Against all odds, p.11
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       Against All Odds, p.11

           Kira Adams
 
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  I stop bothering with my jacket and look him dead in the eyes. “My boyfriend of six years was hit by a taxi. He’s in a coma and they don’t know if he’s ever going to wake up from it. The fairytale that I’ve been living for over five years was ripped away from me in less than a second. You say I’ve changed? I say I’ve adapted.”

  His face falls with my statement. “Austyn…”

  “Don’t,” I warn him. “Don’t you dare feel sorry for me. Especially when you’re part of the reason he’s in that damn hospital bed.”

  His eyes widen and his face takes on a shocked expression. “What the fuck does that mean?”

  Max, the bartender who’s been stealthily eavesdropping on our entire conversation up until this point, begins inching his way toward me, protectively.

  I lock eyes with him, silently telling him to mind his own business. I can handle Bane. He huffs a little then goes back to drying some glasses.

  “We were in a fight. That’s why he decided to go on that early morning bike ride. You know what that fight was about? You.” I can’t help the anger that drips off my voice like venom.

  “What the hell did I do?”

  “God Bane, you play the victim so well…but I see right through you. I saw right through you that night too…you were trying so hard to rile him up. And it worked. Happy?” I run my hands through my hair, frustrated I’m even letting him affect me so deeply.

  Bane looks like he is about to break something. I’m done with the conversation altogether. I slide my purse over my shoulder and push the stool away from the bar so I can stand.

  I’m a little wobbly as I’ve had six glasses of wine instead of my normal four. I feel his hands grip my wrists tightly. “You can go fuck yourself.” He presses his face right up close to mine, I can smell the Heineken on his breath mixed with peppermint.

  “Classy,” I reply, pushing him away from me, but he only grips my wrists tighter.

  “Is there a problem here?” I hear Max shout over the music and overall ruckus of the bar.

  I glance back at him. “No, I’m fine.” Then I shift my eyes back to Bane’s. “Let go.”

  His eyes are cold and dark. “No.”

  “I said let me go!” I pull my arms roughly from his grasp. Just as I do, I feel lips on mine.

  The bastard is kissing me. After everything…he actually has the gall.

  I reach my hand up and slap him across the cheek with everything I have in me. “I have a boyfriend.”

  He whips his head back from the impact, staring back at me wide-eyed.

  Patrons of the bar are shocked. Even funnier? His friends are hooting and hollering from the end of the bar. I’ve definitely caused a scene.

  So what if he is drop dead gorgeous? We were over a long time ago. I haven’t been that broken girl for a very long time. I spin on my heel and begin walking out of the bar. I’ve never felt more empowered.

  Sixteen – Reasons Why I Love You

  Austyn

  My boyfriend has been in a coma for a little over four months. Four months I have had to learn to exist without him. Holidays I’ve had to spend without him…he missed his birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas and he may even miss my birthday which will be here in less than two months. Everything is so unfair. Life is so unfair.

  A month ago I cut my visits down to only twice a month. I knew at the time it was wrong…but every time I made the trip to see him, I left feeling more alone than before. I left feeling more hopeless. I realized that the less that I made contact with him, the less I found myself self-medicating with alcohol. I still check in with his parents every week. They’re better people than me. Sometimes I wonder if they think he deserves better than me. I wouldn’t blame them.

  Today is my last visit for the month. I’ve been dreading it all week. I even thought about cancelling, but I already feel guilty enough that I’ve cut my time short. As I approach his room, I lightly knock on the door, even though I know he won’t be able to respond. It’s out of habit, out of respect. As I open the door and let myself inside his familiar room, I take a few steps closer to his bed, watching his chest rise and fall. His body is looking better. Most of his broken bones have healed and his face is finally recognizable as the one I fell so deeply in love with.

  I pull up a chair and grab his hand in mine, taking a deep breath. “Hey babe.” I rub his hand softly between mine. “I know it’s been awhile…”

  I pause, staring out the window at the rain sprinkling down from the sky. “I miss you…a lot. I miss our weekends off together and staying in bed. I wanted to remind you of why I love you so I wrote a list. I hope you won’t mind if I read it to you…”

  I reach into my pocket and grab out the newly creased sheet of paper and open it slowly. “I titled it reasons why I love Avery Phillips to the sun and back…” Tears begin to creep up to the sides of my eyes.

  “Reason number one, because even with all of my insecurities coming into this relationship, you helped me see the beauty inside myself. Even when I didn’t want to believe it, you believed it for me. You taught me to love myself again…something I never thought I’d ever be able to do.” My voice cracks and I take a deep breath of air.

