Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SttS: Oh my GOD, people.

So, um, you know how I said the last section had drama?

You ain't seen nothing yet.

You might want to go back and read Chapter 14 first, as I made a wee change at the end. But Chapter 15 is... well, it's kind of a doozy in every way possible.

You've been warned.

A Date to Remember - Chapter 2

Chapter 2
The next morning Melissa woke up and before going into work decided to check her emails, sure enough the first one was from Damon.
"Really enjoyed yesterday. Hope to hang out again soon" it read.
Melissa just felt sick, she had tossed and turned all night and convinced herself that Damon would be better off without her, she decided not to reply and just delete the message and head to work. All through work one thing continued to dominate her mind again though, she couldn't believe that meeting a person one time could have such a profound effect on her but it had. Melissa started to realise it wasn't Damon she was worried about letting down it was herself, she had been single so long and any kind of feelings or attachment to anything frightened the living hell out of her, it was probably the reason she was in fact single and the reason she continued to be. After work she headed home, while picking at a bit of dinner she once again decided to head onto the computer, as she opened her inbox she saw there was another message from Damon. It simply read "Have I done something wrong?". Melissa looked at it and now started to worry that maybe Damon needed this too much and was too keen, there was 10 hours between the emails but two in one day worried her, once again she was making excuses to herself and knew that they used to talk everyday online before they met so a reply wasn't unreasonable to expect. After some heavy procrastination she finally decided to reply.

"Hey Damon, no nothing is wrong just been working. How was your day?". She waited for a reply and after a few minutes Damon responded. "Yeah day was good. Hope work wasn't too taxing. If you feel like chatting then let me know".

Melissa thought about it for a minute then decided she was up for a chat and soon they found themselves chatting like all the other times, as Melissa typed she kicked herself for being so stupid and knew that this was right. They arranged a second meeting and would meet up again tomorrow night.
The next day rolled around and after a shift at the nursing home Melissa readied herself for another date, she almost found herself stressing out more than the first date over what to wear, finally she decided on a cute pink top with some jeans and ballet flats, they were only going to the movies so she thought no need to bring out the little black dress. She was meeting Damon at the cinemas so she got in her car and made her way over there, as she pulled up in the car park she started to get really nervous again and almost started to shake, she hated how her heart just beated so quick over these kinds of things, it would all turn out fine she was sure but try telling her mind and body that. Melissa grabbed her handbag and made her way in, it was a Thursday night and there were plenty of people around, at first she couldn't see Damon then spotted him in the corner with his nurse Lydia, his big wide black wheelchair now easy to spot. She moved up to him but when she got there she had no idea on how to greet him, should she lean over and give him a kiss on the cheek or should she just say hello and that's it? Melissa was generally one to wait for the man to dictate a greeting or embrace but with Damon being a quadriplegic she was very confused.

"Hey. So good to see you again" beamed Damon once he saw her.

"Hey. How you been?" replied Melissa.

"Yeah good. You can give me a kiss on the cheek hello if you want. I'd give you one but it's a bit difficult" joked Damon answering Melissa's question without her even having to ask.
Melissa moved over and gave him a peck on the cheek, while there she could smell Damon had a really sexy aftershave on and it made her feel a little giddy. "So many people here tonight, I'm thinking I should have picked a quieter night" admitted Damon.

"Yeah there does seem an abnormally large amount of people here but oh well, it will be good I'm sure"

They decided on the movie "Midnight Rendezvous in Paris" then made their way up to the ticket counter. When there Melissa did the ordering but that didn't stop the movie worker looking at Damon the way most people did, with pity. Damon was quite used to the look but still hated it nonetheless, although he was completely paralyzed he wanted to be treated as normal as possible. All three of them including Lydia who was just trailing behind to give them a little privacy made their way into the cinema, Melissa walked in and down the aisle, completely forgetting that they would have to sit in the disabled area.
"Melissa" called out Damon. "Up here".

Straight away Melissa realised her mistake. "Oh god I'm so sorry, I wasn't even thinking!"

"That's OK"

While they both got comfortable the previews started. Melissa looked across at Damon and smiled, having no head movement he wasn't able to look over at her but could feel her eyes on him. "What?" he asked. "Nothing. I know you can't feel it but can I hold your hand?" asked Melissa. This question pleased Damon and a grin appeared on his face "Sure". Melissa undid the strap on Damon's left arm and took his hand in hers. Soon enough the movie started, during the quiet parts of the movie the hum of Damon's ventilator became audible to a minor degree, a young woman looked around and gave him a foul look before the message "Do you think you can turn that thing down or something? This is a movie theatre not a breathing room" . Hearing this didn't go down well with Melissa and while normally never being one to say boo she got so angry and snapped back. "Why don't you turn down the ugly on your face? Looking at it is making me want to lose my dinner". Upon hearing this Damon and his nurse Lydia couldn't help but chuckle, a couple of other people seemed to be giggling too and the insensitive woman realised she was outnumbered and shut her trap for the rest of the movie. After another hour the movie finally drew to a close, as they prepared to leave the woman walked past.."Next time you think about going to the movies leave your cripple boyfriend behind ok" she snidely remarked before tearing off. Melissa sat there stunned at how someone could be so utterly rude and insensitive. "She is unbelievable. Have you ever got that before?" remarked Melissa thinking this would have to of been a one off.

"Yeah I have got it a couple of times. People always think there issues or wants and needs are worth more than yours. Don't get me wrong I don't want to be treated any different but i think I have a right to be able to watch a movie and breath for god's sake" remarked Damon.

"Damn straight you are" Melissa agreed strongly.

As that was said Melissa noticed Damon was a little pale. "Are you ok?" she worried.

"Not particularly but I should be ok" replied Damon.

Lydia took his blood pressure and it had spiked. "I'm just going to have to find a quiet spot and get you reclined for a bit, get your blood pressure down" she advised.

Melissa looked on with concern, she knew this life was tough but she had no idea of all the little, or major things that could go wrong. "Can I do anything to help?" she asked.

"It might be best if you head home I think. Damon will need to be like this for at least 30 minutes, then after that home and bed" told Lydia.

Melissa watched on as Lydia reclined the imposing 210 pound figure of Damon, she wondered how often things like this happened but she guessed time would tell, she wasn't planning on giving up on him anytime soon. "Ok Damon I'm just going to head off but I had a great time, hope you feel better quick and see you again soon" she expressed before giving Damon a kiss on the forehead goodbye, he smiled and managed a "Sorry" before a goodbye. Melissa hated to leave him but the nurse told him he needed 30 minutes downtime before he was well enough to go back in the van and back home again. That night Melissa couldn't help but fear for Damon's health, she just hoped he would be ok and they would be able to meet up once again.
After a restless night worrying about Damon, Melissa was glad to wake up the next morning and see she had an email waiting from him. "Sorry about last night. I felt really good throughout the movie then it just hit me. Sometimes when I spend too much time upright in my chair I can feel a bit sick but it's all good now. Hope it didn't freak you out too much.." read the message. Melissa was glad he was ok, and the fact he was polite enough to tell her about his well being, she messaged back and after a bit of email ping pong they arranged another date.

Their third meeting was to be at a restaurant Damon had been to and enjoyed, it was an Italian eatery and Melissa was excited as not only did she get to see Damon again but she loved a good lasagna. This time she didn't stress out too much over what to wear choosing a summery pink dress as she know felt fairly comfortable around Damon, he wasn't like most guys, both mentally and physically. As she pulled up outside the restaurant though she once again had a bit of nerves, she figured that was a good thing as it meant she liked him. Melissa hopped out of the car and made her way inside and to the front desk to announce her arrival to the maitre'd. As she got there though she saw Lydia waving. "Over here Melissa". She made her way over to a table next to the window, Damon was looking very hot in a nice tight black top and jeans, his feet in black shiny loafers. She said hello to Lydia then looked at Damon."Looking good" she smiled. Damon hadn't heard a genuine compliment for a while and almost blushed. "Thanks. Looking pretty good yourself" he gestured back. Melissa sat down on Damon's right while Lydia sat on his left, she noted one couple staring at them a little but just ignored them and looked down at the menu.

