Large gusts of winds caused residents to cover their faces with scarves to keep away the cold air. Dark clouds threatened some kind of storm. It was Tuesday morning, and Trevor was a mess. His long hair was messy, and his eyes were red for lack of sleep. There was almost a panicked look to him as his heart thumped heavily.
He had been a wreck since the previous night; everything was collapsing down on him. He had too much stress and pain to deal with, and he did not know how to handle it all. Nothing in his life was going as planned, most importantly Liam and Heather. He had thought he was strong, but the incident the previous night sent everything crashing down. He longed for someone – anyone – to console him and tell him everything was going to be ok. Maybe he should have seen a therapist after all, if only to relieve some of the stress through talking. How did he let everything get this far?
His emotions were taking control of his actions; he was hardly aware of what he was doing anymore. Instead of heading to the gym to work out like he had been doing every other morning, he found himself in front of Heather’s apartment. He had never come there before. He did not even know if she was home, but he had to try. There was no one else he wanted to see at the moment. He knew the risks, but that did not seem to matter now. If he did not take this chance, everything would fall apart. There would be no way to continue on. He could not let that happen.
Trevor rapped on the door several times then stood there panting heavily. The door swung open to reveal a surprised-looking Heather. “Trevor! What are you doing here?”
Trevor had not prepared an explanation. His reasoning was not functioning properly. It was all he could do to hold him together at this point. “Help me,” he said, his voice cracking. “I can’t take this.”
“Take what?” Heather asked gently.
“Life – everything!” Trevor clenched his teeth together hard to keep from crying. “Please.”
“Of course,” Heather said softly. “Come in.”
She caught hold of him a she stumbled into the apartment. She led him to the couch and sat down with him. His mind was spinning too much out of control for him to be really aware of his surroundings. He did not even look at Heather yet; he just sat there staring at his lap, taking deep breaths. “I’m sorry,” he murmured. “I shouldn’t be here, but it’s just too much!”
“It’s ok,” Heather said, putting her arm around his shoulder. “I’m here.”
“I attacked a guy last night,” Trevor said in a whisper. “I don’t think I hurt him much, but he was knocked out.” He shut his eyes tightly. “You were right. I can’t – alone – it’s not-”
“Shh,” Heather said. She moved her arm to around his back and gently guided his head to her shoulder. She then wrapped her other arm around him, holding onto him securely. “It’s alright.”
“No, it’s not,” Trevor said, choking back a sob.
Heather did not speak again, and Trevor grew silent as well. Listening to her heartbeat and feeling her arms around him gradually calmed him down; his breathing slowed to its normal pace. He was glad that she was there. He did not know why she should care about him, but it was helpful to him, so he did not question it. He did not know what he would have done if she were not there.
Silence drifted on, but it was not uncomfortable. The apartment was very soothing. The couch was a nice lavender color, white flowers decorated two bookshelves on either side of the room, and there was a cinnamon scent in the air. Trevor was soon feeling better and easing up.
“Are you going to be fine now?” Heather asked softly after who knows how long.
Trevor slowly lifted his head. His eyes were blurred with tears. “I think so.”
Heather gave him a small smile. “Can I make us some tea? It will help you feel better.”
Trevor nodded, and she let go of him and stood up. He watched her head into the kitchen before leaning back and sighing, shutting his eyes again. What had he gotten himself into? He should not have been there. But he did not know what other choice he had. He could only take so much. Everyone had a breaking point. He could only hope he would be able to pick himself back up and continue on with his life.
Heather soon returned with two mugs in her hands. She set them down on the coffee table in front of the couch and then sat back down next to Trevor. “It’s chamomile,” she said. “It will help you relax.”
“Thank you,” Trevor whispered. He carefully picked up the mug in front of him. He tried a sip, but it was too hot, so he set it back down again.
“Trevor,” Heather said. He looked at her and saw that she was gazing at him with compassion. “You don’t have to tell me about what all this is about if you don’t want to, but I really think you need a friend. A true friend who will be there for you at times like this. Can’t you see that everyone needs someone like that? It’s part of what makes us human. We’re not meant to survive on our own. If you don’t want that friend to be me, then fine, but go to someone like Justin or another teammate. I don’t want something like this to happen to you again. It’s not healthy.”
