissed her. She let me, she smiled while we kissed.

Her lips were cold, and mine were still warm.

Sometimes you kiss someone and it feels like

nothing but this was a lovely first kiss and I just

wanted to say I love you. I figured it wouldn’t last

very long but we were alone for some time, she ran

ran her palm and fingers across my abdomen, and

then caressed my forearm and led it towards her.

We heard someone coming and we disengaged

gently, I let go of her hand just before the door

was opened and Jeanne came out. She said Hey —

he’s coming here now, and by the end of her

sentence her breathless excitement dissipated into

the feeling of quiet and intimacy that she had just

walked into, hey I didn’t think you’d still be out

here. It’s crisp out here, I said. Oh, she sat down,

took out her phone and started texting, and after a

few minutes of talking, mostly her, Edwin’s car

could be heard, the car coming to a stop, the

headlights travelling through the fences narrow

perforations. He was a bit of a diffident human

being, all in all a pretty decent guy and I didn’t

have any qualms with his and Jeanne’s ‘thing’.

They talked for a while, and Maisie and I rather

quickly slid away back inside with everyone else.

They were talking about an incident at school that

everyone had been talking about, but it was clear

they had been listening while we were outside.

There countenances and their arousals changed

when we came inside. Edwin was explaining

something, and he finished explaining it, and then

the quiet was palpable, I just said It’s getting pretty

late. Ya we should take off, Edwin said. Anyone

need a ride, I asked? Nah, were good. Elsa lives

down the street and were gonna crash there. Okay.

how about you, Maisie? I have to go home and put

the animals in their cages, and feed them in the

morning too. I think Jeanne’s going to give me a

ride. Well, I’m leaving now if you wanna come.

That’s fine, I’ll just wait until she’s ready. Alright.

But are you sure? It’s not out of the way, and you

know Jeanne’s going to be a while. She looked

down a little shyly. She smiled. I’ll just ask her

quickly. She went outside walking quickly, closing

the door so as not to let the cold air in, and when

she came inside and ran back over to us, Gerard

was supposed to drive us, but he’s had too much to

drink, even though he drove over here. He says he

really feels it now… Coming with me then? Yup,

just let me grab my stuff. We left without

particularly ceremonial goodbye’s, — the regal

formality would come later. We got in my Dad’s

Infiniti. Want to drive? You can. I had been

playing blonde on blonde. It was my favourite cd

in his collection. I turned to the fm radio and kept

the volume low. We drove for a little while, her

home wasn’t too far, and when we got to her

street, she told me which house was hers. Can I see

your pup? Ya! We spoke quietly, the night having

hushed the city. She unlocked the door, and she

stepped into the dark entry before she turned on

some of the lights. The animals were simpering

and scratching to greet her from a room ahead of

us. When she let them through the door, they ran

for her and licked her hands, moving around

excitedly as you might expect from any well-cared

for pet. Then very quickly they came to meet me,

and I knelt down and pet them both. We were

there for a little while, we sat down on the couch

and we laughed about the evening, and the overall

course our new friendship had taken, was taking.

We started hooking up again right away. Slowly, I

took off all her clothes. She had a very frail waist.

She didn’t have to take mine off. I don’t actually

need to move myself so slowly?

This time you do.

That’s promising.

After a few hours, I drove home. And when I got

there I entered quietly, not to wake my Dad at four

in the morning, and I brushed my teeth and made

my way to bed, serenely forgetting the world for a

few hours.


The day the finals came along was the same

day as the winter classic. That was the second year

it had taken place. The first was spectacular, with

Pittsburgh and Buffalo. The players in toques and

turtlenecks, it was reminiscent of winters spent on

ponds by many generations of Americans and

Canadians. This year, Detroit and Chicago were

playing, two powerhouses, and it would have been

great to get to watch it, but our game was at one in

the afternoon, and we started preparing first thing

in the morning. The game was at the Saddledome,

so the ride there took a little longer. We were at the

rink three hours before the game, and actually

being there for such a long time, it was a bit of a

let down — we were so happy to play there, but

we spent more time preparing for the game then

playing it. Before the game, camera crews came

into the dressing room, while we were about halfready,

tying our skates and taping sticks. The big

story was Paul, and the cameras spent a little more

time on him taping a stick than on anything else.

When the t.v. program went to commercial, they

had him on the camera, raising anticipation about

what he might accomplish on the ice today. When

Coach Iain came in, he wasn’t scared to say that

he thought we had a good chance of winning, and

he was right, we had a really good chance of

winning. This team wasn’t very good, they were

bigger and maybe stronger, but they weren’t very

talented or fast. I guess we were all pretty good

hockey players at this level, I wasn’t really sure

how much better players were at the next level, or

in the NHL, I guess a lot better in the NHL, but

everyone on this team would get to the next level

if they wanted to and we all did want to. In the

opening ceremony, looking around, I could see

10,000 people. My Dad was by their blue line,

looking at the players like a scout might, and

looking at the arena in a modest admiration. The

Ice was a little softer than you’d expect for an

NHL arena, but it was still pretty good. And the

temperature in the arena, it was warm in there.

That was a little winding, especially if you were

used to playing in the Burnaby Winter Club, like

we were. The pace was so much more intense than

the previous games of the tournament. Paul

started along with Layton and Keane and they

didn’t score, or have any good chances, but they

gave us puck control and set a good pace that the

Calgary team would hopefully have problems

keeping up with. My first shift, the puck was in

there end when I got on the ice, and their d-man

made a turnover because of our forecheck, and I

got the puck, made a crisp pass back to the blue

line, and Leonor got a good shot off, but without

much of a rebound. I won the face-off, and tried

to get a bit of space with puck and wait for

someone to come to me to create an open person

as per usual, but Lennie bobbled my pass a little

bit in front of the net, there was a defencemen

tying up his stick that couldn’t get loose from in

time. Otherwise it would have been a good

chance. We kept our shifts short because this was

our sixth game in six days. We were back out

shortly, and we had a smooth breakout and good

rush, but it was tough to make plays. They were

pretty good in their own zone. There were no

goals before the first commercial break, and

Coach Iain was screaming about puck movement

and getting more shots, it was seeming that he felt

a lead needed to happen soon, otherwise it would

get tougher and tougher if we didn’t shut their

lights out early. They were already starting to get a

bit of hope. It wasn’t until ten minutes into the

period that we got our first power-play. It was a

gorgeous set-up with Spelling on the half wall, and

Lawrence on the point, and he walked the puck

across the line, and then saucer passed it to

Spelling, and Spelling moved in from the boards

and put a slap shot just over the pads, like had

happened thirty times already this season. We had

the lead now. After that, we had momentum for

the rest of the period, all though they had a few

chances in the last minute. We didn’t get another

goal before the buzzer went and we went to the

dressing room up 1 to 0.