"So what are you having?" asked Melissa.

"Was thinking the spaghetti bolognaise" replied Damon.

"Well that's a pretty good choice in a Italian restaurant haha. I'm thinking the lasagna"

Soon after that was said the waiter came over. "What would you like to order?"

"I'll have the lasagna please" announced Melissa followed by the waiter looking at Lydia.

"I'm just nurse for him I'm not ordering" she replied.

The waiter looked at Damon and wasn't sure of his condition or whether he could talk. "Would you like to order Sir?" asked the waiter.

"I'll have the spaghetti bolognaise" he ordered.

The waiter wrote it all down before taking the menus and walking off. Due to the busy nature of the restaurant Lydia had to sit in with them this time as there were no spare seats anywhere else.

"So how long you been looking after Damon? asked Melissa.

"About 8 months" replied Lydia.

"Hope he doesn't cause too many trouble" joked Melissa

"No he is ok" answered Lydia. "Most of the time" she added smirking.

"I'm a model patient, come on!" piped up Damon.

"Yeah your ok, much better than others I have looked after in your condition" expressed Lydia looking after Damon a bit.

As they continued to chat their meals finally came out. A steaming hot spaghetti bolognaise was put in front of Damon while Melissa looked at her lasagna and was suitably impressed. Lydia unflapped a napkin and tucked it in at the top of Damon's t-shirt just below his vent. Melissa began to eat her meal then looked on as Lydia twirled a bit of spaghetti and prepared to fire it into Damon's expectant mouth, she didn't want to make Damon feel self conscious but she had to sneak a look at him opening up his mouth and Lydia placing the pasta dish in, she had done it plenty of times at the nursing home but this time it was different as it was a young man, a man she was starting to become fond of. Melissa watched as he chewed away, she knew that it must feel degrading to some degree not being able to feed yourself but she couldn't help but admire Damon's courage and persistence to still get out and do things like eat a meal in public. "You amaze me" she gushed. "Why?" asked a perplexed Damon. Melissa felt no need to explain as she didn't want to appear cliched or condescending by saying how "inspired" she was by Damon. After Melissa finished her meal she could see Damon still had a few mouthfuls to go. "How does it taste?" she wondered.
"If I'm being honest I wouldn't know for sure. With the vent you pretty much lose you sense of smell and taste" replied Damon.
Melissa didn't know this and once again just remarked at how little she knew about all of this and what Damon must go through on a daily basis. "There's just so much more I need to learn" admitted Melissa.
"Yes there is a lot to being a ventilator dependant quadriplegic but just learn what you can. All I want is for people to take an interest that's all"
"Well I'm not going anywhere" beamed Melissa placing her hand on Damon's leg. It really 'felt' good and Damon couldn't help but break into a big smile.

After their dinner was taken away it was time for dessert. "I'd really love a chocolate fudge sundae but I'm not sure I could eat it all, want to go halves?" asked Melissa. Damon didn't want to disappoint so agreed. The fudge sundae came out and was quite large, Melissa plunged the spoon in and got a generous amount of ice cream and fudge on it.
"Do you mind if I feed you?" proposed Melissa surprised even herself at how forward she was.

"Yeah sounds good" replied Damon. "You have to wait for me to open my mouth up and place it on my tongue though as I can't lean forward to take it off the spoon" he instructed.

Melissa moved over with the spoonful of dessert, while she wanted to do it her hand started to shake a bit as didn't want to do it wrong, Damon opened his mouth and Melissa placed the sugary treat on his tongue, he closed his lips and slid it off, the action of it all got Melissa a bit hot and bothered and made her think of her own lips clashing with Damon's, it had been so long since her last embrace with a man that she knew a kiss would send her heart into a frenzy, she was definitely ready for it though if it arose. Lydia looked on as the tension between the two was obvious for anyone to see, she was in an uncomfortable position in a sense but once they left the restaurant she knew they could talk alone and do what they liked. Soon enough the chocolate fudge sundae was polished off and they called for the bill.
"I know you probably want to get home but do you feel like a night walk in the park?" asked Damon.

"A walk?" questioned Melissa.

"Yeah I know. It's a bit silly saying walk but you know what I mean" replied Damon

"That wasn't what I meant but yeah that sounds good" enthused Melissa.

The park was just 50 metres away from the restaurant and the two of them took off with Lydia telling Melissa that if anything went wrong to run back and tell her. Damon mastered his straw as they took off along the path and very quickly they found themselves at a park bench. "I had such a good time tonight" commented Damon.
"Feeling is mutual" bubbled Melissa.

"Does any of this ever become too much?" asked a worried Damon

"You being a quad? Not really. I have to admit I was taken aback by the fact you were a quadriplegic originally, then I had a little freak out that I didn't want to lead you on but that was just my issues really"

"So you think we could have something?"

"Yes most definitely. I know that I enjoy spending time with you and that's normally half the battle isn't it?"

"Very true. I probably shouldn't ask but what do you think when you see me getting fed though?"

"I don't think anything, nothing bad anyway. That's why I fed you myself. I wanted to stay away from the cliches but I just think your so incredibly brave for getting out and about. I know if it happened to me I would be a complete wreck not wanting anyone to see me. Not that being a quadriplegic is anything to be ashamed of it would just be my own stupid insecurities coming out preventing me from doing anything"

"You see that's the thing. I don't see a shy insecure woman, I see one who is bursting with not only beauty but also warmth and love, your a very special woman Melissa Ryan and you should never forget that" expressed Ryan causing Melissa now to blush.

She had never been one to make the first move but after such an overwhelming compliment and seeing the look in Damon's eyes she knew it was the right thing to do, she moved forward and prepared to land the sweetest of embraces on Damon. Sitting in his wheelchair immobile he could see Melissa coming towards him and knew that this was it, their first kiss, Melissa paused ever so briefly for a second wondering if she should do it, as she got closer she could once again smell Damon's aftershave, it smelt so good and this all felt so right so she didn't delay any longer and closed her eyes before planting her lips on Damon, as soon as they touched Melissa was sent into a world of delight, fireworks seemed to go off in her head and she couldn't believe how good it felt to be close to someone again, she didn't dare open her eyes but hoped Damon was enjoying it too, he had no movement of his head but he still seemed to know how to kiss, using his lips in a way Melissa had never felt before with also just the right amount of tongue, after a few passion filled seconds Melissa finally came up for air... As she pulled away she looked into Damon's eyes and had never seen a man so taken by her, his pupils were fully dilated and he clearly felt what she did, pure ecstasy..."Wow" said an almost breathless Melissa. "Wow indeed" agreed Damon, he didn't believe he could ever feel this way again about someone but he was now starting to think it was possible...

Friday, July 27, 2012

It Started in the Summer

It was the middle of summer when intrigue set in. Not the beginning of summer when excitement is buzzing with the prospect of new beginnings; and not the end when sweat beads from your brow. It was that perfect middle time when it feels like it could last forever. It was that time when chances were taken.

Maybe it was her golden hair, maybe the green scarf donning her neck, or maybe her passion for literature and the unknown, but something said to him, take that chance.

The summer hadn't thrown many new and exciting things her way, until that day in the middle when she sat down and gave the board a cursory glance and she noticed, in the top right corner a little icon that said "1 is new".

Opening mail--any sort of mail--always created butterflies in her stomach and opening this message was no different. If anything, the intrigue was heightened, the mystery intensified because of the medium of the internet. The butterflies intensified as she realized who the message was from: that new guy, the witty one whose post about being accosted in a bookstore by an old woman had left her in stitches.

She smiled as she read that he wanted to get to know her. And so, she replied back, which she hardly ever did, because she wanted to get to know him as well.

He waited for a reply nervously, which was strange because he never gets nervous about these sorts of things, but for some reason, she made him nervous.

When he did get a reply the next day, it was that moment that changed not only the summer, but seasons to come.

