Part 3 of 3
“Choosing love over a career.”
“You did?” she asked looking at the room.
“Sort of, I played hockey.”
“Most of us used to.”
“No, I was good; really good.” Deke paused. “They all expected me to play in the NHL.”
“Is that where Deke came from?”
“Yeah, I was sort of known for it, which is a deke in itself really—”
“So what happened?”
“My Mom got sick.”
“She was admitted to hospital the day before the scouts came. I chose to stay with her.”
“Why didn’t you go, play the game, and come back?”
“She died in the middle of the second period.”
“I’m so sorry….”
“She’d spent everything we had on me and hockey. After her funeral, the owner of this place, Jake, took me in.”
The thoughts she couldn’t quite finish hummed in Katherine’s ears like a badly tuned radio, “Wow….”
“Yeah…. But that’s life. We all face our forks.”
Deke smiled, “In life we make choices. When we’re young, we think life’s a video game but as we get older we realize there are no levels to replay and we have to live with the decisions we make.”
“Why didn’t you keep playing hockey?”
“I sold my skates for food a long time ago,” Deke said taking her glass.
“Oh… where’s your washroom?”
“It’s the room to your left.”
“Thanks.” Katherine said pushing through the sheet Deke had pinned up over the doorway.
Deke refilled her glass at the sink and came back. Putting down the glass, he flattened the couch. He’d noticed her eyes drooping.
When she came out of the bathroom, her eyes were red and her face was wet. “Are you okay?” Deke asked.
Katherine started to cry, “I’m sorry.”
Deke came over impulsively, wrapping his arms around her shoulders. “You made a choice Katie.”
She cried harder. Everyone used to call her Katie, before she moved to the UK that is. Katie was who she was here—at home. Who she’d been to Dean before she left—
The tears were mostly the whiskey’s fault but her choices had kept her up at night for years. She didn’t live with them the way Deke did, she lived against them.
When the tears finally slowed, she looked up at Deke again. Taking her face in his hands, he kissed her forehead before he tucked her in. Deke lay down on top of the blankets behind her, his thumb making soothing circles on her shoulder until her breath softened. Quietly, he stood, withdrawing to his own bed.
The next morning Katherine awoke to the sound of Deke snoring lightly in the next room behind the floral bed sheet he’d hung in place of a door. The flavour of burnt coffee smouldered on her tongue. He was right. Smiling, she quietly pulled on her shoes and jacket, letting herself out. Last night’s snowstorm had left a fresh blanket of snow glistening in the morning sun and she revelled at the newness of her footprints.
© Jessica Becking 2010