The air was humid Saturday night. White clouds covered the sky, keeping the heat in. Trevor did not sleep well that night. The Stars had beaten the Stillwater Blues three to two, but he had not shot any goals. His teammates took his being traded well. He bet they were glad he would be gone. Fine. He was looking forward to leaving Dallas. What he was dreading was entering Minnesota. He was currently wearing his White Sox cap in defiance. He had one more day in Texas. One more day until his fate was sealed.
As he got up to face the day, he wondered if he was overreacting. Minnesota was not that bad, was it? He would learn to survive, just as he had learned to survive in Texas. His current apartment was small because it was all he could afford at the time; perhaps now he could expand in Minnesota. And he would get to experience a real winter again. He was excited at the thought of real snow. He almost felt like a child again.
He was interrupted by a knock on his apartment door. He assumed it was the landlord come to talk to him about moving out. He had already packed up most of his belongings, and he had ordered a moving truck for the furniture. It was coming today so that it would arrive at his new place in Minnesota before him. It was always good to plan ahead; he did not want to end up without a bed to sleep in.
As he opened the door, he was surprised to see a middle-aged woman standing there. She had blond hair, blue eyes, and an anxious look on her face. “Trevor Clifton,” she said earnestly.
“Hello,” he said cautiously. He paused. “Do I know you?”
“I’m Janet Day,” the woman said. “I see you don’t remember me. We’ve met a few times. I was friends with your mother in college.”
Trevor’s face lit with recognition. “Oh, yes. What can I do for you?”
The woman hesitated. “I have a strange request,” she began slowly. “But I’m desperate. I don’t know what else to do. It’s my son, Liam.”
Trevor vaguely remembered the young boy. He could not point him out in a crowd, though. “What about him?”
Janet’s eyes kept darting around nervously. “He’s a good boy, but he got into trouble with the law a couple years back. It was actually no big deal, but the Texas law is not so understanding.” She shook her head. “Until then I had thought we had such a great criminal justice system, especially for juveniles. I don’t know what went wrong. No one seems to have any common sense anymore…” She trailed off into a murmur and frowned.
Trevor looked at her blankly. He could not see where this was going. “What do you want me to do about it?” He was becoming impatient. He had things to do before tomorrow!
Janet looked up at him, her eyes wide. “I heard you were going to Minnesota.”
Trevor nodded slowly. “Yes. I was traded to the Wild.”
Janet bit her lip before continuing. “Liam would be safe in Minnesota. They have better laws. He would not have to endure the hardships that he would here. Could you take him with you?”
Trevor looked at her in surprise. He had not been expecting that! He stood there gaping at her for a minute before he was able to respond. “I know nothing about children!”
“I’m not saying you have to take care of him,” Janet said quickly. “Find someone else who will take him in. Or bring him to a shelter. I’ll give you the necessary papers. It would be better than what he has to endure here.”
Trevor sighed and ran a hand through his thick, dark brown hair. “Why can’t you just move to Minnesota with him?” This was crazy; how could she spring something like this on him at the last minute? He needed time to plan!
The woman looked at him sadly. “We can’t afford to move. The cost of living is much lower here. I have a daughter in college and another one at home to take care of. The trail was so expensive…” She trailed off again, seeming lost in her thoughts.
“This is too sudden for me,” Trevor said. “This is not something I would normally do.”
“Your mother told me how hard life was for you growing up,” Janet said. “I don’t want Liam to have to go through anything like that. You can help him. You can spare him the humiliation and pain.”
Trevor hesitated. Now, this was hitting him harder. He did not care much for people, but he knew what it was like to suffer. He may have deserved it, but it did not seem like this kid did. He wondered what would happen to him if he stayed in Texas. Could Trevor really save him from a terrible fate? “What exactly did he do?” he asked guardedly.
Janet’s face flushed. “I’d rather not say. It’s kind of embarrassing. You can ask him if you want. It was nothing really bad. He should not have been held responsible. He’s such a happy, optimistic boy. I would hate to see his innocence destroyed because of a stupid law.”
