It had been two days since the rugby match and Matt had been the model patient. I was surprised how patient he was, but then again I’m guessing that came from learning to live with his disability and having to rely on carers.
I called around after work on Wednesday, which was nearly 48 hours later and Matt was sat up in bed watching television. As soon as I walked into his bedroom he pulled the quilt up to his chest. I didn’t react and sat myself down in his chair. I instantly wondered if he minded, so I asked, “you don’t mind if I sit here do you?”
“No make yourself at home,” he replied.
“So how are you feeling now? I asked. “I must say you are looking rough,” I laughed whilst giving his beard a little rub. “In need of a trim as well I’d say.”
“Thanks for the compliment,” Matt replied in a sarcastic tone. “Truthfully though, I’m not 100% yet but I’m in a hell of a lot less pain. I’m going to venture out of bed later, but not without Gemma watching me.”
“Can I have a look?” I asked.
“Sure knock yourself out,” he said.
I stood up from the chair and pulled the quilt down a little bit and stopped once I realised Matt wasn’t wearing a top. I knew that pulling it further down would only torture him and that was the last thing I wanted to do. I hoped it wouldn’t take long for Matt to become comfortable with me again like he did in the past.
I had a quick look at his shoulder and he wasn’t lying when he said he was in a lot less pain. He managed to perform a wider range of motion before he winced. It also looked like all the bruising had come out and the bruise was like a muddy puddle splatted across his shoulder.
“Gemma for the 50th time now, go out!” I demanded. “I promise you I will be fine and if I need you I will ring.”
“Yes but you aren’t 100% yet Matt. I can’t leave you on your own,” she replied.
“If you don’t go out we’re going to have a fall out here,” I said trying to sound angry. “I tell you what, I’m feeling really tired so you can help me into bed before you leave and then you will be able to relax.”
“You can’t go to bed before eight,” Gemma replied.
“Stop fighting me Gemma. I’m off to bed for eight whether you help me or not,” I snapped starting to lose my patience.
“Ok I’ll go out. Happy now?” she quizzed me.
“Haha I knew I’d win. You just went the long way about it,” I smiled looking smug with myself.
Just before Gemma went out she helped me into bed and got me everything I could possibly need. She attached my night catheter and hung it over the side of the bed, placed enough snacks open in bowls on my bed and filled my water bottle which has a sports lid on so it wouldn’t spill.
“Ok I’m off out now,” Gemma said. “You need anything before I go?”
“No I’m fine, I’ve got Netflix on, my phone and enough food and drink for a week,” I replied with a smile on my face. “Have fun and don’t do anything I wouldn’t,” I joked as she left my bedroom.
I was half-way through watching a film when I heard my phone beep. I carefully picked it up with my palms and opened it up. It showed one new notification from Chloe. I opened it up and it read: Hey, how r u today? Xxx
I used the outside of my little finger and replied: Good but tired. I’m in bed watching films. Starting to do my own care tomorrow. Xx
Chloe: You sure you are ready for that? Xxx
Matt: 100% sure. What u up 2 tonight? Xx
Chloe: Night out with the girls. Carly is on a mission to find lots of men lol xxx
I instantly felt my stomach tighten as I thought of Chloe with another man. I secretly hoped she wouldn’t meet any one, I wasn’t ready to give her up just yet. I’d only just got her back in my life.
Matt: Have fun and be careful xx
The night was just what the doctor had ordered. Carly got on really well with Abbie and Jessica from work and I hoped we could have more foursomes in the future. There was a good atmosphere in all the pubs and Carly was going full pelt trying to find us all men. As the night progressed and the more we had to drink the more confident we became.
The four of us were dancing away on the dance floor having the time of our lives. The way we were dancing would be extremely embarrassing if we were to watch ourselves back the next day. Carly and I were flirting with each other whilst dancing. I knew we were getting male attention from the way we were touching each other inappropriately. I looked to my right and saw Abbie slut drop to the floor. I instantly stopped what I was doing and bent over laughing. Just then I felt a firm slap on my arse and was ready to have it out with the culprit. I quickly turned around and came face to face with Zack who was grinning from ear to ear. “So I see you two are now batting for the other side,” he joked.
“Haha, Carly thought this was the best way to get male attention,” I said.
“Well you sure caught my eye,” he smiled. “Drinks?”
“Yes please, a vodka and coke for me please,” I replied. “Carly?”
“Chloe you go and sit down and I’ll go to the bar with Zack,” Carly insisted.
I needed to rest so I signalled to the girls and headed to the table. When I arrived at the table I sagged into the chair and could feel the blood pumping in my feet. From my left a heard a wolf whistle and looked up to see Gemma heading towards me.
“Hey, I didn’t know you were out. Matt never said anything,” she said. “Don’t mind if I join you for a minute do you?”
“No take a seat,” I said and instantly realised I was starting to slur my words. “My feet are on fire. Carly likes to do way too much dancing and these heels weren’t made for dancing.”