The reply was ordinary enough. Simply a hello back and an invitation to chat.
She took him up on his invitation and soon the idle chitchat and short emails gave way to long talks and late nights

They had never online "dated" before. How does one do that? They didn't let their physical distance deter them, however. Since all they had were words, words was what they used. With words, he could take her out on dates to a carnival, a night picnic on an empty field, a tour of the Eifel tower. They could go anywhere together, even if they were so far apart.

One such “date” took place on a crisp fall night when he started describing how she had just heard a knock on her apartment door. He described her opening it to see a handsome blonde-haired, blue-eyed man sitting before her, looking dashing in a tux and holding a bouquet of roses. Then, he described how that dashing young man whisked his lovely lady away; to her a night filled with romance, stars, and rose petal filled restaurants.

The "dates" got really creative, even playing off of her living in the south. They would play this game where they would write each other letters as if they were from the civil war. He, a soldier at war; she, a woman back home on the plantation. They tried to keep it as creative as possible to forget about the actual distance.

They had many “dates” like this, using words to make up for the distance that separated them. These “dates” never failed to make her smile, although she was a little wary of them at first. Would these sorts of dates make it even harder to be apart? Or would the intimacy of these dates make it feel like they were close and add normalcy to their unorthodox relationship?

It turned out that both of these were the case. But the romance and sweetness that he bestowed upon her during these “dates” was like nothing else. It was special and their dates were unique. Eventually, after many long nights spent describing idyllic times, they spent an entire day and most of the night talking, which led to what would be the first of many Skype sessions.

Their first Skype was awkward, which is normal for a first time? His hope was that she could understand his speech, something that most people couldn't. He worried maybe shed find him TOO disabled. What if she thought he was ugly and thought she had made a huge mistake? Other people looked at him different and he knew she was a dev, but could what they have be real? Was she? But he knew the Skyping had to happen in order for this to continue, so he took the risk. She was worth it.

And when he suggested that they Skype, she almost turned him down, almost made up some excuse as to why she couldn't. Meeting guys kind of always made her nervous, she never knew what to say. And what if her roommates heard her talking to some random guy on the internet? It would have been easy to say no, after all it was like three in the morning for her. But something told her to give to go ahead and do it this time. After all, he seemed nice enough, and genuine enough, and not like a creepy perv . . . he seemed worth it.

When she first saw him, there was a little bit of a shock. He wasn’t what she was expecting at all. He looked so normal, just hanging out on the couch, goofing off on the computer like any other guy. And, he was really even cuter than he’d looked in pictures. Suddenly, she was even more nervous than she’d been to start with. The first couple of minutes were awkward hellos and nice to meet you’s and commenting on what they could see of each other’s apartments. She was embarrassed because she had to ask him to repeat himself once; he was embarrassed because he had to ask her to speak up because she mumbled. And then, he cracked a joke about the awkwardness of it all, lightening up the mood. She knew then that nothing had changed from earlier; she still really liked him.

There’s something thrilling about the first night you spend with someone, just aimlessly talking and getting to know each other. She learned that night that he was a wonderful storyteller. He was witty and charming and made her laugh so easily. And, he was polite and considerate and he tried everything he could to make more comfortable with the dev side of herself. And he was so concerned with making sure she felt comfortable and not freaked out by his disability, he didn’t want to scare her away. It was sweet.
She was like no other girl he had encountered. They way she looked at him was simply... different. Different in that, for most people, there was that awkward initial few minutes of proving you were mentally competent to hold a conversation. Maybe it was because they had talked online for days before and she already knew he didn't need a helmet to step outside, but never the less, she was different. He, in some ways, felt guilty. Sure, she was a dev and is supposedly okay with all the disability stuff, but he feared maybe she wasn't thinking things out. He felt guilty he was leading her on in a way. That maybe she didn't know what she was getting in to. He had never felt as though he had the "right" to have an experience like this, in that he never thought he should "date." But it was as if her slight gestures and look in her eyes gave him permission to go for it. So he did.

That first Skype date lasted until four o’clock in the morning for her; one o’clock in the morning for him. The next day she walked around on a cloud, replaying every part of their conversation over and over again in her head. The night had been so pleasant and even after one “date” she was already hoping for more. And many more followed soon afterwards. They soon fell into a routine of talking the afternoons and nights away. They laughed and goofed off and got to know each other more and more each day. And then slowly, things started to change. Her whole life she’d shut her emotions off, ignored things that hurt and things that were scary, but suddenly she found herself sharing her deepest fears and frustrations with him and they discovered in each other, someone they each could goof off with but also be serious with.
And so, as the leaves began to change and the air grew colder, they fell into a mutual like that warmed them to their cores. After many more nights of goofing off and laughing and confiding in each other, she felt a weird and foreign feeling in her being that she could identify. But underneath the foreigness and weirdness, there was a simultaneous good, tingly, fuzzy feeling that she would eventually realize on October 6, 2012 was love.

He thought he knew what love was. Before her, he fell in "love" with someone, but this was different. At first, he didn't know if what he was feeling was love. He DID know it was something though. Then, he realized something, the "love" he felt before had sadness accompanied with it. That's all he knew. For his entire life, a crush, a infatuation, love, they were all joined with sadness. So, he realized, this WAS love. He knew because for the first time he felt love with joy. And he felt love in return.

October 6th was when all of that came together and as they awkwardly sat over a glowing screen, they both mumbled to each other, "...I think...I love you."

Her heart dropped as she said the words. Would he think she was nuts or clingy or crazy? After all, they barely knew each other and they’d never met. That fact alone made her hesitant about moving forward, made her hesitant about letting the words escape her lips. Everyone around her questioned the validity of their relationship as it was. But the hesitancy disappeared as soon as she heard his voice and saw the look of adoration and love on his face.

Saying “I love you” wasn’t the only exciting thing that came about in October. October was an interesting month for the both of them. It held timid suggestions of a visit in December. But visiting was a complicated topic. He couldn’t travel, meaning she would have to come to him. Meanwhile, she received nothing but criticism from her family and friends about the idea of a visit. But, they decided to try and make it work anyway. And so they started making plans, scouring travel sites and becoming Kayak rates, and saving up money for the plane ticket.

In the midst of all of this, they each told their closest friends about the other. One morning towards the end of October she woke up to this terrifying, cryptic message:

“You have no idea how glad I am to be able to read your email and write this text. Something happened tonight, I’m ok, but…I’m just glad I’m able to tell you I love you…I know you’re probably freaked out now, don’t be. We do need to talk today…I know this is very vague, but I don’t want to get into anything on what is supposed to be a lovely good morning message. There’s so many emotions right now, but the main thing is I can sit here and write that I love and you have no idea how happy I am to be able to do that. I love you, I love you, I love you.”

The emotions got to him and after a few moments of reflection he knew that was probably not the best message to send her. Earlier that evening he had gone to a concert. He had gone to several before but the past couple of months he had a hard time with his breathing. Everything was fine and then all of a sudden, out of nowhere, his lungs stopped “working”.  Literally for about two minutes he couldn’t breathe. And because it was so loud he couldn’t get anyone’s attention. He felt trapped and thought he was going to pass out and die. He saw white spots. And the whole time the only thing he could think was “I didn’t get to say ‘I love you’ to her one last time . . .”

Eventually he was able to get out of there. But something big was on his mind: this experience made him rethink their relationship altogether. He questioned whether or not he should feel guilty to continue dating her. What if he did die? He didn’t want to put that pain onto someone that he loved. Was it right for him to date someone when he knew that there was a high probability that he wouldn’t be around long enough to share the kind of connection he would want her to have? “Should they end it?” he’d asked her.

She’d spent the day worried and sort of angered by the cryptic message he’d left her. She probably listened to the voicemail a hundred times, comparing it to the others he’d left, trying to discern whether he sounded different or not. What could have happened? Her best friend tried to calm her down by saying that maybe the “something” that had happened was he kissed another girl at the concert or something. But some voice inside told her that it wasn’t anything that light and petty. So, as silly as it might have been, she prepared herself for the worst—she prepared to see him drastically changed, like with a ventilator or a trache or something—when she finally talked to him that night later on Skype.