The energy was still pretty good, and there

were lots of snacks and powerade to get us

refueled. Usually I wouldn’t eat anything, but I

had a muffin and half a cliff bar, because we had

eaten so much earlier, and left so much earlier

than usual. The game was on the t.v.’s in the

room, though there was no sound. The highlights

from the period were shown, and I was in there

just briefly with the very crisp pass to the point.

The energy was still good in the room, although I

felt a little heavy. I was skating as hard as I could,

and the six games were draining. Coach Iain was a

little flustered, but he spoke positively, and

everything still was looking okay, we were usually

up by at least two or three goals by now, but it

could be expected that in a final game the other

team would have more jump than most days. The

second period, there was more buzz in the crowd,

and although Calgary had a large supporting

group, it was mostly because it was a close game. It

was not easy to cheer against a team like ours. Our

passes weren’t as smooth as usual, and we were a

bit jumpy, but we did calm down and outshot them

by a wide margin, though we weren’t able to put

one in. Paul always played unselfishly, but he was

starting to carry the puck too much, as if he felt

like he had to take all the responsibility on his

shoulders, and he turned the puck over once when

he had a clear pass to a line mate, and took shots

from bad angles when other players were open in

better spots. On our fourth power play though, he

got it done again, scoring an easy backdoor goal,

and we were up 2-0.

It wasn’t a great period all together though, they

got one goal right after Spelling's goal, and then

they got another one before the period ended. It

was crushing to see our lead disappear. We were

rather silent as we went into the dressing-room.

But everyone was trying to stay positive and get

the energy up again. After all, we only had to get

one more goal to win. I think if this were a normal

game, Coach Iain would be throwing things,

screaming very loudly, and berating players,

coaching staff, parents, managers, news reporters,

the referee’s, and whoever else there was in or near

the Winter Club. Here, his voice was more quiet

than is normal. I think he was with us more on this

one, it had been a long six days, and he felt about

the same as we did. We deserved to win this game,

we were the better team, we were the harder

working team, we were going to leave everything

on the ice so that we could win. When the

intermission was done with, fans were already

cheering when the teams came back onto the

benches, and onto the ice, and people were along

the sides of the walkway, looking for a fist pump

from the players. I could feel the lactic acid in my

legs, I had many bruises, and I hadn’t told the

coaching staff, that when I wasn’t playing I could

barely move my back. It was just stiff, I think.

When my body was warm, it was o.k., though

every time I got hit it was a searing pain in my

lower back. We really took it to them to start the

period, and we got a goal seven minutes in by

Sam. It was a rebound, a hard-working goal, with

several players crashing the net, the goalie flailing

desperately. We just had to hold the lead now, for

another thirteen and a half minutes. I was having

an excellent game as far as plus-minus, defensive

play, creating chances, but we hadn’t lit the lamp

yet. That didn’t matter as much this late in the

game as keeping the lead, and winning the Mac’s.

We were keeping them to the outside, they weren’t

getting very many chances, and we even had a few

times when we almost went up 4-2. By the five

minute mark, they still hadn’t created any good

chances, and really they hadn’t the whole game,

but they had gotten a few lucky goals. Now

everything was tighter and their goalie was starting

to give the Coach anxious glances, wondering if

they should switch to six attackers soon. They still

weren’t getting many good chances. With two

minutes left, they pulled their goalie, and got puck

possession in our zone. They were strong in the

corners, and our defence men were a lot smaller

than their forwards. They got an okay shot on net

from just about the top of the face-off circles, and

Kevin didn’t have many plays but to cover the

puck, because there were two players right on him.

They called a time-out, what would be expected,

and it was a little frightening. If they won the draw,

then they might score, and more than half a

period of carefully protecting the lead would be

meaningless, and we’d be heading to overtime.

The Coach made a huddle with the players,

Spelling would be at centre taking the draw. They

were going to try and draw the puck back to a

forward at the top of the circle, and then have two

wingers going to the net to screen. It was a pretty

typical play, and apparently, they did it every time.

Spelling got ready for the draw, it was on his

strong side. He dug in his skates, put his stick down

just before the Calgary player, and he won it

cleanly. They forechecked really hard though, and

nine times in ten, the d-man would have gotten the

puck out of the zone. Erin didn’t want to go up

the middle so he bounced the puck off the glass,

and one of the Calgary defencemen caught it with

his body. It him in the chest, and he must have

been six seven on skates. Erin probably could have

gotten a little more strength in his clearing

attempt, but he didn’t have much time to make a

play. The defenceman waited for the puck to settle

for just a couple moments, before there was a

forward on him, and sent the puck back into the

corner. There was a scrum that lasted nearly five

seconds, and one of their players recovered the

puck. He walked halfway out of the corner, and

shot on net, and there was a rebound. Kevin made

the next save too, but it was pad save, and though

his rebound control was pretty good, they had a

player at the side of the net who got the second

rebound, and one-timed it into the net.

Then they were celebrating, and our whole team

felt the wind taken out of us. We would have to

have another intermission, and we would have to

have sudden-death overtime as well.

