Status: In Progress

The Icy Lens

High Contrast

Abby laid on her bed staring up at the ceiling, her mind wandering back to the conversation she had with Matt the night he came in.

-- Matt looked at her and said, "Have you heard from Neal?" She shook her head and said, "No, not a word." He frowned and said, "I sent him a text explaining why you left town, but I haven't heard back from him either." Abby turned away and said, "Do you think maybe it's over?" He shook his head and said, "No Abby, He loves you too much for one argument to kill your relationship." She dropped her head into her hands and said, "Matt is it my fault? Maybe I shouldn't have left." He sat down beside her on her bed and said, "Abby we were the ones who hurt you, it's not your fault." He wrapped his arm around her and said, "He's probably just waiting for you to cool off or something. Do you want me to call him?" She shook her head and said, "No, this is between me and him. I'll just wait and see what happens when I go back to Pittsburgh." He gave her a hug and said, "Abby, Don't worry. Things will work out." --

But she was worried. It had been almost three days, and there were still no messages or calls from James. She had no idea if he was still mad at her, if he was just giving her space like Matt insisted, or if it really was over. She was so angry and upset again. If he loved her than why hadn't he called to apologize? Or at least made an effort to try and talk to her. There was nothing, just silence.

Her mom walked in and said, “You’re going to wrinkle your new dress Abigale.” She sat up and smoothed out the teal halter dress and said, “It’s still fine mom.” Her mother sat beside her and brushed her hair, like how she did when she was little. “You know Matthew’s waiting for you,” she said. “I know Mom, I just wish he was here.” Her mother finished brushing, and placed a black headband in her hair before kissing her on the head. “I’m sure things will patch up when you get home honey,” she said with a smile. She sighed and said, "That's what everyone keeps saying, but right now I'm not so sure." Her mother stood up and said, “Well you can worry about that later, you should get going.” Abby nodded and slipped on her heels before following her mother back downstairs.

“You look great Abs, Are you ready to go” Matt asked while loosening his tie slightly. "You don't look so bad yourself in that monkey suit," She teased. Her mother smiled giving her one last hug while saying, “You two be careful, I’ll see you in an hour with the Niskanen’s.” As the door closed she said, “I’m glad you came.” He laughed and said, “I’m just glad you forgave me.” She punched him slightly in the arm right before getting into the car and said, “Yeah you should be happy that either of our moms didn’t kill you!”

They may have been in their mid twenties, but their parents still got to them. And while Matt’s mom was nice, she was also the one who laid out discipline when they were growing up. He got into the drivers side and said, “Believe me, When my mom called to talk I was shaking in my boots.” He laughed and said, “Remember the time you came home with a black eye because I accidentally hit you with my stick? I was grounded for a month!” She laughed and said, “I remember your dad suggested I get you back with a black eye to make it even, the look your mom gave him was priceless!” Matt pulled onto the main road and said, “Yeah, but after that you started punching me when you got pissed off.” She shrugged and said, “Hey, someone had to keep you in line when your mom wasn’t around.”

It didn’t take long to get downtown, and as they approached the gallery she could see the marquee sign lit up with the words “An Icy Lens, By Abigale Marie Matthews.” Matt put his arm on her shoulder and said, “Uh oh, they put up your full name.” Abby shrugged and said, “I know, but Mom insisted.” She smiled as she walked inside and prepared herself for the opening in an hour. The photos displayed were from games and practices, but also of behind the scenes action in the equipment room, on the plane, and even the pranks. She made sure ever photo and caption were in the right spot, and triple checked to make sure all the frames were correctly aligned. Luckily enough she was able to get some of the players to sign the photos in the hopes that it would increase the bids. She just hoped that the proceeds from the silent auction later that night would bring in enough money to help the new children's wing at the hospital her mother worked at. Matt handed her a glass of champagne and said, “It looks fine Abby, In fact it’s perfect.”

The doors opened promptly at seven, and it didn’t take long for the locals to filter in and begin viewing her exhibit. There was a steady stream of visitors that came in and out, but she never expected what happened next. Abby had just finished answering a few questions when she heard familiar voices. “I didn’t realize my hair looked that bad,” said a voice from behind. “Of coarse it is when you compare it to mine.”

“Kris, Jordan?” she said as she turned around in surprise, “What are you doing here?” Jordan gave her a hug and said, “Well what else would we be doing?” Kris shot him a look and said, “I think he means that we wouldn’t have missed this.” Abby was about to thank them when Matt walked over Pascal, Sid, and Marc-Andre. “I guess now I don’t have a bad side,” Pascal teased while giving her a hug, “but Sid really needs to work on his face off look, he looks constipated.” Sid shook his head and laughed, “Yeah well I think she caught a few grey hairs in your beard old man.” As the teasing and laughter erupted, it was like a Penguins family reunion. She was so happy that they had come, and enjoyed visiting with them even though the locals occasionally harassed them.