Trevor picked up his mug again so that he could stare into liquid as he slowly let Heather’s words sink in. He could not deny the truth of them. Loneliness has followed him ever since his father had turned on his family. His friends in high school were never really there for him; they fled at the first sight of trouble. The idea of always having someone to go to was very appealing to the Chicagoan. And yet, he had spent so much time trying to keep people away from him; how could he let anyone inside now? He was not sure he knew how even if he wanted to. And who would he choose to go to? There was one obvious choice. Heather already knew more than anyone else, and she seemed brave enough to delve deeper. Could he really let her be his friend, if He took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. He had come to a resolution. He could really only see one way out of his current circumstance; there was only one way for him to survive. He forced himself to look at Heather so that she could see his face. “Alright,” he began in a slow, controlled voice, “I can try. I don’t know how long it will last because I may change my mind sooner, but I would like for us to try to be friends until either of us change our minds. That’s the best I can give you.”
I look of relief crossed Heather’s face. “That’s great. I’ll take it.”
Trevor nodded. He tried his tea again; this time, it was cool enough to drink. The hot liquid felt good running down his throat. Heather was right; it was soothing. He tried not to think about what was going to happen now. He was still not thinking clearly. He would worry about it later.
“Hey, are you and Liam doing anything for Thanksgiving?” Heather asked suddenly.
Trevor looked at her, a bit startled by the question. He stared at her blankly. Thanksgiving? He had forgotten it was only two days away. He had not celebrated Thanksgiving since high school. He supposed he should this year because of the kid. “No.”
Heather smiled. “My sister will be in town to check out the U of M for grad school, so we’re having dinner together. Would you two like to come?”
Trevor was touched by the offer. He tried to think of a reasonable response. “Won’t we be intruding?”
Heather smiled and shook her head. “Not at all. The holiday is better with more people. Besides, if you bring a dish to share, you’ll be adding to our prosperity.”
Trevor mulled it over for a few seconds before shrugging. “Sure. We’ll come. Are you cooking a turkey?”
Heather smiled sheepishly. “Actually, I’ve never cooked a turkey before, so I was going to pass.”
“I’ll do it,” Trevor said quickly.
Heather looked at him in surprise. “Really?”
Trevor nodded. “It’s no problem. I’ve done it before. It won’t be too much of a hassle to me.” And it would feel good to contribute something worthwhile.
A small smile spread across Heather’s face. “That sounds great. Thanks, Trevor.”
Trevor shook his head. “No, thank you,” he said, looking at her seriously, “for everything. You’re already a good friend.” The best he had ever had.
“Thanks,” Heather said softly.
Trevor was unsure if he had made a big mistake; he did not have much of a choice. He did not know what was going to happen with this thing with Heather, but he knew that he would try his best to not let this fail, and above all, he would protect Heather at all costs. He had to be strong for her. At the very least, he had gained a moment of tranquility.
Trevor had never met Heather’s sister. He did not even know Heather had a sister, or any siblings for that matter. He had never thought to ask. Liam was bouncing around as they walked up to Heather’s apartment. Trevor was carrying the turkey in both of his hands. “You’re going to have to knock,” he said to the boy.
“Ok,” Liam said cheerfully. He bounded forward and knocked on the door with his small fist.
A girl with blond hair and blue eyes, appearing in her early twenties, opened the door. “Hello,” she said in a soft voice. “Are you Trevor?”
“Yes!” Liam exclaimed. “And I’m Liam!”
The girl smiled slightly. “Hello. I’m Alice, Heather’s sister. Come on in.” She stepped back and held the door open wide for them.
Trevor stepped inside and looked around while Liam ran in. Not much had changed since he had been there on Tuesday. He caught sight of Heather in the kitchen. She beamed at her when their eyes met. “Trevor!” she called. “I’m glad you could make it.”
Trevor gave her a small smile as he headed her way. He found an empty spot on the counter to hoist up the turkey. “Liam’s excited to be here,” he said.
Heather looked over at the kid, who was excitedly talking to Alice. She chuckled. “I can see that.” She turned to the turkey and took in a good whiff. “That smells good.”
Trevor smiled slightly. “I hope it’s satisfactory.”
Heather smiled. “Everything you make is amazing.”
A warm feeling overcame Trevor as he looked at her. He imagined life would be perfect if he could just stay there with her smiling at him. Oh, how he wished things could be different between them; he would have given anything to change the truth, but he would have to content himself with what he had. This was as good as it was going to get.
“What’s going on here?” Alice said with a smirk from the entrance of the kitchen.
Trevor blushed and looked down. “Nothing,” he mumbled.
“You didn’t tell me how cute he was,” Alice said to her sister.
“Alice,” Heather said, lightly shoving her sister.
