Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Unexpected 12

“Great game, Bryan,” Mark said with a grin as they wheeled off the court after Bryan’s first game with the competitive team. They had won the game with a good margin and Bryan was elated that he had scored two goals. “I knew you’d be an asset to the team.”
“Thanks, Mark. I haven’t had this much fun in a long time. What a rush!” He couldn’t stop a big grin from spreading across his face.
When they reached the edge of the court Meaghan and Shannon were waiting for them by their wheelchairs with cold bottles of water ready for them.
“You looked great out there, babe,” Meaghan said as she offered Bryan a bottle of water. He grabbed it and within seconds he had downed half of it. “And it looked like you enjoyed it.”
“It was awesome,” Bryan replied with a smile as he lined his basketball wheelchair up with his regular one, the half empty water bottle was resting in his lap. Wordlessly he held the water bottle out for Meaghan to take, which she did, and then he lifted his feet off the footrest before he transferred from one wheelchair to the other in one smooth move.
After he’d lined his feet up on the footrest on his regular wheelchair and shifted his weight a bit so he was comfortable he looked up at Meaghan, the smile still on his face and his eyes were shining with happiness and excitement.
Next to them Mark had also transferred to his regular wheelchair and he grabbed the water bottle his wife offered him.
Shannon gestured at the sports wheelchairs the team was abandoning one by one. “We’ll take care of these and make sure they’re safe in the storage room.”
“Thanks, babe,” Mark said with a smile. “I owe you a hug and a kiss.”
“I’ll definitely take a rain check. Right now you need a shower badly and I’m hungry, so get moving.”
“He’s not alone in that department,” Meaghan laughed as she gave Bryan’s shoulder a squeeze.
“Okay, we take the hint,” Bryan chuckled as he popped a wheelie and started wheeling toward the locker room. Mark followed him and Meaghan and Shannon started to organize the team’s basketball wheelchairs in the storage room they rented next to the court.
“I’m glad you had a good time today,” Meaghan told Bryan as he transferred to the driver’s seat of his car. She was already settled into the passenger seat.
“It was the most fun I’ve had in ages. I enjoy playing at the practices, but the intensity and rush of a real game is just something else.” Bryan smiled as he backed out of the parking space.
After a few minutes of driving in a comfortable silence, soft jazz coming from the sound system, Bryan spoke.
“You know, while I was in rehab my trainers and therapists kept talking about how being a paraplegic is all about routines, doing things at a fixed schedule; catheterizing regularly, range of motion exercises, skin checks, bowel routine….  When I was discharged I jumped right into a job that made it impossible to have a fixed schedule and I’ve felt I made it work pretty well.”
“But…?” It was clear to Meaghan that there was a “but” in there somewhere and she had noticed a change in him lately.
“There’s no doubt my current situation works better for my body. I’ve got more energy and generally feel a lot better now. It’s a really noticeable difference.”
 “I’m sure your disability is part of it, but I don’t think working shifts like you did is good for anyone. I know there’s no way I could deal with it, I’d feel like crap constantly.”
“I have noticed that you need a solid eight hours of sleep, or you get grumpy,” Bryan replied, only half teasing.
“Well, I can get by on six hours, but that’s an absolute minimum. Anything less than that and I’m just not able to function. So, have you thought about what to do when you finish the research part of your fellowship?”
“I’ll try to get a position that doesn’t demand working shifts. I really don’t want to go back to that. I’m willing to do it occasionally, but I don’t want that to be the norm. I like our lives as they are right now.”
“So do I, babe. It’s nice to have routines and a more fixed schedule.”
“I couldn’t agree more. I hope we can keep it that way.”
Saturday morning Bryan was fast asleep when Meaghan woke up, which was a rarity. He generally woke up before her, because his morning routine took a while. They had ended up staying up late the previous evening because they’d gotten sucked into a ‘Revenge’ marathon and Meaghan decided to let him sleep for a little while longer. She quietly slipped out of bed and was relieved when Bryan didn’t seem to notice.
Bryan was slightly confused when he discovered Meaghan wasn’t in bed with him when he woke up; he was usually the one that woke first. A quick glance at his alarm clock threw him even more; it showed it was almost 9 am. Bryan couldn’t remember the last time he’d slept past 7:30 in the morning, but he realized he felt more rested than he had in a long time. With a contended sigh he sat up and stretched his arms over his head before he lifted his legs over the edge of the bed and transferred to his wheelchair with practiced ease.
