On Sunday morning, Julia and Holly were walking through a park in downtown Denver. Julia was feeling sort of sluggish, and wanted some activity, so she convinced Holly to come to the park and meet her. The weather was great; not too warm, not too cool.
“How was your trip? Anything crazy amazing happen on your flights?” Julia asked as they walked along the tree lined path. Holly had returned the night before from a three day trip.
Holly laughed before answering. “Crazy amazing? Ha! No. Nothing. Boring. We overnighted in Chicago, so we went out both nights. The captain bought us dinner, which was nice for a change.”
Julia turned to her friend. “What?! The captain bought dinner?! Ugh. I haven’t been on a fun flight crew in months, you lucked out. Totally jealous, Hol.”
“I would have much rather been here, vegging out on your couch again.” Holly linked her arm through Julia’s as they walked. “And I absolutely cannot take it anymore. Tell me about your date with Hot Doc on Friday night.”
“Oh, Holly! Come on. We’re not even five minutes into the walk here!” Julia said with an exasperated laugh.
“Who cares?! Now, get to it.” Holly nudged Julia’s arms teasingly.
“Fine, ok.” Julia paused. She thought back on Friday night when she and Aaron met for dinner, then had drinks afterward. In her mind, the night had gone well, and she was happy to have gotten to know Aaron more. “Well, we had dinner at this restaurant called Tables. Really cool little place. The food was amazing. Anyway, so we had some wine, and talked, and ate. You know, the usual. It was fine.”
“Ok…and then…,” Holly motioned for Julia to tell her more.
“And then…we went and a few drinks at a bar nearby. That was also nice. He made sure I got to my car afterward because it was super late.” She nodded, a slight smile on her face as she remembered the night’s events.
Holly stopped in the middle of the path, and tugged on Julia’s arm. “That’s not everything! You’re being too vague. You’re not telling me something. I can tell.”
Julia rolled her eyes, and laughed. “What makes you so sure?!”
Holly poked a finger in Julia’s direction. “Because I know you. You’re holding out on me, you little minx. Did you kiss him?!”
Julia reached for Holly, and pulled on her to keep her walking. “I am not a minx!” She laughed. “And no…we did not kiss. But…”
“But what?! Tell me!” Holly could barely contain herself.
Julia recalled how Aaron told her about his accident, an event from the evening that stuck out in her mind; one that she kept replaying over and over in her mind since Friday night.
“He told me how he got hurt. You know, the chair…,” Julia cocked her head as she spoke, and kept walking.
“And?” Holly asked, wanting to know more.
“Mountain bike accident…eight years ago. He said he’s a T-11 paraplegic.” Julia said, the words falling out of her mouth quickly.
That feels weird to actually say aloud.
“Oh, wow. So, you were right. You just didn’t know how right you were.” Holly said, her voice quiet.
“Well, was there anything else?”
Julia said nothing for a moment, then turned to her friend. “Yes. I’m pretty sure he got a haircut.”
Julia said with a sly smile.
Holly snickered. “Dammit, Jules. Besides that!”
Julia shook her head. “No…not really…I was just surprised he told me, you know? I mean, of course I wondered, but I wasn’t expecting him to come out with it.”
The two friends continued walking for a while, neither saying anything.
“Julia. You’re holding out again. There’s something else you want to say, isn’t there?” Holly asked directly.
Julia mocked a gasp. “I am not!”
Holly turned to face Julia, raised her eyebrow, and waited.
Oh, just tell her. She’ll get it.
“Ok! Good grief. I am. I am holding out.” Julia admitted.
“Aha! I knew it.” Holly pulled Julia to a nearby bench, and sat down. “Out with it, girl.”
Julia was silent for a moment, but felt the words building inside of herself. She was ready to confide in her best friend. “Holly…” She turned to look at her. “He’s great. And I think that I am interested in him. As in, I have a big huge massive crush on this guy. He’s just so…I don’t know…everything.”
Smart, witty, assertive, kind, funny, handsome, thoughtful…I could go on…
Holly threw her hands up in the air. “Yes! Woohoo! I told you!”
“Shhh. Stop it!” Julia smacked Holly’s knee, encouraging her to quiet down. The two friends were quiet for a moment as they sat on the bench.
“The only thing, though, Hol, is…” Julia paused.
