Status: In Progress

The Icy Lens

Color Burn

The burn of their loss in game six had hit everyone, including herself. It felt all too surreal watching the handshakes as the Flyers won the series. In what seemed like a blur, it was already the last day for business. In the morning there would be player evaluations, then the press conferences, and locker room clean-out.

As Abby proceeded to the locker room with the rest of the press she held her breath, trying to remain profession during the media blitz. This was not what she wanted to do, but it was her job. She had to document the looks on their faces, the pain in their eyes, the disappointment. It was particularly painful watching James be interviewed, so much that she actually had to walk away and focus on Sid and Geno for a while. This was not what anyone expected, this was not how it was supposed to end.

She left the locker room, finishing the last of her work silently in her office before attending the last official staff meeting. The front office explained that she was off now, and they would let her know when she would need to cover events in the off-season. It was time for everyone to go on an early vacation.

Abby was waiting for Matt to drive her home when Geno came out of the room, dragging his bag and sticks. "Abby no frowns, Too pretty for that" he said while setting down his gear and giving her a hug. "Oh Geno, you're too sweet," she said giving him a cute kiss on the cheek. "I'll see you at NHL Awards," he asked her while stepping away and picking up his gear. "Yes, as long as they want me to go," she said. "You take care of Lazy," he whispered, "He needs happy too." She smiled softly and said, "I will, don't worry. Good luck in the tournament." He grinned and explained that he was ready to play again and looking forward to representing his country. She had a few more goodbye moments with the other players and eventually she saw her best friend walk through the doors.

"Hey," Abby said, "Need any help?" He shook his head and responded coldly, "No. I don't need your help." She bit her lip and started to follow him until he stopped dead in his tracks. “Plans have changed. Neal can take you home, I have a doctor eval in an hour.” She stood there confused and said, “Oh, Ok. Well will I see you later?” He wouldn’t face her as he said, “I don’t know. Maybe.” She could take the hint. He didn’t want her to be around, so she backed off as he disappeared down the hall.

"Don't mind him," James said from behind while putting his hand on her shoulder. She tried to smile as she turned her head to look at him, “I know, I’ll just let him be.” They walked down the hall to the elevator for the garage, and it only took a few minutes for him to load everything into his car.

“Why don’t you stay over tonight,” he said as he turned over the engine, “We’ll have dinner and just watch a movie or something.” She smiled and said, “I would love that, a date night in.” She put her hand on his leg as he drove and said, “Though I don’t have any clothes packed again” He smirked and said, “I don’t know, you have a pretty large selection scattered around my house. I’m sure you could find something there.” She laughed and said, “I don’t know, we’ll see. Maybe I’ll just sneak another one of your shirts.”


They ate a quick dinner at his house, and then sat in the living room at the end of the long day. He poured them each a glass of red wine, and they sat on the couch to relax. They couldn’t find a movie worth watching on Netflix, so they decided to just sit and talk. She carefully avoided any talk of work or hockey, and instead asked him how his family was doing. He seemed to lighten up when he started to talk about them, especially his little sister Rebecca.

“So my gallery opening is this weekend,” she said to him after taking a sip from her wine, “Do you want to go now?” He looked at her sharply and said, “You mean I can go now that we lost.” She bit down on the inside of her cheek, “No I just thought, you might want to come, you said you wanted to before.” She smiled and said, “Besides you can finally meet my mom.” He set his drink down and said, “So she can find out what I loser I am.” Abby shifted her head to the side and said, “No, She doesn’t think that. And I certainly don’t think that either.”

“No Abby, they’re right, they’re all right,” he said like a bomb exploding, “I am a loser.” She shook her head profusely and grabbed his hand saying, “No you’re not.” He ripped his hand away, surprising her. James had snapped. “I am a loser,” he yelled, “I let down my team, I got suspended, and then couldn’t perform when I needed to in the last game.” She sat there silently as he ranted for a good five minutes, unable to get a word in edgewise as he beat himself up over the loss. “So no, I don’t want to go to your stupid fundraiser back home.”

“It’s not stupid, it's for charity” she said while trying to keep her eyes from glassing over, “you know how important this is to me.” His words cut like a knife as he said, “Yes, and The Cup is important to me. But I can’t have that now can I?” Her heart rate increased and her temper began to boil, “So because you don’t have a shot at the cup, you’re trying to ruin this for me so I can be miserable too? You know I would do anything for you, but I will not be your whipping post.”

“That’s not what I meant,” he said tensing up, “And I am not taking this out on you. I just don’t want to go.” He looked at her and said, “I don’t want to see those hockey photos. Did you think of that? Do you think I really want to go out in public where everyone will ask me what went wrong?”

