Hey everyone! After much procrastination I have decided to post a story, mainly as it is about a level of injury I am fond of writing about. I'd just like to say that I don't class myself as any star writer but hope you like it and please be kind in your critique:) P.s Sorry if I have posted it wrong!
A Date to Remember
Melissa Ryan was a quiet woman, she worked at the local aged care nursing home and went about her business with a minimum of fuss, she loved her job looking after the old people though as she felt like they shouldn't be forgotten about just because they had got on in years. You could probably say Melissa saw a bit of herself in them as she felt a little bit forgotten by society, she had trouble forming friendships due to her shy nature and probably only had one real friend named Shelley. Melissa had also lost touch with her only remaining relative as well and she lived alone in a modest house just outside of town. While she bemoaned her lack of life so to speak she wasn't the clubbing type or one to go to a bar and sink some pool or have a few drinks. She didn't mind the odd glass of white wine though and was just happy most nights to be curled up on the couch reading a book or watching a movie. When her 30th birthday came around though she looked around and couldn't help but feel lonely, Shelley made a big deal out of it for her baking a cake and giving her a gift of earrings but Melissa decided that she wanted more, she knew it was time to try and meet a man.
With Melissa being quite shy she knew the Internet was probably her best bet, as she typed the words "Dating sites" into the search engine her hands almost trembled a bit. After a couple of seconds thousands of results came up, just looking at them all seemed overwhelming and Melissa almost closed the screen immediately."How do I know which one is right for me?" she asked herself. She scoured through the results and came up on a site called "Just for Fun.com".Now most people who have been around know exactly what the word "fun" means when ti comes to dating sites but not Melissa, she clicked on it and couldn't believe what pictures some of the men on there had posted, she quickly learned it was a swingers site and shut it down straight away, disgusted by what she saw. After that bad experience she decided to head to bed having seen enough. "If all the sites are like that then I'm definitely in trouble" she mumbled to herself before popping into her red and black striped pj's and making her way into bed.
The next morning she woke up and just felt a tinge of sadness. She knew it was loneliness knocking at her door and being a rainy Saturday she would spend it inside with this new book she had just purchased called "Angel on Horizon Road". After flicking past the first couple of pages she decided that she'd had enough of this, she needed to stiffen her upper lip and get back on the computer and do research on some more dating sites. Once again she logged on and could feel her heart pounding, this time she clicked on a site called "Perfect Partner 4 U". She wasn't a fan of text speak but thought it looked innocent enough, she looked through a few profiles and realised she liked this site a lot more than the other one, although that wasn't hard. After perusing 4 or 5 profiles it suddenly came up. "To keep viewing profiles please sign up". Melissa wasn't one to like being told what to do necessarily but she decided that this had to be done. She wasn't one to really sell herself either so decided to keep the profile brief.
"30 year old single woman seeks male companion. 5"6, hazel eyes, long chestnut brown hair, medium build. I like books, music and movies. I'm also someone who likes the little things in life and would love to meet a man who thinks the same way. I'm shy when people first talk to me but then I warm up. If you like what you read please contact me" read Melissa's profile.
She knew it was nowhere near the length of some people on there but she didn't want to say too much, not that there was much to say anyway. Before she even had time to decide whether or not she wanted to put up a photo she received a message." Hey sexy how you doing?" asked the man. She looked at his profile and it said that he "wants to get busy with as many women as possible". Melissa screwed her face up and just thought what an absolute sleaze and deleted him straight away. As she went back to looking for a picture she suddenly wondered that someone might spot her on here, god that would be so embarrassing she thought, forgetting the fact she barely knew anyone to see it. After some toing and froing she decided to put up one of her with sunglasses on, it was a pic that didn't really show anything but she thought it was better than the silhouette of a woman which would be the other option. Melissa decided if any of the men were interesting to her then she could always privately send them a photo. After completing the profile she decided to log off and come back later, setting it up was enough excitement for one day and she decided that she would come back tomorrow to see if she had any bites.
