IS THIS THE END OR ONLY JUST THE BEGINNING?
Going back to a couple of days ago, knowing that I would be alone while I was in Vancouver playing game seven, I offered to pay Rhea’s way, but she flat out refused, saying that she had to stay behind and look after Ari. Yeah, okay so that may have been a bust, and there have been many other times where she and I would hardly ever get see each other since she now lives in Atlanta, and the Hawks only had one meeting with the Thrashers this season. Although we did get a chance together during the All-Star weekend but it came at the cost of almost getting caught by all four of them. It was so close, but it did feel so good.
Being apart this time I stupidly thought it would be no different, that a few days couldn’t kill me being without her because what’s a few days right? Apparently I was wrong, because now that I’m back in Chicago after a disappointing game seven, I’m finding I need her more than ever as I keep waiting by the phone day and night and to top it with a cherry on top, Dawn is still not home yet from visiting her family out on Bowen Island.
I’m feeling that this time after Rhea and mine’s secret ‘rendezvous’ it has been almost intolerable. It’s only been about three days and it’s been painstakingly continued to kill me. From simply having a shower to having to go to bed alone has been damn near deadly. And when that urge would normally begin to plague me that is when Dawn would come in. She was always there to almost completely fill that ache I would be yearning for. So now that I am wishing for Dawn to come in through the door and help me be rid of these filthy thoughts I am having of Rhea, I am then again down on a deeper level wishing that it could be Rhea coming through my door instead because Dawn is not home.
Rhea has become my drug that I just cannot kick to the curb and quit cold turkey. I’ve been calling, leaving her voicemails, and sending her text messages but she hasn’t replied to any. It’s not like her to deny me. And I know I shouldn’t be feeling this way but I just can’t help it.
I need her and I need her now.
Now that the Hawks are back home from Vancouver after fighting for that seventh game in the series, only to lose it in overtime, I begin to walk on pins and needles about Brent coming back but mostly about the fact that Dawn is still not back from her trip either. It’s only been a day since he’s been home and he’s already called me numerous times, leaving me message after message. I know exactly what he wants, but I don’t know if I can keep doing this, even as much I want to deny it, I like being with him. He knows exactly what I like, right where I like it, and how hard I like it but at the end of the day, I do love Andrew. It’s terrible I have to keep telling myself that but I do love Andrew.
I take a look down at my ring finger of my left hand at the sparkling two carat round cut diamond ring with pear-shaped side stones from Tiffany’s. I drift off reflecting on the fact that I’m newly engaged to one man and yet I’m sleeping with another who’s one of my fiancée’s best friends no less. Now how much more sinister can I be even though I never imagined myself ever being in this kind of situation. I just don’t know how I could let something like this get so far. I remember that I did like Brent before Andrew got the nerve to ask me out, back when they used to play together for the Pacific Vipers in junior but now Andrew and I are starting a new life together. We just got engaged -which I never told Brent about- and Andrew and I just bought a place in Atlanta. Although our future in Atlanta is up in the air because the future of the team is on rocky ground, we didn’t care. Both the city of Atlanta and our home are both beautiful and we decided that this will be the place we will want to reside in the off-season if the Thrashers do end up getting sold and moved off to another city. We want this place to be our home, a home for the family we are planning to have. Now no matter how many times I keep telling myself all of this, and as much as I force myself to want to make it true, I keep painting Brent’s face onto Andrew’s.
As I try to shake that thought out of my head now while I try to gather my uncontrollable thoughts in attempt to throw them aside, I try to convince myself that I don’t love him and that Andrew is the love of my life, but the more I fight it the more of a basket-case I’m becoming. Pacing around my sister and brother-in-law’s kitchen with my blackberry in hand, anxious, anticipating them to come back any minute now. I’m sure the walk probably would have done me some good, but definitely not at the cost of Becca figuring out mine and Brent’s dirty little secret. Besides it almost happened already once, back during this last All-Star weekend. We all, Andrew and I, Becca and Troy, and Brent and Dawn, all decided to get together and meet up for a weekend vacation in Cabo San Lucas. It was a great trip but almost could have had a terrible end, with our best friends and my sister almost catching him and I red handed. It was just too damn close and I’m sure that should have been my second clue…
Feeling terrible as I drift back off again thinking back through the past couple years when I have lied and manipulated, sneaking around behind Andrew’s back, cheating on him with his best friend. I guess I just never felt guilty enough that I wanted to stop, even after a pregnancy scare last summer after the Hawks won the cup. After taking a pregnancy test on the morning of the day Andrew had the cup for a day, it came out positive and that scared the shit out of me. And at the time my only question was whose baby was it?
