Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Twist Of Fate Chapter 2

Recap of Chapter 1

During a painful stay in the hospital, Matthew takes the hard decision to break up with Melissa, his longtime girlfriend. After realizing she will never be able to overcome his accident and the consequences, he gives her her freedom back and asks for his best friend’s help. He has to face a lot of issues, adapt to a totally different life and he hangs on to his family and friends in order to do so.

Here I am, back at my parent’s house for a while. My folks are very supportive and we have always been close. I am in transit before going back to my place as soon as a few mandatory modifications are made. My father took care of it while I was still in rehab and I am grateful for that. He knew exactly what needed to be done.

“Matt, I’m at your apartment and it’s taking a little more time than scheduled. I’m sorry son. I couldn’t come for two days and they didn’t do much unfortunately. They went to another worksite and believe me I bawled them out.”
My dad doesn’t lose his temper easily but I sense anger in his tone.
 “That’s ok Dad. Don’t stress yourself. I know you’re busy at work and I feel bad you have to drive all the way downtown to supervise the workers. I can wait.”
“No, that is not alright. It is a serious matter. They told me it will be done by the time you get out of rehab. You know how we like having you with us, but I understand you want some privacy and get back on with your life. They did the entire job in the kitchen though. They lowered the countertops, all the cabinets and your sink is now accessible. As for for the bathroom I' m afraid it’s not a done deal yet. They still have to change the toilet bowl for a higher one and add a detachable shower head in the shower. I brought the special chair you asked for but they didn’t put any of the grab bars I required yet. They promised me it will be ready next week. Fortunately the stall is wide enough with an easy access and all the door frames are handicap accessible.”
“Thanks Dad. I appreciate your time.”
“Don’t mention it; I always have time for my son. I’ll be home soon.”

After the dramatic way my career ended, my dad was as devastated as I was, even if he tried hard not to show it. To me and for me, he is the most supportive person emotionally speaking. He pulled himself together and he is the same old strong, kind and communicative person he has always been. I guess I took this from him. What I appreciate about him is his adaptation to all situations, the big change in my life being one. He does not give me those pitiful and sad looks and don’t treat me like a poor cripple. He gives me strength and the will to carry on. We talk like we did before about everything except for hockey and my break-up with Melissa, so unfortunately it substantially reduces the topics for now. For hockey I guess I wouldn’t mind. I can’t cross that from my mind and I am still interested in my team results, even if emotionally I can’t watch a game yet. My father is the one feeling uncomfortable mentioning the subject, so I can understand his awkwardness. I know it is important for him and it was part of our bond and shared father and son’s moments.
Regarding Melissa I have been very clear on the matter, and blunt enough to avoid any further argument, “We both realized we were not in love anymore and decided to regain our freedom.”
If my dad seems to be ok with my terse justification, my mom and my little sister are a different story. It is another terrible blow for my mother, because she had known her since she was a little girl, and she liked her.
“But how can that be? We are so disappointed in her. She was like a daughter to us. We are shocked that after all those years she can abandon you because you’re…you’ve been injured.”
“Don’t be afraid to say paraplegic or crippled because that’s what I am. Although I have to deal with it every day, she doesn’t. Don’t put the blame on her. She tried her best but selfishly it is not enough for me. It’s complicated, I simply have changed. Besides, I wasn’t ready to get married so it’s a good thing I found out before it is too late. I won’t go into details, however the decision is all mine and final. I know you liked her. I did too and I still do but as a childhood friend, that’s all. I am sorry we both disappointed you, nevertheless it was too hard to bear for both of us. Who would want such a burden to carry anyway?”
“Matthew! You are a grown man and you have all rights to live whatever life you wish and spend time with whoever you like. You made your point, but don’t ever say you are a burden again.”
Now my mom seems to be more upset by the new vision of myself than the break-up.
“Maybe not for you but you can’t be objective as my mother.”
Not used to my stern look and my harshness they understood the subject is close.