Little than an hour after making herself a coffee and going back to her book Melissa couldn't help but wonder if anyone had messaged her on "Perfect Partner 4 U". She had told herself she was going to wait till tomorrow but the suspense was killing her, "Oh god I can't believe I'm doing this" she chastised herself as she logged in to see if anyone had left her a message. She typed in her username and password and was surprised by the results, she already had 8 messages and it had only been an hour. "Geez if I got this many in an hour how many would I get in a day? Surely one of these is someone I could get to know" she smiled eager to see what these men had to say. Her excitement was quickly tempered though as she read the messages, once again they all seemed to be from men thinking with what was between their legs rather than their head or their heart. "I'm so sick of this.. Aren't there any normal guys?" she moaned. After the first 6 messages she didn't even bother to read the last two and deleted them without looking. She started to beat herself up and decided that she was probably just destined to be alone...
2 weeks passed and Melissa hadn't been on Perfect Partners 4 U again, after a tough day at work though and a lonely cold apartment almost swallowing her up in her own misery she decided to give it one more go. "This time your going to give it a red hot go Melissa" she said to herself. Once again she logged on and found she had in excess of 100 messages, most of them were spam or horny men so she just decided to wipe the slate clean and delete them all, start afresh. As she had a skim through the profiles she saw a couple of men that looked alright, she wanted to message them but was far too shy to make the first move, even if it was from behind a computer screen. After a few of the usual messages she finally got one from a guy who seemed like he at least had some potential. "Hi Melissa I'm Damon, I had a read of your profile and thought you seemed like a nice down to earth woman, I too like to read and am not opposed to a good movie either. Anyway if you would like to chat then please get back to me". Melissa thought he sounded very polite and had a look at his profile, he was a very attractive man with big broad shoulders and a cheeky smile, his brown hair was short but fashionable and it said in his profile he was 6"2. Looks weren't the be all and end all though and if they didn't get along it wouldn't matter how he looked, he definitely deserved a message back though as he was probably the first "real" man she had talked to. Still, she wasn't getting her hopes up.
Over the course of the next few days Melissa and Damon exchanged messages, he seemed like a real gentleman not to mention quite well spoken, they seemed to have so much in common having read a lot of the same books and also their taste in music, this made Melissa start to really come out of her shell and she started to warm up to Damon. After what was probably their 10th message they graduated to talking online before Damon decided to propose a meeting.
"Oh I'm not sure. Are we ready to meet just yet?" asked a nervous Melissa.
"I think we are. Believe me I will be just as nervous as you" assured Damon.
"Oh ok. Fortune favours the brave I guess" replied Melissa. Her last date per se would have been her ex boyfriend. That was 4 years ago now and was a relationship that was riddled with abuse and one she had struggled to forget. In essence it was the main reason she had been single for so long.
They set up a time to meet at the Fountain River Shopping Mall the next day at 4pm. It was a Tuesday which she thought was a little strange." You don't have a job?" she asked. It was a question that had never come up before as they used to just wax lyrical about their love of books and other interests. "No not at the moment" replied Damon. Melissa wasn't overly happy with his reply but she wasn't one to judge, she thought he may have just been one of the unlucky few that had lost his job, with the way the economy was and all.
Soon enough the next day rolled around and Melissa was having a lot of trouble deciding what to wear, she wanted to dress casual but still a bit dressy. This was her first date in years and she wanted to make a good impression, that was if she even got there and didn't chicken out. She was so overwhelmed by nerves she almost called and cancelled but then knew she just had to suck it up, find an outfit and go out there to meet Damon. After a couple of changes Melissa decided on a nice sleeveless white top with a black knee length pencil skirt and some black pumps to complete the outfit, she normally tied her hair back but today Melissa was going to wear it down, she normally didn't wear much makeup but decided she would break with tradition and put on a bit of foundation followed by some mascara and lip gloss to finish off. As she looked in the mirror she thought she looked nice but was terrified that Damon wouldn't like what he saw, she used to be extremely overweight growing up and while she was now a good curvy weight she still had body issues. By the same token though if he didn't accept her for who she was then she wasn't going to waste her time on him anyway. The shopping centre was only 100 metres down the road so she planned on walking there, she took one last look in the mirror and headed out..