The very next morning Andrew found my positive pregnancy test in the bin and asked me why I never told him. All I could come up with was ‘I was going to see a doctor today to be sure that I’m pregnant for sure. You know these home pregnancy tests, aren’t that reliable.’ and I did. With a slight bit of hope that the home pregnancy test could have been wrong and the doctor would tell me I wasn’t pregnant, she comes back into the room where I waited and gave me confirmation that I was indeed pregnant and that I was about four weeks along. I still did not know who the father was and I knew very well that I couldn’t ask either Andrew or Brent for DNA to prove who the father is. I guess I would rather let Andrew believe that he was the father and not let Brent know that I was even pregnant at all. So when I got home and Andrew pulled me aside to have me give him an answer, I did my best to muster any kind of emotion but I couldn’t say the same for Andrew. He wanted to shout it from the rooftops but I managed to convince him that we should wait until I was a bit further along.
I do remember realizing back then that my pregnancy should have been my clue then to end my secret relationship with Brent completely and from then I never did go and see him for the next four weeks of our summer except for the one time when we all left to the YVR airport together. That’s when Brent took his chance and pulled me back to ask if I really was pregnant and if he was the father. Feeling a slight pang of surprise, I never did give him an answer since I just walked away from his acknowledgement. I know I shouldn’t have been surprised that Brent’s caught wind of the baby since Andrew was so hell-bent on having one last guy night before we had to part ways. But ever since Brent found out about the baby, he hasn’t stopped pestering me about it.
After about another six weeks and it's now the night of the first preseason game for the Thrashers, Brent still hasn’t yet given up and we had a very heated conversation that same evening. That was when I started to experience cramping that caused me to double over. I knew something wasn’t right and I went to find Andrew but as soon as I found him I found that I started to bleed. Andrew then rushed me to the hospital but by then I lost the baby. We were both devastated about our loss and the only way I saw Andrew was coping with it was talking about buying a house and the hope for us to try to start a family again. Although our first baby wasn’t something we were planning and that our baby could have very possibly not have been his at all.
My phone ringing in my hand, interrupting my reflection back on my recent track record I see that, speak of the devil, Brent is calling, again. After ignoring his last call, as I try my damnedest not to reply to any of Brent’s eleven voicemails and fifty-three text messages all from just this afternoon, as weak as I am I cave. Thinking I had a little bit of time to spare before my sister, Troy and Ari arrive back home, I quickly dial his number. Once I hear that Brent has picked up his end of the line and about to say ‘hello’, I hear Ari barking from behind the other side of the front door as the deadbolt is turning in the lock. Shit. Shocked into panic mode I happen to bolt right into the end of the granite countertop, but I do somehow manage to quickly make my way around the dining table and make a beeline to the patio door and out on the porch without any further injury.
With Ari shooting in through the kitchen straight to the patio door, excitedly barking on the opposite side of the glass of where I’m standing, Becca and Troy follow in soon behind. Seeing Troy go straight to the fridge to grab a bottle of water, not noticing me at all, and Becca coming towards the patio door to Ari, noticing me, I mouth ‘Andrew’, as I point up to my phone. Getting the clue, she leaves with Ari to the living room where Troy has already situated himself, leaving me alone giving me a little bit of privacy. Feeling another pang of guilt as I continue to lie, I cautiously begin my conversation with Brent.
“Hey.” I whisper looking over towards the living room, making sure they can’t hear me as I see the three of them in the living room, all on the couch in front of the TV.
“Hey, I was beginning to wonder if you were even there. What’s been going on with you, baby? You haven’t answered back to any of my calls or text messages.”
“Yeah, about that. That’s the reason why I’m calling.”
“Yeah, so, what’s up sugar pop?”
“I don’t think I can do this anymore.” I just blurt out rather bluntly.
“Hun, what do you mean?”
“I mean, I can’t do this… anymore; us.”
“What’s the problem? We’ve got a good thing going baby. Nobody knows.”
“What’s the prob-” I gasp louder than I’d like and I swivelled myself around so that my back is now facing the door. “The problem is that we’re playing with fire. We almost got caught that last time you couldn’t contain yourself.
Besides…” I slowly start to trail off as I can barely make myself say the words.
“Besides…’ what?” he mocks me, “I didn’t see you stopping me or you trying to restrain yourself for that matter. For all I knew you wanted it just as bad as I did.”
“Fuck you Seabs!”
“You already did sugar plum, numerous times in fact.
“You’re a pig.”
“Well, you sure weren’t complainin’ about this slice of bacon.”
"Fuck." I whisper into the receiver, “Don’t do this to me.”
“You know what.” I retort quite weakly.
“No I don’t.” he answers now more like a cheeky child still deliberately trying to wind me up, to get me to retort back again, but I remain silent.
