Life is Better with You

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Small Steps

Levi’s POV

I opened the journal and read the words Charlotte wrote on the inside cover over and over again....

You don’t always need a plan, sometimes you just need to breathe...Well Charlotte tells me that all the time, whenever I start to panic about something, she tells me to breathe.

To trust...to let go...It’s a bit difficult to trust, who do I trust? Certainly not Emma. Do I trust Charlotte? Do I trust that I will eventually walk again?

I understand what she means by let go. That’s easier said than done though. She already sees me as a cripple, she’s already seen me panic on more than one occasion, she had to dive into the pool to save me from drowning myself for goodness sake! If I come out and tell her that I’m scared all the time, about everything, that I’m scared she’s going to leave or give up on me, that I need her! Who am I then? What is left of me?

Without realizing it, my pen is at the top of the first page and I write, ”Small Steps”, as the title of my first entry.

After that, the words just kept flowing... I’m afraid to let go, but I must try. One step at a time, I write.

I continue writing until the sun comes up, filling up a good 10 pages of the journal. I could’ve gone on to fill another 10 pages, but Nate disrupted me by bringing in my breakfast.

I quickly shut the journal and put it back on the nightstand.

“Wow, you look like shit”, Nate reminds me and laughs a little.

“Same to you mate”, I argue.

Nate and I have come to an understanding that when it comes to dealing with me, he’s going to say it like it is. And that’s fine with me. I have no problem giving him a hard time and he gives it right back; the way guys do. He can’t fully understand what I’m going through, but he treats me the way he’d want to be treated I’m sure, if he was the one in my position.

" Eat your breakfast will you, God only knows what Kelly has planned for you today”, he mocks.

" When is Charlotte coming back”, I ask him.

" She’s been gone all week and I don’t think I can handle Kelly torturing me any longer”, I try to joke, hoping he won’t catch onto my desperation.

“Soon, maybe today”, he says.

“Her father had a heart attack and needed emergency surgery”, he lets me know.

Oh no!! I really feel like a jerk now, here I’ve been only worried about myself when I really should’ve been worrying about Charlotte.

“He is going to be ok?” I ask unsure.

“Yes, they put in some stents and he’s going to make a full recovery, after some much-needed rest”, Nate assures me.

" Now hurry up before Kelly has my head”, he chuckles.

I arrive at the gym to see Kelly toying with the harness that hangs from the ceiling track. A pair of forearm crutches on the floor next to her.

She doesn’t think I will actually be able to use those, does she? After my failure at the parallel bars yesterday, you’d think she’d realize by now that my left side isn’t any help when it comes to figuring out how to walk.

I sit there, arms crossed waiting for her to finish what she’s doing.

“Don’t just sit there”, she demands.

" Come over so I can get this harness strapped to you”.

I roll over to her, slowly while showing her my disapproval. She gets the harness around me and locks my leg braces so that I can’t bend my knees, then adjusts the harness so that I’m standing.

This feels so strange. My feet are on the ground, but I still feel like I’m dangling from the ceiling. My hips lose control and I start swaying side to side, back and forth until Kelly grabs a hold of both sides of the harness, keeping me still. She makes me stand there for a minute, continuing to securely grasp the harness so that I can gain my balance.

I’m still only able to stand and balance for a few seconds before my hips give way and I lose control again. She repeats this exercise with me over and over, letting me go when I’m balancing on my own, then lets the harness catch me when I can’t.

After a half hour of doing this she finally speaks, “Do this every day, and you’ll be able to balance yourself on your own a little longer each time”.

Kelly then puts one of the forearm crutches to my right arm and instructs me to use it for support each time I take a step with my left leg.

What the fuck! I think to myself. This isn’t going to be good.

She moves to my left side, grabbing onto my left arm by my arm pit, acting like my left crutch. ” Now bring your crutch forward, putting some weight on it and take a step with your left”, she instructs.

I do as she says, putting a lot more weight than I should on my right crutch. Since I can’t bend my knee, I have to slightly swing my leg around to take a step forward which immediately causes me to lose my balance, so she jerks my left arm towards her to pull me straight again. I manage to take a step with my right and again with my left one more time before I feel a painful leg spasm.

Oh no! Not again! ” This isn’t going to work! I’m not ready for this yet”, I start yelling at her.

My left arm and leg going into continuous spasms now. I’m going to lose my mind at any minute.

Just then I hear the gym door open and a familiar voice chip in, ” Thank you for all of your help Kelly, I’ll take over from here”.

I’m stunned, my left side still shaking when Charlotte approaches. She gently glides her hand down my left arm until she meets my hand and places it on her shoulder. She’s standing in front of me smiling and places my right hand on her other shoulder before bringing her hands to grasp my sides.

She looks up at me with her beautiful, caring multi color eyes, and says, ” Did you miss me?”

I remain frozen, though my left side still shaking while she tries to keep me steady. I stare back at her, submerged in her eyes. I don’t know what to say, what to think. I’m happy, relieved, scared all at the same time.

She keeps her eyes on me trying to read the expression on my face. Whatever it reads must have worried her because she moves my arms to wrap around her neck and then wraps her arms around my body, pulling me close to her, and hugs me.

As soon as she nuzzles her head into my chest, an overwhelmingly pleasant sensation takes over me and I hug her back.

" I did”, I tell her, burying my face into her hair.

“What?“, she asks softly.

" I did miss you”, I say.

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