My father introduced me to hockey. He is a native French Canadian from Montréal, capital of this worshipped sport. As a kid he used to play with his two brothers on frozen lakes in winter. Then he played briefly as a professional for the team “les Canadiens” nicknamed the ‘Habs’ by the locals. It stands for ‘habitants’ in French and Inhabitants in English. After two years in the national team he busted a knee real bad and had to have a main surgery. If it was a success it was nonetheless too risky and not conceivable to play with a knee cap replacement, and he was bound to an early retirement. One day he came from Canada to Chicago as a supporter to root for his team. That’s how he met my mother who happened to be with a friend on the bench next to him. The two women were of course supporting the Black Hawks and gently teasing my dad, playfully joking and trying to shout louder than him. My mom knew nothing about hockey at that time. She was dragged to the Stadium by her friend who was dating one of the players. What happened next is pretty simple. My father was getting on the plane right after the game and bashfully asked my mother if he could call her. She seemed to like the idea because they exchanged their phone numbers, and after countless hours of long distance conversations they started visiting each other in their respective countries. You can easily guess the rest which leads to me and then my sister. After that, my mom became a hockey fan and never missed one of my games. When I was five I already was on the ice rink with my skates and my stick and I loved it. I desperately needed to enroll in a hockey team and was admitted at Loyola University in Chicago. At that time we were still living in my mom’s small town, an hour from the big city. This is where I grew up and the place we lived in since my father left his native country to marry my mother. He needed a job fast and started a small company selling vitamins, health supplements and organic beauty products. If it wasn’t easy at the beginning, he still took advantage of the online economic development and his website is now among the top ten visited sites in that category. My mom quit her job as a librarian to help him with the orders and the accounting. When I had to move closer to the University they could afford to buy a house in a nice neighborhood of Chicago and followed me. Thanks to my good grades I was granted a substantial scholarship and moved in on the campus with a room mate who happened to be Ted. We were both majoring in Business, had a few classes in common and even if he wasn’t into hockey, we got along pretty well. As he was from out of state he used to spend a great deal of time at my parents with me, especially for the holidays. He was welcomed with open arms. He is a likeable guy, so are my folks.

If it feels good to be surrounded by your loved ones in difficult times, it can also be a little oppressive. My mom is constantly concerned of my well being, my eating, my sleep, my meds taking. Thank God she never asks about anything more intimate. Anyway she was the same before the injury, meaning a loving but a bit too overcaring mother. Abby, my little sister, nine years younger is particularly annoyingly protective and compassionate. She is studying to become a nurse, so I guess that’s a real vocation for her and I am kind of a perfect guinea pig. Just kidding! I love my little sister and she has always cared for others. It is a bit overwhelming for me but I make an outstanding effort not to rebuff her. I am her hero big brother and she is my number one and faithful fan, hockey wise. Now I am more like a fallen angel even if she never gave up on me. She is even trying to convince me I could still be a famous athlete. She is the only one to believe in such a delusion. She insists on helping me with my daily range of motion (joints bending and stretching), and I eventually gave in to avoid going to the rehab center everyday to do the exercise with my physical therapist. She is hovering all over me, coming straight back home after her college classes, wanting to prepare my favorite dishes while mom is at work.

