Alyssa lets out a sigh as she sits on a bench in the infield.
They had arrived at the track about 10 minutes ago with sets sight on the day. The plan was for Jimmie to shake the car down, and make sure it had a decent set-up in it. Chase would then afterwards take his turn behind the wheel, set to do a series of laps to see where his comfort level was mentally and physically.
Alyssa couldn’t help but smile at the possibility of Chase returning to racing. It was a step in the right direction and a step towards forgetting what had happened previously. Though she couldn’t help but admit the nerves that were eating at her, wondering how the day would go.
“Where’s Prince Charming?” Alyssa hears, catching her attention as her mom walks over. She points over to pit road, where Chase stood beside Alan and Josh, watching Jimmie intently. “But yet you’re back here?”
“I’m giving him and his team space to do what they need to do,” Alyssa comments. “It’s all about comfort for him right now. I want to do what it takes to make him most comfortable. If that involves giving him space to be with his guys before he goes out, then sure. If that involves being there with him while he gets changed and then strapped in, I will do it. He was there for me, so I’m repaying the favor.”
“I wouldn’t expect otherwise.” Alyssa smiles as she watches her mom sit down beside her. Normally, she’d turn to her dad and others in her life for advice. Though pondering back, maybe this was the right question for her mom.
“What was it like for you when Dad went back racing after his break?” Marie then glances at her daughter. “Like, what were you feeling? Nerves? Confidence?” Marie then crosses her arms, remembering the tirade of thoughts she had. She wasn’t sure she wanted to answer the question.
“Why do you ask, to begin with?” Alyssa lets out a sigh, knowing the answer right then and there. No wonder she was a mess herself right now.
“Curious, I suppose…” Alyssa felt that if her mom wasn’t going to share, why put the energy forth herself?
“I remember after we got back from Pitronia the first time, when he found me after I was presumed dead. I remember the fear that we went through in thinking that we’d lost each other forever. Him thinking I was killed in a car crash when I was kidnapped, while I thought Mariella had killed him in a plane.” Alyssa lets out a shiver as she couldn’t shake the nerves in hearing that name or plane together in the same sentence. “I was a mess, actually. I was royal mess. You can ask Steve, because I went into Daytona that year with emotions all over the place.”
“That’s a shock….” Marie chuckles, having grown used to her daughters thinking that she was made of stone and perfectly strong.
“I was so nervous that something would happen and I would lose him. I was nervous of a wreck that would end everything. I remember he got caught up in a wreck in the Shootout and I literally freaked, froze like a statue sitting on his pit box. It took Steve’s careful words of wisdom and calming to really bring myself out of it. Then when I explained everything, I began to realize why – I was afraid. Fear can sometimes be a good thing because it shows you how much you care. Do you get that?” Alyssa nods her head.
“The only reason why I may feel fearful for someone, or something, is because I care so much about them that I want the best.” Marie smiles, glad that her daughter was smart like her.
“Steve convinced me to talk to your dad about it. Needless to say, it was a long conversation and it wasn’t easy. But it was worth it in the end. Hearing his reasons, hearing why he thought I shouldn’t worry, and why it was going to be okay, it gave me some comfort. That allowed every bit of emotion that I was feeling to ease away, step by step, and eventually, as the weekend progressed, I handled things better to where I was back to super wife again.” Alyssa smiles as she glances back out towards Chase. She could only hope to get there herself.
“I feel a tinge of worry for Chase, just because of everything he’s been through. I worry about those emotional rampages of his, and I worry about him lashing out at the wrong time. I worry about him rushing it too, as he warned me so of doing. I worry about his anxiety and whether he can truly overcome that. I worry about him being in the midst of a pack.” Alyssa looks over at her. “I guess that means I’m normal, right?”
“Of course sweetheart, because we said – we only fear because we care so much. You care about him so much that you’re shedding every single fear that you can have over the situation. Now, can I give you the LeTarte advice?” Alyssa sighs.
“I wish that’d be the easiest thing to do, and knowing Chase, he’d know exactly what to say to me to make me feel better and ease away my concerns. But, I can’t bring myself to mention a single word to him. What if in inflict more fear on him than he has? What I trigger something? What if he’s trying to manage it and I push the wrong button? I don’t want to be the cause of a problem.” Marie nods her head, understanding that. However, she could only think back to her own experience.
“Chase has freaked at you before, though, and assured you it was out of character. What else did he say to make that easier?” Alyssa closes her eyes as she thinks back to the kitchen.
“Know that I don’t mean it against you and I’m just frustrated with the situation. Know that I could never be mad at you or angry. But also know that you can come to me no matter what.” Marie smiles as she wraps an arm around her daughter.
“Why don’t you go with those words and speak with him, then?” Alyssa wished she could just do that, but shaking her head, that wasn’t so.
“It’s not the same….”
“But I bet it’d be therapy for you both. Besides, it’s better that he faces those situations here in the privacy of our group, rather than his first race back at the track. Hence why this is a test. Why not test everything?” Alyssa knew that her mom was right as she could only imagine the reaction from everybody if they saw one of those instances, and could only imagine also what Chase would do afterwards.
Taking a deep breath and another glance towards him, she knew she had to speak her mind sooner than later.
The No. 9 car then comes down pit road, stopping in the pit box before the three crew members. Jimmie climbs out, smile planted on his face as he takes the helmet off.
“How was that?” He questions, looking up at Alan, who could only smile back.
“Run that lap in October and we have ourselves a new track record,” Alan answers as Jimmie couldn’t help but let out a small cheer. It was nice to know he still had the ability to get the job done.
“She’s handling very well. I honestly don’t think we can get any better. Just make sure you watch down in 3 as it’s a little slick – nothing new though, right?” Chase simply nods his head as he watches Jimmie walk away.
“Don’t let the track record, lap time comment lay in your mind. Just focus on getting in there, getting in your zone, and finding that comfort level. That’s all we’re here to do today. We’ll focus on getting the speed and what we need moving forward.”
“I know,” Chase comments quietly as he hops down off the wall. He takes a glance in the car, taking a couple deep breathes, debating once again. There was only one way to shut his mind up, though, as he glanced back up at the crew. “I’m going to go get changed.” He then walks off pit road as Alan turns around, watching him walk away closely.
“What do you think, chief?” Josh questions, catching Alan’s attention.
“He’ll be fine once he gets himself in the car,” Alan answers. “It’s just battling those other thoughts of his first.”