Her lip quivered, and her she exhaled slowly. “Please tell me, where did you go wrong,” she said while starting to cry, “Oh wait, it was when you pissed off the one person who was going to stick around and get you through this.” He moved away from her on the couch and said, "What do you really think I can't deal with this myself? I'm a grown man Abby, I don't need you to get over the playoff loss."

And with that she stood up and said, “Well If you don’t need me, then I’m leaving.” He refused to look at her; instead he waved her off and said while walking into the kitchen, “Fine, Go Home. I’d rather be alone anyway than deal with you right now.” She nearly choked on her tears while she stood there stone faced. She removed the bracelet he gave her and set it on the table quietly before walking out of the room, and leaving his house. She ran, ran so fast back down the street and quickly closed the door to Matt’s house behind her.

Her breathing was heavy as she stood there for a moment, trying to hold herself together. Abby wiped her eyes; trying to tell herself it was just him blowing up from the loss. But it hurt, it hurt badly. After everything he said now he didn’t need her, that he would rather be alone.

“What are you doing home,” Matt asked. “James and I just got into a fight,” she said while walking into the living room where the scent of whiskey was in the air. He rolled his eyes and said, “Oh Jesus, about what?” She shrugged and said, “I don’t want to talk about it right now. I think I’m just going to go to my room.” He got up from the couch and was obviously drunk as he said in a sympathetic tone, “No, No, you can tell me.” She briefly explained the fight, and his first reaction was to say, “So he doesn’t want to go. I don’t blame him, You know how bad people are ripping him up in the press. The last thing he would want to do is stand around and be reminded of this.”

“If he didn’t want to go, he could have just said that,” she said becoming more irritated. "I have one event a year, I just wanted him to share something that was special to me" she said. “I think you’re being selfish,” he said, “We just got knocked out by the Flyers, the Flyers Abby. Why can’t you just understand what we are feeling right now?” She stepped away from him and said, “Excuse me?” He looked at her and said, “You have no idea what it’s like to lose.”

"I know what its like to lose,” she said, “Between you being a drunken idiot and him yelling at me, Oh believe me I know.” She stared at him and reminded, "Remember I know what it's like to really lose. I lost My Dad, now that is a loss, not a stupid game."

He growled slightly and said, “I’m not drunk, And it's not a stupid game, You just don't understand." She shook her head and said, "Yes you are drunk. And so what if you lost, there's next season. Really does it matter that much more than hurting your best friend's feelings?"
He was getting visibly more irritated as he said, "It's my house. I can drink if I want to, I can be pissed off if I want to, and I can say what I want to. If you don't like it then get out." She made a fist and slammed it into the wall, letting it all out, making tiny cracks in the plaster. “Fine. Apparently nobody wants me around. Let me guess you don’t need me either? Well Fuck you, and Fuck James.”

She turned on her heel and left the room. As she headed down the hallway she heard him yell, “Fine, Well fuck you too Abby!” She slammed the door to her bedroom, leaning her body against the door. She stood there for a moment before sliding down to the floor, letting all her emotions erupt. The tears fell and she began to hyperventilate. The two people she cared about most, the two people she thought would never hurt her had turned into monsters all over their season ending early.

“It’s not fair,” she whispered while trying to dry her eyes. Her knuckles began to ache from the punch, reminding her that this really was happening. She was finally happy, she had a wonderful boyfriend, her best friend, and was finally pulling herself back together. She learned to love again, and now that she opened herself up she was hurt. The worst part was that it was all over some game. Maybe she didn’t understand exactly how they felt, but she did understand one thing. She needed to get away before her heart ended up with anymore damage.

Within an hour Abby packed up a bag with a weeks' worth of clothing and gathered her photographs for the show. Once she was finished, she sat down at her desk and wrote out an emotional note to both Matt and James.

//You were the two men in my life that promised to never hurt me; and you both broke that promise tonight. I spent all night trying to make excuses for your behaviors, but then I realized I shouldn’t have to. It shouldn’t have ever happened. I just wanted to be there for both of you, the way that you were there for me. But instead I was told to leave you alone and that I wasn’t needed.

I was your best friend Matt, and James I was your lover – but I am not your scapegoat. I can only hope that you both come to your senses soon. I don’t want to lose either of you, but I am so angry and hurt right now that I couldn’t stay. By the time you read this I’ll be on the road for home to spend time with my mom and prepare for my gallery opening. For now I need time alone to cool down and think things over. I’ll be back in a few days, and if you both want we can talk then. Please take care of yourselves.//

She folded the note and stuck it to the outside of her door once she heard Matt sleeping in the next room. Abby quietly grabbed her bags and went to her car, hoping that she could sneak out without waking him. She loaded up her iPod, GPS, and started out on the road for home. Her real home back in Minnesota. She was upset and nervous about walking away, but something in her heart told her she needed to do this. They wanted their space, so she was going to give it to them. She would come back, and when she did, she hoped that things would go back to the way they were before.