Tonight she is curled up in the sofa next to me to watch TV, and I notice a rueful look on her face. I assume it is because of me. I left my wheelchair to transfer on the couch to ease the pain in my back and in my left leg. I still have little sensations in my left thigh and my foot, nothing in between, but believe me when they make me feel their presence they are not welcome at all. It is happening right now and I can’t help wincing. I have to shift position. I lift my upper body pressing my fists deep into the thick fabric of the sofa, and I struggle a bit with the two cushions stuck in my back which suddenly decide to fold under my lazy butt. Abby helps me put them back where they belong. I cringe again and this time it’s followed by a muffled groan. I am going to say something terrible, but during those moments I wish I were a complete paraplegic not to feel anything at all. However I have the reputation of being a tough guy rarely complaining.
“Are you ok Matt?”
“Yeah, it’s just a bad position.”
“Want me to bring you your meds? Maybe you should lie down?”
“Oh please Abs! I’m good and I don’t need anything. Don’t treat me like I’m made of glass and I’m going to break into pieces. I am not one of your case studies!”
By the hurt look on her face I instantly regret my outburst. She is just concerned about me, and seeing her strong and invincible brother being reduced to spend his evenings sprawled on a sofa while his team is playing is upsetting.
“Come here little sis. That was mean and I am sorry for losing my temper.” I pull her closer to me. “I know you want to help but there isn’t much you can do…Oh yes, there is one thing. Can you please bring the coffee table closer, so I can extend my legs on it?” 
This simple request puts a smile on her pretty face, and I even let her lift my legs up. I know she is happy to assist me. “Astie!” (Damn it!) I apologize for having a tendency to curse in French Canadian. It sounds less rude, even in my head. I prefer to warn you because you might hear a few others of that kind. I suck in a breath mumbling, “This crazy thigh won’t stop bugging.” It is much more than a bug, rather like an excruciating pain from my hip to some sensitive patches in my left side. I am nonetheless too proud to let it show. I start massaging my leg above the knee like I often do after my tiring daily exercises. Abby saw me do it many times, so I don’t hide it from her. She even takes over with my approval nod. I am a little down tonight; feeling worn out, thinking of the major game my team is playing against the Los Angeles Kings, without me and forever. It is of course broadcasted on ESPN but I chose another channel deliberately. A stupid chick flick is on and I am not even watching. I have to stop feeling sorry for myself and be strong for my family. Abby is the most emotional, still having a hard time to accept my disability. I try to skirt the issue.
 “How come I don’t see any of your friends anymore? They used to enter as if it was an open house!”
 She gives me a forced smile.  “I don’t want them here because I know they only want to come to see you…I mean…after your injury…they are curious…asking lots of questions…about your condition and all. Some of them aren’t my friends anymore.”
I am a bit taken aback and can’t respond. I just peck her on the forehead.
“And what about this boyfriend of yours? The one who used to harass me to get good seats for the stadium”
“Oh... him! I dumped him when you were in the hospital. He was so freaking jealous.”
“Did you give him reasons to be?”
“So, whom was he jealous of?”
“What? Jealous of me? But why?”
“He complained I was spending too much time at your bedside and not enough with him. Anyway he was a jerk.”
I chuckle because it is the truth, but I kind of feel bad being the reason of their breakup. 
“I’m sorry Abs.”
“Please don’t be. I wasn’t in love with him. I have been fooled by his good looks, and I know nobody liked him. I know you didn’t, you can admit it now. Mom and Dad were delighted to hear the good news, even if they pretended to be sorry for me. On top of that he replaced me in no time, so I wasn’t that important to him either. The upsetting part is he chose my best friend as a surrogate.”
I can’t repress a smirk making sure she doesn’t see me. “Poor little sister.” I give her a kiss on the cheek and we stay silent for a while. She is still massaging my leg and I acknowledge she is good at it, because the pain ends up subsiding.

I can’t help thinking about Melissa. She could never have done that. She could barely glance at my legs. At the beginning when I was really bad with a full back brace, I wasn’t allowed to move. And even if I could the pain was too sharp to take the risk. I refused the daily doses of morphine because it made me feel completely lethargic, but I had to live with the consequences. The nurses had the dirty job of washing me, emptying my urine bag, help me with my bowel routine, and get me dressed before the arrival of Melissa. She was left with the shaving and combing my hair which grew at a fast pace. Without a haircut soon I could wear a ponytail. When I eventually could shift a little bit, she tried her best to help me turn from side to side to avoid pressure sores. This was not an easy task, because I couldn’t help much and I felt like a dead weight. She insisted on participating though, even if it was the duty of the medical staff. The first time she saw the surgery scar in my lower back she panicked and stopped touching me. I reassured her telling her I couldn’t feel a thing, which wasn’t totally true because my back was killing me, but she has a thing with scars. She can’t bear the sight of one. It freaks her out. It was probably still all swollen and red because I also had an infection issue. I was put on antibiotics though with an IV inserted on the back of my hand. Right after my admission in the ER the surgeon had to pin a titanium plate to support my broken back and my body obviously didn’t like it so much. Melissa was very disturbed with all the care I needed, all the medicine I was taking and my slow recovery. Only after weeks of daily visits, she finally inquired shyly about my sensation below the injury. I translate: “the reproductive and sexual organs between my legs”. As I had already in mind to let her go I was overly crude and blunt which made her cry once more.
“Mel, I can’t feel a thing below my belly button. My body stops right here” I was showing her my lower abdomen with my hand free of needle. “I don’t feel my bladder, neither my penis nor my testicles. I can’t have an erection anymore. I have to pee through a tube, and I have to program my trips to the bathroom. So do you think I am able to make love, to give pleasure and get some? Let’s be realistic this time is over. My life, our lives will never be the same. My career is finished and I am going to have to live on my savings until it runs out. Then I’ll try to get whatever job sympathetic people or friends are willing to offer me. With my BA in Business, maybe my dad can pull some strings. If I’m lucky I could maybe find me a position in a bank or an office as long as I don’t have to stand, walk, run and be far from the restrooms. In a word: a place which is wheelchair accessible.”
Now I was becoming cynical and it was time for her to go. I said I was tired and pretended to fall asleep. She left completely drained of all energy, but it was no news, most of her visits wound up with a note of uneasiness and bitterness.