In the dressing room, we all had a little something

to eat, lots of Gatorade, lots of water. If it went

more than two or three overtimes, then we would

probably have pizza brought in or something. We

are young and we are going on fumes, but it was as

if the game had just begun. We had a lot more

hockey to play in us, and hopefully we could get

the first goal, and the sooner the better. In

overtime, you had to be extra-cautious, because

any mistake could be a goal for the other team,

and then it would be that person’s fault that we

lost the game, and no one wants that. Both teams

were playing safe, though whenever we got in their

end, our only concern was scoring. The longer the

game went, the more of a crapshoot it was. And

that wasn’t very fair, considering all the work we

had done, all the first half of the season, all of the

pre-season. There were three or four times when,

even if it was overtime, the referee’s definitely

should have called a penalty on the Buffalo’s. But

they weren’t calling them, and it was making

Coach Iain furious, and even I had to wonder, if

there wasn’t obvious favouritism going on in this

game, especially now in overtime. Those

suspicions seem on the mark, when we got a

penalty against us in the last minute of the period.

It was a marginal call at best, even on the replay,

and now they would have a minute of powerplay

before we got to recover, and another minute after

when the ice was fresh. Spelling took the draw

again, he

must have taken more draws than the players on

either team together, and he won this one, though

it was a little less clean. We got the puck out

though, and they didn’t regain entry into our dzone

before the end of the period. In the

intermission we were quieter this time, everyone

acknowledging our collective need to recover. The

minute left remaining on their power play hung

above our heads like the darkest of clouds. When

we got back on the ice, the lights actually hurt my

eyes a bit. I was feeling the drain by now, and by

the looks on everyone’s faces, as much as we were

staying positive and speaking encouragingly, we

were a little low on spark…but we did kill the

penalty, and we were able to play strong

throughout that period. We had so many chances,

but there goalie was playing exceptional, and he

was giving their players a big boost in confidence.

They were feeling like they could win, like they

could take chances and feel sure he would stop

them. We still hadn’t gotten a power play since the

second period. I guess they knew that our power

play was lethal, whoever they was, the buffalo’s,

perhaps the referee’s, perhaps the city. I guess it is

a better story for them if the hometown team

wins, than if we were to win. The period was over

and still there wasn’t a winner yet. This

intermission Coach Iain didn’t give a speech, he

just gave us the whole time to recover. When we

got back on the ice, it was very choppy now, even

with the fresh zamboni. It was hard to make good

passes, and there was even a good chance of

tripping in some of the rougher patches in the

corners. You could tell both teams were getting

worn down. Players were taking very short shifts,

and a lot of the time now they would just make

the safe play, like dumping the puck, instead of

making a rush, which meant using a lot of energy.

Paul wasn’t double-shifting anymore, but playing

every third shift. To make the game seem that

much more unfair, they got another power play

before we’d had one in overtime, and it didn’t feel

very good this time. They might score. The faceoff

was in the neutral zone, and they got set-up in

our zone. It was looking innocuous enough, until a

seam opened up in the middle of the ice, and the

winger saw it, sent the puck across the ice, and

another forward one-timed from the hashmarks,

and into the net. They won the game then. And

they threw their sticks, and their gloves, up in the

air, and they began celebrating. We had to stay on

the bench, feeling pretty awful, until they were

about ready to line up and shake hands. Then they

presented player of the game and player of the

tournament. Their goalie got player of the game,

and Paul got mvp of the Mac’s. He accepted it

with solemn grace, and he handled it all well, only

smiling very lightly for a second when the request

for a picture with some of the major sponsors of

the tournament was requested of him. After that,

they brought out medals, presenting us with our

silver medals, and then gold medals, and the

trophy for the Calgary team. And as soon as we

could then, we got off of the ice while they were

celebrating. It was a bitter feeling, and there was

not much to say after the game. To try and find a

silver-lining out of it, even with our ranking, no

one thought we would make it out of the roundrobin.

We got packed quickly, left the rink, went

back to the hotel, ate what might have been a

celebratory feast, and went to bed early for our

red-eye flight back to Vancouver.


Everyone was still a little shaken up as we got on

the bus to the airport, and it wasn’t until we had

almost landed that the boisterous energy of being

a group of teenage boys that spent most of our

time together began to show again. My Dad drove

home, and bringing my bag up the stairs to our

house stunk. I didn’t unpack my suitcase or my

equipment, and just lay down on the couch for a

while, my dad watching t.v., me half-watching,

mostly thinking about what had gone wrong, and

what was going to happen now, whether I was

going to feel like going to School in a week,

because right now I didn’t feel like I could go

around and explain how we almost won. And I

wondered if I was going to be able to leave

tomorrow, and go to houston, and to explain to

everyone that it was going well except that we lost

our most important game so far, after winning

twenty games in a row. I would explain it once,

then try not to talk about it again. Ask Agnes, I

might end up saying to people. How I was going to

stay with my step-mom, and how I was going to be

be a good big-brother in such a short amount of

time. He really should have come with us. I wish

he had.



The day I had to depart for Houston was one of

dread and a nervous anticipation. It was horrid, it

was unpleasant, it was full of promise for renewal,

it was a little romantic. Mostly, I was not looking

forward to it as I sat on the plane, my head still

hurting, my back aching, bruises on my legs,

stomach, a gash on two of my fingers, and the

weighing unfortunate responsibility, the irresistible

pull into adulthood. I was able to sleep for a few

hours on the plane, and I felt better afterwards. I

had a few juices as well, and the sweet taste roused

me a little. For the last while of the trip, I watched

the curious case of Benjamin Button. Was it

Fitzgerald’s best short story? Probably not. Was it

one that he wrote for money? Yes. It was an

interesting rendition with an exceptional looking

cast, as is fitting for any Fitzgerald story, I suppose.

Arriving, it was just getting dark in Houston, and

the vast size of the city struck me again. I had

been through the airport many times, riding the

moving sidewalks, the same restaurants, the same

feeling, the same sounds. My step-mother was

supposed to be there to meet me, with my little

brother, but I couldn’t find her. I texted her and

then she wasn’t replying. I was just about to start

calling friends when she text me back. Got held

up. Will talk later. Take a cab hon. I wasn’t really

in the mood for that, and it would be an expensive

cab-ride, but oh well I guess. I suppose this way

the car ride with screaming had no chance of

occurring. It took all of forty-five minutes to get

home, the traffic was pretty light. It was something

of a gaudy house, I had to admit. After

accustoming myself to Vancouver, this quality was

more apparent. There were probably another

thousand of these homes, strewn across the city in

various neighbourhoods. It was distinguished by its

perch on a slight hill, which were rare in Houston.

