Life is Better with You

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Pain

Levi’s POV

Someone was always with me or had me in their sight for the next two weeks. Everyone was still on edge, thinking I was going to lose it at any moment. So, Charlotte, Nate and Sarah rotated the night shift.

Normally this would annoy the hell out of me, but I don’t blame them after what I put them through.

Nate and Charlotte acted the same as they did with me before the pool incident, but Sarah was a different story. She was no longer her bubbly carefree self. Whenever she was near me, she would only say a few words, never really making eye contact with me. I think she was still freaked out and blamed herself somehow.

I miss the Sarah who smiled about everything, talked too much, and occasionally made me laugh. So last night when it was her turn to be on Levi duty, I decided to confront her... well apologize really in hopes that she would return to her old self again.

“Sarah”, I started. She briefly looked up at me then back down at her book.

" Yes”, she softly answers.

“Please look at me”, I sigh.

She closes her book and places it on her lap then slowly lifts her head to face me.

“It’s not your fault Sarah”, I assert.

A puzzled expression covers her face, “What?”

" I want you to know that what happened at the pool a few weeks ago was not your fault... It was all my fault, and I’m sorry”, I tell her, praying she will stop blaming herself.

Her reaction was not what I expected. She practically leaped out of the recliner towards me, her hand rubbing her forehead and angrily fires back,

" I was the last one to leave the pool door unlocked and you could have DIED Levi!!”

I’m a little shocked, I’ve never seen Sarah angry about anything before... she’s a little scary!

“I know, I’m so sorry Sarah”, I try to calm her.

After a few moments she sits back in the chair and reclines, opening her book back up to read it.

“I’m sorry too, I’m ... I’m just still mad at you right now”, she admits.

“Fair enough, ... but I hope you can forgive me soon”.

I know she will when I catch her smile before looking down at her book again.

The days have been long. I’m constantly moving from one therapy to the next, pausing only to eat. This is Charlotte’s clever way of keeping me distracted from any irrational thought I might have.

I have made friends with another patient. His name is Jake, and he is 28, just a couple years older than me. We meet in the exercise room the same time every day. He was in a car accident leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, but he has all his upper body strength unlike me. I envy him for that and the fact that he can hold himself up on the parallel bars or with crutches to walk. He’s only been here two months longer than me, but he makes it a point to show me his progress and encourages me to keep working.

Nate’s in charge of working with me in the weight room, but Charlotte spends the most time with me trying to get me to stand for more than 5 seconds before my hips start swaying out of control.

My left arm and leg have not been progressing the way I want; the way Charlotte was expecting. My arm definitely can’t hold up my body weight and the fact that I look like a complete idiot trying to take steps with my left leg infuriates me, and I end up acting like a jerk towards Charlotte. I can’t help it, I know it’s not her fault either, she is trying everything she can think of to get me to take a few steps when only my right side is cooperating. She’s tired and stressed out over it, I can see it on her face, and it makes me more discouraged. I can’t believe she hasn’t given up on me yet. Whether I am a jerk or not, she stays, forcing me to keep going.

" How do you do this every day?“, I ask her while she is holding me steady by my waist patiently waiting for me to drag my left leg forward.

" I want to be here every day, I never knew what I wanted to do in high school and I just picked some random college, changed my major four times, and still didn’t know who I was or wanted to be. I saw my sister struggle after her accident and it bothered me, so I went back to school and figured out this is what I needed to do”, she happily explains.

" Don’t you get tired of being here all the time trying to help me? You’re always here, when do you see your friends or boyfriend?”

I’m curious as to why this beautiful selfless girl doesn’t have multiple guys falling for her.

" First of all, I don’t have a boyfriend, most guys can’t handle the amount of time I work, but I guess I will find a guy who accepts me for who I am and what I do some day.... and I have a few friends, they just live far from here”, she says to me then bites her bottom lip and stares off for a moment.

" And no, I don’t get tired of being here helping you”, she adds matter-of-factly.

I’m at a loss for words so I just give her a half smile. I don’t understand it, what guy wouldn’t want her? Or better yet, why would she give up any of her free time to be here helping me?

The next morning starts off in a terrible way. I woke up in pain from left arm and leg spasms. I could not control them, and it took both Nate and Sarah’s help to get me dressed and in my chair. Thankfully, the spasms and pain lessened by breakfast, but they were still happening every twenty minutes or so and my mood was turning grim.

To make matters worse, I happen to roll by a table in the hall with this week’s newspapers and tabloids and catch a glance of Emma’s face in the upper right corner of a magazine. What the hell is this? I pick up the magazine and sure enough it’s Emma standing with some guy, his arm around her waist and the caption reads, “Emma Taylor finds new Love, breaks up with fiancé Levi Dawson”. What is this, a sick joke? I throw the magazine against the wall and roll straight back to my room. That didn’t take her long to forget about me and move on to the next guy. I slam my door shut and head over to the window.

The painful spasms return full force again! And why wouldn’t they, I think to myself. I am just a hopeless cause anyway.

Moments later I hear Sarah talking to Charlotte outside my door.

" Did you see the tabloid”, Sarah asks Charlotte.

“Yes, I did”, Charlotte answers with annoyance clear in her voice.

“Can you please have Nate bring my jeep around to the back door of the building?” Charlotte asks her.

Charlotte knocks on my door and enters my room. I keep my focus out the window as I hear her come closer to me. She does not speak; she just walks over and sits down on the windowsill facing me. I am in pain and she sees it, my left arm constricting then spasming.

She gently holds my left hand with hers and starts massaging my fingers then my hand and up my arm, slowly bending and straightening my elbow, pausing momentarily when I wince. She stays quiet while she works her magic on my arm, looking up every few minutes so that our eyes fix on each other. Her softhearted multi-color eyes focusing on mine, her way of asking if I’m alright.

After my arm calms and the pain goes away, she remains with me and places both of her hands on my knees then squeezes them slightly causing me to look at her.

Her thoughtful next words left me dumbstruck and I couldn’t tear my eyes away from her face.

” If she couldn’t accept you at your worst, then she didn’t deserve you at your best”.

What did that mean? Does Charlotte think I really deserve more?

Without further hesitation she gets up and softly places a kiss on my forehead, which catches me completely off guard then says,

" We are going for a ride, so let’s get you into this chair”, she points to the smaller mechanical wheelchair.

" Wait... what?” I choke out.

" I’m taking you out for the afternoon, it’s time you get out of this place, a change of scenery”, she says smiling.

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