Something changed after that.
I didn’t know how important that little shred of hope was for me. Or how devastating it was for my self-esteem to be rejected by a paid sex worker. I tried to throw myself into my work, but I felt like I couldn’t take the same joy in it. I found myself growing increasingly irritable, especially with the people who cared for me.
A few days after my encounter with Jordan, I shit my pants about fifteen minutes before Maria was set to leave. She was in the middle of doing the laundry, and I came to find her to get changed.
“I need to be changed,” I tell her through my talker.
Maria stops folding sheets, smiles at me, then pats me on the head.
The whole thing infuriates me. I know Hannah is coming very soon and she’ll take care of it, but right now, that doesn’t appease me. I can’t be patient. I am literally sitting in shit. It smells. I’m going to smell of it all day if she doesn’t change me soon.
I mean, I’m an adult. I shouldn’t have to be sitting in a dirty diaper. It’s bad enough that I have to wear them, but the least Maria could do after all the money my parents were paying her was not to leave me sitting in my own fecal matter.
“Change me now!” I boom at her through my talker.
Maria looks up at me vacantly and smiles. “You wait, yes, nino? Hannah be here soon.”
“If you don’t change me now,” I say through the talker, “you are fired.”
Maria looks at me in surprise. I almost never speak to her through the talker, and I’d certainly never said anything like that. But you know what? I think it was a good thing. All my nurses think I’m simpleminded, because I never speak up for myself. Maybe it’s time to show them who their boss is. Maybe then she won’t laugh when I get an erection.
I don’t know what Maria would have done, except Hannah comes in then. She can smell me right away, and volunteers to get me changed. I grumble though the whole thing, but Hannah ignores me. Which is fine because I don’t really feel like talking to her anyway.
About two weeks after my encounter with Jordan, I have a skype chat with a friend of mine at MIT. His name is Doug and he has severe spastic quadriplegic CP like I do, except he’s twenty years older than me. He just turned 45 last month.
When I look at Doug, in some ways, it’s like a mirror into the future. Of course, there are differences between the two of us. I’m doing theoretical physics and his degree is in math, and his IQ is actually ten points higher than mine. His speech and mobility is more impaired than mine, in that he can only grunt, and he uses eye and head movements to get his talker to function. I also found out on the one occasion that we met in real life that he can only eat pureed foods, and relies on a feeding tube in his stomach for most of his nutrition.
On the other hand, Doug’s family is much more supportive than mine. While I have always been primarily in the care of nurses or other care assistants, Doug’s parents did most of his care when he was younger. Now that his parents are in their seventies, he still lives with them, but has nurses who come in, as well as siblings that are always eager to pitch in. I’m jealous of all that.
So like I said, Doug and I have a lot of differences between us. But in most of the ways that really matter, we’re identical. If a normal person looked at the two of us, they probably wouldn’t be able to discern any difference. As much as I sometimes like to pretend that’s not true.
When Doug’s face appears on the computer screen, I allow myself the first smile I’ve had in two weeks. I really wish Doug didn’t live 3,000 miles away from me.
But as comforting as it is to see Doug, it also bothers me sometimes. When I see his twisted face, I know that’s exactly how I look when my spasms are bad. And it’s not pretty. When I hear his donkey laugh, I can’t kid myself that I sound at all normal.
“Hi, Graham,” the voice of his talker says. “How are you doing?”
“I’ve been better,” I respond with my own talker.
We talk a little bit about our latest research. Doug is actually a full professor at MIT, and even teaches a class via Skype. He’s really accomplished a lot, and I admire him for it. But today, there’s only one thing on my mind.
“Doug,” I say with my talker. “I need to ask you a question.”
“Go ahead,” Doug says with his talker. “You can ask me anything, Graham.”
I pull my hand away from my talker and ask the question in my normal voice: “Have you ever had a girlfriend?”
Doug doesn’t seem entirely surprised by my question. I see him forming the response, and I wait patiently, knowing he doesn’t have any access to natural speech. “Not exactly,” he says. “Not in the traditional sense of the word.”
“Oh,” I say.
That wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear. I wanted Doug to tell me that he’d had a relationship with a woman where he fucked her brains out and left her wanting more. But that never seemed very likely.
“It was a woman I met at the university,” Doug says. “She was in one of my classes. She had similar physical limitations to the two of us, and she was inspired by me. So we got to be friends… and then, I’d say, a bit more than friends.”
“Did you ever kiss?” I ask, still in my real voice.
“No,” he says after another long pause. “It wasn’t a physical sort of relationship. The sort of thing would have been logistically impossible between the two of us.”
“Have you ever kissed a woman?”
“Oh,” I say again.
That sick feeling I’d had since Jordan walked out on me threatens to overtake my entire body. Doug’s future is my own. He’s 45 and has never even kissed a woman. I don’t see how things will be any different for me. At 45, I will be just like him—living with my parents, still a virgin, still completely dependent on nurses who think I’m retarded. How can it be any different?
“Graham,” Doug says, “remind me how old you are.”
“That’s a rough age,” Doug says. “It’s the age when I started looking around, at my brothers and sisters and other students and saw all of them in relationships, and all I could think was how unfair it was that it would never happen for me. All because I was trapped in a body that didn’t work.” He pauses, composing his next sentences. “I wanted it desperately. At times, I was so furious that I lashed out.”
That sounds familiar.
“But I was wrong,” he continues. “The relationship I had with Gloria was deeper than many people get to experience in their lifetime. Maybe we never kissed, but I wouldn’t give up those eight years with her for anything.”
I don’t know what to say to that. Right now, I can’t imagine even something like that for myself.