It was a slightly unsatisfying brown colour, like one

of those adobe huts but without the authenticity,

or the hand-made pride… I walked up the steps,

all the lights where on, and when I knocked on the

door, there was no immediate answer, but I found

that it was open. I stepped inside, and Allister was

just coming to the door. He was a little stooped

over, but I could see he was getting taller. He

looked thin, though he still had those chubby baby

cheeks that he had for years. I was so happy to see

him, and to see him looking well, not in any way

ravaged by his present circumstances, which I

would learn more about in the coming week. I put

my things down by the entrance and I let him walk

over to me and I gave him a good hug, a light

noogie on the back of his head, not a real one,

because that would be lame. Good to see ya,

kiddo. How are things? Good. Ya? Where’s your

step mom? Upstairs I think. I don’t know. Okay.

Have you eaten yet? No. Did she make something?

No. Really? Well, o.k.. I’ll get you something in a

second. I brought my things up the stairs to my old

room, and then went over to my parents old

bedroom. I figured she’d be in there. She was. She

was lying in bed with a rather facile novel. Hi

there. Oh hello. When did you get in? Not very

long ago. Just then. Oh. Well I’m glad your here.

You can have your old room there. How do you

mean, where you thinking of giving it away? Well

I wasn’t sure if you were coming back or not. It’s

not as if you like talking to me or being here

except when your father’s here. Good point. Well,

nice to see you. Did you guys have anything for

dinner? No were fine I think. We had salads four

or five hours before. Ah. Alright then. I went back

downstairs, and I looked in the fridge. There

wasn’t a whole lot. There some leftovers, but from

how long ago I wasn’t sure. Bud you want

something to eat. Yaa. Okay, I’m going to go get

something. One thing about being home, is I could

drive here, whereas in Canada I only had a

learner’s permit. There was a fiven’guy’s up the

street where Teagan had been working. Well — it

was five minutes away, by the old middle school.

He was working that night, and it was great to see

his face. His hair was very long, and he looked a

little bit goth or i’m not sure what you would

characterize it, but it was only slight, he still looked

like the fresh-faced kid he had been when we were

kids, just with a little bit of edge. His bangs were in

his face, but he brushed them off his forehead with

his hands, and when he smiled he didn’t look so

angsty. We talked about Vancouver, inevitably

about the tournament that we lost, and about

Westside. He said it was good, except that the

transfers from Louisiana were causing some

trouble. Hurricane Katrina had displaced many

people, and a lot of them had come to Houston

temporarily. A gun had gone off in the cafeteria,

and there was a string of fights. He said that the

sports teams were really exciting, even if he

thought some of the guys were dicks, and he said

that the seniors tried to haze the freshman all the

time, but he said it could be a lot worse, for

instance, in Sharpstown. I envied being with the

same people we went to middle school and

elementary. We would have to hang more before I

left, though I said not tonight because I need to

rest or I’ll be out of it for weeks. When I got back

to the house, Allister and I sat around the t.v.,

watching whatever for a couple of hours. He was

definitely hungry, and thirsty, and I wondered if

anyone was looking after him at all.


The next day, I was up at about six, the timechange

seeming to leave me no worse for wear, I

could have gone to bed early anywhere in the

world. I felt a little better now. And so I made

myself some cereal, there was that there, with

some milk, that was in there, and I read the paper

for a while, though no one was up for the next

hour. I thought about waking Allister up, but I

didn’t know his sleeping patterns. It was a

weekend, so maybe he slept in then like I did

sometimes. Paige didn’t come down until nine

o’clock. She made some coffee, and I was feeling a

little stir crazy by then, and I went out for a walk

just to the school park that wasn’t very far. It was

where I went to school when I was a wee kid. I sat

on the swing-set, and pushed back-and-forth for a

while. I guess if this were a weekday I would

probably know everyone walking around. As it was

now, there wasn’t really anybody out and about.

Texans were a bit more so homebodies. They liked

to watch Sunday football, I suppose. I made some

plans for the next few days, and after a half hour

or so I thought I should see if Allister was up yet.

He wasn’t and I was a little surprised.

He slept in late, and finally at eleven, I had been

reading for an hour and a half or so, I went and

woke him up. I said let’s do something today. He

was obliging, and he was up and looking o.k. to go

in fifteen or so. He had taken a shower the night

before. I told him he could grab a snack now, and

I would buy lunch. The weather wasn’t very nice,

it was threatening to be another day of

thunderstorms, the whole day pockets of rain

would probably be falling, with an intensity

enough to make you have to pull your car over

because you couldn’t see, listening to the thunder,

seeing the lasts bits of lightning while you drove

home through puddles hours later. We headed out

toward Katy Mills mall. It was a half hour drive,

and when we got there, it was just a little

nauseating, driving around the enormous mall, to

where the theatres where. We watched the

Chronicles of Narnia, even though he wasn’t a big

fantasy fan, we had watched all the previous ones

together. This time, I sort of liked Prince Caspian,

though I suppose the most admirable male lead

was Peter. It was quite beautifully done, though the

story was a little bit threadbare, in comparison to

the novels. Even so I liked it, and I couldn’t help

but wish I had that much money to make a movie.

I’m sure I could do something special. Well, to be

a bit more modest, it would be hard not to with a

crew as long as the credits in this movie. Goodness.

