Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Unexpected 9


-Chapter 9-

“I ran into Michelle from HR on my way to my car after work today,” Bryan mentioned over dinner the Friday after Meaghan had agreed to move in with him. “She’s got a tenant for your apartment.”

“That was fast,” Meaghan said, surprise lacing her voice. “Who is it?”

“It’s a doctor who’s coming from Cedars Sinai in LA to run a research project here for the next year, maybe a little bit longer. Her husband and five-year old daughter are moving here too and Michelle said they thought your apartment was perfect. It’s close to the hospital, two-bedrooms, fully furnished and they loved the playground in the communal garden. She’s starting her job November 1st, so it gives us about three weeks to get your stuff sorted. What do you think?” Bryan looked at her; his dark brown eyes were shining with happiness and expectation.

“Sounds good I guess. We talked about letting it for a few months, but I like the idea of a stable tenant for a longer period of time. You’d just better not prove to be the roommate from hell two days after I move in.”

“I’ll try to avoid that,” Bryan laughed. “So, I guess we’d better get the ball rolling on all the practical stuff. At least we don’t have to worry about moving furniture. It’s just a matter of packing your clothes and personal belongings and decide what you want to bring here and what to put in storage.”

“Have to say I hate moving, but I’m sure it will be worth the effort,” Meaghan smiled and leaned over and kissed Bryan.

“If it’s up to me it’s going to be completely worth it.”

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Two and a half weeks later Meaghan had moved out of her apartment; the lease was signed and she’d handed they keys over to Dr. Hall. Now it was a matter of unpacking and organizing her things in Bryan’s, now their, apartment. It went surprisingly smoothly, but when they were done there were several big crates of her and some of Bryan’s things that needed to be stored in his storage unit in the basement.

“I don’t know if we’ll be able to fit all of those crates in there. It’s already pretty full of stuff,” he told her as he wheeled ahead of her down the hallway that lead to the storage unit. 

“Oh, what do you have there that takes up so much space?”
Bryan didn’t answer, he just stopped outside a door on the right side of the hallway and unlocked the door. When he opened it revealed that a couple of mountain bikes, a racing bike, skiing equipment and some other sports equipment filled most of the space. He was right, there was no way they’d fit all of the big crates into the space, at least not without getting rid some of the things that were already in there.

“What’s all this?” she asked. Bryan shifted his weight in his wheelchair and remained quiet for a few tense moments. Then he spoke.

“What does it look like? It’s my gear.”

“Um…I see that, but…and please don’t be offended…but it’s not like you can use this equipment anymore. Why not sell it? From what I can tell it’s pretty high end. I’m sure it’s worth a few grand and shouldn’t be too hard to sell.”

“No, I’m not selling it,” Bryan said firmly.

“Bryan…”

“It’s not up for discussion Meaghan.”

“I just don’t understand why you’d leave thousands of dollars worth of sports equipment down here when you could sell it and someone else could enjoy it.”

“Because I want to. Lock up when you’re done. I’m going back upstairs.” Bryan tossed the keys to the storage unit to Meaghan, popped a quick wheelie and wheeled back toward the elevator, leaving Meaghan standing inside the storage unit, too stunned to move. She’d only experienced Bryan’s temper once before; when his ex-fiancée appeared out of the blue in Oak Island. That time she hadn’t been on the receiving end of it.  She sighed, not sure how to handle it. She realized that his reluctance to sell his sports equipment was probably part of a bigger issue. For the first time since she’d met Bryan she started to wonder if he was as well adjusted to his disability as he let on. 

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When she got upstairs she found Bryan in the living room, the TV was on, but it didn’t look like he was paying attention to it. His head was bowed and he was resting his forearms on his thighs. She sat down on the edge of the coffee table, next to Bryan. He didn’t look at her.

“I don’t wanna talk about it,” he mumbled.

“Bryan…please,” Meaghan said, placing a hand on his right arm. He shook it off angrily.

“Leave it alone, okay? What part of ‘I don’t wanna talk about it’ is so hard to understand?”

“We’ve been living together for three days and all of a sudden you’re acting like a jerk. Nice Bryan, really nice. Talk to me.”

“It’s not like you’ll understand it anyway, no one does.” With that statement he released the brakes on his wheelchair and wheeled into the bedroom, slamming the door behind him. Meaghan was at a loss for what to do, but realized that he probably needed some time to cool off; she wouldn’t get anywhere with him in his current state of mind. With a sigh grabbed her handbag and headed out to her car. As soon as she was sitting in the drivers seat she grabbed her cellphone and dialed Kelly’s number. Meaghan was relieved when she agreed to meet her at their favorite coffee shop 20 minutes later.