Twenty five minutes later he had cathed himself, showered and brushed his teeth. He decided to skip shaving; it was Saturday and he knew Meaghan liked the rugged look a bit of stubble gave him. He wheeled out of the bedroom and grabbed a pair of jeans, a white t-shirt and a navy V-necked sweater from his closet, as well as clean underwear and socks.
It took Bryan about fifteen minutes to get dressed and transfer back to his wheelchair. He didn’t bother with putting on shoes and placed his sock clad feet on the footrest before he wheeled through the living room into the kitchen. To his surprise Meaghan was nowhere to be seen. A note propped up against the Nespresso machine on the counter next to the fridge caught his attention.
Morning sleepyhead,
I’m at the gym, will be back around 10 am with fresh goodies from the bakery around the corner. Figured you needed the sleep, so I didn’t wake you.
Love, M. Xxx’
Bryan smiled as he read the note and checked the time; 9:50. Meaghan should be back soon. He loaded his preferred Nespresso capsule into the machine, placed a mug on the drip tray under the spout and pressed the ‘brew’ button. When his coffee was ready he placed the mug carefully between his thighs and wheeled over to the lowered breakfast bar by the windows where his iPad was currently sitting in its docking station to check his email and catch up on the news.
When Meaghan returned to their apartment little after 10 am she found Bryan reading something on his iPad. He obviously hadn’t caught her coming in; he was completely lost in whatever it was he was reading.
Meaghan quietly crossed the floor, grateful that she’d ditched her somewhat squeaky sneakers by the front door and startled Bryan by wrapping her arms around him from behind and kissing his cheek.
“Sheesh, Megs. A little warning would be nice. I almost gave you a black eye,” he said, clearly startled and a bit irritated.
“Good morning to you too,” Meaghan said with a laugh. “I finally managed to sneak up on you.”
“Congrats on almost giving me a heart attack,” Bryan said, irritation still lacing his voice.
“Sheesh, what’s up with you this morning? You’re usually in a good mood in the morning.”
Bryan inhaled deeply and then exhaled slowly before he flipped off the brakes on his wheelchair, grasped the push rims and turned around so he was facing Meaghan.
“Sorry, I was actually in a good mood when I woke up, but I checked my work email and got some bad news. The samples I’ve been working on for the past two and a half weeks have been contaminated by accident.”
“Oh no! That’s awful… Is everything lost?”
“I’m not sure. I think I’ll go over to the lab and find out just how bad it is. I won’t be able to relax at all this weekend if I don’t.”
“I think that sounds like a good idea. Wanna have breakfast first? I bought bagels and chocolate croissants.”
“Yeah, sounds good,” Bryan agreed, his mood improving a bit. He grasped Meaghan’s hand and pulled her into his lap. “I owe you a good morning kiss.”
An hour later Bryan parked in one of the handicapped spaces outside the lab where he was doing his research. With practiced movements he grabbed the pieces of his wheelchair from the front passenger seat, where he usually kept it when he was driving alone, and reassembled it quickly. He transferred to his wheelchair with practiced ease and after settling his sneaker-clad feet on the footrest he shifted his weight so he was comfortable and set off into the building.
When he got to the locker room he changed into a pair of scrubs and put a surgical cap and mask before he transferred to the electric wheelchair he used in the lab. He had gotten used to it over the past few weeks, but he definitely preferred the sleek Ti-Lite ZRA he had picked up the previous week and he was grateful he had no problems using a manual wheelchair on a daily basis.
With a small sigh he placed the surgical mask over his nose and mouth before he switched the power chair on, put his hand on the joystick and maneuvered the wheelchair into the lab.
Half an hour later Bryan breathed a sigh of relief. Although some of his samples had been contaminated it was only a small quantity and he still had plenty to work with. Unfortunately he didn’t have much backup material left, but if he were careful it would be okay.  He put extra labels on the trays with the remaining samples; “Don’t touch without consulting with Dr. Norfleet.” As he closed the cooler he hoped the labels would make sure the rest of his samples were safe.
Sunday morning Bryan’s cell phone ringing woke them up at 7:30, which was far to early for Meaghan.
“Just ignore it. Turn off the sound,” she mumbled as she covered her head with her pillow.
