Monday, February 9, 2015

Twist of Fate Chapter 11

Recap of Chapter 10
Still at the Vincent’s, they all have an unexpected visit. Melissa and Ted show up for Patrick’s birthday and Matt has a private conversation with his ex for the first time in months. Ted also announces their engagement. This meeting leaves Matthew and Cassie somewhat meditative and uneasy. During a make out session Matt finds out he has another health issue in an intimate part of his body.

I wake up early a little bit disoriented. The room is very dark and I realize I’m at my parents. I need to cath badly and I can’t see a thing. Cassie is leaning against my back, her arms wrapped around my torso. I guess I’ll have to wake her up to untangle myself from her possessive grip, and turn the light on to see where I’m going. I first try to do it gently but she doesn’t let go.
“Cass, I am sorry but if you don’t want to end up in wet sheets you’d better let me go to the bathroom.”
“I am sorry Matt but you told me to never leave you.”
Her sleepiness doesn’t take away her sense of humor.
“Well, that didn’t include escorting me to my personal urgent needs!”
I still have a problem letting her witness my unorthodox calls of nature. Since the accident, apart from the medical staff, only my dad and Ted saw me pee in a tube and take care of my bowel routine. I kiss her shoulder and afraid she might take it badly I have to point out,
“That being said, I have no objection if we happen to be in the bathroom at the same time, especially if it involves a shared shower.”
She sets me free with a sleepy smile.
“Duly noted, my favorite patient.”
I turn my chair around with a quizzical frown as she goes on, “Do I have to remind you I am your appointed nurse for a while? You assigned me a job and I intent to carry it out successfully.”
I almost forgot about the pressure sore and I’m thankful she saw it in its early stage. I’ll let her take care of my back side again after I take a bath. As I need my father’s help to do so, I guess it will have to wait. Bathtubs suck, at least for me! They are not wheelers’ favorite utilities whereas large shower stalls are.
When I get out of the bathroom, Cass is not in bed anymore. I slip on a Black Hawks sweat-shirt and wriggle in black sweat pants. I just put on some socks with no shoes and head to the kitchen. It’s seven in the morning and all three women are already around the breakfast table drinking a mug of coffee.
“Morning girls!”
“Matt! What’s the matter?” At first I think my hair is sticking out in all directions or I have puffy eyes, or maybe my t-shirt is inside out. What do I know? Women are so observant. I simply forgot I am seated crooked in my chair, leaned on one side of my body, the other side lifted up on a pillow.
“Oh, that? Just a pain in the butt! I have a pressure sore but don’t worry; it’s all taken care of by nurse Cassie.”
Saying that I just realize Abby is the real nurse student and I see her cringe.
“It’s just an ointment to apply twice a day Abs. It’s no big deal and you don’t want to see your big brother’s bony ass.”
“Don’t joke about this Matt. You know it can be serious. You’ll have to let me check it and judge if it needs further care.”
I pretend to be impressed by her severe and professional tone and I let her win.
“Ok Doc. After my bath you’ll do your consult.”

My father is still sleeping and he must be tired because he is usually not a big sleeper.
“Dad is not sick, is he?”
My mother rolls her eyes with a hopeless look,
“Oh, no don’t worry Matt. He just went to bed at three in the morning after he opened the Santa Maria ship, and started to sort all the pieces out.”
I chuckle imagining the mess on his desk with his concentrated face leaned on it.
“Ladies, this morning I am going to cook breakfast for everyone.”
“Wow! I need to see that. And what is the menu Chef Matthew?”
Abby knows I hate cooking and if I ever decide to make the effort it is never very conclusive. But as the saying goes: it is the thought that counts. As I peep in the fridge for the required ingredients, I announce pompously, “We are having French toasts, scrambled eggs with slices of bacon and other yummy stuff I’ll run into.”
The countertop is a little bit too high for me, but as I am tall, even in my chair I can manage with the pots and pans and reach the stove without help.
As they are all three of them checking up on me and trying to assist in everything I do, I send them away pointing my finger ahead,
“Out! Go in the living room for girlie talk or watch soap operas. The cook doesn’t need spies in the kitchen. He will call you when it’s ready.”
I wheel in their wake to chase them away and pat Cassie’s behind. They all laugh playfully but I am told off in unison,
“What a mean cook you are!”
“My brother in charge of the kitchen? Better be ready!”
“Matt, you are my son and I trust you, but not in there!

