In Between Shadows

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Chapter 10

The limousine had just turned into the long, curved driveway when the second flash lit the sky, and Roy Clark automatically slammed his foot on the brake pedal as he saw the branch fall. The car jerked to a halt, and he flung open the door, as did his passengers. They had all seen Brad flung from the wheelchair, and now they were all racing towards him, getting soaked in the process.

Roy was the first to reach him, and he fell on his knees in the wet grass, his hands gripping his friend’s shoulders.

“My God, man! What the hell are you doing out in this weather?”

Brad just groaned, trying to move the arm that was trapped under him.

“Is he all right?” Jessica squealed.

The twins and Clint were struggling to move the heavy branches when Luke and the doctor reached them. And for the next few minutes there was chaos as the gale swept a few more branches from the trees, and they had to dodge them. Max ordered the twins, and Jessica to get inside the house out of the storm.

“I’m ok,” Brad yelled as Roy helped him into a sitting position. “Just get me back into the chair. You’re all getting drenched.”

“Not that wheelchair,” Luke shouted, to make himself heard over the noise of the thunder. “The wheel is bent and buckled. I’ll carry him!”

Brad shook his head vigorously. “No! Get another from the clinic.” He looked desperately to Max. “Or just leave me here, and get out of this storm yourselves. At least I have a rain jacket! Just leave me!“”

“Not a chance,” Roy spoke up quickly. “Listen to me, Brad! We used to do that ‘fireman’s lift’ when we were at school, remember? I can do it. Trust me. It’s not far. Just let yourself go limp. Ok?”

“We can manage you between the four of us,” Max yelled, above another loud clap of thunder. Lightning flashed across the sky and yet another branch fell, and he added, “We need to get you out of this squall. Don’t argue! We are not leaving you out here!”

“There’s another wheelchair in the house somewhere, one of the storerooms I think,” Brad groaned, but they paid no attention to him.

Roy stood upright, indicating to Luke and Clint how to lift Brad into position over his shoulder. He repeated very firmly, “Go limp, Brad.”

By the time they got Brad into the mansion, they were all completely drenched. They put Brad down on a couch in the entrance hall.

“Thanks guys,” he said. “Go and shower, all of you. Roy, there are clothes for you and Clint in my cupboard. Nanny, will you show them, please.? There’s new underwear there somewhere too. Take whatever you want, it should fit, - and have the staff put your wet clothes in the dryer. ”

Carrie had been crying, but she helped Brad pull off his jacket. “You need to bath. You’re soaked to the skin. One of the staff has gone to fetch the other wheelchair,” she said, towelling his hair. “I was so scared when I saw that tree fall. Are you hurt, darling?”

“No, I’m ok! Quite a storm! I should have come back earlier, but….” He looked up at her. “Are you ok? Is Sarah still sleeping through this?”

“No, Jess took her upstairs with her to shower. She’s never liked thunder.”

“And you’ve been crying? I’m sorry I didn’t come back before the storm set in. Just caused everybody more trouble?”

“Did you - did you talk to God?”

He shivered. “I tried. Didn’t really hear from Him. I - I think He’s angry with me.” He raised eyes to the ceiling, and spoke loudly, addressing God as if He couldn’t hear. “You don’t have to take it out on everybody else though!”

Carrie smiled. “Oh Brad! That’s silly, and you know it! Are you blaming God for the storm?” She looked around as the staff member brought a wheelchair into the hall. “Thank you, Deacon.”

Deacon hesitated, looking at Brad. “Can I give you a hand? You’re soaking wet!”

“I can manage, thanks.” Then he frowned and added, “Maybe you can help me get in and out of the bath? I - I think I twisted my arm when I fell out of the chair. It feels - weak.”

Carrie’s eyes widened in dismay. Brad’s strong arms were why he could be so self-reliant at the moment. Without the use of them too, he would fall deeper into the well of despair, and that was the last thing she wanted for him.

“You said you weren’t hurt!”

“I’m not hurt! My arm just feels a bit numb. I can probably manage by myself, but if Deacon’s there, it’ll be easier. Please Carrie, can you get that chair over here? I’m pretty cold!”

The wheelchair was not as comfortable as the one he had been using, and he complained about it as they took him to the bedroom.

“If I have to spend the rest of my life in one of these,” he grumbled, “I want a decent, electronic one.”

Ian knocked on the bedroom door a few minutes after he was bathed and back in the bedroom. Deacon had left, and Carrie was helping Brad dress again.

“If you’re male, you can come in,” Brad called, still grumpy.

Ian laughed as he entered. “I was last time I checked. Roy said you all got pretty soaked out there! He had to leave, but he said he’ll return your clothes when he comes to fetch Clint after dinner. Anything I can help with?”

Carrie nodded, smiling. “Yes. You can help your brother lift himself so I can get his tracksuit pants on. One of his arms isn’t strong enough.”

“You got hurt?”

Brad scowled. “No. I fell on my arm, that’s all. It’ll come right.”

He lapsed into a cranky silence as they helped him dress.

During dinner, the silence prevailed, and Carrie was afraid he’d fallen back into depression again. He did, however, eat well, and his arm did not seem to be causing him any difficulty. The rest of the individuals at the table kept up a flurry of conversation and now and again, a half-smile appeared, so it was obvious that he was trying to listen to what was said.

Sarah would not go to bed as long as she could hear the thunder, so she sat in her pyjamas on Brad’s lap, and he read her a story. Each time the thunder clapped she jumped and gripped his shirt, and he held her closer.

“It won’t hurt you, Sweetie. Sit still now, or you’ll knock the book out of my hand.”