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Meaghan was fiddling with her coffee cup when Kelly walked in to the coffee shop almost half an hour later. She waved to Meaghan and headed over to the counter to get a cup of coffee.  A few minutes later she sat down across from Meaghan; she cut straight to the chase.

“What’s up? Trouble in paradise already? You’ve barely moved in.”

“I’m not really sure what’s going on. We finished organizing and sorting this morning, and we have a few large crates of stuff we need to store. Bryan’s got a storage unit in the basement and we went down there to see if we could fit them in there, because he said he didn’t think so. Turns out he’s got all of his old sports equipment down there; several bikes, skiing equipment, a surf board, gold clubs…the whole room is filled with what looks like expensive stuff. Stupid me suggested he’d sell it and that hit a sore spot.”

“How?”

“He got angry and told me he wasn’t selling it. I pushed it a little bit, which was a huge mistake. He just tossed me the key and headed back to the apartment. I tried to talk to him when I got back upstairs, but he just blew me off and told me he don’t want to talk about it. When I left he was sulking in the bedroom.”

“So, what do you think this is all about?”

“I guess he’s not as adjusted to his disability as he lets on.”

“So you think the stuff in his storage unit is a way to hold on to the past? To the guy he was?”

“I don’t know for sure, but it doesn’t make sense to keep thousands of dollars worth of equipment he can’t use in a storage unit, collecting dust.”

“Apparently it makes sense to Bryan and since he got so upset about it I guess he feels pretty strongly about it?”

“Yeah, I definitely touched a nerve and I don’t know how to approach it with him again, without him getting upset and angry again.”

“That might not be possible. I don’t know Bryan all that well, but from what you say this seems to really touch a nerve. I think you have two options; either deal with him getting upset or just let it go for now.”

“The problem is that we need to clear out something down there to fit the crates. Just letting it go really isn’t an option.”

“Can’t you just put the crates in the spare bedroom for now?”

“And just dance around the big elephant?”

“Listen Megs,” Kelly said, slightly exasperated. “I can’t tell you what’s right or wrong to do in this situation, I don’t think there’s an easy way out.”
Meaghan leaned back in her chair and grabbed her mug, realizing the coffee was lukewarm. Her cellphone warbled with an incoming text. It was from Bryan.

“Sorry I blew up, I shouldn’t have. Where are you? Come home, we need to talk. B”

“From Bryan?” Kelly queried.

“Yeah. Says he’s sorry for blowing up and wants me to come home so we can talk.”

“Then that’s what you should do. I’ve got to get going anyways, I’m meeting my sister for dinner at seven.”
They both stood up and Meaghan pulled Kelly in for a quick hug.

“Thanks for coming Kel. I needed a little bit of girl talk.”

“Any time Megs, I’m just a phone call away. I’m sure you and Bryan will be fine.”

“I hope so,” Meaghan sighed as she grabbed her handbag.

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Bryan’s mind was racing. He hadn’t been to the storage unit in the basement since right after his release from rehab, when Josh had helped him put all of the sports equipment he’d never use again down there. It had been close to two years and he was surprised at the emotions that had come to the surface when he opened the door and saw his bikes, surfboard and all of the other things that had been a big part of his life.  When Meaghan had broached the subject of selling his equipment, reasoning that he would never use any of it again, it had felt like a punch in the gut. He knew it was true, but for some reason her saying it made it more real than it had ever been.  He felt bad for reacting like he had, but at the same time her matter-of-fact-straight-to-the-point approach seemed insensitive. Why didn’t Meaghan understand that things were still hard for him? He was only about two and a half years post injury, and as much as he had adjusted to life in a wheelchair there were plenty of things he missed. Seeing the bikes, skis and boards had stirred up emotions he thought he had buried a long time ago.  He heard the front door slam closed and realized that Meaghan had left. Shit! She had barely moved in and she was already storming out after he’d upset her. Great job Bryan. Way to go! He reached for his cellphone and dialed Josh’s number. He needed his big brother’s advice. Josh picked up almost immediately.

“Hey Bryan! How’s co-habitation treating you?”

“I fucked up.” Bryan knew beating around the bush with his brother was useless, so he cut straight to the case.

“What did you do?”

“Well, after we got everything organized we ended up with several of big plastic crates of stuff that needs to be stored.  We went down to the basement and I guess seeing all of my old gear stirred up some emotions.”

