Once Nate told me he would be putting my back brace on me, I automatically assumed it would be some over-sized, extremely uncomfortable contraption. Instead, it was surprisingly light and thin and wrapped around my torso like it was specifically pre-made for me. Not sure when they measured me, but with all the chaos over the last 2 days, I probably did not notice a lot of things they were doing to me.
Nate then slipped some kind of soft material with handles under me and attached me to a machine. Again, I find myself begin to panic as I watch this machine lift my mostly limp body up off the bed.
“I’ve got you man”, Nate assures me.
Luckily for me, Nate is obviously some kind of expert at this, and quickly gets me adjusted into a wheelchair.
The chair is leaned back, to keep weight off my spine Nate tells me, and my legs and arms placed on top of padded leg and arm rests.
“You ready?“, he asks me as he pushes me out of my room.
This is the first time I have seen anything other than my room. Well except for when I was wheeled into this place and did not know what the heck was going on.
I expected to see a plain white hallway with rooms on both sides like a hospital. Surprisingly, this place is not like that at all. It is open with high ceilings and wood beams throughout, as if this place were meant for the country and not the city of Boston.
Nate pushes me a little further down the hall and we pass by a large room with matts on the floor, parallel bars, a large padded table or bed, I don’t really know. I scan the room a little more and find Charlotte. She has her hands on some guys hips. He looks like he is in his late 20′s maybe, braces are attached to both of his legs and he is using his arms to hold himself up with metal crutches. Charlotte must be guiding him or making sure he does not fall as they both walk slowly in sync across the room.
We get around the corner and enter an oversized room with couches, recliners and a giant TV that takes up an entire wall, complete with surround sound.
“Here is the lounge”, Nate exclaims.
Mark and Emma are in the far end of the room and abruptly stop whatever conversation they were having as soon as I enter.
Mum rushes over to me, “Hi son, how are you doing?“, she asks me while planting a kiss on my forehead.
“Hey son”, my dad nods to me.
“Hey”, is all I say and give them a smile.
Mark confidently strides over to me, “Alright? Mate! How was your night? Are they treating you well?“, he asks me.
“Yeah, yeah of course”, I assure him.
“Let’s get on with this tour then”, Mark adds as he glances towards Nate.
Emma slowly walks over to me and I hold out my right hand to her, hoping she will gladly accept it.
Relief sweeps over me as Emma takes my hand in hers and we all head out of the room together.
Nate continues to lead us around the building, my mum pleased as we admire the pool and spa, a weight room, the expansive kitchen and eating area.
My thoughts were mostly focused on the nagging pain in my back until I realized that Emma was still walking by my side holding my hand.
“I love you”, I look up and whisper to her.
She looks at me briefly and slightly smiles, “I love you too”.
“How about you and I have lunch together in the courtyard and we can enjoy the views of the bay”, I ask her softly.
She quickly releases my hand and starts looking towards my parents. “Um...I..I would love to, but your mum really wants to help you with your lunch today, but maybe dinner?“, she responds, keeping her eyes from meeting mine. As soon as we pass a restroom, she darts over and says, “I’ll be right back”.
Without a moment to process what just happened, Mark is walking next to me.
“Hey mate, this place is fantastic! looks like you’ll have everything you need here to get you on your feet again”, he cheerfully states. “I’m leaving tomorrow, I have a lot of things to take care of back home with the movie, but I will fly back here Saturday ok?“, Mark adds.
“Yeah, yeah, sure, do whatever you need to do, I’ve messed things up quite a bit I’m sure”, I apologetically say to him. “Thanks for taking care of everything”, I add.
“You ok I head out?“, Mark asks me. “I have about 100 phone calls to make, I will see you in five days, but call if you need anything”, he places a firm hand on my shoulder before saying his goodbyes to Nate and my parents.
What the fuck! Emma has disappeared into the restroom and Mark took off on me and did not even wait to say bye to Emma. I still have my parents here eagerly following Nate around, so I have not scared them away yet, but I’m sure I will soon.
I would rather be alone to sulk and this chair is really making my back ache now. I am about to ask to be brought back to my room when Charlotte pops out of the gym and into the hall in front of us.
My sour mood immediately taken back by the sight of Charlotte. Her long hair is pulled back into a ponytail. She is wearing a tight-fitting tank top, revealing her slender but toned arms. Her skin is shiny and small beads of sweat have formed above her brows. Was she just working out I ask myself?
She answers my thoughts, “Hey everyone”, her multi-color eyes are bright as she turns her attention towards me.
“I told you I’d see you again before lunch”, she smiles at me.
Emma finally reappears from the restroom to join us, staring at Charlotte just as perplexed as I was.
Charlotte looks at everyone again and begins to explain herself, “I just fit in a quick work out, so I’m going to have Sarah bring your lunch out to the patio for you all to enjoy while I go take a shower”.
“Levi, I will come find you after lunch so we can get going on afternoon therapy”, she gladly says to me before Nate whisks us around towards the direction of the patio.
“Are you feeling ok?“, I ask Emma as I reach for her hand.
“I’m fine, let us go eat”, she replies and places her hand in mine.
Everyone is quiet during lunch, except my mum of course who is trying to help me eat, and repeatedly asks for Nate’s guidance to assure she is doing it right.
The patio wraps around half the building and overlooks the Boston Harbor. The view gives me a beautiful and peaceful distraction.
After lunch everyone follows me back to my room and silently watches as Nate uses the machine to lift me from my chair and place me in bed. Nate removes my back brace and makes sure my body is positioned correctly in bed. I avoid making eye contact with anyone, I am afraid to find out what their faces will tell me. My parents let me know they will be back for dinner, then head out of the room with Nate.
Emma sits on the chair next to my bed. Now is my chance to talk with her. She has been acting strange towards me all day.