Chapter 1: intro
The bright lights and cheering from the crowd made Sid feel dizzy and sick. His legs felt like jelly. It'd only been three minutes since the first period started. He started skating towards the bench, but before he reached his destination, he collapsed on the ice and his world went black.
A trainer ran to Sid and knelt next to him. He checked Sid's pulse. It was weak.
"Stretcher!" He yelled.
Hearing that struck fear in many of Sid's teammates. Coach had told them not to go over to him. Geno in particular was desperate to nurse Sid back to health and hug him and kiss him and tell him everything will be okay. Everyone watched in silence as Sid was loaded onto the stretcher and carried off the ice. None of the guys were focused on their game. The lines were messed up and they all felt sluggish. They ended up losing 5-1.
Geno pulled some strings to find out that Sid was in the emergency room at UPMC Mercy Hospital, just a few blocks away from PPG Paints Arena. Coach and a few of the trainers tried to discourage Geno from going to visit Sid, saying he was in bad condition and all, but Geno just let them talk.
Geno rushed into the ER waiting room, the cold air following him. A couple of tired-looking people sat in chairs. A woman was sobbing hysterically and a man whom Geno assumed was her husband was comforting her.
"Sir, can I help you?" The receptionist asked, her impatient tone penetrating the tension in the room.
"Sidney Crosby." Geno said.
Geno walked up to the receptionist's desk.
"I want to see Sidney Crosby. He come about an hour ago."
The receptionist flipped through some papers on her desk.
"Someone signed him in, yeah." She seemed thoroughly disinterested. "I don't know his condition."
Geno had to restrain himself from having a meltdown right then and there.
"Is there a doctor I can see?" He asked.
Sid was finally conscious.
Geno was relieved. Sid looked awful, but at least he was alive. He was hooked to an IV machine and something was stuck up in his left nostril.
"What's wrong, Sid?"
Sid wasn't interested in telling him. He didn't want sympathy. As far as he was concerned, he was fine. He was probably just dehydrated. Right?
"Just really dehydrated," He finally said.
Geno raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah, I'm sure."
Geno still wasn't convinced. He studied Sid with concerned eyes. Then the worst thought came to him: What if Sid has cancer?
"Sid I'm so sorry." He said. His eyes filled with tears and his voice cracked as he said: "I don't want you to die."
"What the hell? Geno, I'm not gonna die."
Geno pulled his chair up to Sid's bed. Sid had dark circles under his eyes and his face was pale and almost skeletal. It definitely wasn't dehydration, and he hoped to God it wasn't cancer. But why would Sid lie to him? That thought was interrupted by a knock on the door. Sid jumped and Geno turned around. Flower stood in the doorway.
"Can I come in, or...?"
Flower studied the room. He frowned.
"Sid, what's going on?" He asked.
"I'm just dehydrated, okay?"
He was starting to become impatient. As much as he loved his teammates, especially Geno, he just wanted to be left alone. Flower gave Geno a look that said 'he's lying.' Geno nodded.
"Sid, that's not dehydration." Flower said. "I know that."
A nurse poked her head in the door.
"Just doing rounds," She said. "A doctor is coming to check on the patient soon."
Flower gave her a small smile and nodded.
"Wait!" Geno yelled, lowering his voice when he saw Sid flinch. "Can I ask you a question?"
The nurse nodded and gestured for Geno to come into the hallway. Flower went with them. She dropped her voice.
"It's a severe case of anorexia."
--"It's a severe case of anorexia."--
"It's an eating disorder." The nurse explained. "Usually characterized by excessive exercise, low body weight, starving. Everyone's different though."
"Oh." Geno paused. "Is he gonna die?"
"No, he's not going to die. I promise."
Neither Flower or Geno knew how to take this information in.
"What can we do?" Flower asked. "I don't know what to do."
"I guess just make sure he eats. Don't force it though. Don't let him cut the feeding tube. Just watch over him vigilantly."
"Feeding tube? What is?" Geno asked.
"It's the tube in his nose." She looked down at her papers. "I have to continue my rounds. I'll come back to check on him, okay?"
She continued down the hall.
Geno and Flower both pulled up their chairs to Sid's bed. He looked uneasy and Geno had never seen such sadness in someone's eyes. 'Where's Sid?' He thought. The lively, smiling Sid that liked to dance around and make dumb jokes and laugh all the time. The powerful, strong Sid who led the team to many victories. Geno loved Sid, but it's like the disorder took him away. He thought he should've paid more attention. Maybe Sid was silently crying out for help but he was too stupid and blind to notice the signs that might've been clear as day.
Only Geno and Sid remained. Flower had gone home.
"Sid, why you lied to me?" Geno asked.
Sid turned his head to avoid Geno's gaze.
"Sid, look at me."
He did as he was told.
"Geno, I didn't lie to you."
"Yes. You said you have dehydration."
Sid's eyes stung with tears and he tried his best to keep it in, but a single tear rolled down his cheek.
"Oh Sid, no crying."
That just made Sid cry harder. He knew he looked awful. God knows he felt awful. The physical symptoms were unbearable, and he was just done hiding it.
"G, I'm s-sorry..."
Geno hugged Sid as gently as possible without messing with the wires and all that stuff. He could feel every bone in his body. His spine, all his ribs.
"You're not even Sid anymore..." Geno said absently. "You're just bones."
It's only been a week and Sid only seemed to be getting worse. His hair was falling out. His body was failing him. Visiting hours were limited. 17:00 to 19:00. Geno came right at 17:00. He wanted to believe that Sid was getting better, but his eyes told him differently. Sid looked awful, but wonderful because he's just Sid.
"Sid, are you going better?" He asked.
Anyone could tell that it wasn't true.
"You lie to me."
Sid didn't deny it. He didn't say anything. He reached out for Geno's hand. Geno held Sid's bony hand as carefully as he could without messing up the wires. His hand was freezing and his fingers had a purplish hue.
"I'm sorry, Sid," Geno said, his voice barely a whisper.
"Sorry for what?"
"I failed you, Sid."