“The wheelchair?” Holly answered for her, and Julia nodded.
They were quiet again, and Holly waited for Julia to finish her thought.
“I mean, we meet hundreds of different people a day, especially at work, some who need more assistance than others on our flights. I’ve seen countless passengers board our aircraft using aisle chairs, or on crutches, who have these different levels of abilities, and it doesn’t bother me. I’ve been doing this job for a million years, people are people; disabilities are not a big deal to me. But with this guy, it’s just…” Julia paused again, and pondered her next sentence.
I like him anyway.
“I’ve never experienced this before. Being attracted to a guy despite him being…what’s the politically correct term here…differently abled? I just don’t know how this is supposed to work…,” Julia trailed off.
Holly nodded in agreement. “I get it, Jules. This is new territory! You’ve met this really great guy, and there’s one small detail about him that is kind of a roadblock. Are you really going to let it stop you from seeing what this guy is all about? You’re the most accepting and understanding person I know. You have the patience of a saint.”
Julia nodded in understanding. “I’m just not used to it. I mean, he and I would be eating, and drinking, and talking, and we’re connecting, then he does something, or moves, and I’m reminded ‘Oh, yeah, he’s sitting in a wheelchair’. It’s as if I almost forgot. Do you know what I mean?” Julia turned to sit sideways on the bench to face Holly.
“I know what you mean. And that’s something that you just have to figure out. He’s probably going to do a lot of things differently, but who cares?” Holly smiled in reassurance. “If you’re interested in him, then let him know. And then get to know him more. He could be really turn out to be someone who you truly care about. Julia, he obviously wants to get to know you. So, let him.”
Julia looked down and smiled. “I know, I know,” she nodded. “Can I do this though? I mean, really do this?”
Holly nodded, and reached out to give Julia a comforting squeeze. “It’s probably not going to be easy, but if you don’t take a chance with him, you’ll never know.”
Julia gave her friend a small smile. She paused then, thinking. “And oh my god, he’s so unbelievably good looking, right?!” She threw her head back, and laughed.
“Yes, he’s pretty damn handsome.” Holly laughed. “See if he has any cute single doctor friends for me.”
Throwing caution to the wind, the women erupted into laughter there on the park bench.
Julia spent the next week doing things around her house that she had not had the time to do before with her work schedule. With so much free time, she was able to organize her closet and the garage, and clean the entire house from top to bottom. Although she kept a clean house usually when she was home, there were parts that could use some extra attention. She felt accomplished; getting things done that she had been putting off for months. She took her time with each task and only did as much as her body would let her. She was feeling better and better each day. The wound in her head was healing just fine, and wasn’t as tender to the touch as it was before. Her cracked ribs were better, too, and the soreness in Julia’s side was disappearing each day.
She also still had to deal with phone calls to both her insurance company, and that of the driver who hit her. It would be months before a settlement was reached, so she continued to drive the rental car the insurance company provided for her until she could buy a new one. She was itching to get back to work, and was missing flying. She had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Andersen a week from Monday, and Julia was hoping she would be able to get the clearance to return to work.
She occupied her time as best she could, but she often found Aaron creeping into her thoughts. Since their date, they had spoken a few times on the phone, not being able to meet again that week because Aaron was out of town at a conference in Minneapolis. He was returning that morning, a Sunday, and called Julia the day before to see if she wanted to meet for lunch before the start of his work week. She gladly accepted, and they made plans for noon.
They were meeting at Park Burger, a casual and popular burger joint, near to downtown Denver. She parked in the lot near the restaurant, and as she was checking her face in the visor mirror, she noticed something happening the row of cars in front her. The car she saw was facing the same direction she was, so she had a good viewpoint. She watched as the frame of a black wheelchair, and a wheel were plopped onto the ground from the open driver’s side door of a silver newer model Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Julia immediately recognized Aaron when he leaned out to attach two wheels to the chair. She couldn’t help but watch as he pulled his long left leg out of the SUV and let his foot drop slowly to the ground, then he righted the wheelchair, leaned out of the car, put a black square cushion into the seat, and slid down into it. He pulled his right leg out of the car and set his feet into their proper position on the footplate. He pressed down on his wheels with both hands, then lifted himself up before scooting back in the seat. He reached over and closed the door to the SUV, then spun around
and pushed toward the direction of the sidewalk.