Allister didn’t want anything too healthy, so I got

him a hot dog…we would have to eat healthier in

the next couple days. He payed attention the

whole time, and when I asked him if he liked it, he

said he did. I didn’t ask him very many questions, I

felt like we should be talking, but maybe he had

something of the quiet thing too. When it was

over, we walked around. We had a vague

destination of eb games, though there was no

hurry to get there. I suppose it was likely we would

encounter a familiar person or two, though it is a

very big city. He was interested in the items that

could be seen through the store windows, some

faces amused him, he seemed well at ease. Inside

eb, I was looking at all the years of NHL games,

and it was peculiar that he had never become

interested in the game—the game as a whole, and

not just the ea sports video game. I guess it was

more peculiar that I got in to the sport at all.

There wasn’t much new that was of interest, and I

refused to buy him call of duty, though I knew we

would enjoy playing it. I’m sure all the explosions

and missiles and guns and deaths were nothing

good for his very young brain. We bought a new

controller, the old one being bitten up severely by

our stepmom’s ferocious little chiwawa like mutt.

Even though it’s a mutt, she paid a lot for the little

guy. And she pays more and more as the months

go by, and he is possibly more and more spoiled

every day. When we got home, I went to my room

and lay down a little, winding down from the

stimulation of driving long distances on a busy

highway, being in a crowded mall, and watching a

long movie on a near imax screen. I hadn’t gotten

many calls. I guess the thing to do was call Agnes.

She was expecting my call. I gave her a ring on her

cell. She didn’t answer, which was surprising,

usually even if she was driving or running or

maybe even in the shower, she would answer her

phone. I left a short message, saying I had arrived

yesterday, and I was just hanging out now with

Allister. That was a good afternoon, it was great

catching up, and that feeling of longing to be

home, most of it was gone right now. My phone

vibrated, and Agnes had called back pretty quickly.

I answered with brightness, hiding the extent of

my feelings of comfort. We talked about what she

had been up to the past week, waiting for me to

come down here. They were in Austin now, and

they were having fun she said and I’m sure they

were having a ton of it, with me there or not there

I’m sure they were having fun. She ran into this

person, and that person and they were staying

here but they didn’t like it so they paid more and

went over to there and her Mom was calling her

Dad was having trouble walking on his bad knee

again and she felt bad for him and had to tell

someone so and they were doing this today and

eating there and going here afterwards and they

would have room for me on this day and I know

your busy but try and get here by then ok. Things

were going so well since I had been back, Texas

seemed great, though it took something of a new

aspect now. It couldn’t always be me and Allister.

Other people would multiply our things to worry

about. For only so long could we stay far away

from what we knew only knew so little about,

the real world and its malcontents.


There was some screaming upstairs and I went out

into the living room and listened to see what was

going on. Something about Allister being lazy and

needing a shower and go outside and do

something. Perhaps the disagreement between our

generation and the previous about what is a useful

way to spend our precious youth. But something

more, something personal but also trivial and I

didn’t particularly like her yelling at my family,

even if it was under the guise, even if it was for the

explicit purpose, of trying to help him. Rounding

the corner at the top of the stairs, he was sitting on

his bed with his head down at his shoulders

slouched as if he actually were the miniature

monster with soft little fingers and pearly teeth(but

surely something fierce behind that precious

facade) and she was leaned forward yelling at him

in what might as well be a high school students

vernacular. I asked what’s going on up here?

Nothing you need to worry about. Are you sure?

Yes, just go back to your room or something. Okay

but can you stop yelling at him? I’m not yelling

I’m just trying to get him doing something. It

sounded like you were yelling. You were yelling.

Well he won’t listen to me. Well just leave it for

now, I’m sure he’s tired right now, kids don’t have

the same kind of energy as adults do. We did a lot

of walking and activity. I think her blood pressure

dropped a little, and she went back to whatever

she was doing before, and I went downstairs and

went to visit Teagan.

It was a nice street, and a nice house — yes, I like

my friends. It was only one story, and it wasn’t a

new anymore, but the brick walls in front still had

the same modern freshness, and inside it was

always so meticulously clean, though they were so

careful as to continually turn off lights, and so it

was always dark. Like often, we went to his pantry

and ate half the food there, sitting on the kitchen

counters, catching up about everything. It was so

nice to have a friend again. New friends can have

more fun than old friends, perhaps, though there is

nothing as recuperative or warming to be with an

old friend when your both in good spirits. Who

better to listen to me whine about the finals, or

about Agnes, and I could sure wine about her. I

needed to get some of that off my chest and there

really might not have been anyone else I would

have turned to. Mostly we laughed and reminisced

about our humour, which was elementary at best,

which makes sense considering that’s when we

became friends. We talked about when school

ended in Canada, and what we were going to do

in the summer. I said I really wanted to go to

Europe and he did too. We wondered if we were

too young for a trip like that, and I said probably

but that’s why it would be cool. If we needed to we

could go with a tour group, I said, and we could

just ditch the group whenever as long as we

seemed like we had our wits about us. I told him

we were probably going to Nationals, so who knew

when our summer would start. We were going to

meet up on thursday before I headed to Austin.

When I got back home, the t.v. was on, but

there was no one downstairs. I walked upstairs,

and the t.v. was on in the master bedroom as well,

they were both in their rooms, though it was only

6 30. I peeked into Allister’s room, and the lights

were off, and he was just lying in bed. Hey,

whatsup? Nothing. Okay I said. I walked over to

our stepmom’s bedroom, and her lights were on,

though she was lying in bed not doing anything as

well. Hi Paige, what are you up to? Oh, nothing.

Okay. Are you gone to bed now? Oh, I might get

up later. I’ll have to think about it. Okay. Are you

hungry? Oh all that breakfast you made I think

were all full. I walked back downstairs, and sat on

the couch, feeling a little befuddled, and most

certainly hungry.


Those next few days, nothing much happened in

the household, they were perversely inactive, and

all I could surmise about it was what the heak was

going on? Any eating was of something I made.

Any excursions were of my volition. I think they

were happy to have me there, in some pleasurable

child-like surrender to being taken care of. In any

case, on my fourth day there, early in the morning

I put my bags in our suv, and very quickly made

my way onto the road. It was only three and a half

hours to Austin, so I would be there for the day.

