Sunday, January 31, 2016

For The Love Of Not Walking Chapter 2



                It was around six when they all headed to the food court to eat dinner. Everyone picked their choice of meal from the various vendors and eventually sat around a large table eating and chatting. A number of paper and plastic bags was piled on two chairs at the table.
                Ashleigh and Fiona were done eating and wanted to check out some other stores. Tyler called them the chick stores and it usually referred to either “Bath and Body”, “Hallmark’, or “Yankee Candle”. Tyler and Dominic didn’t want to join the women and decided to head on to one of the sports stores. Kieran didn’t feel like going anywhere and said he would just stay at the table guarding the bags and hanging out.
Tyler turned to Kieran, “You sure you don’t want to go with us?”
Kieran shook his head, “Nah, I am good. I will just stay here for now.”
“All right man, we will be back. Call if something is up.”
He looked after Tyler and Dominic as they walked away.
                Kieran pulled out his phone and held it in his hands checking his messages and social media. When he looked up for a moment he was surprised when he met a pair of eyes on him from a distance across the food court. The pair of eyes belonged to an older man who didn’t move his gaze even when Kieran spotted him. The odd looking man stuck out like from another time, sitting at one of the tables on the other side of the food court, no food and no drink in front of him. He wore a suit and a hat, just sat there, and almost like he was invisible people walked by him without even glancing at him. His eyes stayed on Kieran for a little while until he got up. Kieran was on full alert at the stares he got from the stranger and he didn’t know what to think about this. He didn’t have his hand gun anymore since everything had happened and now he felt vulnerable and exposed at the shameless stares of a man he didn’t know. His only weapon was his own dark gaze at the stranger, somehow trying to show him that he was not afraid of him and that the old man’s stare didn’t do anything to him but stir frustration and anger he kept in check with daily medications. It was an anger that could develop into a very different level of emotion if antagonized by shameless staring or somehow trying to intimidate him. Kieran stuck his phone between his thighs and without further thought he put his hands to his rims to catch up to the man and it didn’t take long as he reached him just passing some tables close to him.


                Kieran called out tensely, “Hey!”
The old man didn’t respond but instead his serious gaze now turned into a smile which only increased Kieran’s frustration.
He pushed his rims somewhat hard and almost reached the man, holding back his rims so he didn’t run his wheels into him, “What is your problem old man? What are you looking at?”
There was no answer to his questions and as much as Kieran was looking for the confrontation with the stranger he didn’t get any fuel to start anything.
He repeated tensely, “What is your fucking problem? Never seen a dude in a wheelchair? And just in case you are wondering I am fucking straight.”
He stopped himself for saying anything harsher when he realized people close by were looking at him and the old man did nothing. With a tap of his fingers to the rim of his hat he walked away with just five words ringing in Kieran’s ears, “Thank you for your service!”
Kieran was stunned at the comment because he had no idea if he maybe knew the man or if the man knew him from somewhere, thanking him for his service. Kieran was clueless at who the person was. People were looking at him and he felt his hands tremble as he forcefully pushed his rims again to get back to the table where he had left all the bags unattended.
In passing some teenagers, who had witnessed the whole scene, Kieran snapped at them, “What the fuck are you looking at?”

In reality he felt very embarrassed and his head kept spinning on who the man was or who he could have been. He felt like a fool realizing some of the food court patrons having witnessed him go off angrily on a harmless old man and with shaky fingers he tapped his message app and texted Fiona, “Are you guys almost ready to go?”
Momentarily Fiona replied, “Are you all right?”
His fingers were still trembling, “Not really.”
“We will be right there.”
He put his phone down and wanted nothing more than to just wheel away from the food court and out of the mall but at least eight bags had been put in his guard and he couldn’t just leave. His breaths came quick and he didn’t want to look up anymore at the curious glances of people who were probably wondering what had just happened and what had overcome him.