As she walked the short journey to the shopping centre her heart was literally pounding out of it's chest, the closer she got to the meeting point the quicker it raced, Melissa knew she had to do this though, she was sick of eating microwave dinners and being alone, plus Damon seemed like a nice guy, she was sure that once they get talking it will be just like on the Internet where they usually ended up talking for hours about their favourite books or quotes. Soon she found herself at the entrance to the mall. "No going back now" she said before taking a long calming deep breath. The meeting point was a quiet cafe at the back of the mall, Melissa had been there before and felt comfortable there so it should make things easier. She ordered a cafe latte then sat down to drink it in anticipation of the arrival of Damon. As she made her way through her coffee she looked at her watch and it read 4:09, he was a little late but nothing to get too worried about she thought. "Just relax Melissa, deep breaths" she kept saying to herself. She picked up her handbag and had a quick look in the mirror of her foundation capsule to see if everything was still all how she wanted it and was glad to see it was. A further 5 minutes passed and Melissa's legs were now starting to become restless, her foot now tapping the side of the table furiously. Just as she started to think Damon wasn't coming she heard a voice calling her name. "Melissa" the voice asked. She couldn't help but think there seemed to be a little bit of a hiss in it but just assumed it was a noise from the coffee machine or something. She turned around to see who it was. "Melissa?" he asked again. "Yes?" replied Melissa before having fully looked around.
"It's me. It's Damon"
"What?? You can't be Damon!"
"Well yes. Actually it is"
"It can't be.. Your a... a.... your a" said a stunned Melissa struggling to deal with the unexpected sight.
"Yes" replied Melissa with her jaw on the ground. She had no idea what on earth to say or how this had even happened.
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you earlier but I wasn't worried if you knew you wouldn't meet me" said Damon trying to explain.
"Well it's a pretty big thing to omit!!!!" blurted out a still flabbergasted Melissa.
"I know. Believe me I feel terrible. It's just ever since my accident no-one wants to give me a chance. They see the chair and straight away delete me as a possible suitor for their affections" expressed Damon hoping Melissa could look past this deception.
"But you lied to me. You had a picture up on your profile of an able bodied person for god's sake!!" protested Melissa not believing her first date in years had gone up in smoke so quickly.
"The picture of that able bodied man is me. Well me 4 years ago, before my accident. Can you please just give me a chance?" pleaded Damon.
Melissa looked at him and was filthy, while she had sympathy for his condition she couldn't look past this deceit. "Look I'm really sorry but I don't think I can date a liar.Goodbye" replied Melissa before going to storm out.
"Wait!" asked Damon desperately as she almost left. "Just spend 15 minutes with me and if you still hate me after that then you can leave and we never have to speak to one another ever again. Surely all those good conversations we had are worth something?"
Melissa didn't want to give Damon a chance but she decided that she would just spend the 15 minutes and be on her way, confident nothing that he could say would change her mind."Ok you got 15 minutes" she informed Damon reluctantly.
"Thank you. I really appreciate it" acknowledged Damon. He had a lot to tell Melissa but it was just a question of whether she would listen or not..
Melissa sat back down and prepared to give Damon his 15 minutes, while she had nothing on for the rest of the day she was committed to only giving him the time they had agreed on and no more. "You better make this good" cautioned Melissa, her lips now pursed in annoyance.
"I originally had myself up as a quadriplegic on Perfect Partners. But I reckon over a two month period I sent over 100 messages. How many replies do you think I got?" asked Damon.
"I don't know. 20?"
"I wish" replied Damon almost laughing but the vent bursting out of his neck preventing it. "Try 5"
"5?. Even though you lied to me I find it hard that you got only 5, your so easy to talk to"
"Well believe it. Four of them just wanted to know how I became this way and weren't interested in getting to know me, while the other woman seemed genuine so we arranged to meet" informed Damon.
"So you met someone??"