So what a feeling of relief it was when she saw him that evening and realized that nothing had changed, outwardly at least. She listened as he told her of the previous nights events and tears started slowly rolling down her face as he raised the question of whether they should continue what they were doing or not. Her answer was, of course, yes. They decided that hardships were simply going to be a factor in their relationship and they promised each other that if they stuck together they could get through anything together. They were a team.

Amidst all of this emotion, they fell into a familiar and comforting routine of supporting one another with their love and ending their nights drifting off together nightly and always saying “I love you” as they closed their eyes.

As scary as some of the times in October might have been, these times were nothing compared to the trying times ahead of them.

December was nearing and the talk of visiting grew more serious. The pressure was on to solidify plans. Talks with the parents needed to be had and tickets needed to be bought. One night in November she went to visit her parents and told them everything—that she’d met a guy, that she loved him, that he was disabled, that he lived across the country, and that she was going to visit.

Her parents were less than enthusiastic. And they brought to the forefront of her mind every question or concern she’d ever had regarding their relationship and then they dwelled on those concerns. “What would people think?” they’d asked. Where would this lead? Her father asked, “Have you lost your mind—do you really think it’s safe to fly across the country for someone you’ve never met?” To that, she could only concede that her father was right; there was a certain level of danger in it, but that also, she trusted him. “I know him,” she said. “And…I love him.” That sentiment was met with groans and rolling eyes and lots of protests. “How can you really love someone you’ve never met and have only had contact with over a computer screen?” her parents asked. She shrugged and mumbled that she didn’t know, but she could. After hours of talking like this and going around in circles, she felt browbeaten and defeated. As she left her parents house that night they asked her one final question: What sort of life would she be able to have with a man as severely disabled as him, if any at all?

These questions gave way to an emotional night and the beginnings of many strained relationships. And again, the two found themselves questioning whether they should end what they had or keep going.

A week before Thanksgiving, a time where everything and everyone should be feeling warm and pleasant, their world turned upside down. They had decided to keep what they had going, regardless of what her family thought. This was especially hard for her because she valued her parent’s opinions the highest out of anyone’s. But, the decision to continue this unorthodox relationship was hers to make. And people had done crazier things for love before.

It was with that attitude that they decided to approach things from now. The dates were set: December 14-18 was when they would finally meet; all that was left was for her to buy her plane ticket. But, as they sat there the Monday night before Thanksgiving looking at tickets and figuring things up, she suddenly felt overwhelmed. She was afraid of what would happen between her and her family, her and her friends, and . . . she was a little afraid of what would happen once she arrived and met up with him too. Of course, that fear was the one she pushed to the farthest recesses of her mind.

They didn’t buy the plane ticket that night.

Instead, she proposed that they take a break. They should try not talking until after Thanksgiving and think things through. “That way,” she told herself, “I know that if I can get through five days without talking to him, I can get through the rest of my life without talking to him as well.” She knew that this break would eventually lead to an end.

And so they parted with a simple goodnight, she logged off of Skype, called her mother and a close friend, and then cried herself to sleep. Everyone said she had made the right decision and that this would be the best thing in the long run, but she wasn’t too sure about that. If this decision was the right one, then why did it feel so incredibly wrong?

She spent the next few days in a haze. Wednesday she decided that they needed to talk and that things should end. He texted her through a program on his computer and that afternoon when she texted him to get on Skype the message was automatically sent back to her, indicating he wasn’t on his computer. She kept trying to send that one message the rest of the day, until about two o’clock the next morning. She never got a response. So she resolved that they’d talk on Friday, because you can’t end a relationship on Thanksgiving, that’s just bad manners.

By chance, she happened to check her email the next morning and saw an email from him, wishing her and her family a happy Thanksgiving. This email both infuriated her, because they had explicitly agreed to not talk until after Thanksgiving, and made her exceedingly happy. And she told him so in her response back. Thanksgiving passed in a hazy blur and gave way to Black Friday shopping that wasn’t nearly as exciting as usual and suddenly it was Saturday and she realized they had to talk.

At home in her apartment that night she texted him the same message that she had days before: a simple “hey”. They each logged onto Skype and in a voice thick with tears she told him that she couldn’t do this anymore. Even though she loved him, she couldn’t keep hurting her family and the only way she knew not to do that was to end what they had. “But don’t YOU deserve happiness too?” he’d asked her. And while he was right, she just wasn’t sure. She contemplated for a long awkward silence. Earlier that night she’d met a couple who had just been married after a transatlantic long distance relationship that lasted for a year. The woman had leaned over to her and whispered, “We made it work; it just goes to show that if you want something bad enough and you’re willing to fight for it, then everything will work out.” And then much to the woman’s surprise, she had burst into tears.

But that experience had left her thinking. Was the universe sending her some sort of sign that everything would be okay? Was this an indicator that she shouldn’t give up and she should fight for love? She looked at him and all the reasons that she fell in love with him rose to her mind, pushing all of the doubts and fears and concerns out of the way. He asked her quietly, “Tell me you don’t love me.” She didn’t answer. He asked her again, this time with tears in his eyes, “Tell me you don’t love me…” and with a quiet shake of the head, she couldn’t. “Neither can I.” he said.

And so once again, they decided to try and make things work . . . and that it was time for them to meet.

But, it wasn’t all smooth sailing until the fateful day in January when they would meet. Her friends and family had expected her to end it with him. She had told everyone she was ending it, because that’s what she was planning on doing. And so, everyone assumed that what she had had with him was done. And, perhaps wrongly, she didn’t dispel this notion. It was easier to simply go through life keeping what was going on to herself, than to explain that they were giving things another shot and have to start defending her decisions again.

As the days were growing colder and shorter and winter was directly upon them, she surprised him one day with news that warmed them both inside, the same way that a fire warms you up on a cold night. “What if,” she asked suddenly one day, “What if I came in January over the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend?”

He was elated, but he worried she was saying this out of guilt from December. He wanted her to come, obviously, but he was hoping that SHE wanted to come. He told her yes, of course. A few days later she sent him a text of a photograph that was a confirmation ticket. It was actually happening.

He had a whole bunch of preparations in his mind to what he wanted to do over the weekend and how he wanted to pick her up at the airport—with one of those white cards that said her name. He bought concert tickets to surprise her with and looked at different restaurants where they could have dinner together. She was coming in a few weeks and each day seemed like agony for both of them.

Then suddenly about two weeks before she was to arrive he noticed a pain in his nose. He thought nothing of it and went about his normal routine. But it got worse and worse. And the day before she was supposed to come he became severely sick. It was too late to back out but he knew he would have to disappoint her to all the plans he couldn’t make. He could barely sit in his chair to pick her up at the airport on Thursday night when she arrived, but he made sure his face showed how ecstatic he was when she stepped into his van. She was beautiful. He’d seen her before, but only in pixels. To see her inches away from him, to smell her hair, to see her smile . . . he didn’t care how sick he was, he was better just by her being close to him.

Her heart had dropped when he’d mentioned to her that he was sick. She started worrying constantly. Not because she knew that all of their plans would be on hold—dinners and concerts and sightseeing would happen another time—she worried that something would happen to him. Even though he downplayed the situation to her, she knew it was serious.

When the plane landed she couldn’t believe it. She was actually there and in just a few minutes she’d see him. She grabbed her suitcase, made her way through the airport, and outside to the curb where she saw him waiting. Were things going to be awkward? What if they met in person and things went horrible? But, all of her fears were alleviated as soon as she hopped into his car though and he smiled at her and quietly said, “Hey, babe, you’re here.”

It wasn’t a long car ride from the airport to his apartment. They made small talk about her flight, the weather, and his sick. The encounter had the dual tone of a first date and of two old friends catching up after a long absence from each other. When they got to his apartment, before they went inside, they waited in awkward silence for the car to be parked. She stood five feet away from him, awkwardly waiting, and suddenly at a loss for words. “Thanks for inviting me,” she finally said.

