Chapter 2, Promises
BY OWEN RHODES
I have resorted to having earphones on at all times and have the volume at full blast. It has given me a killed headache at this point, but I refuse, absolutely refuse, to hear the sound of wheels.
I’ve been in Blake’s house for two months now. It’s close enough to the local hospital so I can head out there for check-ups and medicine. It is also, a very large and empty bleak house with nobody to keep me company. Blake can’t afford any servants anymore and Jane had taken all my money, so not even an occasional maid or butler can entertain me.
It’s just Owen and his wheels.
And the deafening earphones of course.
I push off and start wheeling myself to the kitchen. Staring at the off TV has become boring. I guess I should be grateful for being a boxer. It has given me strong arms so at least I don’t get muscle pains for pushing myself around all day.
I wheel over to the giant fridge and stare up at it. Since sitting is my always, my perspective has changed.
No, it literally changed. Everything looks down at me. I feel small. Small and insignificant and useless. I even told Blake that I don’t want anybody visiting me. I don’t want Amber or the twins or who the fuck else is left to see me as someone I don’t want to be. Someone I fear to be.
I’ve been trying though. I’ve been trying so hard to walk, but... I just can’t. It’s the most frustrating thing in the world to remember walking, remember how, but not being able to do it now, no matter how hard you try.
I reach out with my hand to the fridge, but it’s a bit of a stretch so I grit my teeth to get a hold on the handle and open the door. Blake’s house is pretty dark so the light in the fridge illuminates me as I look for food.
There’s tons. Tons of food to choose from, but... But I suddenly lost my appetite.
Frustrated, I close the fridge door and push myself to the living room again. I need to pee. I know I need to pee, I can feel it, but I can’t do anything about it without the help of some equipment that’s on the dining table.
I wheel myself to the next room and stop by the grand, glass table. I don’t want to use it. I don’t want to use those fucking equipment, because it reminds me just how fucked I am. Determined, I start pushing myself up with my arms.
Mind over matter, I tell myself. If I believe, really believe I can walk, maybe, just maybe, I can do it.
And I believe. I believe with everything I have as I push myself up and grab the table for leverage. I cling to the glass as I bring myself up from my wheelchair – my legs that have already become skinnier are dangling as I cling to the table. With one arm, I grab my pants and shove my leg under me to support my weight. I do it with the other leg as well until both feet are on the ground and I’m still clinging to the table.
With unquestionable determination, I stand up straighter – my arms still supporting me. I will my legs to work. I believe in them. My story can’t turn out like this.
And so, I let go of the table and let my legs carry me.
I fall without hesitation.
Bringing a glass chair down with me as I tumble to the floor, the impact lets glass shatter all over me and I hit my shoulder hard. My earphones jump out of my ears and the sound of reality floods me. The fall has pushed my wheelchair away and I’m scrambling through glass on the cold floor.
“Fuck!” I yell. “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” I cry out in frustration.
I feel hot tears start to leak out of my eyes and I hate it. I hate it so fucking much.
Through the scraping of glass, I hear the door to the house open and I start crawling in panic to the wheelchair. I grab for it, but only end up pushing it way further. Desperate and out of breath, I crawl faster to the chair – my legs dragging behind me as I grab hold of the seat and try and fail getting myself up.
“Owen?” I hear Blake call in the distance.
My arms start to ache at trying to get on the chair, but having it roll back all the time.
“Owen?” Blake calls closer.
“Fuck, fuck, FUCK!” I yell at the top of my lungs when I realize I can’t even get into my own fucking chair without help.
I watch in frustration and blurry vision as Blake runs over to me. “What happened?” he asks concerned as he helps getting me back in the damn chair. I look down at myself and notice all the cuts on my arms from the glass that I was crawling through.
“Nothing. Fucking nothing,” I spit at Blake as he gets me stable.
I’m unbelievably grateful when Blake doesn’t push me and just steps back without saying a word. I refuse to meet his gaze.
The silence becomes louder than my earphones. For a moment all I can do is stare out at the pale tiled floor and the glass and bits of blood. I hate that I can’t even feel the cuts on my legs. Neither Blake nor I move to clean the mess up and I snicker – the half broken glass chair reminding me of myself.
“I’m going to make dinner,” Blake eventually says as he leaves.
Giving it another painful second, I wheel myself over to the table to get the bag of equipment and head over to the bathroom. It still takes me long to get the job done, but when I finish, I go to wash my hands and wheel back into the dining room. I go over to the table and grit my teeth as I use all my strength to get myself on one of the chairs. Fortunately this time, I don’t fall and nothing breaks. I look over at the glass that’s still on the floor and scold at it before looking back ahead.
After a few minutes, Blake walks in with two plates of ready-to-heat pizzas that he places in front of me. My friend sits next to me – by the head of the table. I push my dirtied copper hair away from my eyes.
Feeling dead, I take a slice of pizza and start eating.
