Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Chapter Four

 Jon left tonight's game in the first with an "undisclosed upper body injury" and did not return.  Everyone cross your fingers that it's not serious!  
PS: Hello guns.  And thighs.  Mamma mia.

“I got it,” Callie said in a quiet, hesitating voice. “A full scholarship to UCLA.”

Jon let out a huge sigh. He knew it was Callie’s first choice school and that she, like he, was depending on scholarship money to pave the way. He was happy for her, but sad for himself.
“That’s great! I’m really proud of you.”

Callie smiled at him trying to be nice. “It’s so far from you.”

“I know,” he whispered. “But you have to do it for you, Cal. I wouldn’t go to Dakota if it weren’t for hockey. And who knows, I might not even be here the whole 4 years.”

“That’s why I love you,” she said softly.

Jon put his head back against the wall. He was in his dorm, sitting on the bed. His roommate was at dinner, giving Jon a moment of privacy. Something in Edie’s voicemail had made hmM suspect this news was coming. “I love you too. And I’ll be home in six weeks. We can worry about college when it comes, we have all summer first.”

Her heart did a little flip. “I can’t wait.”

Jon was packing up the last of his dorm room. His dad was due in the next day to pick him up for the summer. He was itching to get home, get time off and most of all to be with Callie. It was just after dinner when his phone rang.

“Hi Mom,” he said.

“Jon.” Instantly he knew something was wrong. “Callie’s mother had a heart attack.” She was fighting back tears. “She’s stable, but she can’t leave Singapore. We just found out – Callie has to leave in the morning.”

Jon immediately started crying. He was scared – scared for Callie, for her mom. And he’d been really wound up about finally seeing her. Months of doing all they could by phone had worn him thin; he needed to touch her, feel her in his arms. He’d been waiting so long.

“Is she okay? Callie?” he managed.

“Call her, she’s upstairs.”

“Baby,” Jon said when Callie picked up.

“I’m so sorry Jon, I want to see you.” She was crying.

“Shhhh, please don’t worry. I’ll be there all summer. Are you okay going all the way there by yourself?” Jon twisted the arm of a Dakota sweatshirt in his hand, it was a gift for Callie.

She drew in a breath. “Yeah. She’ll be fine, I’m just freaking out a little that this even happened. I…,” she started crying again. “I miss them, I miss you – I’m missing everything important, Jon.”

“Oh Callie.” Tears brimmed in his eyes, listening to her in pain. He wanted so much to hold her and now he wouldn’t have the chance. Not anytime soon.

Home was not the same without Callie. Jon was relieved to be finished with a whole year of college. He’d had a great time and played really good hockey, but it had taken a lot out of him. Under his pillow, in the same spot as Christmas, he’d found another note:

I miss you, college boy. Be home soon. Love, Callie

They talked as often as they could with the time difference and cost of international phone calls. Callie’s mom was recovering well – she’d had a bypass and was out of the hospital inside of a week. She couldn’t do much more than convalesce, so Callie ran the house while her father worked. Weeks went by and Callie’s mom was recovering slowly.

“I can’t come, Jon. I am so, so sorry.”

It felt worse than he’d imagined, though he’d known full well it might happen. The NHL Entry Draft was in June and Callie wouldn’t make it back. Jon was projected to go in the top 5 picks. It was a huge, monumental occasion. And Callie would miss it.

“I hate this,” she said through tears.

“Me too. But it’s just the draft! It’s not like I’m playing yet.”

She was not pacified. “You’re going to be on TV! A million people are going to get very excited about the prospect of Jonathan Toews in the NHL. Can you believe it? And I’m going to miss it. I didn’t wear that shitty gear and stand in net all those hours to miss you getting drafted!”

“Cal,” he said. “I will tape it for you. And send you a thousand pictures.”

“Where do you want to go?”

Only Callie would ask that question. Jon had deliberately not thought about it. He didn’t want to get excited about one team to get picked by another, didn’t want to get ahead of himself. It was the NHL! Who cared where he went?

“You want Pittsburgh because Crosby went there,” she guessed. “Or Boston or Chicago because they’re original six teams. But you’ll take St. Louis, of course, if it meant being number one.” Jon smiled without answering. She knew him well.

“I can’t believe I won’t be there,” she repeated.

“Baby, this is just the beginning. When you get home, I’ll tell you all about it.”

Callie had her phone in her pocket all day, stopping every few steps because she thought it vibrated. She sat in front of the computer in her father’s study, constantly hitting refresh on NHL.com and cursing the delay between real-time and whenever someone bothered to update the webpage. It seemed to take forever.

The first pick went – Eric Johnson, St. Louis Blues

The second pick went – Jordan Staal, Pittsburgh Penguins

The third pick took ages to post and when it did, Callie screamed so loud the downstairs neighbors banged on their ceiling. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

Her mother clapped and cried, calling her father on their landline. Callie was already texting. Jon wouldn’t have his phone on him, and she’d be just one a million messages, but she couldn’t wait.