Trevor pursed his lips. “And going to Minnesota will really help him?”
The woman nodded vigorously. “Yes! The law there will not treat him so harsh. No one will ever have to know what he did. He could start over and have a new life. I second chance. Please. I’ll figure out something better later, but just take him now. You’re his only hope.”
Trevor gritted his teeth. He could feel himself giving in. He could emphasize with this kid. It would not feel right to just leave him here. Coach Burns had said Trevor was getting another chance in Minnesota. Was Trevor not obligated to give the same to Liam? He let out a heavy sigh, breathing out all of his doubts as he did so. “Fine,” he said. “Bring him over tomorrow morning.”
Janet’s face lit up like the sun. “Oh, thank you so much, Trevor! You’re a good man.”
Trevor shrugged and looked away. It was not her fault she did not know better.
Monday morning, clouds were beginning to spread apart, letting the sun shine through warm whoever was standing beneath its rays. The forecast for flights looked great. Trevor’s flight was at eleven thirty. Janet arrived with Liam at eight o’clock. Luckily, he had just finished getting ready for the day. His hair was still damp from his shower when I opened the door.
Liam looked to be around ten-years-old. He had short, blond hair like his mom, but his eyes were green. He was a skinny little thing with a huge smile on his face, which was interesting, considering he was about to leave his family for a long time. “Hi, Trevor!” he said energetically. “I’m Liam!”
Janet smiled slightly. “Thank you for doing this, Trevor.”
Trevor nodded. “No problem.” He glanced at Liam. “Hi, kid.”
Janet placed her hand on a large, black suitcase. “All of his belongings are in here.”
Trevor looked the kid up and down. Liam was wearing a t-shirt and shorts. The hockey player glanced at Janet with a frown. “Are you sure he can survive in Minnesota? It gets pretty cold.”
“I can take it; I’m tough,” Liam said, puffing out his chest.
Trevor smirked at him in amusement. “Ok then.”
“He’ll be fine,” Janet said. She knelt down and placed her hands on her son’s shoulders. “Now, Liam, you be good and listen to Trevor, okay?”
“Ok, Mom,” Liam said softly.
“I love you,” Janet said.
Liam flung his arms around her. “I love you too.”
Trevor felt his stomach tighten and he had to look away. He had not seen his own mother since arriving in Texas. They had had a sort of disagreement that they had never worked out. He did not feel very inclined to fix the matter. It was her fault. She could come to him if she wanted to work it out; he had his own life to worry about.
“Well, goodbye, Trevor,” Janet said, now standing up. “Good luck with everything in Minnesota.”
Trevor nodded. “Make sure to keep in contact. I’m not exactly sure what I’m supposed to do.”
Janet gave him a small smile. “Of course.” She turned to her son. “Goodbye, Liam.”
“Goodbye, Mom,” Liam said.
After Janet had left, Trevor dragged Liam’s suitcase into the living room and left it amongst his own. Then he turned to the kid with raised eyebrows. “So, Liam, do you like hockey?”
Liam shook his head. “Not really.” At Trevor’s frown, he added. “But I haven’t seen it much and I don’t really understand. Maybe you could help!”
Trevor shrugged. “Yeah, sure.” He glanced at his watch. “Let’s bring the luggage to the door. The cab will be here soon.”
“Ok!” Liam said brightly. Then the two of them got to work.
It turned out to be an interesting experience bringing a kid through an airport. Liam had never flown on a plane; he was fascinated by everything. Trevor was patient with him and answered all of his questions. It helped him get his mind off of his destination. He did not want to wonder what his life was going to be like from then on.
Their seats were towards the back of the airplane. Trevor let Liam have the window seat while he took the one in the middle. A man soon sat next him on the other side. Trevor glanced at him and immediately suppressed a groan. The guy was wearing a Minnesota Wild sweatshirt. Trevor decided to just ignore him. No one ever talked on planes anyway, and this guy did not seem to recognize him. All the better.
