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Old 10-25-2016, 03:32 PM View Post #1 (Link) Find The Peace Within
Kronnersgirl (Offline)
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Steve let loose a long-standing sigh and threw his pencil down on the Maplewood desk he was currently sitting at in his bedroom and massaged his temples with ginger fingers, the headache (or was it a migraine?) starting to form. He’d been looking over stats and game-plans for tomorrow night’s contest for almost three hours and it was time for him to take a break.

Being the captain of a hockey team was hard work, but, Steve reflected with a wry smile, it was worth every second of it. The looks of pure joy on both the faces of their fans and the faces of his teammates, especially the younger ones and rookies, the togetherness, the family atmosphere in the locker room, just everything about playing on a team, that was the part of his job he loved more than anything else in the world.

A sudden knock at the door startled Steve out of his thoughts and, glancing up, he called out, loud enough to be heard though the wood, “Come on in!”

Steve could usually tell who was knocking at his door, wanting his attention. His wife, Lisa, always landed three soft “Tap, Tap, Tap.” His daughters, the oldest one being 9 and the other two being 5 and 4, respectively, delivered five loud bangs if they wanted something.

This knock, this noise, consisted of only a single “tap.”

It turned out to be his rookie, 18-year-old Russian, Pavel Dastyuk, or “Pasha” as his Russian teammates called him.

He stood in the doorway, biting on his nails, tears in his eyes, but Steve witnessed pain and frustration radiating from the young man. There was a bashful flush flaming across his cheeks, and he kept shifting on his feet, acting like he wanted to run off and hide from the world, but not sure if he should do so.

“Pav?”

Pavel’s body jolted in shock at Steve’s voice and he whimpered, moving his hands up from his mouth to cover his face.

Frowning, concern spreading through his chest and down to his stomach like a whirlwind at Pavel’s unusual behavior, Steve rose out of his chair, maneuvered around the bed, and walked to Pavel’s place in the doorway, resting one steading hand on his trembling shoulder while the other hand snatched up his hands and tugged them away from his face.

“What’s wrong, kid? You’re hiding from me.”

Pavel sniffled but couldn’t meet Steve’s eyes.

“Need kneel for you.”
His answer was so quiet that at first, he didn’t think Steve heard it, but then, he made a noise of surprise when he felt lips brushing against his ear and a whispered “Grab a pillow and come over to the desk” tickled his eardrums.

Swallowing hard, Pavel leaned over the bed to grab a pillow and followed Steve, keeping his eyes on the floor, to the desk, where he tossed the pillow down and sank into it’s softness, the cool material of the pillow feeling good on his knees. His sight remained looking at the floor, studying the carpet, as if it had a lot more interesting things to say, before a hand cupped his chin and tilted it upward so he could meet the eyes of his worried mentor.

“Why did you need to kneel for me, Pav?”

Cheeks flaming like fireworks, Pavel chewed on his lower lip and let out another whimpering sound.

“Feel overwhelmed, Captain and kneeling...it ground me.”

Steve understood now. He’d seen this with more than one rookie in the time he’d been captain. Rookie seasons were hard, especially for players that were transferring from another country. They were still learning the ways of the NHL, still learning how to handle the media, still learning how this whole process worked. That’s why rookies had mentors. Pavel had three---and one of them was Russian, like himself---but, for a reason Steve didn’t understand, Pavel had chosen to live with him. Was it because he was the captain? Who knows!

“What’s overwhelming you, kid?” He slid his fingers through Pavel’s thick black hair, smiling slightly as Pavel burrowed his face into his knee.

“Everyone say I next you,” Pavel began, lifting up his face to stare at Steve, his eyes wide as dinner plates and his lips trembling like they were in a hurricane, “and it lot pressure. I watch you practice, see how move, but I not good enough. Can’t copy you. But people want me too. And…”

He trailed off and lowered his eyes to the floor, unable to explain the next part. How could he explain it when he didn’t fully understand it himself?

Steve drifted a hand down to trap Pavel’s chin, which he could feel quaking between his fingers, and tipped it up so he could met Pavel’s damp hazel eyes with his own.

“And what, Pav?”

Blushing to his ears, Pavel finished in a tone that was barely more than a whisper, “No want you disappointed cause I not like you. I admire you.”

Steve used a gentle finger to stroke the shell of Pavel’s ear, tickling the delicate skin, as he answered, “I don’t want you to be exactly like me, kid. Sure, it’s flattering that you admire me, and it’s very touching that you want to be like me, but you don’t have to be. You’re your own person, Pav. You have more skill, talent, and moves in your pinky than anyone else on the team or in the NHL have, and you’re so open to learning new things from your leaders. You’re not like anyone else. Your light is meant to shine, Pav, and if the people in the media don’t like it, then who cares? The only people whose opinions you should care about are what your teammates and your family thinks. That’s it. You’re a special player, scamp, and you’re an amazing kid. I’m so honored and thankful that you’re my rookie.”

Pavel’s heart came close to bursting and tears ran down his cheeks in streams because of the love, passion, and emotion in Steve’s voice and behind his words. How could someone love him that much?

“Stevie…I no know what I say you now.”

Tenderly, Steve leaned down to brush his lips across Pavel’s forehead as his thumb stroked away the tears left on the flushed cheeks.

“You don’t need to say anything, Pav. You being my rookie is enough.”
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Old 11-29-2016, 06:23 AM View Post #2 (Link)
Anima (Offline)
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This story surprised me. I really liked it. The atmosphere was set out well, and every emotion was portrayed. There was some emotion that I could feel deep within me as well. The moral had a good ending as well.
The only things I really have to say about this is when I first started reading it, there was not really a hook. I kept reading because I was trying to give everyone a chance, and the ending was really good. I also noticed towards the beginning, you had something in (). That looked out of place, and toke away from the formality of the 3rd person. I think just stating that he merely had a headache, or change headache to migraine, or just take the () out would work just as fine. Last thing is when Pavo knocked. I like how you explained how the narrator could tell the difference between the knocks, however, since he did not recognize the knock, I feel there should have been more of an element of confusion because he has never heard the knock before.
Overall it was well written, and I did not see anything really detrimental to your story. So just take my suggestions to heart, but you don't have to act on them.
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