Aaaggghhh! So proud. All crying. Love you, love you so much. My hero.

Jon almost fainted when they called his name. His mother wrapped him up in a hug he could barely feel and he managed not to trip up the steps. He smiled, shook hands, pulled on a red and black sweater with 80 years of history behind it. Flashbulbs popped endlessly as Jon fought to control his breathing.

An hour of introductions and interviews later, he finally got a moment to sneak to the bathroom. His phone memory was full, but he scrolled through the messages that had been received. Callie’s was number 17. He texted her back immediately.

This sweater is going to look great on you. Love.

But it wasn’t to be. Complications with Callie’s mom kept her there more than two months. Jon had been okay at first – they’d both expected to be together soon. As time wore on, they started getting snippy. School was coming again and Jon hadn’t had the summer he’d been hoping for. Callie was far away with no friends and an ailing parent. Jon tried to be patient and helpful, but he was also horny and frustrated.

Finally it came time for Jon to go back to Dakota. It was earlier than most students, since training started in August before classes even began. Callie cried on the phone.

“I’m so, so sorry Jon. I didn’t want to miss all this.”

It broke his heart – the only thing he’d gone without all summer was Callie. Callie had gone without almost everything. “It’s okay. You’ll be at school soon, you’ll have the time of your life. College, Cal! You’ll be so excited you’ll forget about all this.”

Jon left before Callie made it back to Winnipeg. When she finally got off the plane, exhausted and delirious, she went right to their room and lifted the pillow.

I missed you. This bed (town, province, country) is very lonely without you. Call me now. Then go to college.

Love, Jon

“Hey,” she said moments later when he picked up the phone.

“Five thirty, you just found my note, eh?”

She sat against the pillows, tears in her eyes. It felt better to be on the same land as him, even if he was a thousand miles away. It was the closest they’d been in months. They talked more easily than they had in weeks.

“Sleep for two whole days, then pack up and go to college. You’re going to love it,” he said. “And while you’re sleeping, dream about me.”

“I’ve been dreaming about you all year, Jon.”

Callie did love college. She worked hard, made friends and fit right into the lifestyle. Some of her friends had boyfriends or girlfriends at home or other schools, and they often came to Callie for advice. She was a pro at missing Jon.

Jon’s whole life was hockey again. Day in and day out. He worked hard at school, but it really didn’t matter. The Blackhawks were talking about bringing him up for the start of the next season. Next season, he thought. It would mean leaving school early, something he’d have to commit to before summer really started.

They talked all the time in the beginning, mostly about Callie adjusting to school and Jon giving her pointers on freshman year. As the semester wore on and hockey took more time from Jon’s schedule, the phone calls became fewer. First it was every few days, then once a week. Voicemails were left and phone tag was played. Christmas was coming so quickly – but then it was taken away.


Jon shook his head, thinking the same thing. The World Junior Championship was a huge deal and he still couldn’t keep the smile off his face when he thought about having won the year before. But that was just in British Columbia, practically next door to his house. This year, the tournament was in Sweden and would take up his entire Christmas break.

“Jeez, where are you going to put all these gold medals, Jon? You’ll have one for every day of the week!” Callie laughed. She couldn’t be upset. The opportunity could no longer be called ‘once in a lifetime,’ but she was thrilled for Jon.

“We’re all going, so…,” he wasn’t sure she realized what this meant. Either she got herself to Sweden or…

“Guess I’m going to Singapore. No place for me to stay in Winnipeg,” she sighed, wishing her parents hadn’t finally sold their house next door to Jon’s.

“Sorry, Cal. I wish you could come! I even tried asked for a ticket for you for Christmas… but flights are like $1600.”

She put her forehead against the wall, resisting the urge to bang it repeatedly. “I’ll see if Santa won’t give me a ride.” But she couldn’t keep joking the whole time. “I miss all the good stuff.”

“Right now I’d settle for the boring stuff,” he agreed. They were quiet for a while, just sharing time since they couldn’t share space. When it came time to go, they were both wondering how many more times they could say goodbye without every saying hello.

“Miss you, Callie.”

“Love you, Jon.”

Jon and Team Canada won Gold again at the World Junior Championships. He’d spoke to Callie only twice – once on Christmas Day when he decided to forget calculating time differences and just called her. It was the middle of the night there, but she seemed really happy to hear from him. Her mother had recovered fully and she was enjoying being spoiled by her parents and exploring the country she’d missed most of the last time. It was like their old conversations – trading stories about where they were, Callie cheering Jon on for his upcoming games. When he won, he called her again in the middle of the night.