“So, I finally have more news on your sister,” Blake suddenly says.
I look up with a bit more life. “And? What do you know?” I ask desperate.
“After everything with the South and you being... no more use to Sterling in anyway, Jane sent Kelly to the place she sends all her items in waiting,” Blake explains with nervous grey eyes.
“Items in waiting?” I ask worried.
Blake hesitates before he says, “Jane has officially signed a contract with Dolls - a human trafficking gang. She sent Kelly to the same place where she has a bunch of girls waiting to be priced.”
Adrenaline rushes me. We don’t have long... We don’t have much time until those girls get a price tag and are shipped off to who knows where in the world for... I almost tell Blake we should go right now.
But then I remember I’m in a wheelchair.
“What... what can we do to get her back?” I ask.
Blake lets a hand swipe through his black hair in frustration. “I’m still unsure, but I think Jane sent them west - at a storehouse somewhere off the coast. If we could get her back, we’ll need a team...” Blake says cautiously.
I know what he’s hinting at. We’ll have to ask help from the North...
Seeing my hesitation, Blake sighs. “Look, I know your reasons for not wanting to see Amber and the North might be for your condition, but it’s not the most appealing sight for me either. I don’t want to see the happy couple and how much better off Amber is without me - and I think you don’t want to either. But if we want to get Kelly back, we’re going to have to go over to Isabella and ask for help,” Blake explains.
He’s right. Of course he is. How could a cripple and his mentally fucked friend ever rescue anyone? We’ll need a team and the only people who will be willing to help, is the North.
It’s been a while since I’ve stepped, I mean, wheeled out of this place, but... For my sister, I’ll have to swallow my pride.
“Then... then we’ll see them tomorrow,” I sigh.
“Tomorrow it is,” Blake confirms.
We finish up dinner quietly. The only sound is Blake explaining what he had to do for Sterling today or what horrible things Jane did or how everyone is getting ready to take down the North. I nod through it all, but like all nights, I start to go a little dead inside. When we’re done, Blake takes away our plates and makes sure I take all my medicines before doing my rounds. I can at least wash myself by now, even though I struggle to get into the bath. The first month was unbelievable awkward.
And when everything is set and Blake pushes me to my room, I feel the quiet of the night again. I’m reminded of when I fell today as Blake helps me get into bed. Before he leaves, I stop him.
“Blake?” I ask.
It’s always the same plea and must be predictable for my friend by now.
“No Owen, I’m not going to kill you,” Blake sighs as he turns back to me.
I shake my head. “Blake... After we save my sister... After she’s safe and I find a nice place for her to grow up in - away from the gangs... Please... will you then end it for me?” I ask.
After two months, my pleas for Blake to end all my pain has become different. It has stopped being desperate calls, but rather needed calls. I’ve had two months and no luck with my legs. I’ve become accustomed to the wheelchair, but not to the way my legs are growing thinner and thinner every day...
“Do you even know how selfish that question is?” Blake asks me.
“Do you even care that killing you might actually ruin me for good? No coming back? You want to get rid of the pain, but you’re willing to make me go through it once you get your wish,” Blake rants. His silver eyes turn sharp and fragile.
“Blake... You and I... We’ve been through a lot. We’ve lost everyone. So yes, I’m going to be selfish and ask you to let me leave this place. Please... After Kelly is safe, just end my pain...” I beg.
I know how horrible it is to ask, but I’ll be too dead to care about Blake’s pain. And even if that makes me fucked up, I’m human and I’m selfish.
“I’m not going to fucking kill you Owen, stop asking me!”
“And I’m not going to get better, stop convincing yourself I am!”
“You can still live a good life, Owen-”
“WELL, I DON’T WANT A FUCKING GOOD LIFE,” I yell.
My words are so loud, Blake steps back from the bed and stares at me. I can’t help the stupid tears. “I don’t want to get used to this... this thing. I don’t want to stay in a wheelchair and think back to the days where I could run and walk and box and just fucking have sex - have the possibility of a family. I don’t want to be that sad old man that lives his life in his dreams. I saw my father behind closed doors. I saw how even with my mother, it was killing him. And I know I’m selfish and fucked up, but I’m hurting so so much, Blake... And I’m willing to give anything to have that pain taken away... I’m willing to give my life,” I cry. It’s an ugly sight, but after everything Blake and I’ve been through, I don’t care about how I must look like right now.
“After my sister is safe... I just want to fucking rest. Rest forever,” I whisper.
Blake stares at me for the longest time.
“Okay,” he eventually says with a shaky intake of breath.
I’m surprised at the word. So surprised, that I don’t believe it. “Promise,” I demand.
Something heavy settles into Blake as he says, “I promise.”
Another second passes before Blake switches off the lights and leaves me alone. After a while, the moon from outside of the window casts a light onto me and I feel... Relieved. I feel so relieved to not have to be confined to a wheelchair the rest of my life.
I really need to save Kelly…