“It’s Mark,” Bryan said as he grabbed the phone from its docking station on his nightstand and answered the call, his voice still thick with sleep. “Good morning, Mark.”
“Good morning to you too. Did I wake you up?”
“Yeah. Megs is currently clutching a pillow over her head and groaning at me for picking up the phone. She asked me to turn of the sound and ignore it.”
Mark laughed heartily on the other end. “Tell her Shannon told me I couldn’t call people at this hour on a Sunday, but I refused to listen. Anyway, do you have any plans today?”
“Nothing specific, but I have a feeling that’s about to change.”
“We’re going to the airshow at Andrews Air Force Base today. We were supposed to go with my brother and sister-in-law, but they came down with some sort of stomach bug overnight and aren’t coming. So we have two tickets to spare. Figured I’d ask if you and Meaghan want to come with us?”
“That sounds awesome! I’ll check with Megs and call you back soon, okay?”
“Sounds good to me. Talk to you soon.” Mark ended the call.
Bryan turned to Meaghan who was now sitting up in bed, looking at him with a questioning look on her face.
“Mark and Shannon have two spare tickets to the air show at Andrews and asked us if we’re interested in joining them. Wanna go?”
“Sure. I’ve wanted to go to that for years, so it sounds awesome,” Meaghan replied enthusiastically.
“Really? I don’t have to pull out my magic powers of persuasion?”
“Nope. I’m in.”
They had a great time. The weather was great and the accessible seats gave them a good view of the action in the air. To Bryan’s surprise Meaghan had a lot of knowledge about the different planes used in the show. He brought it up on the drive back to DC.
“My dad’s a plane buff. He dragged my brother and I to air shows and taught us all sorts of useless stuff when we were kids. It’s amazing how some things just stick.” Meaghan chuckled self-consciously.
“You never mentioned that before,” Bryan said. “In fact, you haven’t told me much about your family in general, except that you’re not close with your father’s side of the family.”
“It’s complicated,” Meaghan sighed. “My parents got divorced when I was 13. It was a nasty affair. Dad had been cheating on Mom for a while and moved to the west coast to be with her. We only saw him a few times a year and we lost touch with most of the family on his side.”
“Did your mother keep you from seeing him? Or was it his choice?”
“His choice. He started a family with his new wife and distanced himself from us. Mom really tried to set up visits, but after a while I think she just gave up. We haven’t really talked about it.”
“Wow!” Bryan exclaimed. “That can’t have been easy.”
“It was a rough patch. It changed when Mom got re-married.  Her new husband did a good job as a step-dad. He never treated my brother and me differently from our half-sister, he treated us as his own kids.”
“I’m glad to hear that.” Bryan quickly looked over at Meaghan with a smile on his face, before he turned his attention back to driving.
“Let’s get this spectacle on the road,” Bryan sighed as he settled into his wheelchair and locked the car. Mark and Shannon were already waiting by the entrance to the restaurant where they had agreed to meet for a late lunch.
“Spectacle? What are you getting at?” Meaghan asked with puzzlement.
“Come on Megs. Two guys in wheelchairs and two pretty ladies are bound to attract some attention when we enter that place.”
“You and Mark only get stared at because you’re good looking.”
Bryan snorted. “Fine. Keep convincing yourself of that.”
Meaghan placed a hand on his shoulder, to stop him from wheeling away from her. “What’s up with this sudden boast of being self conscious? I thought you were past that.”
“I usually don’t care of people stare, but when we’re out with Mark and Shannon it’s worse than usual. Don’t get me wrong, I love to spend time with them, but the attention we attract sometimes gets to me.”
“Push those thoughts away and focus on having a good time. Please?”
“I’ll try,” Bryan said with a smile. “I love you, Meaghan.”
“I love you too,” Meaghan replied as she leaned down and placed a quick, but passionate kiss on Bryan’s lips. The sparkle was back in his eyes when she stood back up.

…to be continued…




5 comments:

  1. I love this story. You're a good writer Mille and I enjoy reading your work. Thank you for posting it.

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  2. Great chapter. I'm enjoying all the interactions immensely.

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  3. Ive been loving your stories :) keep writing.

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  4. Is this story finished?? I dont want to start reading a WIP, can someone please let me know if its been finished! Thanks!

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