“I’m at a nightclub, celebrating your win! There are so many expats – it’s all Canadians here!” she yelled over the background noise. “If they knew I was talking to you they would freak out!”

He could picture her, bouncing around to the thumping music, cheering wildly. Maybe she was even…

“I’m wearing your Sioux sweater! It’s like 100 degrees and I’m dancing in a hockey jersey!”

Jon slumped against the wall – she was thinking of him still. He didn’t know how much more thinking they could do.

At the beginning of February, Jon was worried about Valentine’s Day. He wanted to send Callie a present, but couldn’t think of what to get – he hadn’t seen her in a year and a half. She had so much Dakota gear you’d think she went there, and it was looking more and more like Jon would be leaving at the end of the semester anyway. It was getting harder and harder to talk to her; they were running out of things to talk about. Jon felt that every story he told was the same – hockey, hockey, hockey. And her stories made him jealous – new friends, new places, adventures he couldn’t share. It made him tired just thinking about it.

Callie was scared. She loved Jon but she felt them pulling apart. They’d been “together” two years and apart for 75% of that time. That was no way to live. He sounded sad on the phone, sharing less with her, making her work for conversations. She filled the spaces with her own talking and soon felt like she was babbling endlessly about the most mundane things. When a cute guy in her macroeconomics class asked her out, she wondered what they were doing.

“So,” Callie said.

“So,” Jon leaned against the phone, lying on his bed.

“We should talk about this.”

Jon closed his eyes; he wanted to and he didn’t – he just wanted to feel better. But he didn’t want to lose her. Callie was the constant in his ever-changing life, and the changes were about to get much bigger. Jon worried that he would lose himself without her. “Yeah, we should,” he admitted.

“What do we do?” she asked.

“Break up? I don’t want to, Cal. But I don’t know what we’re doing anymore.”

Callie closed her eyes. She could always count on Jon to be honest about how he felt. He may not offer it, but he would never lie. “I don’t want to either, but I’m lonely.”

“Me too.”

“I’ll miss you everyday anyway, Jon.”

He smiled a little. “I will too. Will… will you go out with someone else?”

Callie thought of the guy in her class, just some guy in jeans and a sweater. She didn’t know his parents, the backyard of his house, or the way he breathed in his sleep. He seemed invisible now. “Probably not. There are no yous in Los Angeles.”

“There’s only one you, Cal.”

“So it’s over.” It wasn’t a question, but she needed reassurance.

“I’m still going to call you tomorrow,” he said sadly. As much as it tore at his heart to give up his claim on Callie, he felt that he needed some of that energy to hold himself together with all his life was about to become.

“I’ll still answer, Jon.”

After they hung up, Callie lay still looking at the ceiling in her dorm room. She and Jon had always been together, even before they really were. But for the last 18 months, it had been an uphill climb. It felt terrible to lose him but she could almost feel the ground evening out beneath her.

Jon stayed in place, holding the phone like a weight. Broken up. Single. They all sounded like things that needed to be fixed, but Jon felt like it might be more right than it had been in a long time.

Jon went to Chicago in August and played his first NHL game on October 10. It was not lost on either of them that it was Callie’s birthday. Jon scored his first goal on his first shot ever, and silently gave it to her as a gift. When the most incredible experience of his life was over and he sat, sweaty and elated, amidst the commotion of the locker room, he checked his phone. Almost as many messages as draft day. Again, Callie’s was among the top 20.

Best birthday present ever. Rookie of the Year.

Callie watched as many Hawks games as she could, though she didn’t talk to Jon too often. His life was moving at warp speed. She was getting through her sophomore year. For Christmas she went to Singapore, and for spring break to Mexico with friends. Emails and texts grew further between – Callie felt lucky for the few phone calls she received from Jon. She took an internship and stayed in LA for the summer after Jon’s season ended. He lost Rookie of the Year to his teammate Patrick Kane.

At the start of the next year, Jon was named Captain of the Chicago Blackhawks. Callie took her Toews sweater to the sports store to have a C added. When the new name & number t-shirts came out, she bought two. Jon worked and worked, honored by the captaincy and driven to a new height of devotion. His time was squeezed ever tighter. He got a Christmas email from Callie, and when he realized at the end of January that he’d never returned it, he was too embarrassed to send one back so late. But he did it anyway.

Hope you had a great Christmas, nice and warm in Singapore.

Callie hadn’t gone to see her parents, but she appreciated the thought.

Summer before senior year, Callie stayed in LA again for work. She interned at a management consulting firm, helping established companies integrate current technology and structure their workforce. They asked her to stay on part time during the year, and she hoped for a job upon graduation.

On December 30, 2009 Jon was selected for the 2010 Canadian Olympic Team. Callie felt unsure texting him, but she did it anyway. He would have a zillion – he’d probably never read hers.

Make room for one more gold medal.