She excused herself from the group and went to the back for a cocktail. When no one was looking gave it a quick chug to calm her nerves before getting yet another refill. “Someone's Thirsty.” Her heart stopped when she heard that voice. As his hand touched her shoulder she had to hold back her excitement. He was there holding a bouquet of daises. She was so mad, did he think he could just walk in there and sweep her off her feet? No, it wasn’t going to be that easy. Not after what he said and did. “Excuse me,” she said setting down her glass and walking back to the bathroom. She couldn’t look at him, not now. As she turned the corner he followed her quickly as they moved out of the sight of the crowd. “Hey, wait,” he said while standing in front of her path, wearing an all black suite and purple tie, “Don’t walk away from me.”

With a quick flick or her wrist, Abby instinctively slapped him on the cheek, causing him to drop the flowers from his hand onto the floor. “I see, so now you don’t want me to walk away,” she said in an annoyed tone. He winced and rubbed the side of his face for a moment while saying “Ouch….Ok, I deserved that.” She began to rub her stinging palm saying, “Yes you did. You were a total asshole, then you didn’t call or even try to apologize! And now you just show up.” He picked up the flowers and said with a frown, “I know you’re still mad, but I didn’t want to just apologize on the phone. I had to fly up here and do it myself. Please just give me a minute.” She put her hands on her hips and said, “I’m listening.”

“I shouldn't have yelled at you, or said those things that night. You were right, I was taking it out on you, and it was unfair. I was just so angry and frustrated. After you left I drank that entire bottle of wine, and then I woke up hungover and found out that you were gone. It's been horrible without you for the past few days. I couldn't sleep, I couldn't do anything without thinking about how badly I screwed things up. Hell, I debated for a day how to even apologize to you.” He stared at her with those dusty blue eyes and said, “Abby I love you. I’ve loved you for such a long time. I know I don’t deserve it, but all I’m asking it that you accept my apology and consider giving me another chance.”

As he bent down on one knee he took her hand and said “Please Abby, I'm so sorry. I'll do anything, I don't want to lose you, I can't lose you. Come on, I’m begging you, please forgive me.” Her eyes began to water and she just stood there unable to speak. She wasn’t crying because she was upset, she was crying because she knew he was genuinely sorry. James didn’t want to lose her, he really did love her. She could see the fear in his eyes, the sound of desperation in his voice. “Abby please don’t cry, I don’t want to make you cry again,” he said becoming visibly upset as he dropped his head, “I’ll go if you want me to. Just say the word.”

She instantly tugged on his hand and said, “No, don’t go, stay. Get up, I want you to stay.” He stood back up and Abby slowly stepped into him, wrapping her arms around him for the first time in what felt like an eternity. She felts his muscles loosed, and he leaned down and kissed her on the lips while grasping her body tightly. He pulled away slightly, but only to whisper in her ear, "I love you. God you're too good for me." She shook her head and said, "No I'm not too good for you. Now just shut up and kiss me again." He flashed that boyish grin that she loved so much, and dropped his head to give her another kiss.

After a moment she stepped away and said, “I need to go back out there, I’ve been gone too long. Are you coming?” He grinned and said, “Of coarse I am, but you’re missing something.” He pulled her bracelet out of his jacket pocket, and placed it back on her right wrist where it belonged. She smiled softly, and walked back out into the room, that time holding his hand and the flowers he brought her. She noticed Matt smiling, so she winked at him before taking James straight over to meet her mother.


Abby sat in the small kitchen with a cup of tea in her hands and said, “Thanks for the tea mom.” She smiled and said, “You’re welcome Honey, but the cookies better be finished up by the time I wake up tomorrow boys.” Matt smiled and said, “Don’t worry Mrs. Matthews, they’ll be gone.” Her mother brushed away her grey hair saying, “I’m going to bed now, it was nice meeting you finally James.” He smiled back and said, “It was nice to meet you too.” She kissed Abby goodnight and told her breakfast would be at nine so they could eat before her trip back to Pittsburgh.

Once she went upstairs, she set her cup on the table and reached for another homemade cookie. “God I missed your mom’s baked goods,” Matt said in between chewing, “She should mail these to us.” James smiled and said, “Yeah, or you should get the recipe and bake us some every week.” Abby shook her head saying, “If I baked every week you two would never fit in your Jerseys!” Matt grabbed a napkin and placed a handful off cookies inside to take back over to his parent’s house, “Yeah, but we have a few months before we have to be back in shape.”