He smiled, and even in the dark, it made her feel all tingly. “Well, yeah, of course.” Another awkward silence. “Well, give me a hug, silly,” he said playfully with a chuckle. She laughed, dropped her bag, and wrapped her arms around his thin shoulders. “I love you,” he whispered in her ear. She whispered it back and they headed inside.

They spent the next few hours just talking. She’d never seen Back To The Future so he showed her that and they had their first movie night together, holding hands on his couch.

It was hard for him to breathe and talk at this point, the sick was getting worse. His gut was telling him that he needed to lie in bed, but he just didn’t want to. As it happens, the body takes over the brain and told him this date had to end.

The next couple of days he was in bed sick. He couldn’t get out of the bed and he felt terrible that she had to see him like this the first time they met. He wondered if this was all going to be too much for her and be terrified. All he could do was try and make her feel good and loved and hopefully she wouldn’t worry.

But she did worry. She loved him and it pained her and scared her to see him so sick. The next day they played things by ear. They sold the concert tickets and then watched Back To The Future II. One of his friends came and introduced herself and she went with her to walk around, see the city a little, and have some girl time. When they got back he kept saying that he thought that by tomorrow he’d be better.

But he wasn’t. So she stayed in the living room, not sure what she should do. She wanted to spend time with him and wanted to know he was alright, but she didn’t want to be in the way. Eventually his dad came out into the living room and told her she could go in there. She dragged a chair over beside his bed and grabbed hold of his hand. He smiled, although it looked like more of a grimace, and apologized for how the trip had turned out. She just shushed him and started talking. Talking about stupid things, like a test she had coming up, gossip from her roommates, and how much fun she was having simply being there with him, even though it was like this. He sort of just nodded at a lot of what she was saying and every twenty minutes or so they were interrupted because he couldn’t breathe very well and that had to be taken care of. She tried not to let him see, but she was scared. This wasn’t at all what she’d expected and . . . she was terrified of what was going to happen to him.

This routine lasted the rest of the trip until it was time for her to go. He was too sick to take her to the airport, so a friend of his took her. Goodbyes are always hard. But this one was especially so. “I don’t know when I’ll see you again,” he whispered. Her eyes teared up. “I can’t even Skype right now.” And the pain of the goodbye felt like a knife twisting in their stomachs. As he lay in bed and she sat beside him, they whispered that they loved each other and started to make plans for another visit. That eased the pain of saying goodbye a bit.

The trip, although it’d been vastly different than either of them had planned or imagined, was something unique and special that they were both grateful to have had the chance to experience.

It’s summer again. And the air outside is just as it was almost a year ago when they first said hello. The months since January included a progression of health and a few more visits together. Today, even though things still seem imperfect to those around them, together they sit and write this tale knowing each other is perfect.

The e—beginning. 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Blue Moon

“You’ll never guess who’s back in town.” Cindy bounced on her toes in front of Kaitlyn's bar. Kaitlyn knew her friend wanted a big reaction; Cindy lived for drama. Kaitlyn continued to wipe down the bar, getting it ready for the evening rush. The damp cloth had cooled since she ran it under the hot water tap and the cloth squished between her thin fingers. This was one of her favorite moments of the day, the quiet space around her just waiting to be filled. Of course, when Cindy came by to keep her company, it wasn’t so quiet.
“Guess!” Cindy insisted.
Kaitlyn raised her eyes, then returned to what she was doing. “I'm not going to guess, just tell me.”
“It's Jason,” Cindy said with triumph.
Kaitlyn's hand stopped moving. She still didn't look up. The warm feeling that Jason had always elicited in her rushed up like a tide, lifting her heart into her throat and making it feel as though she couldn’t breathe. It was followed quickly by the sadness and longing that had become an everyday part of her life. Thoughts of Jason were never simple.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Date to Remember - Chapter 3

Chapter 3
After the kiss under the moonlight of the local park things between Melissa and Damon flourished, they had been on two more dates and both parties were completely smitten. After their fifth date Melissa started to wonder how Damon became a quadriplegic, he had never broached the subject so until he did she decided just to let it slide, guessing that he would tell her all in good time. In more immediate matters and while watching a movie one night Melissa decided to propose a meeting. "I'd really love for you to meet my best friend Shelley. I want to show you off" bubbled Melissa. "Sure. No worries" replied Damon knowing now they had been on 6 dates and it was probably time to start meeting each other's significant people in their lives. It was arranged for 7pm at Melissa's house and she couldn't wait. "Your going to love him. He's so warm and intelligent" gushed Melissa to Shelley as they waited for his arrival. Shelley stood there a bit concerned over how quickly Melissa had fallen for this man but knew this was important to her friend. Soon enough they heard a van pull up in the driveway."He's here" giggled Melissa. She walked outside and out to meet them, opening up the sliding door and seeing Damon sitting inside. "Hey beautiful" he expressed at the sight of his intended. "Hey you!" she replied happy to see her man again. She hopped back of the way and Damon made his way out of the van down the ramp that had been laid out. As they all got settled to come in Shelley was waiting at the front door, she had never seen a quadriplegic before and was astounded by how truly paralyzed he was in person, she also noticed a woman with her and had no idea who she was.
"Who's that woman?" Shelley asked.

"That's Lydia. Damon's nurse" replied Melissa

"How often is she around?"

"All the time. Damon is a vent dependant quadriplegic, he needs someone with him 24/7"

"Even when he is asleep?"

"Yup. Well in the vicinity at least in case something goes wrong"

Shelley had no experience with any of this and it was all spinning her out. As she stood there a little surprised by it all she turned around to see Damon. "Hi how are you? I'm Shelley" she introduced before putting her hand out without thinking.

"Well hello Shelley.Great to meet you. I'd love to shake your hand but I kinda can't" said Damon

"Oh god sorry. I wasn't thinking" replied Shelley embarrassed at her mistake.

They all moved into the loungeroom, Damon manouevering his bulky black beast of a chair into a vacant part of the room, luckily most of Melissa's doors were doubles so it made it easy for him to get through them. "Anyone feel like a drink?" asked Melissa.

"Yes I will have a coffee thanks" piped up Lydia.

"I'll have a vodka sunrise" ordered Shelley.

Melissa then looked at her man."Do you want anything babe?"

"Umm just a water will do thanks"

Melissa headed into the kitchen to fix the drinks leaving Shelley with Damon and his nurse who felt a bit uncomfortable about all of this.

"So how long have you and Melissa been friends?" asked Damon

"A while now" replied Shelley briefly.

"She's a great woman" gushed Damon a little.

"Yes she is, best friend I've ever had"

The conversation continued on for a few more minutes very slow and stilted until Melissa came back in with the drinks. She passed them all out before announcing "Hope you all got to know each other a bit more while I was out getting the drinks"
"Yeah. Like we have known each other all our lives" joked Damon. It was at this point she put Damon's drink up to his lips, he had a straw so that he could suck it up rather than risk spills by trying to tip it in his mouth, once again Shelley went a bit funny, not believing that someone in Damon's position would want to live. She gulped down her vodka sunrise and quickly asked for another.
"Already?" exclaimed Melissa

"All good. I will go in and get it myself, you all talk"

The three of them all continued to talk while Shelley went into the kitchen, to deal with all of this she poured herself a straight vodka and sculled it in one hit before pouring herself another, as she sunk another drink Melissa came in. "So what do you think?"

"What do you mean?" replied a now inebriated Shelley.

"Damon of course!!"

"He's ok" she mumbled

"Ok? You don't like him do you? I know the fact he is a quad takes a little getting used to but he's so kind and just truly an amazing guy" bubbled Melissa

"Well if he makes you happy it doesn't matter what I think"

That answer made Melissa a little sad as she wanted her to like him, she guessed over time they would become friends though. Soon enough they found themselves back in the lounge room. "What were you girls whispering about?" teased Damon

"We weren't whispering!" smiled Melissa as she sat down.

All of a sudden there was a sound of something dripping. "What the hell is that?" yelled Shelley now quite drunk.

"That's Damon's cath bag, he has no control of his bladder so he needs a catheter and it filters into a bag near his left calf" explained Lydia.

"Oh shit seriously??" That's pretty fucked up" exclaimed Shelley in quite an insensitive manner.