This time Jon replied the moment he saw it: If we win, I’ll buy a new shelf. A new room.

When Canada won, Callie was one of a few Canadians in a Los Angeles bar screaming her head off. Wrapped in her Toews Sioux sweater, she drank free for the rest of the day. She texted:

JON! I’m drinking on your tab, Champ. Congratulations!

It was a day before she heard back, but it still counted.

Drink double and send me the bill. Go Canada! Love.

In April, the Blackhawks made the playoffs. Callie added two more Toews items – a Winter Classic throwback jersey and a vintage t-shirt – to her wardrobe. She wore one almost every day the Hawks played. They rolled past Nashville in the first round and Vancouver in the second.

Callie graduated summa cum laude from UCLA, wearing a Toews shirt under her graduation robe. That same week she was offered a full-time job at the company where she’d been interning. Her real life had started but she was more interested in Jon’s.

In the Western Conference Finals, she sat inches from the TV while the Blackhawks swept the San Jose Sharks and moved to the Stanley Cup Final. She didn’t hesitate to text Jon:

Dream come true time! I’m watching every minute.

Jon was flying high. He was terrified, but like a tight rope walker he believed the adrenaline itself could hold him up. Of all the things, all the amazing things he had done in 21 years, this was the one.

Callie watched game 4 of the Final at home, alone. She couldn’t take any interruptions and she was afraid of her own reaction. When they won she nearly bit through a throw pillow on the couch. As Jon lifted the Cup, tears streamed down her face and she felt her heart might burst. It was hours before she stopped shaking, before she could think clearly.

Part of her brain said: I missed this. I gave up too soon.

The rest said: I will always love him.

She composed her text message a hundred times, nearly draining her phone battery before she even hit send. Finally, it was away.

I told you you’d be the youngest captain to win the Cup. You’re amazing. My life is complete.

There were no words to describe that game for Jon. Or that night, which lasted until the next afternoon. When he finally collapsed, spent of energy and adrenaline but basking in the glow of a win that would last for months, Jon had hundreds of text messages. There were only a few he cared about; Callie’s was around number 250. Jon had been on the verge of tears since he cried unabashedly as he raised the Cup over his head. Her message hit home and he blinked his eyes clear so he could reply.

Kissing the Cup was the second best first kiss I ever had.

Summer passed in a blur. Jon was as busy as he’d been during the season – it seemed the Cup was due in a thousand places and him with it. Between the parties and events and travel, it was the ultimate 3-month party.

Callie followed the adventures of Lord Stanley online. She knew Jon would get a day with the Cup, but she didn’t return to Winnipeg. She had nowhere to go and felt this would be the wrong time to reappear in Jon’s life. He’d earned the spotlight.  Instead she settled into her job and performed very well, enjoying the transition to finally having money, stability and direction.  When the government announced they were naming a lake after Jon, she nearly died – it was the lake they’d swum in as kids.

The red light on Callie’s phone was blinking when she got to work on a mid-September Monday morning. It was the first non-school September of her life and the difference took some getting used to. The message was her boss, asking her to stop by.

“Callie,” he said as she took a seat in front of his desk. “We are making some changes within the company and we feel there is a lot of potential for you here.”

Nerves instantly faded – she thought, maybe I'm getting promoted!

“We are restructuring, and some positions here will change. Yours will change. But we’d like to offer you an alternative. A position has opened that would be a step up for you – it’s a little soon to be promoting you but we feel you’re ready.”

“That sounds great, I…,” she started.

“There’s a catch,” he cut her off with a hand wave. “You’d have to transfer offices. To Chicago.”


  1. ahhhhh!!! so effing good!
    i was close to tears!!

    cant wait for an update!!!

  2. AHHHH!!!! YES!!!! Chicago :D
    Hopefully Jon hasn't moved on, so they can still be together. I can't wait for the next chapter :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D :D

  3. This was awesome! I love that you were able to go through 5 years in one chapter without making it feel rushed at all; it was really natural progression. Can't wait for a reunion between them :)

  4. ok so emotional! So good! I cant wait for more! I really cant wait for Jons reaction. More soon!!

  5. ohh Chicago ! <3 here she comes jon !


  7. omfg i dont want thier relationship to continue so quick when they are in chicago together. I want them to go slow since they will be living in the same city. now if they do want to continue thier relationship their always has to be a phyco girlfriend involved in this story. PLease i beg you to post today

  8. cant wait for another update!!!! lol i love the part where he is horny and lonely

  9. This is so good!!! I can not wait for the next chapter.

  10. YAY. Can't wait to see what happens!! He's going to be engaged, isn't he? I hope not. I want them to get married and have pretty babies. :) Haha. :D

  11. Ok random but I was at the game when he got injured and it was so weird because all of a sudden he wasn't there. It was kinda scary and then they lost which made it worse.