He makes it look so easy…
She flipped the mirror shut, and opened her car door. Slipping on her brown tortoise framed Kate Spade sunglasses, she hurried through the lot, and caught up to Aaron just as he reached the entrance to Park Burger.
“Hey, just in time.” She said from behind him.
He stopped his movements, and spun around, a wry grin on his face. “Well, hey…”
He was wearing a nice looking royal blue t-shirt that accentuated his forearms, shoulders, and chest, and jeans again; this pair looking to be more worn than the pair he had on for their dinner date. Julia glanced down quickly, noticing the gray and white Nike sneakers he wore on his feet. He had on rectangular shaped sunglasses with black frames; Julia picking up on the detail of there being a tiny Ray-Ban logo in the corner of the lens.
So, this is him dressed down. I dig it.
Most surprising of all was that his face was clean shaven, and his hair seemed to be more tame than usual.
So, that’s what his face looks like…
“Hi.” Julia found herself leaning down the few inches to give Aaron a quick, one-armed embrace.
He returned her squeeze, and laughed. “Hi.”
Oh, my, he smells great. And did I just hug him? Yes. That just happened. Ok. Let go.
She stood upright, and smiled. “How was Minneapolis?”
“Uneventful. Absolutely uneventful.” He said with a grin.
“Yeah? No raging doctor parties?!”
Aaron chuckled and shook his head. “Not this time.” He turned back toward the entrance of the restaurant, and approached the hostess stand that was just outside of the door. He looked up over his shoulder at Julia. “Eat inside or out?”
Julia looked around, deciding it might be nice to eat on the patio. “Let’s do outside?”
Aaron nodded in agreement, and the waitress collected a couple menus. She led them to a square table under an umbrella in the outdoor seating area with plenty of shade. Aaron scooted the extra chair to a nearby table quickly, before he pushed to their table. Julia sat across from him again, and pushed her sunglasses to the top of her head. Aaron removed his sunglasses as well, and placed them to the side on the table.
He caught Julia’s eye. “You look great…by the way…,” he said as he flashed a toothy grin.
“Oh!” She smiled. “Thank you.”
She had a hard time deciding what to wear for their second date when she was getting ready, but settled on a simple yet stylish outfit. She wore black slim fitting pants, the same black leather flats, with a white scoop neck top under a soft and worn denim jacket with the sleeves rolled back to the cuff. She threw on a long layered silver and black necklace, and she wore a simple silver bracelet on her wrist. She wore her hair down and curled again, the layers falling around her shoulders.
“So do you…,” Julia returned. “I almost didn’t recognize you.” She gestured to his clean shaven face.
Aaron laughed, and reached up to run his hand along his jawline. “Ah, that. Yeah, I gave a presentation at the conference, and figured I should lose the mountain man look.” He nodded.
A presentation?! Well, look at that. Add public speaker to the list.
Julia smiled. “Looks good.”
The waiter came by and took their drink orders, both deciding on just water. They chatted as they read the menus, and had their orders when the waiter returned. Aaron ordered a specialty burger off
of the menu and sweet potato fries, and Julia went with sliders, and kettle chips.
“Sweet potato fries, hm? Inter-esting…,” Julia pointed out his choice of sides.
Aaron let out a deep laugh. “I am a sweet potato fry kind of guy. It’s true.”
Julia reached out for her water glass. “They are pretty good here, I will admit.”
“They certainly are.” Aaron said with a nod. “Hey, so what part of town are you in, anyway?”
Julia tilted her head, a small smile on her face. “Funny story, actually. I live about a half mile from where the crash was.”
Aaron raised his eyebrows, surprised. “No kidding?”
“Serious. I’m part of that statistic. You know, the one that says most motor vehicle accidents happen less than two miles away from a person’s home?” Julia said with a nod as she pointed a finger at herself.
Aaron gave Julia a smile. “I’m actually near that intersection, too. Right off of Pine and Hill View.”
“Ah, so the Riley’s thing makes sense now. That’s your neighborhood place, too, isn’t it?” Julia said with a laugh.
“It is. Surprised I haven’t seen you there before.” Aaron smiled and titled his head.
Julia nodded in agreement. “I know. Seems like we should have run into each other before.”