“How so?”

“Well, the gear fills most of the unit, there’s no way we’ll fit all the crates in there without getting rid of some of it.  Megs suggested I sell it, since I won’t be using it again. It pissed me off.”

“It’s the truth.”

“Yeah…and it felt like a fucking slap in the face. I felt like I was thrown back to the time right after I was injured, while I was still adjusting to being in a wheelchair. I thought I was past that, I’ve moved on you know.”

“Even if you’re mostly well adjusted, you wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have your dark moments.”

“It happens from time to time, but I’m mostly okay. I hate that I blew up at Meaghan.”

“Where is she now?”

“I don’t know. She left about 15 minutes ago.”

“Bryan…” Josh sighed.

“I know Josh…I know…I fucked up. Badly. Now I have no idea how to make amends.”

“Be honest with her. That’s the only way.”

“If she even comes back…”

“Why did you say that? What did you do?”

“She asked me to talk to her, I told her there was no point in that, that she wouldn’t understand me anyway and went into the bedroom. She walked out a few minutes after.”

“Send her a text. Apologize and ask her to come back so you can talk.”

“I’ll just call her.”

“A text is less pushy. If she’s with a friend or something she probably won’t answer if you call.”

“Right… I’ll do that as soon as we hang up. Thanks for listening bro.”

“Anytime Bryan. I’m here, you know that, right?”

“I know and I appreciate your support more than you can imagine.”

“That’s what brothers are for. Talk to you soon.” Josh ended the call. Bryan spent several minutes putting the short text message to Meaghan together. He deleted several drafts before he was finally happy with it and hit the send button. 

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When Meaghan got back home she was nervous. It still felt a bit weird that Bryan’s apartment was now her home. With a sigh she removed her shoes and put them on the shoe rack by the door. When she walked in to the living room she immediately spotted Bryan; he was sitting in his wheelchair by the sliding door leading to the deck, staring out the window. When he heard her approaching he gripped the push rims on his chair and turned slowly to face her.

“Hey,” he said with a small smile on his face, all of his usual confidence was lacking.

“Hey…” she replied, standing in front of him, wringing her hands.

“Megs…I’m sorry I snapped at you. I don’t know why I reacted like I did.”

“And I’m sorry for being an insensitive bitch. If you’re not ready to sell the stuff in the storage unit I won’t push it. We can keep the crates in the guest room ‘til we figure out what to do with them.”
His eyes lit up; she recognized surprise and relief in his expression. There was also something else; determination maybe?

“I think it’s time to let go of the past,” he said with a small sigh. “Help me get the stuff ready for sale?”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah,” he shrugged, and then he shifted his weight. “It’s not like I’ll ever use any of that stuff. Maybe I can spend the money on a hand cycle or a sports chair for wheelchair basketball.”

“Sounds like good ideas to me,” Meaghan said with a smile. “Apology accepted. On one condition.”

“What?”

“Don’t ever shut me out like that again. Talk to me, be honest. Okay?”

“I’ll do what I can,” Bryan said as he wheeled up to her and pulled her into his lap

“I’ll expect nothing less,” was all she managed to say before their lips connected.


To be continued...


6 comments:

  1. Oh, I REALLY liked this chapter. We get to see so much more of what they feel and think here.

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  2. Aw, they are just to cute! Moving in is a big damn deal. Nice chapter.

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  3. I'm finally getting around to reading some of the other current stories on the blog.

    I am enjoying this so far. It's nice to see a slightly different set of characters (I love that Bryan is an onco fellow, for example). And they're both pretty cute.

    I think what I like best are some of the details you cover that you don't normally see, like the AFOs and such. (Though "drop foot" is usually used to mean something different than I think what you were going for in this story. I think you were thinking of tendon contracture?)

    This chapter was definitely my favorite so far. I loved seeing a little glimpse into Bryan's psyche/past with the storage room full of sporting equipment from his life pre-injury. I look forward to seeing how he deals with finally putting the past behind him.

    Just one thing: it would make the story a little more readable if you added a linebreak between each line as it tends to blur kind of together.

    Can't wait for Chapter 10 and thanks for sharing with us. :D

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    1. Glad you're enjoying my story. :-)

      I'm working on chapter 10 and hope to post it within a few days.

      Didn't think about the line breaks, but I've gone back and added them in chapter 1-5. I'll try to get to the remaining ones tonight after work. I totally agree that it makes it much more readable and I'm mentally kicking myself for not thinking about doing that. *facepalm*

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