"What is wrong with you tonight Shelley??" replied Melissa unhappy with her friend's comment.

"Nothing's wrong. We are all having a good time aren't we?" Shelley slurred before polishing off another drink.

"I think you have had enough" announced Melissa before grabbing her glass. "Time for you to get a taxi home"

"I'm good" protested Shelley.

"No your not good. Your disgracing yourself" chastised Melissa very unhappy with her friend.
A taxi was called and soon Shelley was barrelled into it and off home. After she left Melissa came back inside to see Damon and Lydia getting ready to leave. "Your going already??"
"Yeah I'm a bit tired and think it might be time to go" replied Damon

"Oh i'm sorry about Shelley. I've got no idea what got into her" explained Melissa hoping to change their minds.

"Well yeah I wouldn't say it was a great night per se but all good" said a polite Damon.

"Ok well i will ring you in the morning then"

"Sounds good"

With that said Damon received a kiss to remember from Melissa and he was loaded into the van and headed off back home. Melissa flopped on the couch and was upset the night didn't go to plan, she thought Shelley would love Damon but clearly not, all night she was weird about it all and who knew why, as she relaxed on the couch she decided no point asking why, she was now a bit sleepy too and headed to bed.

The next day Melissa rang Damon to see how he was, he replied that while he wasn't overly keen on ever seeing Shelley again he just chalked it up to "one of those nights" and in time he hoped the two would be friends. After dealing with all of that Damon told Melissa he had a special treat for her.
"What is it?" asked an expectant Melissa.

"Just have to wait and see!" giggled Damon, his vent interrupting him a little. "Just make sure you put on a pair of heels and your best outfit" he added before they got off the phone.

After hanging up Melissa couldn't help but get excited, even though she had no idea what it was she guessed it had to be good, otherwise why else would she have to get so dressed up? As she had that thought she then started to fret over what to wear, she tended to not go out that much so she didn't have too many "going out" outfits. As she scoured through her wardrobe she finally came upon a majestic blue gown with a long train she had bought a couple of years ago, Melissa doubted she would ever wear it but guessed this was as good a time as any, she tried it on and thought it looked ok, low on self confidence Melissa was never one to really think she looked overly good in something but the gown made her feel a little special, she now just needed shoes. Melissa had a look at her shoes already out and they were mainly just flats or work shoes, they wouldn't be appropriate so she decided to go have a look in her wardrobe, as soon as she walked in she could see some ribbon weave pumps she had only worn once so decided they would do the trick, the gown was so long no-one would even see her shoes anyway but she would know, she wiggled her feet into them before heading over to do her makeup. Once that was done she had one last look in the mirror. "All looks ok" she gestured to herself then moved over to the front door to see if Damon had arrived yet. He wasn't here yet so she paced up and down the hallway of her home, nervous over what they would be doing, she then started to freak out and worried she might be too overdressed, sure he had told her to wear her best outfit but what if she had gone overboard? It was at this point she heard the van pull up. She walked outside to meet them, holding the bottom of her dress up so that it didn't get dirty as she pulled back the sliding door she got a nice surprise as she saw Damon in a tuxedo. "Wow. Looking very dapper I have to say!" remarked Melissa. Damon was too busy admiring Melissa to even respond, even though he had no breath of his own Melissa look so incredible he nearly lost his vent induced breaths too. "I can't believe it" he finally managed to get out.

"Can't believe what?"

"I didn't think it was even possible but you look even more beautiful" gushed Damon.

"Don't be silly I'm nothing special" replied Melissa still not used to men complimenting her and meaning it.

"That's where your wrong because you are special. Truly special"

Upon hearing this further praise Melissa started to blush, while they had only been on a handful of dates she was really falling hard for Damon. "So where are we going?"

"Have to wait and see" I guess teased Damon.

The van pulled out of the driveway and they took off, after hitting the road Melissa picked up Damon's hand and held it, Damon may not have been able to move or feel it but it still filled him with a sense of happiness while experienced Melissa comfort and security in his touch. Soon enough they came up to a well known building. "We are here" smiled Damon. Melissa looked up and could see it was the Metropolitan Opera, commonly known as the Met and got quite excited.
"We are going to see some opera!!?" she asked exuberantly at what was to come.

"You got it" replied Damon happy at Melissa's excitement.

"That's fantastic. What are we seeing??" bubbled Melissa

"Don Giovanni"

"Are you serious?? I've wanted to see this for ages. You are a truly wonderful man" thanked Melissa before landing a passionate blow on Damon's lips.

They entered the Opera, it all looked so majestic and Melissa was glad she wore her fancy gown, she couldn't help but get over how Damon looked, dressed to the nines in his tuxedo, smelling amazing as usual and looking super cute. Once they got inside where their show would be playing Melissa wondered where they would be sitting. "I have one more surprise" hinted Damon.

"Really? What?"

"We don't have to worry about anyone sitting next to us as I booked us a private balcony to watch the performance. It will just be you, me and Don Giovanni. Oh and Lydia of course!!" laughed Damon. Lydia naturally on hand in case anything went wrong.

"Wow you have thought of everything!" replied Melissa wondering if this day could get any better before landing another kiss, this time on Damon's cheek. She loved how his face always beamed when she kissed him, knowing he was feeling what she was.

After a few minutes the show started, once again Melissa taking Damon's hand in hers. The show was majestic and both parties marvelled at how skilled and talented the people in Don Giovanni were. Hours passed and the performance grew to a halt. "Melissa can do me a favour?" asked Damon.

"Of course"

"Give them a standing ovation for me"

Melissa just smiled knowing he was joking but that he had enjoyed the performance. Soon enough they were all loaded up into the van and heading back to Melissa's place. Once there Damon looked a little pale, it had been a big day and it was suggested by Lydia that he better stay in the van and head back home. Melissa looked at him and couldn't hide her feelings for him. "I had such a good time today. I can't get over how happy you make me, it's just ridiculous!" she poured out. "The feeling is more than mutual" he replied. Melissa gave him one last kiss then exited the van, she waved to them as they backed out of the driveway and thought this could be it, someone to share her life with. Who knew what lay ahead though..

Meet the Kid

Story by Jamie

Why today?  Why today, of all days?

If he could have, Michael would have pounded his fists in frustration.  Instead, he just lay in bed, looking at the clock by his bedside, willing Dominic to arrive.  He was no thirty minutes late, no call, no nothing.  

Dominic had been his PCA for about a year now, and lately, Michael had started to almost hate him.  He was tired of Dominic’s excuses, his frequent latenesses that resulted in Michael’s frequent latenesses.  It wasn’t as if Michael expected his caregiver to act like he had the best job in the world, but Dominic had practically become surly in the last few months.   

A quadriplegic with no movement in his hands and only very limited movement in his wrists, Michael needed help in the morning to get out of bed, to shower, and to get dressed.  And today he needed to be prompt because he was meeting his girlfriend Amanda for a Sunday brunch at a diner by her house, where she was introducing him to her daughter Lexie.

Monday, July 23, 2012

A Date to Remember - Chapter 4

Chapter 4
Damon and Melissa had now known each other two weeks but Melissa almost felt like it was two months or even two years, after their early hiccup upon meeting things had been going great and she was very hopeful for the future, as they arranged their next date Melissa decided it was time to see where Damon lived, they had met up 3 or 4 times for dates and Damon over to her place the other times. "Sure, you can come over here. Will be good" replied Damon to Melissa's request. Damon gave Melissa the address and a date was set for 7pm. Soon enough that time rolled around and Melissa popped into her car and headed over to Damon's place, she wondered what kind of place he had, she knew it would have to be spacious and wheelchair accessible but was sure it would still have it's charm. As she travelled into his street she made sure she got the address right, 28 Emerald street, Rockbank he told her, as she creeped closer to the house she eventually pulled up outside what was a very majestic house, it was only the one story but looked very classy and the garden was quite large as was the winding driveway leading in, Melissa wasn't sure what to expect but she had to admit she was impressed and was glad Damon wasn't living by every penny like some people have to in his situation. Melissa's little Volkswagen chugged away up the driveway and she started to get nerves again, she didn't know why but the thought of seeing Damon still gave her butterflies which she guessed was a good thing.