In the next half-hour I busy myself in front of the stove dipping the bread in the egg mixture and laying the slices in the hot pan. I also fry the bacon strips and cook the scrambles eggs following an organized plan, and I am secretly proud of myself. For once I am deft without creating a mess. I’m almost done when I grab the handle of the large skillet and burn my thumb. I let it go with a shout. On second thoughts this kitchen is not totally handicapped-accessible. Predictably I am surrounded in seconds. I have my finger in my mouth but it’s nothing serious. I smile at my audience and their anxious faces relax.
“Well, good timing. You can bring your plates ladies.”
I even had time to set the table for five with pastries, butter, jellies and orange juice. They look at me obviously impressed. Cassie takes my sore thumb in her hand and kisses it.
“It’s all red Matt. You’re going to have a blister. We should put something on it.”
“Forget it. It’s called ‘occupational hazard’ and your awestruck faces staring at the breakfast table show me a little work accident is worth it.”
The girls put all the food in dishes and we have another cup of coffee waiting for my father to come down.
We savor a nice and animated brunch in an easy-going atmosphere. My father is really happy with his presents and he is already making plans with my mom about their coming trip.
“Would you mind if we go for Christmas and not spend the end of the year with you?”
“Not at all Dad. It’s your vacation and we are not kids anymore. We already celebrated Thanksgiving all together, so I guess we can live without you for a few weeks. You seem to forget since I joined the NFL, I missed more than one holiday spending them in hotel rooms away from Chicago.”
“That’s true but you are here now. We can catch up.”
He seems to have second thoughts, feeling guilty to leave us for the holidays.
“I have Cassandra now and a lot of friends, so it’s settled. Knock yourselves out with French and Italian Christmas’ trees, romantic strolls and good food. And don’t worry I won’t leave Abs behind.”

Talking about food I ate like an ogre and for sure I’m going to skip dinner. Everyone helps to clear out the table and do the dishes. Then my father asks a little shyly,
“Cassie, how about I show you my ships and give you a quick history lesson?”
I grin. I knew he couldn’t resist. He does that to all the persons he likes and his son’s new girlfriend is an important and lovable one.
“Of course Patrick I’d love too.”
She gives me a quick glance of complicity while my father immediately adds,
“If it’s ok with you Matt. Can you keep busy downstairs for a while? I promise I won’t hold Cassie for too long with my pirates and explorers fleet.”
“Yes, I can Dad. You don’t have to entertain me.”
I am a little bit offended assuming I’m treated like a child, a disabled child who can’t stay by himself without supervision, 
“Sorry Matthew, I didn’t mean it that way.”
He sensed my affected curt answer I regret my over reaction to his true concern,                                                                       “I’ll watch TV and if it is more than a while, which I bet all my savings on it, I’ll read or take a nap or I’ll go jogging around the block. Just kidding! She is all yours and you are a good teacher, she will be interested.”
Cassie gives me an innocent kiss in front of my amused dad and they go up.

