Chapter 1. Oakley
EBOOK AND PAPERBACK PUBLISHED ON AMAZON DECEMBER 27, 2020.
LINK TO ORDER:: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B08R9WHQ76
Chapters 1-5 have been updated with the published versions chapters, but the remainder of this Inkitt version is a very very rough draft. But will remain up for free. 💖
As my team skates off the ice for the final time this season, I choose to stay behind to do one last lap around. For most of my teammates, this is just the end of another winning year. But this is the last time I will ever skate in this arena, as not only a player but also the Captain of my hometown team, the Penticton Storm. I’m allowed to feel a little nostalgic. This arena has been my second home for the past three years, after all.
The bitter cold nips at my skin through my thick jersey as I stare at the empty stadium. Endless rows of uncomfortable brown seats look back at me as my eyes try to memorize every last inch of space. This place helped me rediscover my passion for hockey. It’s where I watched my mom and sister scream at the top of their lungs while waving around their cheesy signs at every game. It’s where I met so many special people and created insane, long-lasting memories that will stay with me forever. It’s the place that showed me that I could be a leader—a real force to be reckoned with.
Lines of fluffy white snow trail behind me as I skate around the rink—the only sound to be heard comes from the ripping of the ice under my skates and my short, ragged breaths as I push myself around the boards. It’s peaceful. It’s rarely this silent. Quite a contrast to the screaming crowds during a game or our coach’s angry screams after a heart-wrenching loss.
I reluctantly step off the ice after a few more minutes and walk down the long hallway leading to our muggy, sweat-ridden locker room. I pull the door open, nearly smacking into Andre, my best friend.
He turns and slaps me on the back as we walk over to our cubbies. “So, that was it, eh? Our last practise together?”
“I guess.” My shoulder’s drop when I see the hurt flash across his auburn coloured eyes. “You won’t miss me that much; you boys can carry your own,” I add hastily to lift our spirits.
He raises his eyebrows and laughs. “Has anyone ever told you you’re way too humble?”
“Last time I checked, you preferred it when I’m humble. Something about it letting you have a chance with the ladies?” I tease, sitting down on the bench in front of my cubby.
His eyes widen for less than a second before he covers his shock with his trademark cocky smirk. “I just tell you that to make you feel good, buddy.” Sitting down beside me, he unlaces his skates. “But, I will admit that I’m slightly worried I’ll lose my touch without my number one wingman.”
I roll my eyes and scoff lightly. Andre doesn’t have any issues in that department. I’ve known him for fourteen years, and I’ve never seen him with the same girl twice.
“You know you don’t need my help in that department, but hey, maybe this is a good thing? It might give you a chance to pay attention to the stuff that matters. The team is going to need a new captain.”
The sudden panic in his eyes is unmistakable. “Don’t even start with me. You know how hard It’s going to be to fill your shoes. I’m already trying to get the defensemen to spend less time chirping and more time defending. I get a headache just thinking about keeping that entire shitstorm of a team focused.”
I squeeze his shoulder. “Think about it, man. You know you have my vote.”
“Fuck off with the sentiment bullshit, Oakley,” he chuckles. “I’ll see you Thursday, yeah? Don’t you dare bail on me!” Standing up from the bench, Andre hikes his hockey bag over his shoulder and heads to the door.
“Wouldn’t dream of it. See ya, man.” I wave him off, not missing the eye roll he throws my way before he leaves. As I’m yanking my jersey over my head, Coach yells for me. Once I’m out of my gear, I head into his office. “What’s up, Coach?”
He sits back down behind his desk and motions towards the grey two-seater couch resting against the opposing wall.
“Hell of a season you boys played. You’re not the same kid you were three years ago, thank God,” he beams.
I flop down on the couch and place my hands behind my head. “I think you owe yourself a clap on the back for that one, Coach.”
His contagious laugh fills the room before he settles back against his leather chair. “Sure as shit, I do. I take full responsibility for your success as Captain.”
Ah yes, the joys of being Captain. Don’t get me wrong, I love my team, and I’m honoured to have been the guy everyone looked up to this past season, but it gets draining. Both physically and emotionally.
“Don’t go getting cocky now, old man,” I snicker.
Looking over at all the team pictures scattered across the room, a burst of pride shoots through my chest. I spent the last three years of my life playing with the same guys, all of us learning from each other as we dealt with the encouraging wins, and the unbearable losses until we eventually moved on to win our first major championship together this season.
I’m going to miss it.
“Do you know what team you’re heading to yet?”
“Yeah, Vancouver. Not too far from mom or Gracie. It seemed like the right fit.” I look down at the pen on his desk and study it like it’s the most exciting thing in the world.
I look up in time to catch his pointed look. “Vancouver? I thought you wanted to go out to Ontario? You know your mom wouldn’t want you to give up your goals for her or your sister.”
I groan internally. Of course, he isn’t going to leave it alone. “It doesn’t matter what my mom wants. They need me,” I say shortly. This is the last thing I want to talk about right now. When my father passed away when I was thirteen, I had to take over the responsibility of taking care of my mom and little sister, Gracie.
A twenty-two-year-old driving home from a party—drunk as all hell—ran a stop sign and rammed into the driver’s side of my dad’s truck.
He was killed on impact.
Watching my newly widowed mom struggle to keep her family above water was hard. But the decision I made to help her no matter what wasn’t. I couldn’t watch her struggle any more than I could lose the ability to play hockey. I live and breathe the damn sport. It was, and always will be, my passion.
I get that from my dad.
I remember sitting on the couch with him, eating pizza and watching a game every Saturday night in our Vancouver Warrior’s jerseys. The silly old man never could pick a good team to cheer for. Even at the age of seven, I knew they were a shitty team, but they were his favourite, and that’s the only thing that ever mattered to me. Some days are harder than others, but we make do.
“Oakley? Are you listening to me?” Coach asks, annoyance written clearly on his worn-down features.
“Sorry, Coach. What did you say?”
“I said, what do you plan on doing once you have been drafted? You know you’re going to have to leave them at some point. This is your dream.” He’s giving me that familiar determined stare, trying to convince me to change my mind.
Too late for that
“I haven’t thought that far yet,” I say, looking down at my shoes. I am far too drained for this conversation. “I really need a shower, Coach. I’ll be back this week to get all my stuff. We can talk about this then.” Or not.
He lets out a long sigh but nods reluctantly. “Go on. I’ll see you then. You did good tonight.” I force a small smile on my lips and give my head a nod before quickly rising from the sofa and leaving the office.