“Oh, come on!” he pleads, “You know you want it!” he continues as I can pretty well picture him pulling his puppy dog face, although I can’t see it. “I need it, baby.” He finally whispers into the receiver. “Just tell them that you want to take the Ninja out for a ride. Just tell them its bloody well time they let you ride again.” He demands with some agitation in his voice, “I’ll meet you at the Navy Pier Park in an hour.”
“You’re an asshole.” Was all I could say.
“You know you love it. See you in a while.”
“Yeah...” I answer this time with no emotion.
“I love you too.” He adds in, in a tone quite sincere, and without another word he hangs up the phone.
In two years we’ve been sneaking around he has not once said the L word to me before. Feeling something new and exciting that I want to explore about Brent, I hang up my phone and make my way back inside. What the hell am I doing?
“Hey!” I walk back into the house, “Boy, you guys are home quick! Did you all have a good walk?” trying to act as natural as possible as I walk back in but I can tell that Becca can see right through me as she gets up and heads towards me. –Being my twin, I guess it shouldn’t surprise me anymore at how well she knows me –
“Yeah, it was good. It rained a bit, but it was good to get out for a bit though.” Troy nonchalantly answered from over his shoulder while Becca stood up and made her way toward me. Knowing she has something to tell me, I move into the kitchen so we could have a little more buffer between us and Troy.
“So how’s Andrew doing?” Becca asks, raising an eyebrow.
“He’s doing good, still working on the house you know, trying to keep his mind off the future of the Thrashers.”
“So by the sounds of it, you two are still going to keep the house even if the Thrashers get sold?”
“Yes we are. And besides it’s a great house, and Atlanta is a beautiful city. Andrew and I both love it, and that’s where we want to live either way.”
“So by the sounds of it, you guys have already talked about this.”
“Yeah we have.” We both pause and look at each other, “That’s what couples do when they want to spend the rest of their lives with each other right. Buy houses and make those all hard decisions.”
“Yeah…” She agrees, “That’s what people who love each other do.”
“Hey sis, speaking of those who love each other and what they do for the other,” I try to ask in my sweetest voice possible, “Do you still have your Ninja?”
“Yes I do. It’s in the garage, but are you sure you want to…”
“Yes.” I just cut her off, “It’s been six years, Becca. I think I’ll fine to ride again.”
“Rhea I know that you’ll be fine too but you also have to understand what kind of hell you put us all through.” She reminds me yet again of our last dirt bike race tournament we had the summer before we started college.
“And you don’t think I understand that!” I snap, “You, Mom, Dad, our brothers, Andrew and Troy all never let me forget! I have been taking lessons with…” I pause realizing who I was talking to and I began to cover my tracks again, “I’ve been just taking a few lessons over the last couple years.”
“Oh…” she answered quiet and shocked. “I guess we all have been a bit harsh on you…”
“You guess?” I give her smile and a light shove to her shoulder.
“Geez, okay, a lot harsh; but we all just love you, that’s all.”
“I know.” I give her a tight hug, “So, how about that ninja?”
“The keys are hanging on the key rack and my stuff is in the closet at the back of the garage.”
“Thanks, Becca you’re the best sister I ever had.”
“I am the only sister you ever have!”
“Yeah, that’s right! And I’m the only sister you have!”
“Rhea just go before I change my mind.”
“Thanks” I whisper back as I make my way to the garage.
Reaching up, grabbing the keys as I walk through the door to the garage, I walk to the closet for a helmet, a pair of gloves and a jacket. With the feeling of butterflies beginning to fill my stomach as I pull off the cover from the bike, walk it out of the garage, then put my sister’s gear on –thank God we’re both the same size!- and I situate myself onto the bike, inserting the key and turning over the engine, images of the crash rushed through my mind. I have ridden a bike since then and nothing is going to happen, was my last thought before I leave the drive way.
I ride down a few empty residential Chicago streets trying to past some time before driving my way out to meet Brent. I am now coming up to one of the last lights before reaching the Navy Pier, turning left on North Columbus to E Illinois and my light is green. Out of nowhere as I’m in the middle of making my left turn to the Navy Pier I hear something like a loud muffled gunshot then everything goes black. What happened?
Waiting down by the Farris wheel I suddenly hear ambulance and police sirens roaring and they sounded as though they were coming in this direction. Looking around me I notice there is no one in distress so I decided to walk up the street up E Illinois street and I see flashing red lights a few blocks up. Feeling a heavy weight suddenly hitting the pit of my stomach, I began to make my way up the street and as I got closer seeing the red flashing lights and emergency vehicles surrounding the block closer then what it had appeared, something inside of me told me I should run. As I get closer I first noticed a green damaged motorcycle outside the ring of emergency vehicles then I see a pair of paramedics working on someone who must have been the rider of the bike.
Oh dear God, please don’t let it be her.