Between The Boards

As they rode to their first day of school in Lawndale, the car's radio was turned to ESPNRadio on AM1430. The red-haired girl in the front seat was sporting a jersey of her favorite hockey player, Number 20 - Ed Belfour - goalie of the Dallas Stars. The short auburn-haired girl sitting in the back wore the Number 7 Ray Bourque Boston Bruins jersey. The younger sister teased the older one about how the only way her favorite player was going to win a Stanley Cup was if he changed teams. Their father would chime in, but the only hockey player he could talk about was Wayne Gretzky. When they pulled up to the school, a group of students had gathered at the front of the school to see the red-head wave at her father and quickly open the back passenger door for her sister. The red-head grabbed the book bag off the floor so her sister could get her crutches out the door.

Seeing the pretty red-head wearing a hockey jersey, the boys who were standing in the front of the school rushed over to help them. Three girls looked at the new arrival with a tinge of jealousy. Thanking the three guys, the red-head helped her sister get her balance. As they walked towards the school, the boys asked the red-head what her name was.

"My name is Quinn Morgendorffer. Does this school have a hockey team? I played on the jay-vee team in Lawndale despite being in eighth grade."

"Yes we do - but nobody goes to their games because they never win." The black-haired boy replied.

"That's because I haven't joined the team yet." Quinn smiled as her sister nodded in agreement. Standing in front of the office, she turned to the three guys. "This is our stop - see you around school."

After a brief discussion with the principal about the hockey team and a quick call to their attorney mother, the sisters were herded to the school psychologist's office. When Mrs. Manson held up a photo of a guy and a girl talking, she wanted Quinn to make up a story about what they were discussing. Quinn began talking about what team was the best of all time in the NHL, the Montreal Canadians or the Toronto Maple Leafs. When Dr. Manson posed the same question to Daria, she said the couple was debating on whether or not slashing should be an ejectable penalty. Looking at the sisters with a hint of confusion on her face, Mrs. Manson handed them hall passes and sent them to class.

Quinn was happy to see the three boys who helped her earlier in several of her classes. During gym class, she found out when hockey try-outs were going to be. She couldn't wait to tell her sister. Walking into the cafeteria, Quinn spotted her sister sitting with a taller raven-haired girl. Asking if she could join them, the raven-haired girl shrugged her shoulders while Daria slid down. Sitting down next to her sister, Quinn broke off half of her brownie and handed it to Daria.

"Hockey try-outs are starting next week. Are you going to come and watch?"

"I wouldn't miss it for the world and I'll try not to coach you from the stands." Daria smiled.

Seeing three boys searching for her, Quinn stood up. "Thanks - I better go. I promised Jamie, Jeffy, and Joey I would sit with them." She sat down with her entourage and they began to talk about her and Daria's hockey careers in Highland. By this time, a few more boys had joined them at the table. After Quinn flashed them one of her killer smiles, they stood still and listened. When she told them about the twenty-two goals and thirty assists she had last season, the boys were floored. Jeffy pointed to Daria.

"Was she any good?" Jeffy asked as he grabbed a handful of fries.

Quinn nodded. "Daria was leading our school in assists and goals when she got hurt. It's going to be weird not playing with her this season. She was the one who taught me how to skate, hold a hockey stick, and how to stand up in the face of adversity. When I scored my first goal, she was in on the assist. I just hope I'm half as good as she was."

"Will she be able to play once she gets off the crutches? I'm sure the coach would hold a spot for her." Jamie said.

A look of deep sadness came over Quinn's face. "Daria's playing days are over. We were in the state play-offs. She was skating full speed towards our opponents goal when two of their players broke their hockey sticks over her knee. What made it worse was she slid right into the boards. She will never be able to walk without crutches again."

"Quinn - why do want to play, knowing you could get like your sister?" Joey asked.

Quinn turned to look at her sister. Then she stared at the faces waiting for her answer. "I want to play for not only myself, but for her - and most importantly, because I can."