Driving across Texas, there wasn’t anywhere much

to stop except the occasional family restaurant, or

a Wendy’s or something similar. I packed some

snacks, though I did stop for a quick bite to eat

halfway as per tradition. Usually the trips were

longer, and often the meals were a little

unhealthier than this time, when I happened upon

a Quizno’s, which did not please me tremendously,

as I had gotten quite sick after eating there several

years ago, and I avoid them generally. I texted to

say I was on my way, and I got the very most

enthusiastic though sort of I would admit

unspecial reply. I guess I couldn’t just hop back in

as if I hadn’t left, but we would of course try. It

was raining when I started driving, but when I

started to enter the Austin city limits, the sun was

emerging, and the weather wasn’t any worse than

seventeen degrees.

It was a good city, with its undulating hills, it held

more promise than Houston. I drove past the

University, to the other side of downtown, near

where the hotel was. No one was there when I got

in. They said just to come meet them. I went into

my room and lay down for a while. I had been

thinking quite a lot preparing in the morning,

driving here, and closing my eyes, without the

movement of a vehicle, not trying to think for a

few minutes, I felt a little refreshed, and it was half

an hour before I felt like leaving and going out to

face an exuberant happy mass of festival people. I

wasn’t too into the music that day. There were

some big acts, though a lot of smaller alternative

ones that weren’t very distinguished. All I really

wanted to see was the Shins, I guess they fit

somewhere into or between those two categories.

They were sitting on a hill, fairly far back from the

stage. They weren’t looking for me. I walked to the

end of the field before I turned towards them,

coming up sort of in there peripheral vision. I had

to say I’m here now before they realized I was

there, and it was a little bit of a jarring

homecoming, not only had I just arrived for the

event, but I’d just arrived home to them for the

first time in four months. Agnes and I hugged, and

she kissed me lightly, and then I was hugging

everyone, shrugging off questions so as to sit down

and enjoy whatever the music was to try and not

be annoyed by the atmosphere, hopefully it would

grow on me.

Agnes was telling me all about their happenings in

the past few days, and what she had planned for

the following few days, in the same manner as the

previous days, as if there was no debating what

exactly was going to happen. It was still the

afternoon and I was talking with the guys as well,

and it was starting to bother me how much Agnes

was chatting with some baseball knucklehead. I

was going to ask if he came up with us or with

another set but that would be a little obvious. I

think after a while, as the sun began to fall, we

settled in and listened to the music, which in the

form of another group, became mellower, and I

felt so happy. Our bodies were really noticing the

night air after all of the heat we had taken in from

the sunshine.

Walking home, a little bit before the rest of the

crowd, mostly everyone hopped in a taxi, though

Agnes and I had plans for a late dinner. Though

we were just walking, and I said I wasn’t feeling

very hungry. Oh, that was fun. Do you think every

one had fun? Yes, I said. What about Irwin, I don’t

think he likes music. No, he does. Well don’t just

disagree with me. I’ll think about it and then I’ll

disagree with you. She wasn’t impressed. We just

walked in the quiet streets, the occasional group of

loud people, a few big hills, which we braved a

little slowly. How’s Lachlan? Who? That guy you

told me about? Oh, that was a while ago. No you

went on and on about him. I only mentioned him.

Pretty sure you went on and on about him. Pretty

sure I did not. Whatever. He’s good. His Dad is

leaving the hospital. They didn’t think he would.

Are they giving up. No, his condition is improving.

Oh. Indeed. Did you listen to the cd’s i sent? I

haven’t yet but I will. That was like two weeks ago

though. That’s not very long. That’s forever. How

am I supposed to be romantic without all of those

ballads? You we’re never romantic anyways. I

resent that. I resent you. No you don’t. No your

right I don’t. Are we going to go for dinner. I don’t

feel hungry anymore. I wasn’t listening when you

said that earlier. But you remember me saying it?

Ya weird. Well, how far to the hotel? It’s like so far.

Fifteen minutes? Well not that long but so far still.

Alright we’ll walk back to first and get a taxi.

Back at the hotel, I said I had to go up to my own

room for a sec, and then I’d come join her for a

while. I only turned on one light and made my

way over to the balcony. I felt a little empty inside,

a small quavering in my body. My eyes were wide

and sober, and I took in the city as best I could

with the obstructed views… it was all a little

wanting. Pretty, but a little wanting I would say.

We had so much fun tonight, and I felt very good

whenever I was with her. And we walked it must

have been for half an hour, and there were years

of memories that her presence swirled in me, it

was all very sweet, it is wonderful, though I feel

removed, and halfway through our walk that I

guess didn’t really evolve into something more, I

didn’t feel quite so connected with her anymore I

thought, and it did occur to me that this could be

one of the last times we ever see each other,

though ostensibly, we might have went on together

for many more years.

Hey. I’m going to go back to my room, grab

a few things.

Alright. Just knock on the door.

I went up in the elevator, used the card key,

and went into the bathroom, and washed my face,

brushed my teeth, thought about showering. I

went into the bed area, and wanted to watch some

of the highlights. I lay down with the volume on a

medium level, and after a short while I fell asleep.

When I woke up, I realized I was still in my

room, and sort of remembered falling asleep. I

showered and put on some new clothes. And went

down stairs and looked at the buffet breakfast. It

was okay, not great, so I walked across the street

and grabbed some coffee’s and some bagels. I

went up to Agnes’ room, and knocked on the door,

a little later than we planned.

Hey. Sorry, I fell asleep.

That’s okay.

I brought some food and stuff for you


I’m actually really hungry. I think everyone

else is in their rooms.

Do you enjoy it?

We had so much fun. You missed a lot of

the good acts. We were there like all day.

I saw who I wanted to, I wasn’t too

interested in the other bands. It would have been

nice to be with you anyways.

We don’t have the same musical interests.

Not really, I guess.

I keep trying to get you interested in other

stuff. Your music is hipsterish. You’re not a hipster.

I thought you liked these things before.

Kind of, I don’t mind them. I’m not going

to change my musical tastes. I couldn’t if we tried.

Just be satisfied that I’ve gone to these, and that

we’ve spent time together. Who knows what’s

going to happen now.