I transfer to the couch and turn the TV on. I long for a hockey game and click on the DVR option knowing my father records them all. I watch one followed by the sportscasters’ comments for over two hours and my dad and Cassie are a still upstairs. My mom and Abby have been in the kitchen for a while baking a birthday cake before we leave tonight. Tomorrow Cassie has to go back to work and I have a very busy schedule at the rehab center. From word of mouth, people are coming from different hospitals and places, especially to work with me, and some of them live far away. I mostly have children since my good results with Tim. Right now I feel a bit lonely in this big house usually filled with action. I haven’t been upstairs for evident technical reasons, and I recall my father’s disappointed face when I told him I couldn’t see the renovations on the second floor. I know he would be so excited to also show me his new boats, and I am frustrated to be confined to the first floor. Plus I badly need a shower and there are two in the bedrooms upstairs. Screw it! I can do this. I go back to the bedroom and fight with my uncooperative legs to lock them up in the braces, and get out of my chair with the crutches. Today I intent to climb up a flight of stairs, two flights to be exact, with a little help. At least I’m going to give it a try. I motivate myself thinking it is also good to heal my pressure sore. I crutch to the kitchen while no one is watching my ungainly style. When I cross my mom and Abby’s path, I sweep away their startled stares with a sign of the hand, “I need a little help here. I want to go upstairs and surprise Dad but I can’t do it alone.”
“You sure it’s safe Matt?”
“We’ll see in a bit, Mom. No, really I should be ok.”

I’ve never done so many stairs before and I don’t know how my body is going to react to such strain, but I want to do it and I’m not backing out. Abby isn’t too thrilled about the idea either but she agrees,
“If that’s really what you want and you think you are up to it, we’ll help you.”

And here I am, at the bottom of the staircase looking up like I have a mountain to climb and counting the steps as if it’s the challenge of a lifetime.
“Ok let’s do it. Abs, I have to hold on to you on the right and Mom, stay behind me at all times in case I lose my balance.”
I grasp the handrail as hard as I can with my left hand and I wrap my right arm around Abby shoulder tightly. I have to leave my crutches behind. They are more of an obstacle than a support for this perilous exercise. I try to put my weight mostly on my left side in order not to be too heavy on Abby. This is where I have a bit of sensation in my thigh and foot but as I can’t lift my legs, I have to use my upper body and arm strength to get me up. My mom is one step behind with her hands on my waist to prevent me for falling. She also does a bit of lifting while I push on Abby’ side. I am already panting after three steps when I say wryly to my sister,
“I’m sorry Abs but you are going to have a sore shoulder tomorrow. I will owe you a massage.”
“Don’t worry about it and concentrate.”
I keep on going counting five more stairs before the first landing, and try to forget about level two for now. I know it’s a total of eighteen stairs, and I’ll be pleased with myself if I am able to reach half of it. Right now I am nowhere near taking up my challenge. I push on the rail, lean on Abby while my mom keeps on heaving up my waist, so my feet don’t trip over the steps. Finally we are on the landing but all three of us are panting. My head is spinning, my heart is pounding and my legs choose this rest stop to go crazy. Only my braces keep me straight and still standing. I feel I am going to fall but I let go of the rail regardless. I don’t have any strength left. My mom is here to catch me by the arm and hold me.
“I have to rest a few minutes but I’m not sure I can do the other one.”
“Of course you can’t Matt. You are too hard on yourself, this is insane. Let me get your father.”
My mom is worried and upset, but being only half way frustrates me. I so much wanted to surprise my dad and Cassie in the workshop, but let’s face it, the spasms attack will stuck me here.
“DAD! Can you please come down for a minute? We have a surprise.”
That’s Abby shouting in the staircase. I find it nice of her to keep the suspense. My father is on the other side of the hallway and the walls are soundproof. Otherwise he would have heard the heavy breathing, the panting and my grunts of effort. After one minute I hear footsteps coming. He freezes on top of the stairs with Cassie in his wake.
“Matt! How…? What are you doing up here? ”
He seems shocked but also proud, and I can see a smile lighten his face. As for Cassie she looks at me beaming.
“Trying to impress you and free my girlfriend from a two hour kidnapping.”
I try to be witty but I don’t fool anyone. I am drenched with sweat; my whole body is shaking from my legs spasticity, and I am clinging to my mother and my sister, barely standing.
“Oh, Matt! I knew you could go it. That’s my best birthday present.”
“It better be because it’s the most costly. Now it’s your turn to help me out for the rest of the way.”
“I’d be honored son. I thought you’d never ask.”

