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point of no return

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David felt a rush as he booted up his mother’s computer. He hadn’t been forbidden from using it, exactly, his mother wasn’t around enough to set any kind of rules, but he just knew that sneaking into his mother’s office at home wasn’t something he should be doing.

The computer was faster than the older models they had at school, but the long minutes it took for the home screen to appear were still nerve-wracking. He waited until it finished loading completely, though, the way they had taught him in school, then he clicked on the Internet Explorer icon on the menu and started typing into the search bar.

There was this website he was told about at school where people posted videos and you could watch them for free. The guys had been talking about dirty videos during break, laughing, but David had something else in mind. The guys at school were idiots anyway. Even most of the guys on his team were idiots.

When the page finally loaded, he started typing his search, again careful to follow the instructions he had been given in class, using all his fingers on the keyboard, instead of punching every key with his index finger like some of his classmates did:

Alexei Konstantinovich

David paused, not sure whether he should be more specific. He decided it couldn’t hurt:

Alexei Konstantinovich Vancouver Canucks

The search threw several results, a mix of grainy interviews and game highlights. David hovered over the first result, something that looked like a morning show interview with Konstantinovich and some other teammates by the tiny image he could see. David scrolled down to click on the second one. Exactly what he wanted to see.

Overtime goal Stanley Cup Final Game 7 1989

The clip started at center ice, with Perrault carrying the puck into the Canucks offensive zone. An Islanders’ D-man tried to take the puck from him, but Perrault dangled and passed to Konstatinovich, who one-timed it into the net before the Islanders’ goalie had time to react.

The camera zoomed in on Konstantinovich’s face, crying with joy for a moment before he disappeared under his teammates, who crushed him forming a pile next to the Islanders’ net.

David played the video again, pausing to study Konstantinovich reception of Perrault’s pass, everything from his posture when he scored to the celly. He froze the image again when it showed Konstantinovich’s face, just before Perrault, the nearest teammate, crushed him in a hug and covered him completely. Konstantinovich looked overjoyed, eyes shining with tears, hair sticking to his forehead under his helmet, sweat and maybe even tears wetting his cheeks.

David played the video again, and again, stopping always a few moments on Konstantinovich’s face. It made his chest feel heavy, something he couldn’t identify. He played it again. He raised his hand to touch the screen, but caught himself, feeling stupid for the urge to touch that face on a screen. He clenched his hands, noticing for the first time his hands were sweating, and still feeling something crushing his chest every time he noticed Konstantinovich’s face, frozen on the screen, not a trace of exhaustion in it, even after over 60 minutes of hockey, just pure happiness..

David tried to picture that: scoring the game winning goal in the Stanley Cup Final. He knew he was small, had gotten shit from other kids over it, but he also knew he was good. He could do it. He just had to work harder.

He imagined the crush of his teammates after the goal, saw himself on the ice, Konstantinovich skating towards him, grinning, hugging him and screaming in his ear. The heavy feeling in his chest hadn’t disappear, but he was starting to feel something else, lower, down in his belly. That feeling he identified better. He usually told himself he was too busy to notice girls, to notice anything that wasn’t hockey, but he still woke up hard, sometimes. It hadn’t happened looking at somebody, however. Yet.

David shook his head to clear his mind, clenching his hands harder, until he could feel the bit of his nails against his palms. He didn’t bother shutting down the computer properly, the way his teacher taught him, instead just holding down the power button until the screen went black.

He went downstair to ask Mary Anne whether she needed help with dinner, ignoring the sinking feeling that had replaced everything else in his chest. Nothing had happened. It was just hockey.