Here is the picture and prompt:
Prompt (from Gabbo): They say I will never walk again; thus they carted me to this island, to oblivion. The days are sunny and help me forget their disdain. The terrors come at night. The young man taking care of me, it's the only true balm in this beautiful hell.
*I didn't stick exactly to the prompt but close enough for government work. ;)
Here you go:
I stared blankly at the red light from my idling car. It was almost midnight and my higher brain function was at it’s lowest after an 18 hour shift at the hospital. I drummed my fingers on the steering wheel, willing the light to change so I could crawl in my bed those 30 seconds sooner. Those 30 seconds seemed really important to me for some reason.
It turns out they were.
In those thirty seconds, when the light could have changed but it didn’t, my life changed forever.
The first thing I noticed was a terrible screeching sound like a thousand crows all crying out at the same time. Next I watched as the brilliant white light of headlights grew until it encompassed my entire back window, my whole rearview mirror.
Then, in almost beautiful slow motion, the lights were in my back window. I felt the metal of my car groan and crumple like an accordian being compressed. The straining and bending of metal screamed it's music into the night. My head flew forward and my chest bucked against my seatbelt. In that moment of jolting my right foot moved off the break pedal.
It wouldn’t have mattered. My 20 year o;d Toyota Corolla was no match for the 18-wheeler behind me. But for some reason, looking back, I always think that that break pedal could have made a differece. If only my foot had stayed in place, my car wouldn’t have slid so far into the intersection. And maybe I could have prevented what happened next.
This is where the red light becomes important. As my flimsy cage of metal and upholstery was pushed forward by that monstrosity of a truck, a lone car came hurtling through the green light from the other direction.
Real time caught up with me as that car slammed into my side. The driver of that car was not wearing his seat belt and as our cars crashed together and became a pile of so much scrap metal, he flew through his windshield and his head hit my side window, splintering it.
He cried out, once, before he passed out. I stared at his blood seeping into the cracks in my window as I tried to wrap my head around what had just happened. He died, hair and bits of skull mangled in bits of both our cars, while I sat there, trapped and unable to move any part of my body.
It wasn’t until later, that I realized the fact that I was in no pain was a bad thing. It turns out massive shock and the severing of one’s spinal cord at the L4 vertabra can do that to a person.
The pain, the fear, and just about any other bad feeling or emotion you can think of didn’t come until I woke up that first time in the hospital, my hospital, with my collegues looking down at me with pity in their eyes. It was the absolute …
I woke up with a start as I heard my name being called. I hated my nightmares. Not because they were so horrible but because it seemed I watched them from outside myself, emotionless, uncaring. It was like I was directing the movie of my life. I could tell the actor playing me everything I had felt; I could tell him what his motivation or whatever was. But I couldn't feel anything anymore. And that was why my dreams were terrifying. I was a husk of a man, sent away to be useless out of sight in the name of recovery.
I turned toward the sound of my name being called again and saw a man in the white pants and green polo of the “health resort” I was staying at. He looked about ten years younger than me, with an open and genuine face surrounded by a riot of curling brown hair. The sun shone off his brilliant green eyes and they sparkled with the smile that formed his lips.
In my old life, I would have thought him attractive. Now, I just waited for him to tell me what he was doing here so I could get back to my nap on the beach.
“Hi, I’m Ian.” He said with that completely ridiculous grin still on his face. He stuck his hand out so that I could shake it. I ignored it in favor of glaring at him. It didn’t seem to faze him for a single moment. He swung his arm by his side and stuck his hands in his pocket before he continued.
“So, it seems your recovery team thinks you are spending too much time alone. They asked me to come and keep you company. Maybe help you around if you want.”
For a second I gaped at him and then I looked away to stare past my feet at the ocean. There was no way. My recovery team consisted of a doctor for my spine, a shrink, a physical therapist and my mother. If they thought they could shove some perky companion off on me, they had another thing coming.
“I am thirty five years old. I have no need of a babysitter. Besides which, I am busy. So feel free to be on your way.”
“Doing what?” He replied with a bit of a smirk.
“Huh?” I stared at him in confusion.
“You said you were busy. Busy doing what?”
“Sleeping.” I growled at him as I closed my eyes so that maybe he would go away.
“Okay, I’ll just hang out here and watch the ocean while you sleep.” He said, as he sat down on the chair next to me, sounding completely content with the situation.
I sighed and tried to go to sleep again but I could feel him next to me. I slit my eyes so you couldn’t tell they were open if you were just glancing and looked over at my baby sitter. He had stretched out on the chair and appeared to be doing just what he said, watching the ocean.
He had such a look of peace on his face that I caught my breath in a moment of longing. Not so much for him as for whatever made it possible for him to feel like that. After a few moments he closed his eyes and tilted his face towards the sky as if he were a sunflower seeking out the warming rays of sunlight that shone through the scattered white clouds.
There was no way I was going to be able to properly wallow with him sitting there next to me. I opened my eyes all the way and resigned myself to the laborious process of getting me off the beach and back in my wheelchair.
“Fine, if you want to help me get somewhere, you can help me back to my suite.”
Without opening his eyes or changing his expression in any way he replied, “Just a minute, I’m busy watching the ocean.”
That was so patently absurd that I wanted to smack him and stalk off but for some reason I felt this sensation bubbling in my chest and working its way up my throat until it burst forth from my mouth. What met my ears in that moment was the most anemic pathetic laugh I had ever heard. And the moment it began I choked it off in surprise. I hadn’t laughed in….months.
This boy, this sunflower, sent to me by my meddling annoying recovery team had somehow pulled emotion from me that had been dead since that night. I stared at him in open wonder while he sat there, oblivious to the shift the world had just taken.
It wasn’t much, just a chuckle at a well played rejoinder. But it was everything. It was the earth hurtling around the sun and the stars straining out through the cosmos. It was the ocean lapping the shore and it was people falling in love. It was the first cup of coffee in the morning and it was finishing a job well done.
And it was something when I had been so full of nothing for so long I barely remembered anything else.
I felt that bubbling sensation again and this time I recognized it and I let it have full reign over my body. This time the sound that met my ears was one of full, unabashed laughter.
At this, Ian did react. He sat up and leaned over to my chair. With a dramatic flair, he felt my forehead as if he were testing for a fever. But his eyes danced and for the first time in a long time I was able to match the joy in someone else’s eyes.
In a fit of what must have been madness, I reached up, grabbed his face and pulled it down towards mine. I had no idea if he was gay or not, but in that moment it didn’t matter. I had to let the feeling overflowing inside me out somehow. I had to kiss this sunflower that had startled me into feeling again.
His lips were soft and warm against mine and it was hard to keep kissing around our smiles. After another short moment of sloppy smiling kissing, he pulled back and looked into my eyes.
“See, I knew you were in there somewhere.” He kissed my forehead and sat back down. “I guess I’ll have to stick around awhile until you can manage on your own.”
I just smiled back at him for a moment, then closed my eyes and turned my face up towards the sun, soaking in the rays.