“Yes, for being a big city, Denver can be a small town.” Aaron said. “Are you from Colorado?” He asked as he reached forward, and took a drink from his water glass.
Julia shook her head. “No, I’m originally from Washington state. I’ve been here for almost ten years
though. What about you?”
“Born in Aurora, raised in Denver. I lived in Texas for a little while, and practiced there, but decided to move back and open a practice here about three years ago.” He said.
“Just couldn’t stay away, could you?” Julia teased.
Aaron shook his head, and smiled. “No, I could not. My parents, and my sister, along with her family all live in Colorado Springs, and my brother is out in Fort Collins.” He cocked his head, thinking, then let out a small chuckle. “We’re Colorado people, through and through.”
Julia nodded. “Well, I’d say so!”
“And your family? Are they here, too?” Aaron leaned forward, his forearms on the edge of the table.
“Oh…no… My parents still live in Washington, about an hour outside of Seattle. And I have an older brother who lives in Oregon.” Julia glanced over at the waiter who arrived with their food. “Thank you.” She said to him as he set their plates down.
Aaron gave the waiter a nod. “Thanks.”
They talked some more as they ate, and Julia learned that Aaron had turned 34 the month prior, and she shared that she would turning 30 in November. He teased her about getting older, and warned her that the AARP junk mail would soon be turning up in her mailbox. They had a fun banter going as they finished lunch and Julia was happy to get to know Aaron more. She very much liked what she was learning about him and she was enjoying opening up to him. She was letting her guard down, little by little. Holly was right, Julia wouldn’t know if things might work with Aaron until she took a chance with him, and so far she was pleased.
Aaron insisted on paying the check again for lunch, and Julia expressed her thanks. Aaron checked the watch he wore for the time, then looked up at Julia.
“Do you have time to do something else?” He asked, his face looking hopeful that she would agree.
Another two-part date? Sure, why not?
Julia gladly accepted. “Yes, of course.” She smiled. “What do you have in mind?”
Aaron grabbed his sunglasses and put them on then he wheeled back from the table. Julia followed his lead and stood up.
Aaron peered down at Julia’s feet quickly. “Do you have your walking shoes on?” He asked, a sly smile appearing on his face.
Julia looked down at her feet, too.
Where is taking me?!
“I’m fine in these. Where are we going?” Julia asked with a laugh; her voice slightly hesitant. She
pulled her sunglasses off the top of her head, and replaced them on her face.
“It’s not far from here. This way.” Aaron nodded his head toward the direction he wanted to go, and pushed forward, leaving the patio.
Oh boy. An adventure!
Julia kept pace beside Aaron, noticing that he had slowed down considerably, probably to accommodate her. She smiled inwardly at the act. She didn’t ask another question about their destination, deciding to trust him.
They traveled a few blocks along the sidewalk before Aaron slowed and motioned that they were making a left turn around the corner. Julia followed, and then realized then where Aaron brought them.
“Ah, a farmers market!” She was pleasantly surprised.
Aaron laughed. “I wouldn’t lead you astray, Julia.”
Julia looked over at him and smiled.
They made their way down the street slowly. The farmers market was set up on a closed street that stretched the length of at least four blocks. Several tents and booths were set up alongside the sidewalks, displaying fruits and vegetables, baked goods, cheeses, nuts, breads and tortillas, sauces, salsas, honey, jams, homemade products, and flowers.
“This is the best one in town. I try to get down here when they’re set up. They’ve got a little bit of everything.” Aaron said as they passed the booths.
“I’ve never been to this one! It’s great! You’re letting me discover all these hidden gems.” Julia laughed.
Aaron slowed when they approached a booth with a wide variety of fruits, and vegetable on the tables. “These guys have good stuff.”
Julia stood a little back from Aaron as he wheeled closer to the table. The man on the other side reached over and shook Aaron’s hand, and they exchanged hellos. Julia saw that the man gathered some apples and peaches, and placed them in a bag.
Aaron looked up at Julia then. “Do you want anything?” He asked.
Julia glanced at the table, running her eyes over the expansive variety of foods. “Um, I think I’ll take some zucchini. And…oh, onions and tomatoes.” She gave the man a nod, and he gathered her choices, also placing them in a bag.
