Adam watched the puck in the referee’s hands. It was so small, yet so large. Large enough for the players to spot, large enough for them to snap it up on their sticks.
He bent his knees further, hunching his back over the spot where the puck would be in seconds. But just as he was directing his eyes downward, a flicker of light from the stands distracted him.
It wasn’t from a camera, though. Adam knew what light from the flash of an obsessed hockey parent looked like. So without thinking, he straightened up.
The puck dropped to the ice.
But Adam could no longer see nor hear anything, his eyes focused on the space where the light, where the whatever it was, had come from.
He didn’t even notice the other team scoring, their celebration just pieces of peripheral vision.
Something was there.
He knew it.
So he dropped his stick and marched over to the other end.
He couldn’t even hear his teammates, his coaches or the referees trying to stop him.
It wasn’t until he walked over and touched the glass where it all stopped and he remembered where he was.
There was a hand on his shoulder. He turned around.
Marc, his captain, was saying something. His helmet was tiled up, unstrapped, the cage bent open. “Hey man. What’s going on? Are you okay?”
Adam shook his head and then nodded it. “Yeah I’m fine. I just, I just…”
“You just what?”
“I just thought I saw something strange. I don’t know what got over me.” Adam unstrapped his own helmet, tilted the cage up and took it off.
“Man, you must be really stressed.”
Adam looked at the scoreboard. It was now tied, 1-1. “Crap, did I do that?”
“Well, you lost the faceoff. But the rest of the team also didn’t prevent it from happening, so. I don’t know. You must be really stressed out. Maybe you should…”
Adam shook his head. “No. It’s fine. I know. I am stressed. But I want to play. He would — he would want me to play too.”
Patting Adam on the shoulder, Marc nodded before he skated away. With two minutes left in the game, Adam secured his helmet and skated back to the bench.