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3:33 Sports Short #30 // Game Seven Overtime by Abigail Mitchell

At twenty-two I don’t think often of my history at ice rinks–salty fries, my uncle cheering at Raiders games, how the air smells and blades sound– but when I return it feels like a homecoming. I’m at my first hockey game in Anaheim and everything is bright, orange, loud. The Raiders no longer play at the Romford rink, and Romford is thousands of miles away, and tonight I’m surrounded by a sea of red as Blackhawks fans swarm the Honda Center. I’m thinking about how good it feels to shout like this, to want something so simple. I am thinking about how the cold air feels in my lungs, which is goddamn liberating. When Patrick Kane skates past us during warm ups, my voice joins the litany of support pouring through the glass, and I feel like I am a part of something for the first time since I came to California, since I ran away from everybody and everything for this soul-sucking desert of a godforsaken city. Patrick Kane’s grandfather died this week. I don’t know why it helps to know that.

Anyway, the Hawks light the place up. Light me up.

Three months later we make the playoffs. I find a hockey bar and it becomes a home, which is strange, because I don’t expect to find a home in “Skidrokyo”. But here I eat cheese fries and dance to Chelsea Dagger and drink copious amounts of Schlitz for $5 a can. There’s something to be said for this: the exhilaration of a win in double overtime, people slapping your hand, yelling in your ear, until your palms tingle red and the ringing won’t stop. In June, I move out of my tiny apartment into a less tiny apartment, buy my own furniture for the first time, and watch the Hawks with these people from a suite in Staples Center, drowning my sorrows with complimentary cabernet sauvignon when we lose. Four days later, I buy a single ticket sixteen rows from the glass, and watch as we push for a game seven against all odds. I celebrate with strangers in the aisles when we actually do it- because we totally fucking do it. I get my picture taken with four frat guys with tequila on their breaths and Indian heads on their chests and even though I don’t know them, I belong to something. For a moment I feel like nothing in life will ever be so good again, like we’re invincible, untouchable..

The Hawks fall to the Kings. Game seven overtime.

I can’t leave my apartment for three days after, but I don’t tell anybody this. I try to write a poem, but it tastes uncomfortably like grief. I get tired of my tiny apartment and frozen dinners for one, so go back to the bar and they welcome me like one of their own, and I belong there now. There is always next season, they tell me. Always another season.

 It helps to know that. 

Abigail Mitchell is currently a managing editor at Southern California Review. Her writing – fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction – can be found at Unbroken Journal, The Nervous Breakdown, The Butter, and more.