NEHL - Jack

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Seventeen

Chapter Seventeen

Maddie

We were curled up on my couch together and getting ready for the Blizzard game. Things had been great for the Storm lately, but the Blizzard where in a nose dive since Jack left. They had two losses immediately following his leaving and they were blowouts. The team had no spark.

Jack was not himself, I mean he loved me and wanted me, but he was a little withdrawn and I knew he felt responsible for the team losing like they were. He was an honest man, and this whole thing was killing him.

“Baby, I know what you are going to say, but hear me out.” I started but he put his finger on my lips and then kissed me.

“I will not go back. I want to be with you Maddie. I feel bad for leaving but not bad enough to ever give this up, like this, with you. I am where I want to be, and I even have a job interview tomorrow with the local channel eight station. They are looking for a co-host for their hockey show on Saturday nights.”

“You didn’t tell me,” I said poking him hard in the shoulder.

“I wanted it to be a surprise, but I saw the way you were looking at me, and well, you need to know I am moving on.”

“Fine, but we don’t have to watch the game if it bothers you.” I countered.

“No, I owe it to them to watch and root and pray and anything else I can do. Besides Eric needs our support,” he said with a grimace on his face.

Eric and Cussman had been scoreless since Jack left, and worse was , they looked terrible. They looked so bad they were getting demoted down the lineup. My heart was breaking for my brother, but I had Jack. I mean shit, why did it have to be like this?

“Maybe they will come out of it tonight,” I said getting my hopes up, but Jack was shaking his head.” Uh oh, what” I asked?

“They put Orlov on their line. They will not be able to function together. It’s almost like they know they are going to lose and yet they still keep doing everything they can to make it worse.”

“Well they already tried everyone else” I said.

It was time for the anthems and we both stood. Jack may not be on the ice, but he was still a hockey player. The anthems played but they didn’t pull in the red rug they used for the singer, instead Mr. Green came out. He looked terrible, I mean like real bad.

“I am sorry to delay the game, but I want to share some news with you. Haley Mills, the young girl with cancer, is back in the hospital. Her parents called me today and told me the news. I would ask for all of us to pray for her recovery. I also want to share this video that channel nine got from her room this morning.”

The Jumbotron flared to life and Haley was there lying in bed. She looked terrible and tears were coming out of my eyes. This was the little girl that Jack and Eric and the whole team went all out for that day.

“Haley, you were a big part of the blizzard team recently, and we know you are a member of the team. What do you want to say to your teammates on the Blizzard?” The reported asked.

“I don’t know. I like Eric Maddison, he is my favorite, but I am sad about Jack leaving. I think Eric is too. I mean they don’t play like they did. They all seem sad. Jack left because he had too, but I wish he was there. Jack told me to fight. I tried. I’m tired of fighting. I mean we didn’t fight for Jack either, so I guess everyone is tired.”

“Haley, remember we are buffalo, we are still here for you.” The reported said and she smiled but she looked in pain and I was wiping tears faster than I could think.

“I like that, but are we? Are we Buffalo, without Jack. Eric isn’t. I’m not. I don’t think any of us are. I just wish things were the way they were.” Then she began coughing and she was so pale.

I jumped up from the couch and grabbed my coat while Jack sat glued to the television. I grabbed his too and then grabbed my purse.

“Buffalo, this is Haley Mills, she is one of ours. What are we going to do about it Buffalo?” This is Lisa Sevort for channel nine news.

I threw his coat at him and he caught it looking at me with tears running down his face. He looked at his coat and then looked back at me with questions.

“Come on, we have a little girl to go see.” I said walking to the door not looking to see if he was following or not.

Jack

We listened to the game on the drive over and the Blizzard were losing as we pulled up to the hospital. We walked in like we owned the place and I followed Maddie’s lead since she seemed to know where she was going and I didn’t have a clue what the hell I was going to say or do once we saw her.

I was scared. I told this girl we would fight together and here she was lying in a hospital bed while I could still walk around and be me. I felt like a fucking fake, and it was killing me.

Maddie got directions and we were headed for the children’s ward. We were stopped outside by a nurse before we could enter and Maddie began arguing with her. I was still in shock and didn’t know what was happening, finally a doctor came out to see what the commotion was about and he saw Maddie then he saw me.

“Let me ask the parents?” He said and walked back in.

I was still in shock so when the big doors opened and we walked in I just kept following Maddie. Haley’s parents were outside the room and I wanted to just drop on the floor and beg forgiveness. I let her down, I let everyone down.

“She can only have two people in her room at a time. Please go on in.” Her dad said as her mom was crying as bad as I was.