After making her way up the driveway Melissa hopped of her car, she saw a big ramp outside and pictured Damon blowing into the straw of his sip 'n' puff and wheelchair gradually making his way up and inside, as Melissa moved towards the door she had a quick look in the mirror of her foundation capsule to make sure everything still looked the way she wanted, this was a usual occurrence and all was fine so she knocked on the door. After waiting a few seconds the door opened and it was Lydia. "Oh hey Lydia, how are you?" smiled Melissa.
"I'm well thanks. Come in" invited Lydia
As Melissa made her way inside she could see the inside was every bit as good as the outside, a glass chandelier coming from the ceiling and some wonderful art adorning the entrance and hallway. As Melissa headed further in she saw her man, he looked so relaxed and was just wearing a black t-shirt with some cargo shorts. "Hello beautiful" he expressed upon the sight of Melissa, thinking she looked delightful in just a pink singlet top and jeans with red flip flops, her toes painted fire engine red to match her footwear. They had a quick embrace which they both enjoyed.
"Wow this place is amazing" remarked Melissa. "You really landed on your feet didn't you" she added not realising the pun, although once again thinking she had never actually heard the story about how her new man had become a quadriplegic.

"Yeah it's ok" replied Damon playing it down.

"OK?? King of the understatement much!!" responded Melissa.

They decided to head into the lounge room where Lydia asked them if they wanted a drink, both of which said no so she then decided just to leave them be and have some alone time. "Great to finally see your house though, and you in it haha" laughed Melissa. Damon always loved that sound, the laugh of his potential new partner.
They continued to talk before Melissa started to sticky nose a little looking at what appeared to be family pictures and the like in the corner of the room. As she poked through the photos she would ask Damon who the people were. "Who's this?"
"My mother"

"This one?"

"That's my niece and nephew"

As Melissa continued to go through the photos she came up to one of Damon pre accident, he had an arm around a blonde woman and she just assumed it was another family member. "Who's this?" she asked pointing the picture at him. Melissa then noticed Damon's expression changing. "Something wrong? Was she your mistress?" joked Melissa.

"No, not my mistress" replied Damon.

"Well who is she then??"

"My wife" informed Damon.

"Your what!!????" objected Melissa thinking she must have misheard.

"It's not what you think" responded Damon.

"How can you having a wife not be what I think!!??" screamed Melissa.

"I'm a widow"

"Oh god" replied Melissa changing her expression completely upon hearing this.

"If things progressed further I would have told you but we have still only known each other the sum of two weeks"

"Very true" acknowledged Melissa. "I'm so sorry to hear about your wife. I guess I'm just realising there is so much more to you than I first thought"

"Well yes. I'm sure there's more to Melissa Ryan too that I don't know about" expressed Damon.

"Not much to tell with little old me" she replied knowing that wasn't true. While she was a quiet woman it was fair to say she hadn't lived a great life. "I don't mean to pry but how long ago did your wife pass?"

"4 years ago. It was the hardest period of my life, particularly given the circumstances"


"Well yes" replied Damon cutting himself short. On one hand he wanted to let Melissa in and tell the story but on the other he probably felt it was too soon, not to mention the fact he wasn't keen to go through it all again.

"I get the feeling there's a bit to this so you don't have to tell me if you don't want to" assured Melissa.
After thinking about for a few seconds Damon decided to go forward with it. "To tell you the whole story I have to go back to a night in June 4 years ago. My wife Emily and I were going to the opening of a new restaurant in town, it was meant to be a glamorous affair and plenty of well known people would be there, we were just simple folk but a friend of mine was a big player around town and he couldn't go so he passed on two invitations to us. We both got dressed to the nines and headed off. The night was going well before we got invited to drinks on the balcony, as we laughed and swilled champagne we started to hear a creaking sound, at first we thought it was just the wind but then it got louder, not long after the balcony started to crack and everyone started rushing off, Emily and I were trapped at the back though and before we could get off the balcony collapsed" explained Damon now getting quite emotional.

Melissa just sat there, almost frozen at the chilling tale Damon was telling and the torture in his face as he told it, she knew this was bad but she had no idea how bad.

"My wife and I plus some others were still on it as it crumbled.. I can still remember the fear in Emily's eyes as we hurtled toward the ground below, I tried to somehow bring her body on top of mine to break her fall but she was just out of reach, we both hit the ground hard and I was knocked out. When I came to I was in a hospital unable to move,talk or breathe and told my wife was dead"

"Oh I'm so sorry" remarked Melissa now almost as ashen faced as Damon.

"Yeah well now you know I became like this" expressed Damon.

"I'm not worried about that, I just can't believe the story you have just told me, I can't imagine the pain you would have been in those first few months. Emotional and physical" empathized Melissa.

"Well it wasn't a picnic I'll tell you that for free. Lying there in that bed, day in, day out was the worst torture I think anyone could ever be put through, at first I was like a zombie, barely changing expression, too traumatised by the events of that night and everything that went with it. Then it just all turned to anger, so many days where I had so much anger, when that wore off though the sadness crept in like an unwanted visitor, some people might say this is weak but I reckon when it all finally caught up to me I cried every night for three months" explained a very solemn Damon.

"Your not weak at all, you are an incredibly brave wonderful human being" assured Melissa now picking up his limp hand and putting it in hers. "I can't imagine what I would be like. To not only lose a partner but to be left completely paralyzed and helpless. It's just too cruel"

"You want to know the worst part? I missed Emily's funeral due to being in hospital. I didn't even get to say a proper goodbye"

This was almost too much for Melissa, sure she had been through her own tough times but this was the purest form of heartbreak she had ever heard. "Did the people that build the balcony ever get prosecuted?"

"Yeah they got a lousy $160,000 fine. According to the report they were under a tight deadline so they put on a couple of unskilled workers to finish the job quick. They forgot to fortify the balcony properly and that's what caused it to buckle"

"A lousy fine and that's it!!?? What bastards! I guess with the legal system though it's not surprising"

"Yeah well my parents actually filed a civil suit against the restaurant and the company that built it while I was in hospital. I wasn't interested as I was just far too depressed and no amount of money would bring Emily back. My parents told me the week before I got out of the hospital the builders and restaurant owners settled for 3 million. That's how I got this house"

"I know in the scheme of things it's not much but better than the hospital I'm guessing" replied Melissa trying to find some sort of positive out of it all.

"Yeah I suppose. When I first moved in I didn't like it, but then again I didn't take pleasure in anything for a long time. To be honest it's only been the last year that I have really moved on with life and tried to put it all behind me"

"I just can't believe what you have been through, it just defies belief" remarked Melissa.

"Well believe me I wish it all had of been some bad dream but it wasn't. I have to actually thank you"

"Thank me?? For what?"

"For giving me my first slice of happiness since that day. Spending time with you makes me feel alive again"

"Feeling is more than mutual" smiled Melissa. She then moved over and wiped the remaining moisture off Damon's face from the tears that had streamed down before giving him a comforting kiss on the cheek.

The two of them talked into the night before the clock struck 11pm and Melissa mentioned she had better go and let Damon get some rest. "Thanks for tonight. I know it must have been awfully hard to relive the events of 4 years ago but I appreciate you letting me in your life, past and present" expressed Melissa.

"Thanks for listening. Drive home safe" replied Damon.

Melissa just smiled and gave him a peck on the lips before heading off, she knew that some of the things that had happened in her life should go left unsaid and she planned to keep it that way, for now at least. Melissa arrived home, she went straight to bed but after tossing and turning a bit she started to wonder if Damon was really over his late wife, sure she had the utmost sympathy for his loss but she didn't want to be living in the shadow of another woman, she was too sensitive for that and her heart far too fragile. As she continued to ponder this she then looked at the other side of the coin, if Damon just forgot about her and didn't at least acknowledge her memory in any way that wouldn't make him much of a man would it? At least she knew that he was loyal and respectful, two very honourable qualities. After mulling it over Melissa decided that she wouldn't want to be judged on her past so she wasn't going to do that with Damon, at this point in time things were going great and she was just being silly entertaining notions about being second fiddle. Damon was the closest thing she'd had to love in a long time and there was no good reason for that to change..