Last night wasn’t good was it?

Not really.

Things aren’t great with family in


I’m worried about Allister. I think we

should be able to be okay even if there is

something wrong with my family. I don’t think

I’ll stay late today though. I have to make it

home soon.

I think you should as well.

Yes. I should. Let’s go walk the capitol buildings,

I’ve actually never been there either.

Me neither.

We walked through the lawn, the building

looming above us.

It is a nice building. I don’t even really want

to go inside, though. It is nice from here.

Let’s go inside.

Another day.

The weather is better here. It’s cooler.

The people are healthier too.

It’s an okay city.

It’s up there with them.


I wonder if it will snow this year.

I hope so. That would be so much fun. It

never snows in Houston.

Snow holds less appeal after you’ve been in

Calgary for a while.

Well, I wouldn’t know. I like this anyways. I

hope it snows.

Mhmm. Hey, do you ever put your phone


Well I’m texting.

That’s the problem. There is always

someone else your talking too.

You can text to if you want to.

Whatever. I’m ready to do something

else. Let’s visit some shops. I’ll buy you something.

We sifted through the souvenir shops, then

we got to some of the nicer stores, with purses and

nice jackets. I’ll buy you something nice, just for

this occasion. See anything you’d like to have?

Mmm. I’ll keep looking.

Sometimes she had something in her hands to feel

the texture or try it on. She wasn’t looking at price

tags. We went through a few stores.

I want this.

That looks like an animal.

What are you an activist?

It looks like an animal.

It isn’t an animal.


This is what I want.

Can I see it? It was nice. Okay, it’s yours,

Agnes. Then I looked at the price tag. I sighed as I

walked to the register.

Well, I’m pretty much ready to go home

now. This has been fun. I missed you.

Don’t go. Let’s stay in the room and you

can nap with me.

It’s better that I just drive now. If you come

back a little earlier, we’ll see each other.

I’ll try. But I’m telling you, you should stay


I should start driving now. See you soon,


Back in Houston, I spent my last day with Teagan.

What do you think you’re going to do next year?

I thought I was going to play hockey for a year, but

I’ve been thinking differently the last while. For

someone like me, hockey doesn’t seem like a good

use of energy and time anymore. Were not kids,

were mostly kids, but our adult years are pulling us

up to our proper stages.

What the hell does that mean?

I’m being a little stiff. But school is my goal, it’s just

a question of if I’ll play hockey. When I’m there, I

don’t think I want hockey to be my main focus. I

want school to be my main focus.

I would say don’t worry about it too much. Just

enjoy it for now.

It is really stressful with scouts in the buildings, and

then they bring in TV cameras and national

audiences. You should feel my heart rate before we

step on the ice sometimes. It disappears into

playing heart rate, but all the nervousness is hard

to get rid of, and my hands are almost jittery, and

there are the worst feelings in my stomach, I get

migraines after the games, and it just drains my

energy so that getting undressed, and packing the

bus is something that I am astonished I ever

accomplish it.

You should definitely go to school. Your too smart.

And the players are getting bigger as your moving

up. You already have two concussions.

One more and I don’t think I can play anymore.

Yea I think that’s right.

Maybe, it depends on the severity.. I don’t want to

think about it at all.

So you hated this past weekend right?

I didn’t hate it. I wish it could have been more fun,

because it’s the only time I’ve been here, will be for

a while. It would have been better if you were


I don’t like that group of people. We’re definitely

not the same set.

Ahh so what?

You know we don’t get along. They don’t like me. I

don’t really have a problem with all of them.

No, it’s okay. I don’t like them either.

That’s not true.

No but I like you better.

You like me better than anyone.

This is true.

I won’t tell Agnes.

I’ll tell you myself.

Love you too. Seriously, did you fight?

Honestly, we fought a lot. I just kept making jokes,

but we fought constantly.

That’s not good.

No, it’s not.

Are you through?

I was pretty sure so after the first night I was there,

but you know I miss here, and I want things to

work, but I think we both have new lives now. We

all used to have the same one, now there’s several.

Ya. Come back more often.


Home was deathly quiet. I packed my things and

considered getting an earlier flight, but I hung

around until my flight in the morning, getting

Allister going, having some breakfast with him,

then leaving without much fuss, the step mum still

asleep in her room with the blood red walls.

I felt pretty energized in sitting in the

airport. Even if there is something of a slurred

quality to Southern speech, it is a bit musical, and

full of the sun, and there were lots of people

around from all over, that looked healthy and were

headed to more beautiful cities.

Sometimes being wakeful and calm is the

best prelude to sleep; being over-tired I can never

slip into my dreams. The whole flight was through

and I was at YVR trying to get out of there and

driving home and having lunch with dad and

doing some free-reading before school started

again, lugging my hockey bag into the car again

the next morning. It was different feeling to be

there now, because now everyone knew who I was

in some sort of one-way intimacy. Class went on

just like before, a new unit here and there, and I

monitored its passing second by second, time

relentlessly, hour by hour, ending each class,

vanquishing the school day, pushing forward into

the next day, our lives being run clockwise. After

the day I was talking, gradually making my way to

the rink, walking to the parking lot, and Maisie

was waiting for someone in the horseshoe. She was

on a bench by herself, her phone in her hand,

anxious for a phone call or a text message, and I

sat with her, she smiled reservedly, knowingly of at

least some of what had happened during my

winter-break. I was just home, she said. Some

family was visiting from Ontario, so there were

people visiting or talking and stuff all the time.

I think we broke up.

Really? aww.


That’s coarse.

Ya it sucks.


You look very nice today. Texan girls don’t

dress so sharply. And they’re bodies aren’t as


What does that mean?

I’ll let you know when I’m sure what it

means. They don’t have legs like you do, for one

thing. Your very brave to be wearing shorts in this


So I heard about the hockey. I’m sorry.

It’s okay. At least we made the finals. I don’t



I don’t really want to go to practice today, it

will make me feel down to see everyone so

soon. I could use more time away from the ice.

Even if we had one, it’s never been like this were I

just play games all the freaking time.