Cassie joins him and they both hold me under the arms. They try to lift me but I’m a dead weight. I can’t even do one more step. I can’t move an inch and my left leg is killing me.
“I am sorry Dad. Don’t stress yourself. I’ll be worthless until those spasms subside.”
“Matt you’re not going to stay standing in the middle of the stairs.”
If Cassie likes me tall she doesn’t like to see me struggle or be in pain, and she is resourceful, “Let’s get you out of the braces so you can at least relax your legs and bend your knees. I’ll bring a chair so you can sit.”
I am in no position to argue and I feel exhausted. Quickly the chair is brought and set right behind me. Once again, my father and Cassie hold me tight and help me sit down. I would call it ‘collapse’ but it’s my point of view. Cassie unlocks the orthosis and Abby helps her remove them. I can let out a relieved sigh. My legs are so happy to be free from those torturous devices that they are having the time of their lives, jumping, leaping, convulsing and moving in all directions. I don’t care anymore and don’t do anything to make the shaking stop. Abby can’t even pull on my feet, because I am seated precariously on a regular chair. On top of that I have to stay titled on one side because of the pressure sore. I don’t have any balance and the wooden back is a bad support for my aching spine.
“Let’s get you up son. You’re almost there. Nancy, will you please bring the wheelchair up quickly?”
Without further notice he grabs me under the knees and around the waist and lifts me in his arms. I feel nervous and embarrassed being held like a child by my father, but I’m helpless. I wrap my arms around his neck and let him carry me up. I am a heavy built guy but so is he. I trust his strength and we are up the staircase at the same time my mom goes around us with my wheelchair. Fortunately it is a light titanium frame, and she has no difficulty to bring it up. I have never been so happy to be in it again.
I have a hard time to be my former self again, and if the spasms lower in intensity they don’t stop. My left hip and thigh cruelly let me know they didn’t appreciate this strenuous climbing at all.
“Well I guess it wasn’t such a good plan, and I am sorry to put you all through this. I overestimated myself and I know now I definitely have to avoid stairs.”
I see guilt and regret in my father’s eyes and it hurts my feelings. It wasn’t the plan. He didn’t force me into this. I wanted to impress him, but I also wanted to test myself.
“No, I am sorry Matt. It is my fault. I put this idea into you and you did it for me. I am grateful and proud but I have been selfish. I wanted so bad to have you up here I didn’t realize it would be so hard on you.”
“It was but I am here now. Don't sweat it Dad. I did it for me too.You can show me whatever you wish, because I’m going to stay a while. I am not ready to go down yet.”