"Well no. She knew I was a quadriplegic and everything and we talked for a little bit then we set a date to meet. I got there early and waited but she never showed" lamented Damon.
"What a cow" responded Melissa knowing she would be very angry if that happened to her.
"Yeah well she messaged me later saying that she did turn up, but when she saw me in my chair and everything that goes with it 'she just couldn't do it'. I can't begin to tell you how much it knocked me around" expressed Damon.
"Well that's terrible but I would have messaged you back even if you did have your real picture up. Honesty is more important to me than anything physical"
"I did message you as a quadriplegic. Twice in fact" informed Damon waiting for a response.
"Are you serious? I never got them" replied Melissa surprised having never seen them. "Oh hang on I might have deleted them. I kept getting sleazy messages so after a few I just deleted all my messages" added Melissa realising that Damon could be right.
"Well I definitely sent them. I still probably have them in my sent folder"
"Ok I will believe you. I'm sorry if this sounds a bit rude but how do you type?" enquired Melissa. In the few minutes they had been talking she hadn't seen movement of any nature coming from Damon and wondered if he had any at all.
"It's ok. I like people to ask questions about my condition and learn about it. I have a system called Dragon Dictate, it allows me to use my voice to type"
"Wow. Now it makes sense, I have to say when I saw you I was so shocked and wondering how on earth we messaged online all those times!" smiled Melissa now loosening up a touch.
"Yeah it's a godsend. Your reading Angel On Horizon Road?" asked Damon
"How do you know that???" wondered Melissa.
"I'd like to say I'm psychic but it's falling out of your handbag" informed Damon
Melissa looked down and saw her handbag almost falling off the chair, she put the book firmly back in. "So you've read it?"
"Yes, it's a very nice story. Well written too although you have to expect that from Kathy Reichenstein"
"You like her?"
"Yeah she is one of my favourite authors"
"Well you will love 'angel' then" enthused Damon. "I want to be honest with you from now on so you can go now if you really want. I think the 15 minutes is up" replied Damon not wanting Melissa to go but thinking she was probably just being polite by not leaving.
"Oh is it?" said a surprised Melissa. "I'm not happy about the way this all transpired initially but I think I'd like to stay now. As you said earlier it would be a shame to let all those long terrific chats we had go to waste"
This made Damon smile, not only did he find Melissa quite appealing to the eye but her personality seemed to now be radiating through as well just like in their previous conversations. "I guess I should tell you one more thing"
"Oh what's that?"
"You see that middle aged woman over there with the yellow cardigan on"
"Yes I see her"
"That's my nurse. With my condition I have to be cared for 24/7" Damon admitted. While he liked people to become acquainted with his condition he was still concerned over it all becoming too much for a prospective love interest to handle.
"I have to say I was wondering how on earth you got here and everything. I wonder a lot of things though looking at you" spilled Melissa letting Damon know just a little extra than she planned. While she had definitely been thrown by this curve ball of sorts she didn't seem to now be as nervous as she thought she would be.
"Well I'm happy to answer anything you are wondering about" responded Damon.
"Oh boy, now I feel like you've put me on the spot haha"
"All good. Fire away"
Melissa had a myriad of questions to ask but she didn't want to seem insensitive, she decided just to go with a relatively safe one first off. "How do you move your chair?"
"I move it by way of something called a sip 'n' puff wheelchair. It's a technology where you send signals to a device using air pressure by sipping or inhaling or puffing on this white straw which you can probably see next to my lips"
"So you can't move anything then? Like in your body I mean?"
"No I have what is called a C1 level injury which means I am paralyzed from the neck down. I have no ability to move my head either, just my mouth and eyes and the feeling in my face. It's the worst spinal injury you can have"
Melissa just sat there with her mouth open at this man's complete paralysis. Sure she looked after some old people who had little movement but that was nothing compared to what this man must go through on a daily basis."How do you go left and right and backwards etc?"
"Well it consists of four different inputs. An initial hard puff moves it forward while a hard sip will stop it. On the other hand an initial hard sip will take it backwards and a hard puff will stop it. For left or right movement a continuous soft sip or puff is needed with the distance depending on how long I blow into it" informed Damon.