“Well you look good in those heels,” she said. “Dam you Chloe, you would look good in a paper bag. I’m so jealous,” she continued with a smirk on her face.
“Well that makes two of us then,” I slurred. “I’m jealous of you too.”
“Jealous of me?” she asked with confusion written all over her face. “What on earth would you be jealous of me for?”
“Matt that’s who,” I slurred. I knew full well I’d regret saying this tomorrow but at this moment in time I wasn’t bothered at all. “I’m jealous of your relationship with him and that he’s comfortable with his body around you.”
“Believe me you shouldn’t be jealous of our relationship. It’s taken nearly a year for Matt to be comfortable with me. I’ve had tears and tantrums before this stage,” she continued.
“Yes, but that should have been me. I should have been the one he cried to and I should be the one he’s comfortable with,” I continued. “God he was the love of my life.” I paused for a minute before I continued, “God, who am I kidding, he still is.” I said as I sunk further into my chair.
“You still love him?” asked Gemma.
“Of course I do. I never stopped and I don’t think I ever will,” I replied. “But I need to move on and accept Matt’s wishes. With that, I’m going to love you and leave you and try and find my Prince Charming.”
“Matt, you awake?” Gemma squawked from my door.
“Well I obviously am now,” I replied back in a sleepy tone.
“Good! Sorry to wake you but you need to hear this,” she said looking quite excited.
I used the grab handle above my bed to slowly pull myself up into a sitting position.
“So come on what’s so important you needed to wake me up to tell me?” I asked as I looked over at the clock to see what time it was. “Please don’t tell me you have someone in your room? Because honestly I really don’t need to know about it.”
“No stupid this is about you,” she explained.
I looked at Gemma with a confused expression. She sat down crossed legged on my bed and continued, “Well... I bumped into Chloe tonight and she told me a few home truths. She was a little drunk to say the least so she will probably regret saying anything to me.”
“Come on Gemma spill. What did she say?” I asked feeling quite apprehensive about what she was going to tell me.
“Well to start with she’s jealous of me,” I gave her a confused look and she gave me a little dig to my good shoulder.
“Thanks mate for thinking ‘what on earth could she be jealous of me for’ but to be honest I did think the same,” laughed Gemma. “Well it turns out she’s jealous of us. Our relationship. She admitted she still loves you and thinks she always will do.”
“No, she was drunk. She will have been having you on,” I replied.
“No I could see the hurt in her eyes. She still loves you,” said Gemma. “She also mentioned how she needs to finally give you what you want and move on from you. If there was ever a time for you to get back with her, it’s now, before it’s too late.”
“I can’t Gemma. It’s for the best and you know it is really, deep down,” I replied whilst I could feel my heart aching.
“You really think she’s bothered about your disability? I honestly don’t! And don’t you dare try and tell me you don’t still love her,” sighed Gemma. “I’ve been through all your downs over the last two years and at least half of those were to do with Chloe, not your disability. She’s the only one you really have an issue with your disability still in front of. There is obviously a reason for that.”
“Yes I still love her. You happy now?” I cried.
“See I know you too well,” said Gemma with a gleeful face.
“Well I doesn’t matter because nothing is going to change,” I mumbled under my breath.
“Don’t leave it too late Matt. One day you will regret it and yes you are worth it,” smiled Gemma and as she stood up and walked out of the room.
I laid myself down and then constantly went over what Gemma had said in my head. Chloe still loves me? How could that possibly be? After everything I said and did to her years ago, how could she? She’d now seen what it was like to have a disabled friend, but a partner was so much more. My body was a mess, I still needed help with more complex things not to mention what the sex would be like. Yes, Chloe coped fine in the friend’s sense. Actually better than anyone else I knew, but this was different. I couldn’t ask her for that. No, I wouldn’t put her through it. When she moved on I would just have to put a brave face on it and pretend I was happy for her. It’s the least she deserves.
Just then my mind did a little detour to the time when Chloe got her first boyfriend in Year 10. I remember sitting in the form room with a face like thunder as Chloe said goodbye to Jordan with a kiss. “What is wrong with you?” Chloe demanded to know with her hands on her hips. “You have been off with me ever since I started dating Jordan. Has he done something to you?”
“No, honestly I’m fine and he hasn’t done anything,” I replied suddenly feeling like a wanker for denying Chloe happiness.
“If he has Matt tell me because you are my best friend and I want you both to get on,” she continued.
“No I’m fine. I’ve just not been sleeping well worrying about exams,” I lied.
“Which-ever subject is worrying you let me know and I’ll help you. I’ll cancel my plans with Jordon tonight and come to yours,” Chloe said. “I hate it when something isn’t right between us. Promise me you’ll be open with me in future.” She walked towards me and wrapped her arms around my waist. I wrapped my arms back around her in a tight embrace and took in the coconut scent from her shampoo.
I felt even more of a wanker when two weeks later she rang me in floods of tears because Jordan had finished with her. I wasn’t what Chloe deserved and I would make sure I acted happy with whoever she ended up with.