Our team was doing great until the game against North Park. One of their defensemen gravely injured one of our forwards. Austin was out for the rest of the season with a broken arm and a head injury. The North Park kid propelled him into the goal on our side scoring during a power play. Austin’s helmet was dislodged when he fell on the ice. His arm and head were knocked directly into the goal bars. The force of it broke his humerus in half and gave him a concussion. After that, the kid that caused the accident was banned from the ice and the team was forced to forfeit. We hadn’t been in the lead before that incident and the defaulted game brought us closer to the final game.
That left us in a pickle. Austin was injured and out for the rest of the year, and we were short one player. The next game was on Saturday against Cove Lake. This week we held tryouts every day for a new player as well as some back ups in case another incident like this occurred, which Coach guessed it might with the competitive teams we were playing. Until we started winning no one ever paid attention to our tryouts. But now they were. In fact, it wasn’t just the tryouts that got the attention of the school. Pep rallies were held in our honor, and the participation at the matches increased as well as our ‘devoted fans’. Even the tickets for our new fundraiser sold like hotcakes. Each ticket cost a dollar and we’d sold over five hundred already. Ella was right about Jacelyn; she bought about fifty a day, trying to increase her chances that she’d get picked. I caught her kissing each one as she deposited them into the box when Kyle wasn’t around; apparently, they were still together in an on-again-off-again fashion making this one of her longest relationships ever. But whenever she wasn’t present at the table or in the vicinity, her pack of friends bought a few themselves.
One day during lunch I caught Lynna depositing a single ticket into the box. She handed Toby the one dollar that it cost before leaving the table. Jacelyn mocked her from across the cafeteria. Several people snickered at the obvious display, but Lynna paid them no heed. She smiled though as Ella flicked a piece of hamburger into their midst. The girls shrieked and scrambled into the nearest bathroom. Drew and I burst out laughing as well as most of the students who caught sight of the stunt.
Drew grabbed my shoulder. “Are you going to be able to make hockey practice tonight?”
Lately I’d been pulled out of school for follow up visits to the doctor. I had an MRI scheduled yesterday and today we’d be going over the results. To be honest I felt fine, but my mother was convinced that my head could’ve been scrambled from getting knocked around on the ice a few weeks ago even though I didn’t blackout. “I have another visit with the doctor tonight,” I answered him.
“Oh yeah, well you should see the new recruits. Kyle tried out, but he can’t skate worth flip. It was hilarious to watch him flounder around like a fish out of water. Alex can skate, but he has no coordination.”
“Who’s the best right now?” I hadn’t been present for the tryouts. I had no idea who was there and who was good.
“Well, don’t say anything,” he started then dropped his voice to a whisper. “Lynna is.”
I nearly choked on my soda. “What?” I shouted.
“Shhh!” he hushed me.
“How? Why?” I stuttered out.
He shifted uneasily. “Blame me for this one, but after watching her coordination with snowboarding and her graceful skating on New Year’s Eve, I put two and two together. She’s really good.”
“But she’s …” I couldn’t even finish that statement.
“Epileptic?” he finished. “I know; it’s a drawback, which is why Coach is taking one other. She hasn’t had a seizure in a few months. No one will ever know.”
“And the part where she’s a girl?” I couldn’t believe those words flew out of my mouth, but I was sure there were team members who’d be curious about that one. Not many girls played hockey, the sport was mostly about anger issues between guys. I feared for her safety.
“Well it’s not a big deal for us to have a coed team. Last year East River had a girl for a goalie.”
I had forgotten about that.
“And three years prior to that I remember seeing a forward girl on the Viper’s. She was killed in a fatal car accident; otherwise we’d have played her two weeks ago. Man was she hot, for a hockey chic. The other girl’s I’ve seen are butch and heavyset. She was skinny and graceful; similar in Lynna’s build but much prettier.”
I frowned at him. “What?” I blurted out feeling slightly offended.
He held up his hands in defense. “Hey now, I’m just telling the facts. Lynna is plain if you’re going to compare her outward beauty to other girls. Her heart is in the right place, which, let’s face it, most hot girl’s hearts are not. And honestly if you judge beauty by the outside then you’re losing out on what counts.”
I stared at him, flabbergasted that such a wonderful compliment could develop in that brain of his. He stated aloud that Lynna was beautiful, in her own way. I had completely misconstrued the conversation.
“Lynna is honestly gorgeous when compared next to girls like Jacelyn and Amanda. And her skills make her attractable. I mean come on Gar, she can snowboard! And skate, she’s intellectual and knowledgeable. She knows foreign languages too!” He stared at me. I don’t know what I looked like to him, but he suddenly blurted out something that threw me yet again. “You’re not jealous, are you?”
“No,” I grumbled.
“Then what’s wrong?” he asked me.
I shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Well, isn’t Lynna pretty to you? You guys are so close to each other already.”
I didn’t know how to answer that. I thought she was pretty, but I had never painted Lynna in the light that I compared Ella or Jacelyn to in beauty. “Well, I’ve always noticed her if that’s what you’re asking.”
“What is it that attracts you to her?”
I didn’t know the answer to that. It could have been that I heard her speaking Gaelic or that I knew she saved my life, but the reason behind why I always noticed her in classes or at school or in the town were not these answers. The reason was deeply hidden within my heart like I tried burying the truth from my mind or like someone else tried hiding it. I had known from the moment I first laid eyes on her that she was special; I knew it in my heart though I couldn’t figure out why. “I don’t know. There’s just something about her that attracts my attention, but I don’t know what it is. I haven’t been able to single it out yet.”
Drew sighed. “You don’t think she’s pretty?”
I sighed still not sure how to answer this question. “Well, no, not like Ella’s beauty, but Lynna hides her true…”
“Nope,” Drew interjected.
“Don’t make excuses Gar,” Kevin stated suddenly from across us. He and Alex had been staring at me and listening in on our conversation, eager for the real answer.
“What?” I questioned him, but Alex cut me off.
“We all saw you at the Autumn Ball, Garrett. You can’t tell us that you don’t think she’s pretty when you look at her the way you do.”
My jaw dropped open. “Look at her like what?”
Kevin smiled. “Like puppy love.”
“Love at first sight,” Teresa defined as she slid in next to him.
Mehgan and Cleo approached our table. They both had bought a few tickets from Toby before they reached us. But like Teresa they knew what we already discussed and joined in. “It’s like she’s the most important thing in the room,” Cleo sighed.
“Like you both belong together.” Mehgan winked at me before turning away.
“Star crossed lovers,” Jill stated in passing, on her way to her respected table and group of friends.
How did everyone know what we discussed here? More replies from our classmates followed.
“Angelic love,” Valerie squeaked into my ear.
“Fated love,” Valerie’s friend Haley resounded right after her.
Ella approached. “A love before time.” She smiled after her statement.
I don’t know why, but her response nailed the truth of it home. She had pinpointed the exact thing in how I felt about Lynna; our relationship with one another felt like it extended into the past, present and future, only the thought scared me.
“Face it Garrett, you’re immortally bound to her,” she finished.
Even though my body hummed with those words, already knowing them to be true, I couldn’t help but deny it. “What does that even mean?”
She sighed. “Whether you realize it or not, you are completely devoted to her. Anyone in this lunchroom will testify to that. It doesn’t matter how you see her, or what you like about her, or what you don’t like. None of that matters to you. You are bound to her like rubber cement. We can all see it. It’s in the way you stare at her, the way that you do things for her. Garrett, you can’t deny it.”
I shook my head at her. “Now Ella, that’s not true. A week ago, we were fighting. We weren’t even on speaking terms.”
She smiled and shook her head. “Fighting isn’t a sign of unfaithfulness. That’s not going to win your argument, just own up to it already. You are bound to her.”
“No,” I whispered. I don’t know why I fought so hard to deny it. I wished I could tell them about the visions, but they wouldn’t understand. It was the visions that made me feel that way the night of the dance or any other time they caught me staring at her like that. It was because of Lord Trionden and Saladian’s love for one another that I felt that way. They were the one’s who had the love before time. I was caught up in the middle of it.
Maybe that’s why I felt that way. I needed to protect Saladian and Lynna’s family. That’s why we were bound to each other. But the more I thought of Saladian and the young girl, who closely resembled the Empress, the one that the statue protected, I knew that the girl wasn’t Lynna and that thought broke my heart. I was afraid of the answer to whom it was I felt indebted to for the visions.
“What are you afraid of Garrett? What keeps you from admitting the truth of things to yourself?” Ella pulled me out of my thoughts. “Everyone is aware of the situation but you. Jacelyn’s even completely given up on reeling you back in because she understands that your feelings for Lynna are deeper than her feelings for you. We all know that you both are tied together through terms that are written universally.”
I found Jacelyn near her friends. At first glance she looked the same to me, as she always did. But her eyes met mine for a few seconds before tearing her gaze back onto Kyle. When she stared at me, all I saw mirrored back at me were loss and regret. She wasn’t jealous or upset at the truth. This new revelation shocked me. I hadn’t thought about it before. I took the opportunity and searched the faces of those around me. For the first time that year a lot of people were focused upon me or Lynna, staring at us like we were puzzle pieces to a bigger picture. I had never seen anything like it.
When I faced the table once more, Ella grinned at me. “I think he’s waking up,” she observed before shoveling down her food.
Whether it was the realization of the truth or the situation I now found myself in, fear overtook me. I was afraid of the future for once in my life, and it wasn’t just my future that scared me; it was mine and Lynna’s.