The man handed Aaron both bags across the table, and he set them in his lap. Aaron then reached out and gave the man some cash. “See you later, thanks.” He turned his chair, and gave his wheels a push, gliding away from the table.
Did he just buy my produce?! Way to make a girl swoon…
“You’ll have to take an apple and peach, too. Delicious.” He looked up at Julia with a smile.
“Thank you, Aaron.” She said, appreciative for his gesture.
They made their way along the street, stopping at different booths to see what they were offering. The crowd was thinning, and some of the vendors began to pack up. They reached the end of the street, and Aaron wheeled to a concrete ledge that surrounded a tree.
“Here, do you want to sit?” He asked, his voice quiet. He lifted the bags from his lap and put them on the ledge.
“Sure.” She said as she sat down and crossed her legs. She was even with Aaron again. He turned his chair to the side, almost facing Julia.
They were quiet then, both just taking in the surroundings. Julia looked at Aaron as his head was turned. He was leaned back in his chair, both hands on either wheel rim. He looked relaxed; comfortable.
This feels good. This feels…nice.
The moment felt right, and Julia felt the words building up inside her. Her walls had slowly been coming down the more time she spent with Aaron. She decided to go for it.
Maybe I can do this…
“Hey,” she said softly.
Aaron turned his head, and leaned forward, resting his forearms on his knees. “Yes?”
“I like this.” Julia nodded slowly, a smile formed on her lips.
Aaron lifted his chin, and returned her smile. “I like this, too.” His voice was deep, and clear. “And I
Julia felt her pulse quicken, and the ever present butterflies fluttered in her stomach. “Well, that’s good… Because I like you.”
That wasn’t so hard to say, was it?
Aaron’s smile widened. “You do, do you?” He said through a laugh as he reached out and squeezed her knee playfully.
Julia shrugged nonchalantly. “Oh, I mean, yeah… I might…” She jokingly tossed her hair over her shoulder, feigning interest.
Aaron laughed but kept his hand on her knee, and Julia covered it with her own, squeezing his hand. Aaron looked down and reached his other hand across to run his forefinger along Julia’s arm, where the remains of the tiny nicks and cuts that happened in the car crash were. He traced her skin slowly, taking care not to touch the miniscule marks. Julia felt chills run through her body as Aaron touched her gently.
The horn from a nearby truck started honking at that moment, the loud noise breaking the connection immediately.
Aaron drew his hand back and looked up to see what was going on. “Alright then…,” he said through an annoyed laugh.
Ugh. Stupid horn.
“We better go.” She said softly.
“Yeah.” Aaron said as he leaned back again, replacing his hands on his push rims.
Julia nodded and stood up, bringing the bags of vegetables and fruit with her. Aaron pushed forward, and Julia kept up with him as they traversed the length of the street.
“Where are you parked?” He asked when they arrived to the corner.
“Over in the lot by Park Burger.” Julia pointed ahead.
“Me, too.” Aaron said slowly. “You’re stuck with me for a few more minutes.” He chuckled.
Julia laughed. “Fine by me…”
They made their way to the parking lot slowly.
“The white one, right?” Aaron asked as they entered the parking lot, which had only a handful of cars left in it.
“Yes, that little Hyundai right there…” Julia pointed at the rental car she had been driving for a few weeks.
“Ah, yes, the Sonata. How does that thing drive, anyway?” He asked as he pushed forward, closing
the gap between them and the car.
“Eh, I guess it’s alright. I do miss my Prius terribly.” Julia said as she mocked a sad voice.
“Oh, yes. The cute Prius…” Aaron laughed as he teased Julia about why she said she chose to drive a Prius on the night of the crash.
Is he going to let me live that down?!
“Who knows? Maybe I’ll go crazy and buy a truck when this whole mess is over. A cute pickup truck.” Julia said with a laugh. She pulled a set of keys out of her purse, and clicked the key fob to unlock the doors. Then, she handed Aaron his bag of fruits.
“What do I owe you for the vegetables?” She asked as Aaron placed the bag in his lap.
He smiled and shook his head. “Not a thing.” He quickly pulled out a peach and an apple from the bag, and tossed them up to Julia. “Take these, too.”
Julia caught both quickly. “Thank you!”
Aaron let out a low laugh. “Good catch. You’re welcome.” He shifted in his seat, and looked up at Julia. “Hey, so do you have anything going on Wednesday evening?”