“You will find a soulmate, Graham,” Doug says. “I promise you. You’ll find her and then you’ll say, ‘Doug told me so.’”
Despite everything, I smile.
“I’ve been meaning to ask you, tiger,” Hannah says to me the next day, as she washes dishes while I eat my lunch, “how did it go with the H-O-O-K-E-R?”
I take my time swallowing before I answer her. “Not so good.”
“Yeah?” Hannah puts down the plate she’s rinsing off and looks at me. “You want to talk about it?”
“No,” I mumble.
But Hannah comes over to the table and sits down next to me anyway. “What happened, Graham?”
I don’t really want to tell her. But in the end, I know I’ve got to talk to someone about it. May as well be Hannah.
“She couldn’t go through with it,” I say.
“Oh, Graham,” Hannah murmurs. “That… that really sucks.”
“Yeah,” I say. “But… I guess I can understand it. I mean, it was unrealistic to think that…”
Hannah raises her eyebrows at me. “That a woman would be willing to have sex with you?”
I can’t get any words out, so I just nod.
“Oh, Graham,” she murmurs again. She runs a hand gently through my hair, like she’s comforting her son.
“I’m okay,” I say. “I’ve accepted it.”
Hannah runs her hand through my hair again, and it feels so nice. It’s so unfair. First I had parents who didn’t love me, and now I’ll never get a woman to love me. I’ll never have a woman touch me this way out of love. Because of my stupid, crippled body.
Hannah’s hand leaves my hair and cups my cheek, her fingers grazing the stubble of a beard on my face. I haven’t been shaved since yesterday. She smiles at me as she continues stroking the side of my face. Then to my utter shock, she leans forward and kisses me on the lips.
At first, it’s a chaste kiss that a mother might give a son. But then her lips linger on mine, and I feel her tongue trying to probe my mouth. I part my lips slightly to allow her inside, although I still feel ashamed that I don’t have good control over my tongue and the residuals of my lunch are still in my mouth.
When Hannah pulls away, I can only stare at her, completely speechless.
“Do you know why I did that?” she asks.
“Because you feel sorry for me?” I didn’t mean to say that, but it’s what I believe.
Hannah smiles. “Well, a little. It’s hard not to after what that bitchy whore did to you.”
Well, I know it’s not because she’s in love with me. I’m pretty sure of that much.
“I want to prove to you that you’re wrong,” she says. “That you’re not some crippled thing that makes women disgusted. I had a date last week, and kissing that guy wasn’t half as nice as it was kissing you. And you’re much cuter too.”
“You’re a good man, Graham,” Hannah says. “You’re sweet, you’re hella smart, you’re sensitive… and you’re sexy too.”
Okay, this is going beyond ridiculous. Maybe Hannah was able to push away her disgust long enough to kiss me, but I just don’t buy all this. “I’m not sexy,” I say.
“Why don’t you let me decide what’s sexy,” Hannah says.
I watch, wide-eyed, as Hannah pushes away the armrests of my wheelchair. She gets up out of her own chair and straddles me in my power chair. She lowers her lips onto mine, and now we’re full on making out. And you know what? She actually doesn’t seem disgusted at all. If she isn’t enjoying herself, she’s one hell of an actress.
“Graham,” she whispers in my ear. “Can I tell you a secret?”
I nod breathlessly.
“I haven’t had sex in two years,” she breathes. “Two fucking years. Not that there haven’t been opportunities, but it’s just never been right. You know?”
I nod again. “Hannah…”
She cups my cheeks and her green eyes look deep into mine. “If we do this, Graham,” she says, “you can’t tell anyone. I could lose my license. Seriously, not your parents, your friends… nobody.”
“Never,” I gasp.
She nods, then climbs off me so she can take off her tight jeans. I watch her, praying my body won’t do something horrible like go into spasm. Her panties slip down around her ankles and she steps out of them, one leg at a time. Then she pulls her T-shirt over her head, revealing two absolutely perfect breasts.
“Christ,” I murmur.
Hannah looks at my face and laughs. “That’s what I love about you, Graham,” she says. “Any other guy would be mentally criticizing my saggy tits and stretch marks, but you’re looking at me like I’m a fucking goddess or something.”
She is a goddess. I’ll run down anyone who claims otherwise.
Then she unzips my pants. Of course, I’ve got the diaper underneath, which is thankfully dry for the moment. I feel her pulling off the tape on the diaper, and as she does this, I recognize this for what it is. Maybe Hannah isn’t disgusted by me. Maybe she’s even a little bit attracted to me—I can buy that. But this is a one-time thing. She’s not in love with me and never will be, not like how I have the potential to fall madly in love with her.
My penis pops out, and I’ve never seen it so big and hard. Hannah smiles with delight, and even I’m a little surprised and pleased with myself. Hannah grips it in her hand, and I moan in a way I’ve never moaned before. I’ve never felt anything like this before, in all the years of women touching my penis (and there have been many, trust me).
Hannah doesn’t hesitate. She straddles me again, and this time, she guides me with her hand inside her. I feel her pussy gripping my penis, and it’s so amazing, I nearly see stars. I know that I’m supposed to be trying to hold out, but I can’t. Two thrusts later, my body explodes and I moan so loudly, I nearly start to cry.
Hannah continues straddling me as she touches herself. I watch her in fascination as she grinds against me, breathing faster and faster, until she too cries out and her body goes limp against mine.
“That,” she whispers in my ear, “was nice. Brief, but nice.”
I know she won’t be able to lie against me forever, but I’m going to enjoy it while it lasts. I’m really glad it wasn’t some hooker who took my virginity instead of Hannah. Hannah’s and my love might not be one for the ages, but it’s just that—brief, but nice.