If this was only a few months ago, it seems much more than that. I often think about her but strangely and guiltily without missing her. I feel bad about it because we spent so many years together as childhood friends, then school friends, then lovers. I truly thought she was the love of my life and without this stroke of bad luck I would have married her, have children with her trying to be a good husband and a good father, but it would have been such a big mistake. I comfort myself thinking little harm was done and it is for the sake of us both. She also would have tried her best to be a good wife, however, when I was lying still on my hospital bed, I realized she wasn’t strong enough to share the life of a paraplegic with all the negative aspect and the difficulties that fall upon you. I gave her a way out and another chance to live a simpler life, and I feel confident she will eventually be happy. I had Ted several times on the phone and he told me she had a tough time, but she was feeling better now and starting to suck it up. I knew he always had a crush on her, didn’t have a serious woman in his life and this is why I picked him. He is my friend and a good guy. He is ready to commit but it will take some time. Because of our friendship he won’t rush into things afraid I could change my mind. I am not the kind of guy to play with other’s feelings and I pushed him to pursue. Last time I talked to him he seemed a little embarrassed.
“What’s the matter Ted?”
“Nothing. It’s just that...Melissa is…here with me.”
“Ok, good.”
“…She is worried about you and she wants to know how you’re doing.”
“You saw me not long ago; I am out of rehab, so you know I am better.”
“You don’t want to tell her yourself? Talk to her?”
“No. Not now. It is too soon. Not a good idea. We need some space. Take her away on vacation somewhere romantic, so you could learn to know each other better.”
Now he sounds really uncomfortable, “Hmm…I had this project to go to Italy for a while to visit some relatives. It was even before you were hurt…I asked her to come with me and…she accepted.”
“Way to go man!” I’m really happy for both of you.”
Things seem to be heading in the right direction, the way I planned. Ted is working in an office, so is Melissa. They have regular hours so she can’t complain he is away all the time like I was. I always knew she didn’t like what I was doing for a living. It’s true we couldn’t see each other much during the hockey season, but she could come to see me play in other states when it was during week-ends. She did when it was not too far from Illinois, but each time I was injured she overreacted and it was mostly cuts, bumps and bruises. So imagine when I left the rink once with a broken arm and a nasty stroke with a stick that left me a scar from the corner of my right eye (luckily missing it) to my upper cheek. I had eight stitches, a black eye for two weeks and the worst was I had to miss a few games and watch them from the bench.
Mel loves traveling and we were planning a big trip before this cursed game. Now she is flying to Italy with Ted, what an irony! Am I jealous? No. So why this sudden male wounded pride? It’s just that we spent so much time together and I am willing to let her go with someone I chose. Maybe I have a masochistic tendency after all.