Julia cocked her head, trying to think. “Uh, no, I don’t think so…”
“How do you feel about baseball? I have a couple tickets to the Rockies and Nationals game. It’s a night game; starts at 6:40 I think. Do you want to go?” Aaron asked, a smile on his face.
Baseball, beer, hot dogs, Hot Doc? I’m in.
“Yes, that sounds fun.” She said, excitement apparent in her voice.
“Alright.” Aaron rocked back in his chair, and grinned.
“I had a great afternoon, Aaron. Thank you for lunch, too.” Julia leaned down and hugged him tightly.
He returned her embrace. “I did, too. See you soon.”
Julia stood upright and Aaron reversed a couple feet to give her room to get in the car. “See you.” She opened the car door and got in.
She turned her to Aaron who gave her a nod, then he spun around and pushed his wheels with long smooth strokes over the distance to his car.
Julia started the car, and put it in drive. Although she was immensely curious about how Aaron would get into the car since she already saw him get out, she didn’t want to be intrusive. She pulled out of the parking lot instead, glancing at Aaron in the rearview mirror as she left. Wednesday couldn’t come soon enough.
Aaron took a quick look at the screen on his cell phone, following the automated directions he was being given. He was on route to Julia’s house; they had decided parking and meeting might be too complicated, so he was picking her up. The ball game was set to start in less than an hour.
Aaron had finished up at work that afternoon, later than he anticipated, then went home to shower and change clothes. After he showered quickly, he threw on a pair of jeans and a charcoal gray short sleeve polo shirt with the Rockies’ CR logo embroidered onto the left chest, then put on his gray Nike sneakers. Aaron ran a hand through his short hair, then decided to skip shaving his face, already falling back into the habit of only shaving every couple days since he had returned from the medical conference in Minneapolis. He grabbed his wallet, the tickets to the game, his cell phone, and headed out the door.
Aaron’s phone alerted him as he drove down a small tree lined street. “Your destination is on the left.” The computerized voice said.
Aaron ducked his head to be able to see the numbers on the outside of the houses. He slowed his car to a stop in front of Julia’s. He glanced at the stereo display, noticing the time. The drive to Coors Field was probably another twenty minutes from there, and he felt like they were pressed for time.
Do I go to the door?
He turned his head to the house; the incline of the driveway was rather steep, but the walkway up to the door was smooth.
Aw, screw it. Get out.
Just as Aaron was opening his door to begin the process, he heard the front door close. He looked over and saw Julia coming down the walkway. She had some spring in her step as she made her way down the driveway. Aaron thought she looked beautiful in a simple pair of jeans, a purple t-shirt with Colorado across the front, and a black lightweight looking jacket hung over her arm. They locked eyes for a moment and she smiled.
His heart raced.
Julia opened the passenger side door and hiked herself into the seat. “This thing is tall!” She exclaimed.
“Or are you just short?” He asked with a wry grin, and Julia laughed. “Are you ready?”
“Let’s do it…” She responded quickly.
Aaron put the car in gear and accelerated away from the curb using the hand controls. He could see Julia watching from his peripheral and knew she might have been wondering how he drove.
He glanced at her while still keep an eye on the road. “This one here is essentially the gas and this the brake…” He pointed out. “And I still somehow manage to have a lead foot at the wheel.” He glanced over with a wink.
Julia was quiet for a second, but then laughed, realizing it was alright to laugh at his self-deprecating joke. She shook her head in amusement.
Aha, there it is.
The drove to the stadium went by quickly. Aaron was glad they didn’t get caught in traffic, and he was able to find a parking spot when they entered the lot. There was still some time before the first pitch, but getting inside would still take some time.
Aaron opened his door, and Julia did the same. She laid a hand on his forearm quickly where it was on the middle console. “I’ll wait out here,” she said with a small smile. Julia climbed out and closed the car door behind her.
Aaron appreciated the fact that she was offering to step out, as he assumed she had wanted to give him space to get out. He leaned his seat back some and grabbed the frame of his chair from the backseat. He lifted it out of the car and down onto the ground, then reached back for one wheel. He leaned out of the car, taking care to not overbalance, and attached the wheel to the side of the chair. Then he reached back and grabbed the other wheel, repeating the same attachment process on the other side. Once he was ready, he lifted his leg out of the car, letting his foot rest on the ground.
