And The Fox Declared to the Hound…

Friday Afternoon, June 21st

Friday Afternoon, June 21st

They must think I don’t notice. They must think they’re so discreet. What a load of crap. They’re so blatantly obvious, they may as well be screaming it in my face. I think I’ve known this was coming. I think I’ve known for a while. When it started, I thought that maybe… if I tried hard enough… if I loved her enough… maybe we could pull through this. But it just wasn’t to be. There were too many distractions, too many other responsibilities. And there was him.

I look up from my musings and stare across the field at where my friends are playing street hockey—training in the off-season, I suppose. Now that our scholarships are secure, our team name safe, and our positions once again defined, everyone seems so much happier. Charlie has Linda, Luis has his cheerleader, Fulton and Dean have each other—what, surprised? Being a good hockey player means being observant. And I’d have to be truly blind to miss what those two have. I think… sometimes I envy them. Sometimes that worries me.

Julie has Scooter, or she would if she’d let him get that close, Russ has his attitude, Averman, Goldberg, and Kenny have their practical jokes, and Dwayne… Dwayne has Connie. My Connie. Even now, when they know that I’m watching… It’s all in the way that they look at each other. The way that her gaze lingers on him when he laughs… the way it used to linger on me. The way that his eyes roam all over her when he thinks she isn’t looking. The way that they seem so reluctant to let go after they collide during a particularly rough play. It tears at my heart, to see all those little things—things that used to be our things—now happening between them. It hurts.

I pull my knees a little tighter to my chest and rest my chin on them. She doesn’t even try to hide her disdain for me anymore. Whenever I try to impress her, she just gives me this look… a look that makes me feel like I’m about three inches tall. Whenever I try to be nice to her—buy her chocolates, a few roses, anything to try to make her smile at me—she accepts it like it’s a chore, as if it’s something that she’s required to do, as opposed to something that she wants to do. I’m about ready to stop trying. It hurts too much, being spurned and scorned at every possible opportunity. I don’t think I can take much more of it.

But what else can I do? For as long as I can remember, it’s always been ConnnieandGuy—an inseparable whole. Like Siamese twins, we went everywhere together, did everything together. Believe it or not, the idea to join a hockey team was originally hers, too. I don’t think I have a single original thought in my head. All of my likes and dislikes were originally hers, I just had the privilege of sharing them for a short while. The only original ideas I ever did have… well, even I have to admit they weren’t too bright. That incident with the Zamboni in LA, for example. Boy did I get chewed out for that one.

I think… I don’t know how to be “Guy Germaine”. I hear the name often enough during hockey games, but in my head it’s always been “ConnieandGuy”. And now… now I have to figure out how to be just “Guy”… and the thought scares me beyond reason. How do normal people function like this? How do they go from day to day hearing their name called by itself, not in conjunction with someone else’s? And more importantly, how will I survive when I start hearing the others say “ConnieandDwayne” the way they used to say “ConnieandGuy”?

Almost as if he senses my thoughts, Charlie calls a time out to take a breather and skates over to where I’m sitting alone on the sidelines. He drops down next to me and takes a slug of water from his bottle. He smiles energetically at me, “What’re you sitting over here for, Guy? Why don’t you come and join us?”

It’s starting already. My name sounds so small all by itself… From somewhere, I dig up a smile and paste it onto my face, “I’m just not in the mood to play today, Charlie. Sorry, man.”

Damn Charlie for being one of the other observant ones. He frowns slightly and lets his hand come to rest on my shoulder, “You OK, man? You’ve seemed kinda down lately. That’s not like you…”

Am I OK? No, I’m not OK. What kind of stupid question is that? That’s what I want to say, but that isn’t what comes out, “I’m fine, Charlie. Why don’t you go bother Banks? He’s not playing, either.”

Charlie’s not convinced, I can see that. But he also won’t press. He’ll leave me alone because that’s what I asked him to do. Hey, I said he was observant, I never said he was Sigmund Freud. But when he gets up, he just wanders back over to the game. He doesn’t go talk to our resident Gretsky. Then again, I’m not really all that surprised. They may have been best friends in the past, but this year really took its toll on Banks and Charlie’s friendship. I’m not entirely sure it will ever recover—especially not now that Charlie has someone else to spend his after-practice hours with.

I’m so deep in my musings that I almost don’t notice when Banks drops himself down next to me with a quiet, “Hey.” He sets his book-bag down on the grass and settles onto the ground beside it. Truthfully, I’m a little surprised. Banks and I have never been particularly close. We don’t talk. We don’t hang out. But I don’t really hang out with any of them. “ConnieandGuy” hung out with the Ducks… But Guy… he’s not sure how to interact with them by himself… I almost miss his next quiet words, “So, why aren’t you playing?”

Well, the surprises are never ending today. I shrug, keeping that smile pasted on my face, “Not in the mood, I guess.”

Banks isn’t buying it. I can see that already. Damn it. Not only is he observant, but he’s smart, too. He isn’t going to leave me alone until I’ve satisfied his curiosity. He tries again, “You feeling OK?”

I unwrap my arms from where they’re clasped around my knees and let myself fall back into the sun-warmed grass. I don’t really want to talk about this, and I certainly don’t want to talk to him about this. I close my eyes, roll over onto my side with my back facing my team-mate, and do my damndest to fall asleep. Maybe I’ll get lucky and he’ll get bored and leave.

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