"Wow" remarked Melissa. She couldn't help but stare at him in his chair.
"Sorry I was staring. I just can't believe all of this" she admitted.
"All of this?"
"Yeah just the way this day has gone. I was so unbelievably nervous I was almost shaking. Now I find that the you I thought I was meeting isn't really you but it still is. If that makes any sense haha" laughed Melissa
"Yeah I'm not sure" replied Damon having no idea what to say but enjoying the sound of Melissa's laugh.
"I have to say though, wheelchair or no wheelchair your still pretty cute" admitted Melissa. While she didn't have any firm views on what her perfect man should look like it was fair to say that Damon probably didn't fall into what most women want. She couldn't get past the fact though that she just felt so incredibly relaxed around him.
"Thanks. Your quite the stunner yourself!!" replied Damon thinking his luck might finally have turned.
For the next hour the two of them continued to talk, once again getting onto books and other things they both enjoyed like classical music. It was just like one of their chats online they were now in front of each other, Melissa looking delightful in her knee length pencil skirt while Damon sat in a pair of funky jeans and nice collared white shirt, his broad shoulders sitting immobile on the back of his wheelchair, a large black strap across his chest keeping him in the wheelchair and also holding down the hose of the ventilator tight so it can keep pumping much needed air into his lungs, his arms in grooved arm rests strapped down mid wrist while his legs were also strapped down mid shin. His feet, previously responsible for moving around his 210 pound frame clad in white sneakers and sitting limp in the foot rests. The sight of such a strong man now completely immobile and confined to a wheelchair was a sight to behold and it was one that Melissa thought she would like to see again. "Looks like your nurse is coming over" alerted Melissa.
"Hi how are you? I'm Lydia" said the nurse introducing herself to Melissa. "Sorry to break this up but we have to get going Damon, you need to have your lungs suctioned and a couple of other little things"
"Already? That's a shame. I know we got off to a rocky start but can we do this again you think? asked a hopeful Damon.
"Yeah for sure. I had a really good time" beamed Melissa back. She watched as Damon took the straw between his lips and blew into it to move it forward, his only way of movement. She couldn't help but look at him until he went out of her view. "What a crazy day" she mused to herself as she then made her way out of the mall and outside.
Once Melissa reached home she kicked off her shoes and flopped on the couch, straight away her thoughts turned to Damon and the date they had just been on, as she had these thoughts she got a phone call from her friend Shelley. "Hey girl, how was the hot date???" she asked wanting to know all the details.
"Haha well it was good. Not at all how I expected I know that" replied Melissa.
"Oh how so? I'm thinking you home pretty early so you didn't get busy" teased Shelley
"You know I'm not like that. No I meant different in the fact that he was different physically"
"So he was one of those guys that puts up a fake picture when he is really balding and 400 pounds?"
"No. Well not exactly, he was a quadriplegic"
"Quadriplegic. Completely paralyzed"
"Oh my god are you serious?"
"Very serious. At first i was so angry but then he explained and we got talking, I actually had a really good time in the end"
"Yeah but wait, haven't you been talking to him for like 2 weeks on the Internet? How could he not think to tell you?"
"He told me that he just wanted someone to get to know him without the worry of them knowing he was a quadriplegic. It all made perfect sense when he explained it but I can't get into it now I have to go have a shower"
"Ok babe. Talk to you later"
With that said Melissa headed off into the shower where once again all she could think of was Damon. As she ran the moisturising soap over her body she then thought to herself just the simple action of having a shower would probably be a big deal for Damon, he would need someone to shampoo his hair and wouldn't be able to wash himself or dry off, she couldn't imagine that life for herself, she loved her independence and not even being able to shoo away a fly or scratching an itch must be so utterly frustrating for Damon. As much as Melissa wanted to see him again she then started to fret that it would all become too much, she didn't want to give Damon false hope by meeting him again, all of a sudden she got it into her head somehow that the "right thing" to do would be not to see Damon again, that would be the fair thing to do for him and her...