I haven’t had the chance to really pay attention to my surroundings with the awkward ordeal, but now I can appreciate the new look of the house. I notice the floor has been completely remodeled. The thick carpet has been replaced with high-hand wood floors, the previous windows and doors have been enlarged, a new eggshell paint on the walls gives a clean and modern look to the place.
“You really did something nice here Dad.”
“Wait until you see the bedrooms and my study.”
“You mean you’re workshop. Ok, first let’s go see the place where you spend all your spare time and show me your new boats.”
I start to wheel to the end of the hallway, but my arms are weak and my left side is still painful. I don’t even have the strength to push on my rims, and I feel my dad’s hands on my shoulders, 
“Can I Matt?”
My wheelchair has no handles and no armrests. The only way to push me has to involve touching me which I hate, but this time I don’t protest. It’s my father after all and he just lifted me up in his arms, so what can be more humiliating? He wheels me to his room with Cassie by my side and parks me in front of his glass display. I pat the back of his hand which is still resting on my shoulder and we stay like this, silent for a while.
“Thanks Dad.”
“Don’t mention it.”
Now I feel both his hands squeeze my shoulders tighter. This is a moving and sensitive gesture and I feel a pang. We always have been close, but since my accident the father and son bond has tightened a great deal.
“I love you Dad.”
“I love you too Son.”
I sense a wave of emotion in his tone and I turn over to him. His eyes are shiny while mine become blurry. Cassie is silent, just respecting our moment of emotional intimacy. I need a minute to get a grip on myself too. He straightens up, regains his self control and gives me a tour of his expanded fleet. I listen carefully and with interest not only to please him, but also because he made me like scale modeling. I participated in the making of a few of those models, and it is one of my best childhood memories. I really enjoyed it. Maybe I could help him since I have now a lot of time for myself.
After that we take a tour of Abby’s bedroom and I can see the big change. No more pink bedspread and curtains, no more stuffed animals and the posters of Britney Spears and Justin Bieber are long gone. It is now an adult female room with shelves filled with books about nursing, family, scenery photos and a full size anatomical figure by her desk. We can see the skin, the muscles and the bones of the skeleton, and I grin at Cassie’s disgusted groan.
“I would have bad dreams every night with such a scary guest.”
“I agree; it’s kind of depressing. I just hope this not so handsome dude will help her to pass the final exam.”
Anyhow, I have a reminder she is still my baby sister. On our way out, I recognize with an affected smile the big stuffed giraffe I offered her for one of her birthday. It was several ago but not only had she kept it, the animal sits imposingly on her bedside table. At that time she wanted to be a veterinarian in Africa. Her room was turned into a wild animal zoo, and for a moment I wonder what happened to the elephant, the cheetah, the rhino and the hippo. Obviously the Giraffe was her favorite, but the choice must have been tough. I also notice her laptop is opened on a Facebook page in the middle of her bed.
We move on to the guest room in which my parents are staying for the week-end because of me, and I feel bad once again. It is a large comfortable room but each time I come they have to move one level up. My father seems to guess my discomfort and says, “You see Matt, this room is bigger than the master and we have a view.”
I give a glance through the window and right now all I can see is houses and gardens under the snow in a heavy haze.
“I’ll have to trust you on that Dad, but I do remember the lake and the endless green fields. I really need a shower now, and I guess there is still one in the old bedroom, right?”
“You bet Matt. You should have everything you need in there, but don’t hesitate to call for help if anything is missing.”
On this note, he discreetly leaves me with Cassie.
I never lived in this house, and even if my parents assigned me this bedroom I slept here only occasionally. They did put my old stuff in it though; my school and college diplomas, my sport trophies, my books and even my video games. The new walking closet is still filled with some old clothes and every piece of my college hockey gear. They brought almost about everything from the old house to Chicago, when they decided to move closer to me. I have a shock when I enter the bathroom. The small outdated shower is now a huge marble stall equipped with a jet system panel, a detachable shower head and a tempered thick glass door. I can see a wide tiled bench against the back wall with a silicone gel cushion on it. I don’t miss the few grab bars here and there either. Did my father really think I could use this shower again one day? Apparently yes. He never gave up on the idea of getting me upstairs. I am suddenly glad to please him and enjoy this new bathroom for the first time.
“Ok. Care for a shower with me baby? I’ve missed you all afternoon and I have some catching up to do.”
‘That’s exactly what I was thinking.”
Cassie undresses me in no time with a naughty look and I do the same to her.

