Sequel: Stronger
Status: Finished.

Tongue Tied


The soft splash of water against the tiles of the Olympic sized pool made me feel as if I were on a sinking ship somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Like I was stuck on a partially capsized wave runner with no one around but the harsh waves that were dragging me deeper and deeper under the water.

Swimming wasn’t natural to me; hockey was. Hockey came easy. I lived, ate, and breathed hockey; swimming made me feel like I was sinking underwater while my lungs filled up with water that tasted like sulfur and made my nostrils pucker at the pungentness. There was a reason why I chose the sport that you played on a piece of frozen water rather than the one, which could only be pinned as mindless drowning.

From around the corner of the gold and blue hallway, I heard someone let out a loud line of obscenities, and then slam against the wall of the pool. The Aquatics Center turned silent. There was no more splashing, just blissful silence. The nagging feeling that I wasn’t going to make it out alive was now replaced with the blinding lights from the open windows on the other side of the large room, and the immediate headache that accompanied.

In some ways I had wished the splashing and drowning stayed. Anything- even swimming- had to feel better than the constant fog of a concussion.

Since the hits from both Steckal and Headman nearly a month back nothing ever seemed to make sense. Tests had been run, and blood had been drawn, and the final conclusion had been a mild concussion that gave me pretty bad whiplash. That was the simple terms. Doctors, nurses, and therapists had used all kinds of medical terminology that I wasn’t able to wrap my feeble- and confused- mind around.

Headaches, nausea, and concentration and memory loss had taken me away from the game. I had spent weeks sitting in completely dark rooms in order to get some relief. Hockey- my sanctuary since I had been a small child- was ripped away from me and thrown away temporarily, and now I was begrudgingly sitting in a dimly lit pool house in the middle of Squirrel Hill, waiting for the physical therapist I was supposed to be meeting with to show up at the pool.

I sat on the corner bleachers and stared at the large clock that was perched on the sidewall. The red, piercing letters told me it was seven minutes past the time I was supposed to meet with Mr. Sutton and nothing annoyed me more than somebody who wasn’t on time—it seemed to be even more enflamed since the hits.

From the corner of my eye the young woman who had been previously inhabiting the pool pulled herself from the swim bars and up onto the deck. She paced across the pool deck muttering something inaudible in French, and then pulled a towel out of her bag and draped it across her shoulders.

“Are you Crosby?” The petite woman asked as she pulled a pair of red athletic shorts out of her duffel bag and shimmed them on past her hips, tossing a t-shirt over the racer back bathing suit.


“Alright, well I’m Caroline Sutton. Not sure how much you’ve been told about me, but I’m your physical therapist.”

“You’re Sutton?” She nodded.

“Were you expecting someone else?” I shook my head, still a little fuzzy from the medications the doctors prescribed to me in order to reduce my headaches. “Good. Do you have trunks, or am I going to make you swim naked?” By the stone look on her face, I wasn’t sure if she was joking or not. I was going to assume no though, as the tips of my ears turned bright red. That would be good for the press: “SIDNEY CROSBY SWIMS IN THE NUDE AT BURTON AQUATICS CENTER”


“No, I have trunks. Should I--?”

“There’s a change room around the corner. Shower before you come in because this water is highly chlorinated, and it can burn your skin.”

I might go fucking insane before the day was over.

“Oh, thanks.”

“Don’t thank me, it’s a change room.”

Fucking. Insane.


I felt extremely awkward as I walked out from the change room back onto the pool deck. This was different. I was in a foreign room, with a foreign person who probably didn’t give two shits about me.

From the corner of the room, I noticed Caroline sitting on the edge of the pool, her feet kicked slightly at the water as she took a deep breath.

“Ready to get this done?” I asked, causing her to jump as I walked up behind her. She nodded and got up from where she was sitting. As much as she didn’t want to be here, I didn’t want to be here 8700% more.

“Let’s go.” She responded, walking back to the bleachers and dragging her duffel bag behind her.


“Gosh Sidney, just do what I say!” She yelled with feigned annoyance. From the time I had stepped into the pool, till this moment I had begun- or at least I thought- I dragged Caroline from the miserable ‘I don’t want to be here’ attitude, and she had begun to do the same.

“I’m trying, I’m trying!” I cried back, laughing. For the first day we really weren’t getting that far with therapy.

“You’re not!”

“That’s not fair.” I countered back.

“Don’t you trust me?” I didn’t. Not yet at least, and being forced into an icy, cold pit of death was not helping it.

“Um,” She rolled her eyes, and again tried to push on my chest in an attempt to make me float. “I can’t float.” I replied bashfully. She stood at me dumbfounded.

“Mr. Golden Goal just said that he couldn’t float? Can I get that on video or something?” She was laughing at me, and was ignoring my scowl.

“I never learned how to swim really.” That was actually a lie. I had taken swim classes- per my mother’s insistence- for a couple of years, but did everything in my abilities to get out of them. More than once over the summers I had spent by the pool, I had faked sick.

“Well I guess it’s a good thing that you’re swimming with a former Olympian, then.” She replied quietly as she again tried to get me to float on my back.
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Not 100% sure about this one. Let me know what y'all think. Comments are greatly appreciated, and I love reading each and every one of them.

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