                Just as he was checking his phone again he was startled by a female voice next to him, “And we meet again?”
He looked up quickly and there was Erin hovering over him, remarking with a smile, “You are still here too?”
Kieran had to swallow, surprised at her appearance right there.
He straightened his posture more upright and smiled, even though he still pondered on the situation moments ago, “Erin, Hey.”
He was caught off guard and with a stutter he added, “Yeah, still here but just about ready to get out of here. They left me here with the bags.”
Erin laughed, “Bummer. You are the ‘keeper of the bags’.”
“Something like that.”
Kieran didn’t see Erin’s daughter and asked, “Where is Chloe?”
“Forever 21.”
When he looked at her questioning she added, “The store that makes me feel like I am 60 and not forever 21.”
She laughed and Kieran felt the tension of moments ago fade away hearing Erin’s laugh and looking at her soft face and deep brown eyes.
He smiled, “You could pass for 21.”
Now Erin laughed again, “OMG, no way…”
She pushed her purse higher over her shoulder and adjusted the bags she held in her hands, “Well, I guess I should find my daughter before she spends even more money today.”
“I hear you. I think Ash has been milking her parents pretty good today too.”
They both laughed and when he looked at her he wanted to ask her to sit down with him for a moment. She made him forget what had just happened and she made him feel good with her warm smile and soft voice. The person inside of him that was trying to surface just moments ago had went back into the depths of his mind and Erin laughing with him and treating him like any other person made him feel good.

                Just then Fiona and Ashleigh showed up. Fiona looked somewhat nervously from Erin to Kieran and when she stood in front of him she asked somewhat out of breath, “Are you all right?”
Kieran remembered his text from a moment ago. Fiona had interpreted it as some kind of distress he could be in and had rushed over.
Now he answered somewhat insecure, “Yeah, I am all right.”
He glanced up at Erin momentarily and Fiona greeted Erin in a suspicious tone, “Hello Erin, it is good to see you.”
Erin smiled, “You too Fiona. The girls met earlier at Old Navy and I also met your brother here.”
Fiona quickly looked over at Kieran who felt awkward now but she said, “I heard all about it.”
Erin tipped her head some and looked at Kieran but Ashleigh cut in, “I told mom that you and Uncle Kieran are going on a date.”
Erin smiled, “Oh I see…it is on the national news already.”
She quickly glanced at Kieran again and then added, “Well, I should go before Chloe drains my bank account.”
She turned to Fiona, “It was good seeing you Fiona. Soon we are all back to normal, right?”
“Yes, definitely. It is time for school to start. Good seeing you Erin.”
The women smiled at each other with their Good Bye’s and just when Erin shifted from her spot Kieran said, “I will wheel over there with you.”
Erin nodded and Kieran made his path again in between some chairs and tables and escorted Erin to the main walkway through the food court.
Erin turned to him and said lowly, “Well, again…it was nice meeting you today Kieran.”
She smiled shyly and Kieran replied, “Yes, same here.” He paused for a moment and then broke the awkward silence, “I am really looking forward to Friday.”
It was difficult for him to say it but Erin’s face lit up, “Me too. I will wait for your call.”
“Okay, have a good rest of your weekend.”
“You too.”
They had another awkward moment between them, not knowing what else to say and Erin started off, “Bye Kieran.”
“Bye Erin, I will see you later.”
She walked away and for a moment he looked after her as she disappeared around the corner.
                When he spun around he saw the whole family gathering all the bags and as Tyler walked toward him he said, “Are you all right man?”
Kieran nodded and felt somewhat bad of having put a rush on everyone finishing up.
Fiona looked at him with serious eyes as she walked up next to him, “Did you want to leave when she showed up or something?”
Kieran realized how Fiona had it wrong, “No, not because of Erin, she walked up right after I texted you.”
“Then why were you in such hurry?”
He thought of what to say, “I started to get spasms and I didn’t bring my meds.”
Fiona didn’t believe it all the way but she didn’t question her brother and everyone headed to the car and stashed all their purchases into the trunk along with Kieran’s Quickie after he had positioned himself into the front seat.
                They spent the rest of the evening at home watching movies and eating popcorn, Kieran was stretched out on his recliner and Tyler and Fiona cuddled on the couch with Dominic, and Ashleigh was on her permanent lounge chair in the family room. 
                It was almost midnight when Kieran transferred into his bed, pulled his wheelchair close to the bed, adjusted his legs under the sheet and leaning on the headboard he looked through his phone once more. He felt good about having met Erin and the good feeling had stayed with him for the rest of the evening. Going on a date with her was the best thing he was looking forward to in a long time. 
                Sudden spasms let him know that it had been a busy day with wheeling around in the mall all day and also some emotional stress of having met Erin probably caused his body to be a bit in overdrive.

