Something So PerfectBy: Natasha Madison
Walking down the rubber mat to the ice, the smell gets you right away. Dry. It’s a smell you can’t describe. I’ve been skating before I could walk, according to my mom. I live and breathe for this sport. Even at the age of twenty-five, I still crave getting on the ice. When I’m almost near the door leading to the rink, I take off running, my skates sliding over the clean surface.
Game day is a mix of different things for different players. For me, I get up early, get a workout in, and then relax till I have to make it to the rink, usually five hours before the game, to eat and get in the zone.
The second I put my skate on the ice, the crowd goes wild.
Little kids all line the boards, watching us skate around, shooting the puck doing drills. I stop in the corner and look up at the crowd as they take their seats while Ozzy Osborne’s “Crazy Train” fills the arena.
“Big game,” my line mate, Phil, says right when he stops next to me. “We need this win if we want to qualify for the playoffs.”
I handle the puck that’s ready on my blade for me to shoot at the person skating from the other side. I look down at the ice, and the Beavers are coming out strong, their goalie stopping every single puck that comes at him.
“I want to fucking smash those assholes,” is the last thing I say before I take off to the center ice. The puck passed to me by Phil lands directly in the middle of the blade. I snipe it in as soon as it hits. Top corner, right over the goalie’s shoulder. My goalie, Luka, tells me to “fuck off” when I skate by him. I salute him while making my way to the bench where a reporter is standing interviewing our assistant coach.
The coach walks away from the reporter, putting papers away in his coat pocket. The reporter looks at me. “You want to be interviewed, Grant?” he asks while checking his phone.
I look him up and down. “Now you want to interview me?” I ask him, grabbing the water bottle on the ledge, squirting some in my mouth. “Weren’t you the one who started this fucking dumb campaign?” I smirk at him while checking the tape on my stick. “I believe the correct words were ‘time to hang up the skates, he’s done.’”
His head snaps up and he tries to say something, but I ignore him and skate back to center ice.
Chuck Harris, a Boston Beaver, is there watching me. “His highness is back.” He stands there looking at me. “Word is that your babysitter is a walking sex doll. Is that true?”
He’s trying to bait me, trying to make me snap. I smirk at him, keeping my cool. That isn’t me anymore. I’m calm. I’m in a good place, and it’s all because of Karrie. I look up at where I know she will be sitting, but her seat is empty.
I tilt my head to the side, wondering where she could be. The game is about to start. She is usually in her seat when we warm up, so I look around the arena to see if she is anywhere else.
“Whatcha looking for?” Chuck smiles while he takes a drink from the green Gatorade bottle. I don’t bother answering him because the bell signals that it’s time for the Zamboni, so instead, I skate to the bench and head for the dressing room.
I sit down, taking off the tape from my stick and throwing it in the garbage, then getting my roll of tape that’s right next to my cell phone. As I reach for the tape, I see my phone light up with my mother’s number. She knows I’m on the ice, so it might be an emergency.
“Hello,” I answer the phone, looking around.
“Matthew, thank God. I want you to listen and say nothing. I have you on speaker. Cooper is here, too,” she says, and then Cooper’s voice sounds out. “Listen to us before you talk. Got me, son?” His voice is clipped.
“What the fuck is going on?” My heart starts pounding, and my neck gets hot, while I hear a commotion coming from outside the locker room. Voices rise behind me.
“There’s a warrant out for your arrest. Someone is accusing you of beating and raping her yesterday,” Cooper hisses out while I look at the door that’s being slammed open. “I have the lawyer already on his way to you. You say nothing, son, nothing.”
Two suit-wearing detectives come into the room. “Matthew Grant”—they flash their badges—“we have a couple of questions we need to ask,” one of them says while I hear Cooper still on the line. “Don’t say a fucking word, Matthew. We are coming to you.”
“Now?” I hear Coach behind me yelling. “You do this to him now, two seconds before he’s supposed to go on the ice?” He glares at them. They obviously couldn’t care less.
“You need to come down to the station with us,” the man continues, but I’m standing here with my mouth open, my ear drums pounding, and the phone to my ear. “We can walk out of here civilized or we can strap the cuffs on you. One way or another, you aren’t getting on that ice.”