“Hey I’m going to stick around town here for another week to visit,” he mentioned, “But you two have a safe trip back to the ‘burgh tomorrow.” Abby gave him a hug and told him goodnight as he opened the back door and walked through the hedges to his parents house, just like when they were younger. “You want to go to bed?” She asked James while cleaning up the kitchen. “Sure, Should I sleep on the couch?”

Abby shook her head, and took his hand as walked him up the back stairs to her room before heading to the bathroom to clean up and change. She removed all her makeup, hung up her dress, and slid into and old nightgown t-shirt before going back down the hall. As Abby walked back inside her room, he was looking at her bulletin board. “Uh oh, looking at all my embarrassing pictures?” she joked from behind him. “They aren’t embarrassing at all,” he said, “Though I never knew you were an NSYNC fan.” She looked at him and said, “Hey, back then Chris Kirpatrick was a badass.”

“I don’t know, you look pretty badass in some of these hockey photos.” She smiled and said, “Yeah I think people were more scared of me than Matt.” He pointed to her senior prom photo and said, “An orange dress for prom?” She laughed and said, “Hey it matched my blonde hair with orange tips.” He smirked and said; “I never pictured you as a blonde.” Abby took a seat on her bed and said, “Yeah my mom nearly killed me for bleaching my red hair. What can I say, I was a rebel.” He smirked and said, “Why am I not surprised.”

She flopped back on the double bed onto the pile of pillows behind her letting out a yawn. They both crawled under the covers, and she turned out the light. The plastic ceiling stars glowed above them, and she couldn’t help but stare for a few minutes. The old spring mattress moved as he shifted his body to cuddle with her. She could feel her body relaxing, and all the stress melting away as he kissed her goodnight, and they fell asleep beside each other.


“So I have to say, James is wonderful. I like him much better than David,” her mom said while washing the dishes by hand, “I think that’s what the kids at the hospital would call an upgrade.” Abby laughed as she dried the plates and said, “Yes, a major upgrade.” Her mom smiled and stopped for a moment, “He reminds me of your dad.” Abby moved her head to the side and said, “Really?” Her mother nodded and said, “He was a wonderful man. He was polite and was always a perfect gentleman. I loved his sense of humor; he was always ready to make some witty remark. And as far as I was concerned, he was the best looking man on the block.” Abby leaned on her mom’s shoulder for a moment said, “I miss him mom.”

“I do too honey, I know he’s watching after us though, In fact I'm sure he'd approve of James,” she said, “but enough talk about the past. I need to finish these dishes so I can get to work.” Abby smiled and said, “Mom I can finish them, you can go up and get ready.” Her mother gave her a kiss and went upstairs, and James walked back into the kitchen. “Need some help?” he asked. Abby smiled and said, “Sure, start drying.” She put her hands into the warm water and scrubbed the pans from the eggs and sausage her mom had made. It didn’t take long for them to finish the dishes, and right when they had put the last pan away her mother came down in her scrubs. Her heart sank because she knew it was time to go back to Pittsburgh.

They said their goodbyes outside and she watched as her mom drove off first. She sighed for a moment before crawling into the drivers side of her SUV. "Hey I need to make one stop before we head back, Is that ok?" He nodded and said, "Sure, whatever you want babe." She smiled and pulled out of the driveway and onto the road. Within a few minutes she was pulling into the cemetery, parking her car in the top lot. "You're Dad?" he asked quietly. She nodded and said, "I always stop and say goodbye before I leave. I should only be a few minutes." He sat in the passengers seat as she left and walked partway down the hill to his grave site. She ran her fingers over the inscription "Thomas G Matthews: Beloved husband and father."

"Hey daddy," she said while taking a seat in front of the headstone, "Mom's doing well, but I guess you already know that." She let out a sigh and said, "I'm going to head back to Pittsburgh soon with James. Mom said she really likes him." She let a tear fall and said, "I remember when you said the perfect guy would find me, well maybe he is the one? I don't know, what do you think?" She knew she wouldn't get an answer, but she still continued to talk. "Anyway, I miss you daddy," she said while leaning her head against the grave and giving it a kiss. She then felt a pair of hands on her shoulder and heard. "Hello Mr Mathews, I'm James. I hope you don't mind me dating your daughter."

She laughed and wiped her eyes as he knelt down beside her and grabbed her hand. "I know sometimes I can be a jerk, but I really love her. She's everything to me, and I promise to make sure she's happy. So hope you do approve." At that moment the sun peaked out from the clouds, causing Abby to look up. She wasn't a religious person, but she felt like it was a sign. "I think he does," she said leaning her head on his shoulder for a moment. Abby stood up a minute later and dried her eyes saying, "Goodbye Daddy, I'll come visit again." She took James's hand again and began to walk back up the car. She was ready to go back to Pittsburgh now. Abby had all she needed now; her best friend was back, she got both parents approval, and she was back with James. Life was good again.