                His spasm medication was in reach on the bedside table but he wanted to wait a little hoping the spasms would subside again on their own. Instead they got worse and travelled up into his pelvis and hips and twisting his back as he tried to keep control somehow. He pressed his lips together, taking quick breaths through his nose as his body just did its own thing. He hated the spasm attacks, making it hard for him to breathe, making it impossible for him to do anything at all really. The spasms seemed to be getting stronger and Kieran laid there like he was possessed by a demon taking control of his body.

                Just as he was about to grab the Baclofen tablets from his night table all the sudden his legs felt different, very strong spasms shot through them but also a feeling of pain occurred in his legs. Kieran focused on the sensation and realized the pain travelled from his legs all the way up to where his paralysis started at his T-4 vertebrae. He took some quick breaths as his whole body felt like there was a vibration running through it. Kieran wasn’t sure what was happening to him and slowly moved his hand over his belly and was taken by total surprise when he felt his hand touch the skin on his belly. Another strange sensation in his legs caused a pain stricken expression on his face, and he whispered to himself into the room, “What the fuck is going on?”
He pushed himself up on his elbows and looking down at his stomach, he watched as his weak muscles contracted and when he all the sudden felt his body touching the mattress he couldn’t believe it.
He muttered again, “Shit…”

                With his hands he propped himself up all the way and realized he was able to use his stomach muscles and as he focused on his legs under the blanket he realized his feet were touching and he could feel it.      

                Quickly he lifted the blanket and stared at his lower body and legs. He wore padded incontinence briefs under his shorts and seeing his shorts he realized the sensation of the soft warm briefs on his privates trapping the urine that had already leaked. He was awestruck and different emotions were running through his mind like a freight train as he wondered what was happening to his body. He saw his legs and he felt his legs. They were somewhat skinny, having lost some muscle tone over the past year, only the severe spasticity he dealt with on a regular basis having prevented them from atrophying all the way. He sat up in his bed and considered calling Fiona. He didn’t know what was going on and when he reached for his legs, able to hold his body up in the sitting position, feeling the incontinence briefs press against his penis, he touched his hand to his thigh and he felt his hand on his skin and tears shot into his eyes as he tried to process what was happening, “What the fuck? Oh my God…” 
                Kieran rubbed his hand along his leg, over his knee and then back up. Realizing the situation he quickly moved his hand to his privates and when he pressed down he felt the pressure on his penis. He watched as he wiggled his toes and eventually pulled his leg up some.
Tears were streaming down over his face and he mumbled to himself, “This can’t be. I am dreaming…I am fucking dreaming. No fucking way.”
He was about to call Fiona but for a moment still felt his leg with his hand and decided to move his legs over some which he managed without using his hand.
He kept mumbling, “What is happening?” Tears were running out of his eyes.
Just when he was about to let his leg move over the side of the bed a shock wave shot through him so severe it threw him back on the bed. He cramped up, was breathing even faster now, trying to deal with the strong spasm and the sensations he had just felt all the way into his toes were now fading away with every shock that shot through him.
He cried lowly, “No, No…Oh God, no.”