I am still deep in my thoughts when the front door opens and my mom gets in with her arms loaded with bags full of groceries from the supermarket. I am slouched in the sofa with Abby asleep on my shoulder. She wakes up with a start when our mother closes the door with her foot and apologizes for the noise. She seems annoyed for having awakened us, except I wasn’t sleeping. My sister stretches out, rubs her sleepy eyes and stands up, a simple move I cannot make anymore. A few months before I would have been the first up to give my mother a hand.
“Mom let me help you with the errands. I already made some soup and a big salad. Matt is on a diet!”
“What? No one is on a diet in this house and certainly not you Matt. You have to eat and regain all the pounds you lost.”
“Mom, stop worrying about me. I didn’t lose a lot, and I have to watch what I eat since I didn’t go back to the gym yet.”
We wait for my dad to come home and we have dinner together. I missed those family reunions while I was always on the road or hopping from plane to plane for the last ten years. A hard training, lots of traveling around the country and being exhausted most of the sport season; I did not have a chance to spend some family time. It will now be more doable.
“How was your day at work Dad? Except for the time you had to waste to go to my place.”
“It wasn’t a waste of time and your Mom was at the office to supervise. She knows the job as well as I do, and we have a reliable staff. As you know, in winter we have much more work with Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year. Maybe when you are all settled again you could come and help us?”
It is my father’s way of offering me a job through the back door. I will never accept charity, especially from my dad. I know he had to hire two new employees recently so they are not understaffed.
“I am sorry Dad but I already have a few proposals I have to review in the next days. I need to get back on tracks and I’m going to be busy.”
“Good to hear son. Nevertheless, don’t accept anything just because you are out of job. You are wealthy enough to take your time and pick up a new career that will fit your needs and your profile.”
“I know Dad but my profile was hockey. It was all my life and right now I am having a hard time figuring out where I can fit in.”
“Maybe you should just go back to the rink to hang out with your teammates and still stay in the field. That’s what I would do.”
This is my sister’s foolish advice. As unrealistic as it sounds, I am dying to follow it.
“I can’t Abs. Not yet. Being in the arena without playing is not conceivable.”
My mom is the only one not to comment, but she is giving me that worried stare I don’t like.
“Please, don’t worry anyone. I am not depressed or anything. I am just a little bit insecure about my future, but I’ll find a way out, promise! I never took the opportunity to thank you all for your support, so I do it now. You know it means a lot to me to have you around. You really helped me go through this.”

It is an awkward moment because the first one in which I show my emotions and weakness in front of my family since the accident. They are too moved to answer. My dad pats me on the shoulder, my mom has tears in her eyes she is trying to repress, and my sister jumps on her feet to give me a smothering hug. As you already know, she has a tendency to overreact.

I never have been a heavy sleeper, even less now. All the drugs I was given in the hospital to control my spasticity and help me sleep left me groggy and drowsy for days, so I decided to manage without. That’s another challenging decision to assume. My supposedly dead limbs are waking me up almost every night and when sometimes the bed shakes as if there is an earthquake, Baclofen is my last resort. I am always up early, which is a good thing at my parents’ house. I begrudgingly let them give away their bedroom on the first floor, but we have no other choice. Out of four bedrooms, only one is downstairs and it is theirs. There is a big inconvenience though. It is also the only one to have a bathtub instead a shower stall. My father has to help me get in and out the tub every day. So, early in the morning we have our little exercise before he leaves for work. This is also the reason why I want to go back to my place as soon as possible. I hate to rely on somebody especially for my intimate ritual. However, the good thing is we can have breakfast together and chat in front of a cup of coffee. I missed that and I am glad to do it again.