  “Reason number two, you push me to be a better person because of how selfless you are. You always put me first and I know if I was here in this hospital bed, you would be by my side night and day…putting me first.” I take a deep breath, guilt flooding my insides.

  “Reason number three, you never make me question the depth of your love. Even when you weren’t ready for marriage I knew it wasn’t because you didn’t love me…it was just because you honestly weren’t ready.”

  I continue to read off the thirty reasons I wrote down, each one making my chest hurt even more. There isn’t anything else I want more in the world than to be able to experience all these things again with Avery. But I’m beginning to worry I may never get the chance again and that I will simply have to live through the memories I’ve jotted down. But I want him to hear these in case I don’t get another chance. I don’t want there to be any question in his mind on why I love him so much; why I continue to have faith.

  “Reason thirty, you never give up on me. Even when I give up on myself.” I pause stifling a cry, guilt pouring over me in waves. “You’re a much better person than I am…”

  I put the sheet of paper back into my pocket and squeeze his hand gently. “I’ve been going to open mic night. They have some really talented musicians who are new to the scene. I’ve had a couple of awkward run-ins with Dakota. I told her what happened, and she sends her thoughts. I think you’d love the musicians I’ve been spending time with. You’d never believe me, but I’ve been meeting with one of them who has been helping me learn how to write songs. Not that I’d ever be able to perform them or anything…but it’s been therapeutic for me. I think you’d really like her…her name is Winter.”

  I pull out the crumpled sheet of paper from my pocket, the one with the lyrics from our practices. My heart rate spikes a little as I accept the fact that I will be singing for Avery. He’s going to be the biggest audience I’ve ever had. I have the most incredible stage fright. It helps knowing his eyes are closed. I clear my throat loudly in anticipation.

  “I wrote this song for you…” And then I open my mouth and softly begin to sing the words as they were intended.

  I never realized I was half a person until the day I met you

  Bruised, broken, and beaten, you could see right through

  But one look from your piercing green eyes and I felt whole again

  You helped me piece myself back together and then…

  I think I am hallucinating, but Avery’s eyes begin to flutter and I stop singing hastily, my heart racing out of control. And then he’s looking back at me with the same piercing green eyes I’ve just been singing about. I clasp my hand over my mouth in awe, tears springing to my eyes.

  “Babe?” I gasp out, squeezing his hand.

  He swall
ows, but doesn’t speak…just blinks a few times and then stares deeply into my eyes. Although he hasn’t spoken one word, I can feel the love that is buried within his eyes.

  Tears are trailing down my face as I cup his cheek gently with my hand. “You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to stare into those eyes again.”

  He gives me bit of a confused look, but smiles slightly, pressing into my hand.

  Did I do this? Did my singing really wake him up?

  I am still trying to grasp the gravity of the situation when I press the button on his bed to call the nurse in.

  I don’t break eye contact with him for one second. I’ve been waiting, hoping, and dreaming of this moment for far too long.

  “Hi, did you need…” the nurse trails off. “Oh my goodness.” I hear the surprise in her voice. “How are you feeling Avery?” She inches toward his bedside.

  Again he doesn’t answer her, but he peels his eyes away from mine to lock with hers.

  “It’s wonderful to see those beautiful eyes of yours,” she says gently. I notice the care she uses when she speaks. I know it’s because they don’t want to alarm him. “Your parents are going to be thrilled.”

  When the nurse mentions his parents, Avery squeezes my hand back, nearly cutting off my circulation.

  I rub his shoulder lightly. “Would you mind calling them and letting them know? I think he’s ready to see them.”

  The nurse glances at me, nodding happily. “No problem. I will go make the call right now.” She begins to head to the door, but turns around once more. “It’s very nice to meet you, Avery.” And then she slips out the door quickly.

  I need to speak with the doctor. I need to understand what Avery is going through and how I can help make the transition as seamless as possible.

  He opens his mouth to speak, but the audible noises that come out don’t make sense.

  “Shhh…” I sweep his long hair out of his eyes. “You don’t have to say anything yet. It’s okay.”

  He seems to get frustrated by this and releases my hand.

  I attempt to reach out and grab it again, but he seems upset. The doctor did warn us that if and when he woke up that it wasn’t uncommon for coma patients to be angry.