                 His body went back to its original state of dead weight and complete paralysis from his T-4 vertebrae down and his tears were streaming as he tried to figure out what had just happened.
He whispered into the room, “No…please no.” 
His body had lost all its feelings again, his legs lifeless and just heavy pieces of flesh and bone, his hips covered by shorts and briefs he didn’t feel were there, his chest invisible to his hands trying to feel it, and his lungs working hard again on making up for the strength he needed to breathe.
Kieran took gasping breaths and when the reality set in again of what had just occurred he couldn’t help sobbing quietly with his hands over his face trying to process.        
                Kieran looked at the clock and it was now 12:58 am. For ten minutes the illusion of having gained back sensation in his body had overcome him and he was certain it couldn’t have been real and it must have been a dream. The only problem was, he was awake and not dreaming but he couldn’t grasp the strange mystery that had taken place. The feelings had been so vast, so strange and new, but yet so very familiar from a long time ago when he was still a healthy young man. Tears were still slowly running over his cheeks now and he wiped over his face with his hands, shocked beyond belief and filled with an enormous pain that had shattered with no mercy the unbelievable joy he had felt inside. For ten minutes he had seen himself in a different life again, a life on two legs, running, walking, driving, the way he should be and the way he longed to be so much. Now he lay there again in his soaked briefs, not able to move and not able to comprehend what had happened.
                As his tears subsided he was overcome by an exhaustion that didn’t give him much time to think anymore and he fell into a deep sleep in the heavily soaked briefs that he really should have changed after the mysterious ordeal.
                Kieran woke up to the sound of rain on Sunday. It was almost eleven but Fiona had not come into his room to wake him up. Right away his thoughts ran around the previous night and the strange situation he had found himself in. He slowly pulled himself up in his bed and leaned on the headboard. He felt like he had not slept at all during the night and while he held himself up in his bed he tried to remember what had happened during the night. He somewhat recalled the situation he had found himself in and after thinking about it for a moment he eventually scratched it off as just a dream. He didn’t even wake up with nightmares this time but on the contrary it had been a wonderful dream to feel again, to have sensations from his T-4 all the way to his toes, to imagine himself walking and being a healthy man again. Thinking of it some more though it had been a nightmare of a different kind, having given him the illusion of not being paralyzed anymore for a few minutes but then taking those feelings away from him in a moments’ time, harsh and merciless and he really had hated it. Now he looked like he had been in battle all night. He sat all the way up pushing himself up on the head board to get out of bed but couldn’t ignore the distant pain he felt in his heart. It had been a good dream after all.
                He pulled his phone over from the bedside table and when he tapped on it he saw he had a message from Erin:
Good Morning Kieran! I hope you had a good night. Did you guys make it home all right yesterday? Chloe did end up buying some more stuff in that store that makes me feel like a granny. Well, just wanted to say Hi. Have a good Sunday.
                The messages brought a smile on his face and he replied:
Good Morning Erin! It was nice to wake up to your message. We did make it home all right and Ashleigh was satisfied with the stuff she got at Old Navy. I hope you are having a good Sunday too. Any plans?
                He didn’t get a reply back and after a few moments he made his way to the edge of the bed, threw his legs over and pulled his Quickie close enough for a smooth transfer. His briefs were wet but this time nothing had leaked out during the night. He wheeled over to the bathroom and adhered to his morning routine.