Today is the big day. I am ready to get my independence back. I haven’t seen Ted since our last phone call, and I am waiting for him to pick me up to take me to my 39th floor apartment, praying the elevator will never break down or there won’t be a mega power outage. At least, there are two of them. My parents and my sister wanted to drive me. I insisted it wasn’t necessary to come. It is a big deal for them as if I am moving out far away. I am just going back to the same place where I used to live before. Maybe after seeing me every day for seven months they were expecting to have their son and brother back for good.
“Good to see you man. You look fit. I can see your mom’s cooking is more profitable than the hospital junk food.”
“Don’t mention it. Abby and my mother stuffed me like a Christmas goose. It’s time for me to go back to the gym and be on a diet.”
When we are out after telling my good-byes, Ted tells me in an annoyed voice, “I’m sorry Matt. I couldn’t park in front of the house. There is not a single spot available, but I am right on the corner.”
“Hey, it’s not because I can’t walk that I can’t push my rims. My arms are still working.” To ease his discomfort I show him my biceps. I wish all my friends wouldn’t see me as a disabled man. Unfortunately being in a wheelchair cannot be unnoticed. I am not used to look up to talk to people yet. I am 6 feet 3 inches tall, Astie! (Damn it) Sorry, another one. Thank God he didn’t try to help me get in the car. I practiced my transfers dozens of times at the rehab center, and believe me I am now an expert in this discipline. I’m also not bad at popping wheelies, climb up and down curbs as well, but I definitely suck at standing on crutches with braces on; too much spasms and too exhausting. I don’t give up on the idea though, because I want to surprise my family and friends someday. Up to now except for the medical staff, I made sure no one I know saw me struggling on my two feet with my awkward gait.
As it is a two door car, after disassembling my custom-made chair, I reluctantly have to let Ted put the parts in the trunk. In the lobby of my building I am welcomed with a spontaneous embrace by René, an old Haitian front desk clerk, who has been working here since the day I moved in. We have a 24 hour-security shift in the tower with three employees, but he is definitely the sweetest man you could wish as a guard. I know I am his favorite resident because he can speak French with me and joke about my Canadian accent and strange words that doesn’t sound French to him at all. I also gave game tickets for his children as often as I could, and he is very grateful.
“Bonjour Matthew. Je suis tellement content de vous revoir. J’ai prié pour vous, vous savez.” (Hello Matthew. I am so happy to see you again. I prayed for you, you know.)
“Merci René. Je suis heureux d’être de retour aussi et de voir que vous êtes fidèle au poste.” (Thank you René. I am glad to be back too and find out you are still working here.)
He is a sincere and natural guy and he doesn’t hesitate to lean forward and give me a bear hug. He treats me the same way as before, as if nothing happened. No pitiful or side looks, just a smiley face to welcome me back.
I let Ted come up with me and thanks to my dad I can offer him a beer. The fridge is filled to the top with food and beverages. With those supplies I could feed a whole army.
“Wow! I almost forgot how nice it is.”
Ted is talking about the view which indeed is incredible. I have bay windows from ceiling to floor in every room, and as it is a penthouse the ceiling height is oversized.
My bed faces the lake and I have unblocked views of the pier and the harbor. At night I used to sit on my balcony to clear my mind before an upcoming game or just relax and enjoy the city lights.
“Yeah, I really love this place and I missed it.”
I take a tour with Ted and we both curiously discover the odd changes in my apartment. My open kitchen seems to have been built for a dwarf. No offense intended. I feel equal to them now. My father didn’t skimp on the handle bars or the grab bars whatever you call them. The bathroom looks like a towel rack store. Four in the shower, two outside, one on each side of the toilet and a big one by the sink, the real towel rack for this one. Instead of depressing me it brings a crooked smile on my face. Ted is looking at the weird plastic seat in the shower stall, when he asks me with a concerned look on his face,
“You sure you can manage by yourself? I can stay with you for tonight.”
“Yes I can manage and no, you can not stay, but thanks. I have one favor to ask you though.
“Whatever you need man.”
“Can you come back whenever you get a chance to pick up Melissa’s stuff?”
“Oh!… sure, no problem. Just tell me when it’s ready. I better get going, I’m late for work.”
“Ok. Thanks again for the lift.”
“Anytime. I am really glad to see you back man. I just hope it won’t be too hard to be all by yourself. I’ll call you tomorrow and don’t hesitate to ask for help. You know I am here for you.”
He hastily changed the subject. Talking about Mel isn’t easy for both of us, but he is the most nervous about it. Melissa and I never really lived together as weird as it sounds. She would come to spend the night at my place when I played in Chicago or on break. The rest of the year I was traveling all over the states and Canada. But obviously Mel liked it here and brought an extensive wardrobe piece by piece. I have no complaint about it because I wanted her to feel at home, and at that time I was happy to share my closet and drawers. But now it looks weird and I can’t have the indecency to ask her to come to pack her things. After all I’m the one who broke up. I simply hope she will not take it too badly I use Ted as a middleman. I am not quite ready to face her yet. I need more time.


  1. Yay! I'm happy to see you are continuing to write this story. I think this chapter went rather well with describing Matthew's transition to home. I look forward to future chapters and thank you so much for writing this story!

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    1. Thanks to you for reading and making appreciative comments. It is very rewarding for me to know I can please readers on an English speaking website!

  3. Your writing and English especially are excellent. I would not have known you were more comfortable with French. I went to university in New York a little over an hour south of Montreal. It was such a treat to visit there. There were busses once a month for under $20 on Saturdays. I went whenever possible. Vieux Montreal is my favorite part. That and the big Eaton's on Rue Catherine.

    1. Thank you! I have one precison though. I am French from Paris, France and not French Canadian but I know Montreal well. As I love hockey I chose a Canadian character to make it more exotic and slip in a few French words:-)Except for the curse words which are typically from Quebec and sound so funny for French people!

  4. Great story telling. Your writing is detail and Matthew is such a great character. This story reads like a memoir.

  5. Long second chapter and it looks like Matthew is getting back control of his life and looking forward to reading more about him and adjusting to his new life

  6. Great chapter! Thanks for writing Matthew's character so well.