  I decide that it’s time for me to get some answers so I stand to begin making my way towards the door, when I notice him twitch his hand. It is extended out again, waiting for mine. I sit back down and slowly slip my hand back into his. He squeezes it tightly, smiling back at me. The doctor can wait. I’ve been waiting months for something like this to happen and I can tell Avery needs me.

  * * *

  A couple of hours later, Avery’s parents are at the hospital and we are all meeting with the doctor. He’s recommended we allow Avery to get some rest and it makes me want to laugh. I guess four months of sleep isn’t sufficient enough.

  “These next few days are going to be the most critical,” Dr. Silverstein warns us. “Waking up from a coma is very daunting on a person and although he is awake, Avery is going to have to relearn a lot. We don’t know the extent to which his brain has been affected, so we are going to be reintroducing him slowly to the world. While I think it is very important that he knows you’re here, I would recommend that you each have separate moments to visit with him as too much interaction can be detrimental this soon."

  “He isn’t speaking yet…will that be something he has to relearn or will that eventually come back to him?” I ask.

  Dr. Silverstein shifts his blue eyes toward me. “We don’t know yet. That is an answer we will come to in the next couple of days. As for right now, just let him know you are here. It is a very scary feeling to wake up after all of this time. He simply needs your support.”

  We all nod in unison.

  I’m thankful that he recognized me at all. I still need to call Lee and Jacqueline and share the good news. Maybe, if we’re lucky, Avery will be released from the hospital by the time my nephew arrives. It’s wishful thinking…but it’s the most positive thought I’ve had in a long time. I can’t wait to go home and share the good news with Ornery. She won’t understand fully at first, but she is going to be so excited.

  Seventeen – Small Strides Back To One Another

  Austyn

  Two weeks ago Avery opened his eyes and today he finally said his first full sentence. He’s making progress and that’s all I could ever hope for. Over the past couple of weeks, we have been helping him readjust to life in general. Slowly, we have been reintroducing him to his family and friends. Most of whom he recognizes, but can’t remember their names or his full history with them. He smiled the brightest when Lee came back for a visit. I asked him if he knew who it was and he recognized Lee’s face, but it was obvious the details of their friendship were fuzzy.

  A speech therapist comes to his room every day along with a physical therapist. Dr. Silverstein says there is a potential Avery may never walk again. It doesn’t bother me as much as it seems to bother him. I know he is tired of being in a hospital bed.

  He is still having bouts of anger that he can’t seem to control and I feel terrible for him. So much has changed in such a short amount of time, I don’t know if I’d be much stronger or handle it any better.

  After he opened his eyes, my job was kind enough to give me some time off to spend with him. I haven’t left his bedside much in the past two weeks but I know I am going to have to return to work tomorrow. He is gazing out the window at the rain splattering loudly against the windowpane.

  “What are you thinking about?” I ask him, squeezing his hand lightly.

  He glances back at me, his emerald eyes locking with mine. “Rain.”

  I sneak a glance at the window and then back at him. “What about it?”

  He breaks out into a goofy grin. “What it smells like.”

  Since he spoke his first full sentence this morning he’s been surprising everyone by continuing to chat up a storm. I’m not sure how his mind is working, but I can tell he is being stimulated.

  I pause, trying to think of how to explain it to him. “It smells fresh and clean, crisp and green.”

  He seems to ponder over this for a while.

  The speech therapist told us that Avery is at a third grade reading level and comprehension. He asked us to not make things too complicated and understand that he is going to advance, but it may not be quickly or much at all. It’s been hard to digest…but he’s still Avery to me.

  “Hey,” I try to command his attention. “I’m not going to be able to visit you tomorrow until night time.”

  His face falls and his bottom lip juts out like a pouting child. “Why?”

  I rub my hand up and down his arm. “I have to go back to work.”

  He nods dejectedly.

  “Your mother and father said they were going to spend the day with you. Wouldn’t you like that?”

  His eyes light up at the mention of his parents and he begins nodding excitedly.

  “Good. Don’t have too much fun without me,” I joke, leaning in to kiss him lightly on the forehead.

  He laughs heartily. “Oh, Austyn…”

  Ever since he began speaking again he’s been referring to me this way. He really likes my sense of humor.

  Some days I really miss the old Avery…the one I can talk to about anything. The one I tell all my secrets to. It’s been a difficult transition, but I am thankful I have him back in any capacity. Sometimes though, I wish for my partner back. I know there is a possibility things will never be the same as they used to be; a high probability. But, I miss his affection, his kisses, I miss everything. It’s as though I am mourning the death of one version of him while also celebrating the new life of another. Most days I feel guilty and conflicted.

 
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