                When he wheeled out to the living room he found Fiona in her reading chair in the living room nook that looked out to the street. Outside it was wet and didn’t look very nice, drizzling rain and cloudy skies, a very dreary Sunday.
Fiona looked up, “Good Morning.”
“Morning! Why didn’t you wake me up?”
“I didn’t think you wanted to get up. We don’t have anywhere to go so I let you sleep. Do you have any plans?”
“No, I will just hang out today.”
“Tyler was called in, they had a tree down over at the playground, all over the monkey bars I guess. It was somewhat stormy this morning.”
Kieran nodded and asked, “Where are the kids?”
“Ash is in her room and Dominic is at a play date over at Braden’s house.”
She scanned her brother and asked, “You look tired somehow. Are you feeling all right lately?”
Kieran looked up alert, wondering if Fiona had heard anything last night.
“I am kind of tired. I am dealing with a lot of spasms at night right now.”
“You are taking your meds, right?”
“Yes, all of it but I still wake up at night from the spasms. Maybe I need to make an appointment sometime and talk to Dr. Adams about the Baclofen pump again.”
Fiona nodded, “Yeah, if you are considering it again, call him up. I am sorry you are having rough nights again.”
Turning away from Fiona he spun his chair around and while wheeling away to the kitchen he replied, “It’s all right. Hopefully it will pass.” 
                Just as he sat over his cereal at the kitchen table, looking over the Sunday paper, his phone buzzed with another message from Erin:
-No plans today, just hanging out with my girls. You?
Kieran answered back:
-No plans here either. Just hanging out at home.

-Well, I will keep Friday night open.

-Good, when is a good time for you on Friday night?

-Maybe around seven?

-Works for me. I am going to need your address so I know where I have to go to pick you up.
-I will text it to you. This is maybe a weird question but how are you going to pick me up?
Kieran paused for a moment and with a tiny bit of pride he texted his reply:
-I am going to pick you up in my car.
                Getting a car had been the first thing he had looked into after Rehab and once he had received a large amount of disability back pay from the VA. He couldn’t imagine being immobile more than being paralyzed and soon after he got discharged from Rehab and was supposed to take on the world from the seat of a wheelchair he bought the car he had always wanted, a Mustang Shelby. The car had been modified and even though it had taken him some practice to get used to operating the car with hand controls, now he was confident driving it and being in his car was the one thing that made him forget that he was paralyzed and made him feel almost complete again. He was the proud owner of a 2014 Mustang Shelby, metallic blue with a black stripe down the middle across the whole car.

              Erin texted back:- Oh of course. Sorry!

He wasn’t mad at her question but merely texted back: -It’s okay. I have a car with hand controls.

-Cool. Well, I am looking forward to seeing you on Friday.

-Me too.

-I have to go now. The girls are waiting for me. Bye Kieran.

-I will see you on Friday. Bye Erin.
                The messaging stopped and Kieran felt good about meeting Erin on Friday. He was looking forward to the date. When he finished his cereal, he filled his thermos cup with coffee and wheeled by the living room, glancing in at Fiona, “I am in my room.”
Fiona looked up from her book, “Okay.”
                On some days Kieran just spent time in his room and giving Fiona and Tyler their privacy, not wanting to intrude or constantly hang around them. He had a TV, video game console, DVD Player and Stereo System in his room. His room looked out into the backyard where the kids still had a swing set, Fiona tended to a small vegetable garden in the summer months and there was a fire pit and lounge chairs around it. In the far corner a willow tree towered over a water fountain and small pond with some Koi fish. When he was outside Kieran usually stayed on the deck that reached from one end of the house to the other end and gave him some options of wheeling along the deck and enjoying the yard, mostly when the kids were out with him. He sometimes threw the Football from the deck for Dominic to catch while running in the yard.

                It was raining outside still and Kieran felt tired from the ordeal of the night before. He stayed in his chair though and turned on the video game console to play a couple of rounds of Black Ops. For some reason the war and battle games relaxed him and he didn’t think about anything.

                Sometimes in the afternoon it knocked softly on his door and he called out, “Come in.”
Ashleigh peeked into his room and he looked over at her, holding the game controller in his hand with the game on Pause.
“Can I come in?”
“Sure.”
Ashleigh came into the room, her cell phone in her hand and wearing her lounge pants with a tank top and fluffy slippers.
She walked over to the small couch, “What are you doing?”
“Playing.”
“What are you playing?”
“Nothing special.”
Ashleigh laughed and glanced at the TV screen, “Black Ops.”
Kieran just nodded and Ashleigh added, “You can turn it on again.”
“It will be just a few more minutes. I am almost done.”        