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Daniel - Part 1

DANIEL – Part 1

Well I suppose if you are going to listen to my story, you had better hear about me first.
Let me see now.  I am twenty-eight and Jewish.  The latter part is very important as the story will unfold but as I am typing this suddenly I can’t think of anything else to say. 

Well, I live in London, born in Israel, live in Hendon.  This sounds so, so boring but then I am boring at the moment.  Have a boring job.  Work with my mum.  My mum started up a cleaning agency years ago.  She organises for cleaners and au pairs to obviously clean for people.  I do it too but nowadays it is more computerized.  I set up the whole system and nearly run the business.  Unfortunately there are times when we cannot get a cleaner to come as an emergency and then I have to don my special cleaner’s outfit and I go and clean the house.  They always want me back.  HAAA some hope.

Well much to my parents’ alarm, I am still single.  I was engaged once but that is another story.  From time to time I do actually go on dates.  Either from J-Date or people I meet but to be honest with you, I want what I know I probably shouldn’t want.  My perfect man would be someone tall, blond and definitely NOT JEWISH.  I just want someone uncomplicated, uncumbered with Jewish guilt, loves sex and a good bacon sandwich.  Actually, the last bit is a lie.  I only eat Kosher meat.  I’ve never even put a slice of bacon in my mouth, never eaten a ham sandwich or even a McDonalds and I don’t intent to either.  SO THERE.

Anyway, tonight I am going for a blind date arranged by my mother.  Apparently this one, Daniel Reynolds, is the nephew of someone my mother plays bridge with.  “You’ve met her” my mother said “Beate Bronstein.  You know the one who always brings a coffee cake”.  I looked at her clueless.  Number one, I haven’t lived at home for five years and when I don’t concentrate on her bridge friends they all blur into a generic mass of short, slightly plump women with accents.

“What is so special about this one?” I asked my mother.  “Well for one thing” she said thrusting a photo into my hand, “his father is not Jewish and he is blond, tall and is a solicitor I believe”.  My eye brows raised as I looked at the photo.  He was good looking I will grant her that, with honey blondish hair curling around his forehead.  “How tall is he?” I asked.  This question was always very important to me being 5 foot 9.  I hated towering above people.  “Well he is over six foot, that I know.  She said he is tall but of course anyone is tall in comparison to Beate.  So how tall I cannot guarantee”.

I stared at myself in the mirror.  My looks generally weren’t a problem unless someone wasn’t into tall women.  I am dark, a product of my father and definitely pretty.  Usually I am told I am exotic but then again, Jewish men don’t think I am in the least bit exotic because I am just like them.

I am meeting Daniel in a bar of a hotel.  He said that they make very nice cocktails and we could always go on somewhere later so I agreed.  To be honest with you, I don’t suppose he will take me anywhere later.  I am not under any illusions.  His aunt for whatever reason has told him to take me out.  May be that photo was old, may be he stutters or a terrible thought occurred to me.  May be he had Tourrettes and would launch into swearing at me.  I sighed.  Well, if it was anything like that, I was well within my rights to leave.

I decided not to take my car.  If I had to leave quickly, I would just jump in a taxi.  I was not in the mood to spend ages finding a parking space.  The hotel as it happens was a half an hour walk.  As I was early and wasn’t really taking the situation seriously I decided to walk.  It was one of those late May evenings where the sun was still trying to shine through the clouds.  As I walked along the streets I could smell the faint smell of barbeques and the damp smell of earth where people were watering their gardens.

I reached the hotel and paused for a moment.  Usually I would go into the bathroom and refresh my makeup but tonight I didn’t bother.

“Where is the bar?” I asked at the reception.  She nodded her head to a huge neon sign saying “BAR”.  I blushed slightly and walked through.

I looked around the room and saw random people sitting, drinking, talking etc but I couldn’t see anyone answering to Daniel’s description.  I walked towards the bar.  I turned around and out of the corner of my eye I saw someone blond, yes, that does look like him I thought but, I stopped.  “For goodness sake.  As I turned around, it was definitely true, he was in a wheelchair!

I paused for a second and thought “what the hell”.  I walked over to him.  “Excuse me?” I asked, “but your name isn’t Daniel by any chance is it?”  As he smiled at me, I recognised the smile from the photo.  “It is” he said shaking my hand.  “Sit down.  Would you like to see the cocktail menu?”

I looked at his face.  He certainly was handsome but ...”They didn’t tell you did they?” he suddenly said.

“No they didn’t” I answered.  “I just DO NOT understand why they didn’t tell me.  I could have walked away, I could have said something ....” 

“embarrassing” he continued.  “Don’t worry.  My aunt said that your mother might not tell you because she didn’t think you would care that much, is that true?”.

I looked at him.  There was something really nice about him that was for sure.  He was very tall, I could even tell that when he was sitting down and broad.  I could tell even through his suit that he was broad and muscular – just what I liked and his voice.  His voice was like a dream.  His voice if I closed my eyes was a cross between David Cameron and I don’t know – Stephen Fry.

“Does it matter? I repeated “I don’t know.  I haven’t really had the chance to think about it.  It shouldn’t matter really should it, if I like you.  They obviously don’t think I am a shallow person.  I don’t know.  Do you think I’m weird that I can’t answer that question?”

“No” he said smiling “you seem very honest and open, just like they said you are.  Now what do you want to drink?”

I chose my drink.  “Daniel?” “please call me Dan” he said, “my friends do.”

“Ok then Dan” I said.  I paused for a moment.  “I was in a car accident when I was at university.  I took a year out for rehabilitation etc and then i just had to get on with my life.”

“Oh” I said smiling.  “I wanted to ask but it seems strange asking you medical details on our first meeting.  Like you asking me what operations I have had or how many fillings do I have”.

“Well personally I would prefer you to ask whatever you want to so that you wouldn’t feel uncomfortable.  People feel uncomfortable because they don’t know what to say or they think they will insult me.  But on the upside, when they get to know me people treat me normally.  I don’t know”.

“When was your last girlfriend?” I asked.  He smiled “about two years ago.  I’m not on the rebound don’t worry.  What about you?”

“Well the last serious one was about two years ago and I have been out on one or two dates but nothing really.”  I looked at him.  “Can you walk at all?” I asked looking down.  “No” he replied.  I broke my back so I have a spinal cord injury.  I keep fit, go to the gym every day, swim so that if there is ever a cure, I hope I will be fit.  Do you work out or anything?  You have a nice figure?”

“Thank you” I said blushing.  “Well I walk a lot.  I walked here incidentally.  I just walk and walk.  It is good exercise and gives you time out on your own to think.”    I paused for a second.  “That doesn’t embarrass or upset you right? To talk about walking”.

“No” he laughed “does it embarrass you for me to talk about “wheeling””.  I shrugged and shook my head. 

The evening was going well  As the time went on I felt that I wanted him to sit close to me, put his arm around me even but I wasn’t even sure what he could and couldn’t do.  Then he suddenly said “would you like to go and get something to eat?”

“Yes please” I replied “where do you want to go”.

“My aunt said you are kosher.  Would you like to go for a shwarma or are you okay to eat here?” 

“I can eat here” I said “I can have fish or vegetarian?”

He called the waiter over and we went into the restaurant through the door.

The restaurant consisted of semi-circular leather booths.  Dan transferred from his chair and sat next to me leaving his wheelchair next to him.  As he got comfortable next to me I could feel the magnetism between our two bodies.  He looked at me and I stared into his icy aquamarine eyes.  His lips touched mine and we kissed.  I placed my arms around his shoulder and pulled my lips away from his momentarily to inhale his cool aftershave and his soul.

He looked at me and we kissed me again.  We stared at each other and he put his arm around my waist and cuddled me.  “May be your mother and aunt were right after all”.