The chair was the easy part; it was his legs that were often the hardest part of getting out of a car. He was tall, his legs long. It had taken him a while to find a routine that worked for his height and ideal vehicle, but he had one mastered. Aaron then reached back for his seat cushion and dropped it down on the chair, then pressed it into place. He turned and reached again into the backseat to retrieve one more item.
He placed one hand on the seat and reached up to grab the handle above his door, then transferred out and down into the wheelchair. Aaron lifted his right leg from underneath his knee and bent it down to place his foot on the footplate, then he lifted his left leg and placed his foot securely next to the other one. He grabbed his cell phone and a ball cap from the driver’s seat and pulled on the weathered hat. Turning around while simultaneously closing the door, he glanced over his shoulder at Julia who had
been waiting toward the back of the SUV.
“Thanks,” he said, his voice low. “Sorry to make you wait.”
She shrugged a shoulder, and smiled. “I don’t care… And, nice hat.”
Aaron laughed. “Thanks. It’s about a hundred years old. Brings good luck, though I think.”
They made their way to the stadium, Julia right next to him the whole way. Aaron handed the attendant their tickets once they arrived at the right entrance and he lead the way into the concourse.
“Are you hungry? Do you want to get some food first?” He asked as he looked up at Julia.
Julia pursed her lips, contemplating. “I think I’m okay right now. Are you?”
Aaron shook his head. “No, no…I’m good. I can wait.”
He often chose to sit in the same section, so Aaron knew right where the seats were. He led them out on the second level, an accessible area right behind home plate. It was a section behind the multiple rows of regular seats, and had a great view of the field.
“Right here… Seats 15 and 16.” He said as he gestured to a wide aisle of seats that was dotted with empty spaces in between. Theirs were two end seats; an aisle seat and one right beside it.
“Oh my gosh, Aaron! These are awesome seats.” Julia said, unable to contain her excitement.
Aaron laughed with Julia, thankful she was fine with the seating arrangement.
Aaron let Julia in the row and she took her seat, looking around the area at the lively crowd. That left
the aisle seat empty, which he normally would transfer into, but stopped himself. It was an awkward transfer, having to lift up and over to clear the arm rest, so Aaron waited, not wanting to do it just yet in front of Julia.
Aaron backed into the empty space next to the Julia, facing the field. The first pitch was thrown, and the first inning went by fast, neither team getting any hits.
“Hey, do you want a beer?” Aaron asked as he turned to Julia.
“Sure!” She said and started to get up.
Aaron grabbed his push rims, and pushed backward out of the space. “No, stay and watch. I’ll go.
What do you drink?”
Julia settled back down. “Well, a Coors Light would be appropriate I think…” She raised a hand and gestured to the stadium.
Aaron laughed. “I’ll be right back.”
He wheeled onto the concourse and found the shortest line. He ordered two beers and paid, then lodged both beers between his legs. He was a pro at never spilling a beer, having performed this task many times before. Aaron navigated the crowd easily and made his way back to the seats carefully without casualty.
“Here you go, Julia.” He said as he handed her a plastic cup filled to the top with the golden liquid.
“Ooh, thank you!” She said before she took a sip.
Aaron lifted his cup to take a drink, then glanced at the empty seat on the aisle.
Just do it. It’s not a big deal.
“Hey,” he placed his hand on Julia’s forearm. “Can you hold this for a minute?”
“Yeah, sure.” She said as she took his beer.
He pushed backward and around to the aisle seat.
“Ma’am, is this seat taken?” He said, putting on a funny voice.
Julia looked up at him, a playful smile on her face. “Go right ahead, sir.”
Without any more hesitation. Aaron held the frame of his chair, then scooted to the edge of his seat.
He lifted his legs one at a time, setting his feet onto the ground, then he flipped down the stadium seat so it lay flat.
Just don’t end up on your ass, Evans. Up and over.
He kept one hand on the seat of his chair and leaned out to place the other on the armrest. He lifted himself quickly, hoping he cleared the armrest, and then lowered his bottom half into the seat slowly. He leaned against the backrest, feeling secure in the seat.
Noticing his bent legs had fallen to the side and were leaning against Julia’s, he grabbed his knee quickly and leaned them back to face forward. He lifted both legs, and looked down to make sure his
feet were flat on the ground.