Liam was kept captivated by the safety announcements. He grew excited as the plane began to move. Trevor leaned back and closed his eyes. He needed to rest; he had not gotten much sleep the night before. It seemed like everything was spinning out of control.
“Are you from Minnesota?”
Trevor’s eyes shot open. Liam was talking to the man next to him. The guy did not seem bothered. He just smiled at the kid and said, “Yes, I am. I’m headed home. I was in Dallas for work.”
“Oh, cool,” Liam said. “Trevor and I are moving to Minnesota. He’s going to play for the Wild!”
Trevor’s eyes widened in concern. The man was looking at him curiously. Trevor glanced at Liam and gave him a look to tell him to keep quiet.
The kid just ignored him. “Hey, you’re a Wild fan,” he said, pointing at the man’s shirt. “This is so cool!”
The man chuckled. “You must be the new center we traded for,” the man said, glancing at Trevor.
“Yes,” Trevor mumbled.
“Is Minnesota cool?” Liam asked the man.
“Yes, Minnesota is quite cold,” the man joked.
“That’s not what I meant,” Trevor said. “Is hockey a good sports?”
“Why don’t you ask your friend there?’
“Ok!” Liam tugged on Trevor’s arm. “Trevor, is hockey a good sport to watch?”
“Yes,” Trevor groaned. He shot Liam a sharp look. “Why don’t you keep quiet? I’m tired and I don’t want to talk.”
Liam frowned. “Oh. Ok.” He looked back at the man. “It’s was nice to meet you.”
The man nodded. “You too.”
As Liam settled into his seat, Trevor let his eyes close again. Finally, peace. Not even a minute had passed before he heard Liam say, “Trevor?”
The hockey player opened his eyes and glanced at the kid. “What?”
Trevor leaned his head back against his seat and groaned.
The man laughed.
The plane arrived in Minneapolis at two o’clock. Trevor was pleased at the cool weather, but Liam was shivering. The two of them took a cab to Trevor’s new apartment. The moving truck was already there, so they started unloading. The apartment was good sized with a kitchen right up front, a living room to the right, a balcony in the back, and a hallway to the right of the living room that led to two bedrooms and a bathroom.
It took a couple of hours to move in. Then it was time for Trevor to meet with the Wild. In his living room, he glanced at Liam and frowned. “I guess you’ll have to come with me.”
“I’m not going back out there!” Liam exclaimed. “It’s freezing!”
Trevor rolled his eyes. “Put some pants and a sweatshirt on. Do you have a jacket?”
Liam shook his head. “Just a light one. But I’ll still freeze.”
Trevor groaned. “Just put it on. We can go to the store and buy you a better jacket after my meeting.”
Liam’s face lit up. “Ok!” He said, grinning. He ran into the guest room to change. He came back with his light blue jacket, still looking happy. Then they headed out.
The meeting went well, all things considering. Trevor met the Wild’s manager and their coach. They were a bit surprised to see a kid with him, so he had to give a brief explanation. Liam was still energetic about everything. He had to sit out for the press conference, which he did not like.
Trevor did not like addressing the press. He would have been fine with it if he were with the Blackhawks and had something to be proud of, but as it was, this was something he just tolerated. He was given his Minnesota Wild home jersey to show off. It was all red with the team’s symbol in the middle surrounded by a circle of green and the words “Minnesota Wild.” The colors looked like Christmas, which was unfortunate. He supposed it could have been worse, though. He held it up in front of the camera before slipping it over his head. He was not sure what he was supposed to feel. This was a step up from the Stars, but he was still not excited.
After the event, Trevor went out with Liam for a quick bite of pizza. Then they were back at the apartment. It was not that late when they got back, but Trevor was still exhausted. “Let’s go to sleep,” he said once in the living room.
Liam looked at him and frowned. “Where am I supposed to sleep?”
“Do you have a sleeping bag?” Trevor asked.
Liam blinked. “Yes.”“Well, put it on the couch and go to sleep,” Trevor said. He left for his own room before the kid could protest.