“Oh boy, I needed this badly.”
I am seated on the bench, my back propped up against the wall letting the hot water flow down with delight on my face. The time of the shower, I am going to forget about the pressure sore. Cassie is standing in front of me with her hands on my shoulders. I can see her knees touching mine and she leans to kiss me passionately,
“I gather you missed that as much as I did!”
I return the kiss taking advantage to pull her onto my lap. I am sliding a bit forward because I am not as comfortable as in my shower chair and my muscles are weak from the exhausting climbing. We are both soaking wet now and still kissing as if we were drug addicts badly in need of a fix. Right now my drug is Cassie’s warm pulpy mouth and the feel of her soft breasts under the tip of my fingers. Sensually I run my hands over her firm belly, her well-shaped hips and thighs. Resting my chin on her shoulder, I whisper under the pouring water,
“Oh Cassie, you are so beautiful. You make me feel good, so damn good. I can’t wait to make love to you.”     
“I want you to but be patient a little longer, Matt. We have been in this shower for half an hour, we haven’t even washed yet and you need a shave. Your parents are going to wonder if we didn’t drown!”
“Yeah, you‘re right. I guess we have to end this for now if you promise me you will be my barber.”
“Deal! Let’s get rid of this stubble even if I find it sexy on you.”

We wash quickly and dry ourselves off. Cassie finds shaving cream and disposable razors in one the drawers, and starts her new assignment with obvious satisfaction. I lean back in my wheelchair and let her take care of my two-day beard lasciviously. Her hand on my cheeks and my chin is ecstatic. The way she holds my nose and turns my head from side to side really turns me on. I close my eyes and try to control the chills and shivers this sexy session is doing to me. When she is done I almost fell asleep. The hot towel she applies on my face to remove the remaining foam startles me but feels good on my skin.
“You are a great barber Miss Miller, and I’ll definitely use your services again.”
“You are very welcome Mister Vincent but all the pleasure was mine! I’ll get us clean clothes and I’ll be right back.”
“I’m not going anywhere.”
I close my eyes and realize how tired I am, how weaker my body is even if I try to keep it fit. Yet, I have to face reality and accept it. Don’t delude yourself Matthew Vincent; you are no more than a shadow of your former self.
She comes back fast and my sudden gloomy thoughts are cut short. Before she lets me dress she doesn’t forget to tend my butt sore. I feel clean and refreshed, I don’t have any spasms and the sharp pain in my hip scaled down to a dull ache which is totally bearable. I feel better but a bit lethargic. I could use a strong drink to give me a boost. But before doing so, I need to get down those stairs. I don’t want to call my dad again, and the way down is much easier than the way up. I contemplate the eighteen steps from the top of the staircase to work out a plan.
“Cass, hold my chair will you?”
“What are you doing Matt?”
“Just going down.”
I bent forward, put one hand on the floor, and drop heavily on it before she can object or talk me out of it.
“Now, can you take it down and wait for me at the foot of the stairs?”
She nods without saying anything. She knows I am stubborn and I already made up my mind. I do each stair on my butt pushing on my arms. The problem is my legs which I have to constantly extend with my hands, so they don’t get stuck in the way. I did it! I’m worn out but really proud of myself. I wink at Cassie before we meet the family for our last gathering of the week-end.
“Matt! You are downstairs. How did you do that?”
I chuckle, “You don’t want to know.’’
He sounds upset,

“But why didn’t you call me?”
 “Because I didn’t need help.”
“That is a good reason. Is the new shower convenient?”
“Better than that. It was worth doing a little bit of climbing!”