                Ashleigh lounged on the couch and watched Kieran a little bit and in between texted with her friends.
Kieran finished up the game and then turned around to face Ashleigh, “What’s up?”
Ashleigh was stretched out and watched as Kieran quickly lifted himself off his seat for a moment, something he did many times during the day.
“Nothing.”
Kieran usually enjoyed Ashleigh’s company and she hung around him quite often, in the past having confided things in him that her parents didn’t know about.
“Nothing? Are you ready for school to start again?”
Ashleigh shifted on the couch and rested her head on the pillow, “Not really.”
Kieran sat up straight, “Why not?”
“I don’t know…just not ready for 9th grade.”
“What kind of classes are you going to have?”
"A bunch of hard ones, even AP Language Arts and US Government.”
Kieran nodded, “US Government, huh?”
“Yeah, I don’t know if I like that but I have to take it. It is required for graduation.”
“Well, just try to make the best out of it. Maybe I can help you if it is too hard.”
“Yeah, maybe. You probably hate the government, don’t you?”
Kieran was surprised at her assumption, “Why do you think that?”
Ashleigh pointed at Kieran’s wheelchair but didn’t say anything.
Kieran stated dryly, “What happened to me is not the government’s fault.”
Ashleigh heard the tension in his voice and didn’t want to push the topic any further, instead she smiled at him, “Uncle Kieran, I am really happy that you are going on a date with Chloe’s mom.”
He smiled and looked down, “Me too.”
“She is really nice and maybe you will hit it off and like be with her.”
He looked up, still smiling, “We will see. She texted me this morning.”
“Seriously?”
He nodded and Ashleigh sat up excitedly, “What did she say?”
Kieran laughed, “It is none of your business. You are really nosy.”

                Ashleigh hung out in Kieran’s room until dinner when Fiona called and eventually everyone sat around the dinner table.
Fiona asked Kieran, “What is going on for you this coming week?”
Kieran thought for a moment, “I have my appointment on Wednesday.”
When he mentioned his appointment he referred to the bi monthly psychiatrist appointment with Dr. Richards. After this appointment the plan was for Kieran to only have to come every four months. He had been fairly stable and not had any severe anxiety attacks or depressive episodes. The meds he was on seemed to be working.
Fiona asked, “That’s all?”
Kieran swallowed a bite of his food, “Going to the Y a few times.”
Ashleigh cut in, “And on Friday he will go on a date.”
Kieran looked up at Ashleigh and grinned, “You are starting to annoy me with that.”
“Well, I am just so excited for you.”
He took another bite and Fiona added looking over at Ashleigh, “You need to leave him alone with that. It is Kieran’s business and not yours.”
Ashleigh moved her mouth into a fake pout, “Whatever!”

                After dinner the family watched some TV and this time Kieran stayed with them in the family room. At night he usually spent his time with the family. At night was also the time when he sometimes felt more anxious and tense and being around the family distracted him from feeling bad.
                Right when he had finished up in the bathroom and wheeled over to his bed, his phone buzzed again with a message.
It was from Erin: -Hope you had a good day. Good Night.

Kieran smiled and replied:-Just getting ready for bed. Good Night to you too.

Nothing came back and he pushed his wheelchair right up to the bed and transferred into it.                        
             

5 comments:

  1. I like it. I'm intrigued but that's a good thing, pelase keep it up.

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  2. Interesting twist and smooth transitions!

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  3. Very nice. Thank you very much ... can't wait to see what will happen next.

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  4. Wow, I'm wondering what will come now. That could go into many directions. Can't wait for the next chapter. Good work, Dani!

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  5. Oooh, interesting.
    Can't wait to see where you are going!

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