My fingers rolled over the black keys, Max’s hands resting on my shoulders. It’s a beautiful piano, like nothing I had ever seen before. He squeezes his fingers on my flesh and instantly it all came rushing back to me. My fingers roll over the keys with such ease, sounds filling the room, I couldn’t stop my fingers even if I wanted to. Max released his hands from my shoulders but I continued to play. I felt his presence next to me, glancing over quickly to see he had taken a seat next to me on the bench. Without even realizing it I began to play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”. A song I used to play by myself whenever I needed a good cry. A song so deep and powerful that upon hearing it your heart clenches.
I don’t even realize I’m crying until I taste the salt hit my tongue. Just like I was when I was a little girl, I was playing with my tongue sticking out and my heart on my sleeve. I pause momentarily to compose myself, I glance up at Max, he's starring into my soul, and he’s seeing something of me for the first time. I’m not completely sure on how he’s reacting. His face is blank, his glasses form a small barrier for his eyes and he’s hunched over . . . just starring. “What?” I whisper suddenly self conscious. He doesn’t like piano, this is painful to his ears. “Keep playing,” he urges on and I take a deep breath refocusing my eyes back on the keys. I play louder, harder than before. I have trapped anger and sadness that I’m letting out through my fingers.
My breathing is heavy and it takes me a moment to realize my hands are now resting on top of my thighs. I bring my head up and look over at Max. He still looks the same. No expression, no answers, no questions. “Don’t look at me like that if you’re not going to say something,” I whisper as I stand up and take a few steps away from the piano. I’m not exactly sure how I feel after playing. Part of me wants to scream while the other part of me feels as though I just washed off ten years worth of mud on my body. “I still don’t fully understand why you never told me you played piano. That was beautiful Lil, I’ve never heard anything like that before.” I glance over my shoulder at him to see he’s still sitting on the bench, shoulders still hunched forward, but now his left hand is running over the keys. “We all hide secrets Max, can we move on now?” I sigh feeling exhausted from the roller coaster I had been on all day. He turns around on the bench and smiles at me before nodding his head. “Let’s go to bed.”
I can hear the music she’s playing but all of my senses are centered in on the ring bouncing from key to key. The engagement ring I bought for her so long ago. In reality though, it hadn’t been that long, a month or so, but it was burning a hole in my pocket. Now it was in its right place. Things were falling into place for me. It was like I got knocked right in the face, straight down on my ass. Every time she knocked me down though, I would get back up and beg for her to do it again. I was in love with this woman, I couldn’t remind myself enough.
At some point I became lost in the music. She began to cry and as much as I wanted to reach up and wipe away her tears, I couldn’t move. The music paralyzed me. This talent I never knew she had, so wonderful, so powerful, coming out of her small body. She amazes me every day. I can see from the expression on her face that she is no longer mentally here. She’s off somewhere else, her fingers giving me the only proof that she’s here physically. This could possibly be the best therapy I can give her. I can only hope that wherever she is in her head, it’s a pleasant place, and that maybe I’m in there too. Her fingers stop and she slowly places her hands on her thighs. Life comes back to her face and she looks over at me. I don’t know how to respond, how does one say something after what just happened? “Don’t look at me like that if you’re not going to say something,” she whispers before getting up from the bench and walks away. I look down at the keys trying to think of something to say. If I don’t say anything at all, she will probably never play again. “I still don’t fully understand why you never told me you played piano. That was beautiful Lil, I’ve never heard anything like that before.” I run my hand over the keys waiting for her come down from the evident freak out that she so badly wants to have. “We all hide secrets Max, can we move on now?” I smile to myself as I spin around on the bench and smile at her. “Let’s go to bed,” I nod before standing up and taking her hand in mine.
Sure it’s only four in the afternoon but we’re both exhausted from the long, emotional day we had. As soon as her head hits the pillow her eyes close and her breathing steadies out. I step out of my pants and pull my shirt off before crawling into bed next to her. I’m tired, on the verge of going delusional but I don’t want to close my eyes. I stare at her, never wanting her to leave my eye sight ever again. Two weeks was far too long. I never want to be away from her for that long ever again. I run my hand over her head, her hair is starting to grow back ever so slowly, and within minutes I feel myself fall asleep as well.