We have another gourmet dinner and I can’t stick to my good intentions of skipping a meal. We eat and I drink a little because I asked Cassie to drive on the way back. I don’t feel one hundred percent, and even if I can’t feel my pressure sore I know it got worse. I rubbed it back and forth on eighteen steps, and when I catheterized I could see blood on my underwear.
It’s getting late and time to go. We say our thank you and goodbyes to my family and every one apparently enjoyed the week-end. I hadn’t planned my extra stunt, but I am glad I did seeing my father’s cheerful face.
“Thank you so much for my gifts Matt.”
I can see from his blissful smile he included my second floor exploration. He looks younger tonight and I feel good.
Before seating in the passenger’ seat, I easily remove the hand control system for Cassie, and as the car leaves the house we wave everybody goodbye again.
I feel ridiculous in my askew position, but I can’t stay seated on my butt without shifting my body every two minutes grabbing the passenger assist handle.
“Matt, are you uncomfortable?”
“No, it’s just that I can’t seat on this damned wound. I think I made it worse and I really don’t want to wind up in the hospital.”
“I’ll take care of it at home. Don’t stress yourself. You know, I really like your family a lot. They are so nice to me. Your dad is quite a character. He is funny and entertaining and you seem so close. Your parents are obviously family oriented, and I am just wondering how come there is such a big difference between Abby and you. I could picture you with more brothers and sisters.”
“Yeah, you hit the big drama of their lives. My mom had many miscarriages before Abby, and after her she couldn’t get pregnant anymore. They always wanted a big family but they found comfort of having at least the two of us.”
“Oh, I am sorry to hear that Matt, but they are lucky to have you. You are the best children parents could ever dream of.”
“Well that’s an overstatement. I don’t think a paraplegic son is the dream of every parent.”
“Matt! How can you say such a horrible thing? Do you think your mom and dad love you less because you can’t walk anymore?”
“No. You’re right. But hockey was my life and my father’s life and I’ve ruined it all. It will never be the same between us. We can’t share the thrill anymore and have those exciting and animated conversations.”
“Yes, you can. In another way but you still can. What happened is not your fault, but you sound like you are worthless without your helmet and your stick.”
“You can’t understand what I was like before, and it is exactly how I feel: worthless.”
I don’t know why I am abruptly having this dull conversation. Everything has been so good and cheerful those past few months. Why am I picking it on Cassie? She doesn’t deserve my depressed state of mind.
“Forget it. Sorry if I’m being stupid and thank you for putting up with me.”
I take her hand and kiss the back of it. We stay silent for a while and it is her turn to think out loud and ask me with a detached tone,
“You didn’t tell me Melissa is so gorgeous.”
“Does it matter? I’m with you now. You don’t have to fear anything from her. She is getting married to my best friend and she is happy.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because she told me so.”
“You asked her?”
“Yes, why wouldn’t I? We’ve been officially together since we are eighteen. I am now twenty-nine, so do the math. I think we are close enough to inquire about each other’s personal life. I really want her to be happy, so I don’t feel guilty about the way I handled the situation. She didn’t want this, I did and I made it happen without a lot of tact. I’m aware of that now. I have been an insensible jerk. I was mean and cruel. Don’t forget I hooked them up together.”
“Does that mean you regret it?”
“Regret what?”
“Breaking up with her? Throwing her into Ted’s arms? Do you still love her? Do you want her back?”
Her voice has changed. She is upset, sad and …jealous. She is almost screaming at me, and it’s the first time I see her really angry, especially at me.
“Cass, pull over please. Let’s talk quietly. The road is slippery and you don’t want us to end up snowbound in a field at night, in the middle of nowhere.”
She does as I say and stops the car in the emergency lane. I am not the contentious kind of guy. I hate fights and the least I want is an argument with Cassie about my ex, but I guess she needs some answers. As I don’t have anything to hide from her I am willing to talk about it and make things clear.
“Cass, you have to believe me. I don’t love her anymore because I love you from the bottom of my heart. I haven’t talked to her since I forbade her to come to visit me in rehab. Don’t you think I owe her some explanations and a little bit of concern? Didn’t you see her averted eyes when she talked to me? She still cannot bear to watch me in my wheelchair and the sight of my still legs. When I transferred from the couch, she bit her lips and flinched. Do you truly think I could stand those looks in my daily life? This is the difference between you and her. What you like in me she despises. It really upset me at first, you being drawn to my handicap, but I’ve totally changed my mind after knowing you better. I don’t mind your weird interest to my disability anymore, because I love the way you are and you look at me. I couldn’t ask for more.”
She seems to be in deep thoughts for a few minutes and I don’t want to interrupt.
“You know Matt I love you and I’ve never been so happier in my life, but I don’t want to ever suffer again the way I did with Jeffrey. He really hurt me a lot. I don’t want to drag him down more than he deserves, but I didn’t tell you everything about him.”
I am thinking to myself: violent, abusive, cheap and full of it. What could be worse?
“He cheated on me several times. I guess I was young and too submissive. On top of it, I was stupid enough to believe he wouldn't do it again as he sworn on his life. He lied, humiliated me, and made me look like the bad one but I have changed.”
Whoa! She had it all wrong with this perverse cheating son of a bitch. I can understand where she gets her fragility and insecurity from. But I have hardly seen her so furious especially when she goes on,
“I am not the naive and weak girl I was a few years back, and I will never accept to be treated like trash again. I know you are not like that at all Matt but…I am afraid someday you will let me down. For now you are a dream relationship for me, but what about when you will have your self-esteem back, your confidence, the reassurance you are still a man who can be loved? You know you are a very attractive man and I am not the only woman you could please.”
Now I am the one really pissed off.
“Do you imply I am using you to test my sexual abilities? Or that I am going to cheat on you to explore and compare? How could you even think like that? Didn’t I prove you mean everything to me? Do you truly believe I could do to another woman what I do to you? Or share my cripple intimacy, my freaking privacy? We are in this together. It is as if you were my first. Doesn’t it count for you? This special bond is ours Cassandra, and I am very disappointed if you imagine it can be otherwise.”
We are both upset and not in mood to pursue this awkward conversation.
“You can start the car again. I am tired and I want to go home.”