We walked in and there she was. She was asleep and she looked so pale. My god she was so precious. I sniffed and it must have been loud enough to wake her because she looked at me and then at Maddie. Then she smiled. I lost it.

“Why is he crying,” Haley said to Maddie?

“Because he feels bad for leaving the team when he promised you he would be there.”

“It’s Ok, he found you.” She said smiling again and I was beside the bed holding her hand in mine and wiping tears away.

“Haley, I am so sorry. I should have been here for you. I made you a promise, and I never break a promise.” I said dropping to my knees so our faces were on the same level.

“It’s Ok Jack, I broke a promise to. I said I would fight and not give up. I don’t think I can fight anymore.” Haley said but I wasn’t the type to tell her it was ok.

“You know Eric told me that once. He said Jack I can’t fight, I’m too small. I told him, what if I fight beside you? Will you be taller if I stand beside you? You know what he said?”

She was shaking her head riveted to my story, of course it was about Eric. “He said, I think I would be. So the next time we got in a fight I was right beside him. We lost,” I said and she laughed. God it was a beautiful sound.

“Of course they took us to the time out box and once we were inside we looked at each other and we began laughing and we fist bumped and we got ready to play the rest of the game. We won that game Haley. Eric told me later that having me beside him, it just felt like he was taller. Haley do you want me to stand by you so you can fight” I asked holding my breath?

She looked at me and then she looked at Maddie. “Can she stand with us too?”

I looked up at Maddie and tears were flowing down her face like mine were before. “Oh princess,” she said. “I wouldn’t leave the two of you if you tried to make me.”

She smiled at her and took her hand. “You really are Eric’s sister?”

“Yes I am,” Maddie laughed.

“Will you tell me stories about when he was my age.”

“Oh I sure will,” she said sitting in the chair next to the bed. “Jack, give us some girl time will you.” Then she looked back at Haley “Eric wouldn’t want him to know this stuff.”

Haley was giggling as I walked out of the room and came face to face with her parents. “Is Haley laughing,” her mother asked shocked.

“Yeah, apparently Maddie is telling her funny stories about when Eric was young, and I’m not allowed to hear anymore because they are pretty embarrassing.” I said sheepish.

“Jack, you didn’t have to come, neither of you did, but we are in your debt for making her laugh again. The doctor said if she can get through two more treatments she has a real good chance.” He said wiping his own eyes. “Maybe just her laughing again will give her the fight she will need to make it.”

“I will be standing by her. I made a promise. I won’t let her down again. I’m going to go down and get drinks for everyone, what would you like?” I asked them both.

“No need for that Jack, everything is waiting in her new room.” Mr. Green said walking in with a shy looking Eric.

Eric ran over to me and hugged me tight. “How is she,” he asked scared out of his wits.

Just then we heard a lot of laughter. “Um, she is good now that your sister is telling her stories about you. I am pretty sure they are all embarrassing stories.”

“You’re kidding,” he asked looking down right nervous.

“Nope in fact Maddie made me leave because she said it was really bad.” I said slapping him on the back.

The parents were talking to Mr. Green and then a bunch of orderlies showed up. I stood out of the way with Eric as they went into Haley’s room and began getting her ready for the move. Maddie joined us and when they wheeled Haley out she saw Eric and her eyes lit up and then she began laughing.

Eric looked at her and then looked at Maddie and then at her again and she said “woof woof.”

Eric turned pale and looked at Maddie and Maddie started laughing and Haley laughed all the way down the hall. Haley’s mom came over and pulled Maddie in for the biggest hug I had ever seen. I would have been jealous under any other circumstances.

“Thank you, thank you all.” Then she hurried to catch up to her husband and Mister Green and we all followed in their wake.

So, it seems if you give enough money to a hospital they name a room after you. If you give a lot of money they name a whole wing. We were standing outside the Blizzard room, in the Green wing of the hospital. I was told if any of the players were in the hospital for surgery or what not, this was the room they stayed in.

The best part of the room was everyone could fit, and we did. We were all laughing and carrying on enough that the doctor came in and gave us all stern looks. Then he went to Haley and said. “I need to get you hooked up again if you can do it?”

She looked like she might say no, and then she looked at me. I walked over to the bed and stood there. Maddie came over and stood next to me and we faced the doctor.

Haley smiled and she looked at the doctor. “I feel taller, I can do it”

“Oh no, you told her that story too,” Eric said putting his head in his hands and we all laughed.

“Good girl,” the doctor said and he hooker her IV up and got the medicine dripping. I didn’t ask what it was, it wasn’t my place, but whatever it was it began to tire her out but before she fell asleep I looked down on her angelic face and said “I will be here when you wake up.”

She passed out a few seconds later with a smile on her face.

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