The sun was poking through the open blinds and I groaned at the thought of how early it could be. The clock confirmed my nightmare to see it was just past 6 AM. I groaned throwing the blanket over my head but then I heard laughter from outside of the bedroom. I brought my head back up and saw Max was still passed out asleep next to me. Did he have practice today? Should he be awake? I heard the laughter again and crawled out of bed, stumbling into the bathroom. I brushed my teeth quickly, threw my robe on over my mangled clothing and headed downstairs. Upon turning around the corner I spotted the backsides of Sidney, Geno and Marc. “Are you guys trying to burn this place down?” I asked laughing as I leaned against the wall. They were all trying to physically gain control of the stove, and I knew this could only end in disaster. They all spun around shocked and somewhat frightened. “You’re supposed to be sleeping!” Marc squeaked out as he took a step towards me, pulling me into a hug. “Not when I can hear Crosby’s giggle upstairs,” I laughed pulling away from Marc to hug the other two. “Well we were just gonna make you guys breakfast than leave. Max should be waking up soon anyways, practice in a few hours,” Sidney explained and I smiled at them. “That’s really sweet of you guys.” “HOLY SHIT!” Geno yelled pointing to my hand. I looked down and smiled upon seeing the ring. “You said yes?” Marc asked quietly as he grabbed my hand and looked at the ring. The scene in front of me was something I would expect the girlfriends to do, but not the guys. “Yeah, I did. Look, he’ll probably want to tell you himself, so act surprised okay?” I smiled and they all pulled me into a big hug whispering their congratulations.
“What’s going on?” Max grumbled and I sighed in relief as the big Russian let go of me, allowing me to breath once again. “Just cooking up some breakfast and welcoming Lil back home,” Sidney smiled before throwing a wink at me. “Yeah okay,” Max stammered out, not fully trusting the guys. I smiled as he walked up to me and kissed me before his nose took him into the kitchen. Marc finished up cooking breakfast and the three boys were getting ready to leave, but I stopped them. “You cooked enough food for an army, there’s no way we will finish this all, please stay,” I pleaded looking at them. “No! I can eat this! Thanks guys! See ya later!” Max mumbled as he shoved his mouth full of French toast. I rolled my eyes and dragged the guys toward the food handing them plates.
I strolled into the locker room with a smile on my face and a skip in my step. I was a new man. Things were right in the world again. I got my girl, we’re going to win the cup, and my shoulder this particular day wasn’t hurting. I tossed my keys and wallet into my locker stall and looked around the room to see Geno, Sid and Flower starring at me. “What?” I asked laughing as I sat down to take my shoes off. “Nothing,” they all grunted moving their eyes elsewhere in the room. “She told you, didn’t she?” I asked boring my eyes into Flowers head. “Told me what?” He asked back, eyes wide. He was lying through his teeth. She told him. “That we’re getting married?” I didn’t even think before the words left my mouth. I should have worded it differently, now the whole locker room was looking at me in complete shock. Billy’s jaw a few inches from the floor. “Usually when you use the word ‘we’ it means you and someone else, and then the word married means the union of two people for life. You just used both words in the same sentence. I’m confused,” Billy stated as he walked up to me and threw his arm around my shoulders. “Lil and I are getting married,” I announced to make it clear as day. Now I had to prepare myself for the jibs I’d be receiving for the rest of the day.
Somehow, someway I made it through practice with only one puck ricocheting off the back of my knee for daydreaming. “Brewery?” Sid asked as he pulled his shoes on in the locker room. “What for?” I asked as I mimicked his movements. “Celebration? We’re in the playoffs, we’re gonna win, Maxime fucking Talbot is getting married.” “Sid just cussed. Someone get the soap!” Staalsy laughed and Sid rolled his eyes. “Yeah sure, I’ll call Lil.” I finished getting dressed and walked out to my car all while dialing Lilianah’s number into my phone. She picked up after the second ring and I could almost sense the smile in her voice. “Get ready, the boys are taking us out to celebrate.” “It’s only noon though,” she giggled and I couldn’t hold back my smile. “I know, but they insist. So I’m picking you up, then we’re going to the brewery. Love you.” I didn’t give her time to respond as I shut my phone.
She held my hand tightly, scarf wrapped around her head, as we walked inside the brewery. It seemed as though the whole team and a few of the girlfriends and wives were in attendance. Lillianah was handed from one person to the next in hugs. Both welcoming her back and congratulating her on our engagement. She was taking it like a champ. A smile on her face, proudly showing off her ring to the girls crowding around her. This wasn’t the way I expected Lillianah to respond, but I couldn’t stop smiling myself. Billy nudge my shoulder with his own and handed me a beer. “Don’t lose her Talbot, she’s good for you.” I laughed as I brought my eyes back to Lillianah, “she’s the angel that’s been missing off my shoulder.”