“When are we going to eat?” Liam asked, popping up beside Heather.
“I know it’s early, but we should eat soon before the turkey gets cold,” Trevor advised.
“The table’s already set, so I’ll help serve the food,” Alice volunteered.
Heather nodded. “Thanks. Let’s start now.” She turned to Trevor and smirked. “You get the turkey, big strong hockey player.”
Trevor rolled his eyes playfully but did as he was told. “Go sit down,” he said to Liam. He turned, picked up the turkey, and headed into the dining room.
The table was decorated nicely with colors of red, orange, and brown. Two candles sat in the middle of the table, evenly spaced out. It looked like the dishes were made of china. Trevor set the turkey down in the middle. Sweet potatoes and vegetables were brought out and placed near it. When everything was ready, Heather and Alice sat down together; Trevor sat across from Heather with Liam beside him.
“We should say what we’re thankfully for,” Alice said before the food could be passed around.
Trevor inwardly groaned. This was why he did not like Thanksgiving. He thought the tradition was superficial and pointless. But he was in someone else’s home, so he would have to go along with it.
“I’ll start!” Liam declared. He cleared his throat as everyone turned their eyes on him. “I’m thankful for Trevor for bringing me to Minnesota where I’m safe and for taking care of me.”
Trevor was startled by the kid’s words, but he supposed he should have seen it coming. He looked down out of embarrassment when the two girls looked at him.
After a moment, Alice said, “My turn. I’m thankful to be spending Thanksgiving with my sister. I’ve missed you, Heather.”
Heather smiled at her. “I’ve missed you too. I’m glad you could be here.” She looked around at the table. “I’m thankful for having the opportunity to get to know Trevor and Liam. Life has been more interesting with them.”
Trevor looked away again while Liam grinned. “Thanks!” the kid said. He glanced at Trevor. “Your turn, Trevor.”
The NHL player faltered. What was he supposed to say? He cleared his throat and looked around awkwardly. He decided to say the first thing that came to mind. “I’m thankfully to finally be out of Texas and back in the North where I belong.” The others laughed. He hesitated. “And for Liam and Heather.” He chose not to explain and instead looked down at his empty plate.
Heather clapped her hands together. “Now let’s say grace.”
Trevor suppressed a groan; could they not just eat already? He noticed Liam clasp his hands and bow his head, so he followed suit. He did not want to make a big deal out of this in front of Heather and her sister. He could not remember every saying grace in his family. Perhaps he had when he was very young before his father had gotten out of control. He had never seen the meaning in it. Still, he listened as Heather said a quick prayer. Then she opened her eyes, smiled, and said,
“Well, Trevor, why don’t you carve the turkey so we can get eating?”
“Yeah!” Liam cried.
Trevor was grateful for the task. It kept his mind and body preoccupied. Soon, everyone had their plates piled with food. There was little talking as everyone enjoyed the meal. Afterward, desserts of pumpkin pie and apple crisp were brought out. Trevor did not know the last time he had enjoyed a dinner so much. It actually felt good to be with other people. He decided he could get used to this.
“That was delicious,” Liam said, leaning back in his chair.
“Yes, thanks for the turkey, Trevor,” Alice said.
Trevor nodded. “No problem.”
Heather was looking off in another direction. Then she glanced at Liam and nodded. “Liam, why don’t you go look out the window?”
Liam blinked. “Why?”
“It’s a surprise.” Heather winked.
Liam shrugged. “Ok.” He hopped off his chair and ran to the window. A second later, he gasped. “Snow!”
Trevor immediately perked up at the word. “What?” He got up and followed the kid to the window. Sure enough, tiny white flakes were making their way to the earth. A few seconds later, the girls joined them, standing behind them. Trevor felt as giddy inside as the boy next to him was on the outside. He loved snow. It was just not winter, or hockey season, without it!
“This is awesome!” Liam said with a grin.
“You’ve seen snow before, right?” Trevor said. “Dallas got some two years ago.” That had been a highlight of the year for him. Unfortunately, it had melted much too soon. It was a travesty to play hockey without snow outside.
“Yeah, but this snow is going to stay, right?” Liam looked at him hopefully.
“Eventually,” Heather said, smiling.
“Can we go outside and check it out?”
“Yeah, can we?” Trevor said eagerly. He was longing to feel the cold flakes melt on his hand just like in Illinois.
Heather smirked. “Ok, boys. Let’s go.”“Yes!” Liam exclaimed. For once, Trevor shared his enthusiasm. Everything already seemed loads better than it had the previous day.