He looked over at Julia, and she turned to meet his gaze. “Sorry about that…,” he said through an embarrassed laugh.
She shook her head then placed her hand on his forearm, squeezing it softly. “Stop apologizing.” She handed him his beer, and nudged his shoulder with hers.
This is going to be a good game.
Julia and Aaron watched the next four innings of the ball game, both cheering, hooting, and hollering every time the Rockies made a stellar play or got a hit. They were up by one at the start of the sixth inning. Both had finished their beers, and decided they were ready for food.
“I think there’s a Denver Dog with my name on it.” Aaron said with a grin.
Julia let out a laugh. “A Denver Dog, huh? I was thinking the same thing.”
She took a sideways at his empty wheelchair, thinking of how he would have to get back in it. “I can go grab a couple… if you want?” Julia offered, hoping Aaron wouldn’t be offended.
“Now what kind of guy would I be if I said ‘yes’ to that?” He said with a low chuckle. “I’ll come with you.”
Julia nodded. “Ok.”
She then looked over to see Aaron reach under his chair and set what she thought might be the wheel locks. She didn’t want to blatantly stare, but she was amazed at how agile he seemed to be. He scooted forward in the stadium seat then grabbed onto the frame of the wheelchair. He put his other hand on the armrest of the stadium seat and then lifted up slowly and over into the chair. Julia stood then and waited for Aaron to get settled. He was looking down as he lifted his legs and placed both feet onto the footplate.
She looked at Aaron with a smile. “You know your way around better than I do. I’ll follow you.”
Aaron looked up at her and cocked his head. “There’s a counter right around the corner.”
Julia followed behind him as they made their way onto the concourse, arriving quickly at the hot dog booth. They ordered two Denver Dogs and Julia insisted on paying for them along with two more beers. They fixed their dogs with all the necessary condiments, then Aaron set the cardboard carrier on his lap. Julia carried the two beers, and they made their way back to the seats.
Once Julia was seated, Aaron handed over her hot dog, and she traded him for a beer. Julia took note that Aaron stayed in his chair, opting not to take the aisle seat he was in before. Instead, he just sat to the right of her in the empty space. They ate in silence as the sixth inning wore on. By the end of the seventh, the crowd was warmed up for the traditional singing of the seventh inning classic “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” When the first couple notes rang out, Aaron looked over at Julia, a wide smile on his face. She began to sing, but found herself laughing at Aaron’s antics as he sang along, too. She was impressed by his performance.
At the start of the eighth inning, the Rockies were ahead by three runs. The sun had set, and Julia began to feel the air start to cool. She felt a shiver coming on, so she decided to throw on the lightweight zip up jacket she brought. She looked over at Aaron, seeing that he seemed to be fine.
“Are you not cold?!” She asked, amazed that he seemed to be unaffected by the dropping temperature.
He leaned back in his chair and shrugged his shoulders. “Nah, I’m a man. I don’t get cold. We don’t need to wear jackets.” He said smugly, but obviously joking.
Julia laughed. “Oh, stop!” The she leaned into him hard, nudging his left shoulder roughly.
Aaron chuckled and then reached out quickly with his left arm and wrapped it around her shoulders easily. He ran his hand up and down her arm, trying to warm her. Julia leaned into him more; resting there in the space he made for her. It felt comfortable; it felt safe.
They stayed that way for a while; Aaron’s arm around her as Julia leaned into him. The end of the ninth inning came, and when the final out was called and the Rockies won, the crowd was going crazy with cheering and celebration for the home team’s win.
Aaron leaned his head over to Julia. She felt his hand pull her closer to him, and then he spoke into her ear, making sure she could hear him.
“Can I kiss you?” He asked.
Did he just say that? Oh my god. He did, didn’t he?
She turned and looked at him directly with a smile, then nodded her head.
Oh crap, wait! Do I have onion breath? Oh, what the hell. Too late.
She turned to face him more, then Aaron brought his hand around the back of her neck, and pulled her face towards his. The kiss was long and tender. They took their time, savoring the moment. When they finally pulled away, they were silent as they looked at each other.
Holy shit. That was really good. And I am so screwed. I am in this now. For good.
As always, thank you for reading! Your comments are appreciated. More to come!