Well we can hang out tomorrow if you

need to take your mind off things.

Okay. I better go to practice, the pain I

have to endure will be multiplied if I’m late.

Wouldn’t want that to happen.

Glad someone cares.


K see ya.


It was quite at first in the dressing room. Though

once everyone was there, it was hard to laugh and

smile like usual. When we got on the ice, the

coaches were a little somber. The head coach

wanted to watch this one from the stands, he was a

little emotional I guess. It was more of a skills

practice, fine-tuning some things we could have

used a bit more of during crunch time if you will,

a little more finish and a lot more grit and hustle. I

think once we got going, my energy levels were

good, though I couldn’t help the rising feeling of

why was this all worth it, why were we doing it,

and I continually fought my mind, resisting

impulses in my body that said to slow down or to

cut corners.

Practice felt like that for weeks. Then our regular

season became something worthwhile in itself,

keeping the streak alive something to get

motivated about. Despite the enormous time

commitments, the sport was starting to slide into

the background of my life. Practice was routine, it

was a well-thought out routine, but I didn’t have to

think about the routine anymore and even pregame

prep was a routine, and it was monotonous

and hard to get through when all the good rewards

lay well ahead yet in the future.

The next day at lunch I found Maisie though she

was heading off with some friends. Don’t come

with, we’ll get together later, she told me. And we

met up after school, past the soccer fields where

there’s a table, but I wanted to sit in the grass. We

talked a little bit about that day and then about

the last time we were together. Are we just friends

still? I said it quietly, and she said yes. Yes? That’s

what I say. So we can spend time together next

weekend and it’s not going to be awkward? Don’t

think so, unless you make it so. You are a little

strange. You mean like magical? Maybe but no

mostly just strange. Your making this up. You’ll

just have to find out by some means of your own.

So wait, you’re worried about your brother? Yes.

But you said everything seemed fine, except that

your step-mother has crazy yelling moments and

she doesn’t cook. Mhmm. Well everyone has a few

problems with their parents, right? Well, it’s not

just that. He doesn’t talk with her, and he wouldn’t

really open up with her, and I’m not sure if he’s

talking to anyone. I think I worry it might not be

good for his development if there’s no person to

support him in his life. He needs someone to talk

to you think? I guess you could put it that way, if

you must. Do you miss him? Yea. I’m sure

everything will be fine. He’s still really young. You

don’t want to expect too much from him. Well

maybe that’s the problem is I expect the world

from him. Or do I mean of him? Just go back in

the summer. Stay here with us. Well I think if I left

Iain, or someone somewhere… would have a

stroke. See, you can’t leave, even if you wanted to.

We talked a while longer, how well did we know

each other yet? Then it was around dusk, the days

held short by the winter. She had to go help her

mom with things, we got up from the grass, and

she started walking towards the horseshoe again.

Maisie, I called her name, and she came back. She

came in close as if we were going to hug but we

both went for the kiss. Then she ran off again,

over the fields. My car was in the other direction.

At lunches, sometimes I would sit with Ellis,

and we’d talk about our classes, and then when we

were finished eating we would walk around the

school, talking to whoever. Usually, we would find

Gary and Isaak, and got our bags from the

dungeon. I don’t think it had anything to do with

Harry Potter. There were lots of things written on

the wall in the dungeon, though. It was kind of

scary down there, and I preferred not going in

there alone, especially if we were to get stuck in

there. We always put our bags right in the corner,

so that no one messed with it, so that if someone

went in there, they would be unlikely to go

through our stuff. Hey Ellis, when is the bus


Another five minutes.

Are you going with us, or are you getting a

ride again?

I’m going to go with you this time.


The bus was already there, when we walked

into the horseshoe, lunch was almost over. The

girls were already on the bus, and they were

talking about their boyfriends, laughing, and being

rambunctious already. We sat on the curb for a


Think we’ll get on the ice early today?

Probably. Usually on thursdays the ice is

free beforehand. I’ve already taped my sticks too.

I haven’t but I’ll tape them quickly.

Sometimes I take fifteen minutes to tape untape

them, tape them, wax them. I want them to be

perfect. I think it is a bad habit from games,

because we have so much time before them. I’ll go

quickly today. We can probably scrimmage

beforehand, just us and Gary and Issak.

Mr. Hayes was doing a headcount on the

bus, so we got on, and it left for the rink. When we

got there, we went through the double doors, and

we were on the red rink again. Usually I would

visit the pro-shop, but I the ice was free and we

were going to skate right away today.

The ice time wasn’t very hard that day.

Isaak and Gary were really good skaters, they

didn’t score much though. If I didn’t pair up with

Spelling, then I would pair up with Ellis, and we

scored all the time. It was good for the confidence.

Some of the goalies weren’t so good, though Luca

was playing Jr. A, and Lee was always about as

good as he was. Lee, Issak and Gary all played on

the same midget team, along with Erick and Kyler,

Sometimes, Mr. Hayes brought his son to play

with us. That was probably why he went so easy

today. Afterwards, when Paul and I were driving to

BWC, and he was eating slices of pizza for energy,

and I was eating sandwiches, and then Iain had us

skating for another hour and a half, I was

appreciative of this.

I think you could see players improving

over the year. We were getting better at the dry

land too. Mostly at soccer. Those were probably

the most fun. Whenever we had breaks from drills,

we would be doing free-kicks. I always went top

corner, sometimes I hit it. The hacky-sack games

were still pretty difficult. I even practiced those at

home, so I wouldn’t embarrass myself. The drills

were tiring. We were always doing squats, lunges.

One foot on top of a bench, on platforms, sprints

and acceleration drills, crossovers and jumps. In

school, we all had classes together. I was the only

one that really participated, read literature. at least

in my year. They were all fairly smart, Vancouver

is a fairly intelligent place. When it wasn’t raining

it was a beautiful city, though it rained most of that

winter. Driving the streets everything was grey.

The mountains and the water still had some allure,

not yielding entirely their blues and greens. The

season kept going well, there wasn’t any other

team that was up to our level.


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