 For the remaining fifteen minutes we don’t speak, both lost in our thoughts. The way back is done in a heavy silence and a lot of disturbing questions pop up in my mind. She is afraid of Melissa, thinking I might go back to her. She is scared to be cheated on. How could I do that? Why? It’s a fact I have issues with my sexuality. I am still discovering my broken body and very frustrated of my lack of erections, but does it mean I would want to experience my new feelings with someone else? Absolutely not. How can she not trust me as I trust her?
We park in the garage. I take our bags on my lap, and we take the elevator without saying a word. When we arrive in front of our doors, she is the first to talk timidly,
“You want me to change the bandage on your sore?”
“No. I think I can manage by myself. I am really tired and I think I’ll have bad spasms because of the standing up and all. I’ll sleep alone tonight. You have to get up early tomorrow. You need your sleep too. It’s better if we take a break…maybe for a few days.”
She almost whispers in a dull voice,
“Ok, if that’s what you want.”
“Yes. It’s better this way. Maybe you are right. We have been overexcited and I was so happy to find a girl willing to have a sexual experience with a paraplegic, I jumped at the opportunity. On your side you could fulfill a fantasy, so that makes us even.”
I watch her sharply and see she is trying hard to refrain from crying. She is about to say something but she holds back. I hand her her bag without raising my head this time. If we make eye contact, I’ll see her sad and tearful face again, and I am afraid to give in. Right now I need to put things into perspective and think this through.
“Good night Cassandra.”
“Good night Matthew.”
She answers lowly turning her back on me, trying to open her door with a nervous hand.

As I enter my apartment I drop my bag on the floor sighing in despair. I really didn’t foresee our terrific week-end could wind up in such a fiasco. I should have known Melissa’s visit in presence of Cassandra, and after all those months of silence couldn’t be good. I’ve been fooled thinking it was all settled for everybody. My parents have regrets and nostalgia of the past; they were already planning a wedding. Abby holds a grudge against her because they were good friends. Ted seems happy but still embarrassed around me, as if he was a traitor who stole my girlfriend from me. And now the most important person in my life is jealous and scared I can be unfaithful. I transfer on my bed still dressed. I remove only my shoes and don’t even bother to slip under the sheets. I am completely down with an empty soul. 


  1. You handled the plot of the story exceptionally well. Superb chapter!

  2. Ok, so you know I'm crying about the ending of this chapter! Im so worried about Matt getting more depressed and his bed sore. At the same time I understand Cassie concerns. This is a GREAT chapter and it depicts a real life scenario.

  3. Love this story!