“Why don’t you play something on the piano for her?” Max asked shrewdly. “That will take her mind off the noise of the thunder.”

Brad swallowed, and frowned at the doctor. “I - I - haven’t played for ages. I don’t know if I even can anymore.”

Max raised his eyebrows. “Really? You play with your fingers, Brad, not your legs! It’s time you started using your talents again. You can’t sulk forever!”

“I’m not …” He stopped suddenly, and his eyes met those of the doctor. He took a breath - and almost smiled as he remembered what Carrie had said earlier. He looked around for her, but she had gone to help Vicki and Luke settle the triplets.

“Daddy play piano?” Sarah asked, gripping onto him as a particularly loud explosion of thunder sounded.

He hesitated, then nodded. “Just for a little while then. You want to play something too?”

For a moment Sarah sat gazing into his face, then she looked down at her hands. He had always insisted that she wash her hands before she touched his piano. “I not like thunder,” she muttered. “My hands clean, Daddy.”

He smiled, and gave her a hug. She certainly was not going to go to the bathroom on her own during a thunderstorm.

“Nanny wiped your hands after dinner, so you don’t need to wash them again. Let’s go play something.”

Ian looked up from the magazine he was reading, and got to his feet. ’I’ll push you through. Is your arm ok now?”

“Aches a bit, but I can still use it. I told you I didn’t get hurt. I just fell on it when the wheelchair tipped.”

“Probably bruised a muscle,” Max said practically. “At least you fell on the grass and not the pathway. That branch must have come down with quite a force to have tipped that wheelchair over sideways. You were lucky not to have been hurt more seriously. Or maybe God’s watching out for you.”

Ian pushed the wheelchair through to the music room and positioned it in front of the piano. The lid was closed, and Brad sat looking at it nervously for a few seconds before he lifted it slowly. Sarah clung to his shirt, making no attempt to touch the instrument.

“It won’t play itself!” Max said, when he saw Brad biting his lip, just looking at the keys. “For God’s sake, Brad, you’ve spent thirty years playing that thing! I know you haven’t forgotten how to play, in just a couple of months!”

“I haven’t forgotten.” Brad scowled, placing his fingers on the keys and taking a deep breath as the notes of the piano sprang to life. He closed his eyes, letting the sound wash over him for a moment. It had been so long since he had wanted to use his talent, and his heart was thudding so strongly that he was afraid his little girl would feel it through his clothes.

Sarah sat very still within his arms, leaning back against his chest, listening to the random notes that he played. Even when the thunder crashed and the storm’s fury lashed the rain against the windows, she didn’t move. Music had always soothed her, and she was safe, close to her daddy.

Brad played softly, gently allowing his fingers to glide over the notes. At first, he wasn’t even aware of what he was playing, then he glanced down at the tired Sarah, and began to play the tune that Carrie had always sung to her to lull her to sleep, The Skye Boat Song.

Carrie came into the music room during the tune, but she stood by the door, not letting her husband know she was there, a smile of proud satisfaction on her face. She was joined by Jessica and Clint, and they all listened to the music in rapt silence. He played another of Sarah’s favourites, Morning Town Ride, and when he had played the last note he took his hands off the piano and stroked Sarah’s cheek as she slept.

“Well done, brother,” Ian said, grinning as he moved forward to take his niece in his arms. “I’ll take her up to bed.”

Brad turned his head as Carrie came to his side, and he gave a rather embarrassed smile. “Well, it seems that I can still play the piano - without the pedals.”

“Did you really think you couldn’t?” She kissed him on the top of his head. “Is that why we haven’t heard you play for weeks? And what’s your excuse for not doing any writing?”

He shrugged, pulling her down onto his lap. “Just laziness, I suppose,” he said flippantly. “I - just haven’t wanted to. Too wrapped up in my misery. I’m sorry.”

Max patted him on his shoulder. “I think this storm has knocked some sense back into your head! Or probably your talk with God did that. You certainly seem a bit more like your old self.”

“God didn’t say anything! And it was hard-going trying to talk to Him.” He frowned. “Quite frankly, I didn’t know what to say! I’ve been so… so …”

Max smiled at Brad’s struggle to get the word out. “Depressed, Brad! You’ve been depressed! Probably still are. But you are getting better! I’m sure you must feel it too!”

“I - I think so. Still not happy about - about the way things are, but - but I do realise that I can’t let my family suffer my - my bitterness. Maybe I will learn to accept it in time.”

Carrie sighed deeply. “No! That’s not what we’re going to do! You are going to forget all those negative thoughts right now! As soon as that arm of yours is strong again, we’re going to get you on your feet. Do you need me to repeat that? We’re going to get you back on your feet!”

He swallowed as he gazed into her face, and tears stung his eyes. This beautiful woman of his! Her faith was so much stronger than his at the moment. He couldn’t let her down! He had to try. It had just been so much easier when he had God on his side too! But he took a breath, swallowed again, and nodded.

“I’ll - I’ll try! But I don’t want to disappoint you.”

“You can never do that, love. Get that into your head. Maybe this will be a new miracle for you.”

Brad stiffened, but he didn’t reply. Why couldn’t he have faith as big as Carrie’s? Or even as big as a mustard seed? He glanced at the old bible that was lying open on the coffee table. Jessica and Clint had been looking for scriptures to use as a game for their pre-teen Sunday School class, and hadn’t taken it back to the library when Roy came to take Clint back home. Each of the family had their own bible, but that one had belonged to his father.

He edged the wheelchair closer to the table and picked it up. As he did so, the pages fluttered, and he found himself gazing down at a highlighted scripture that had been his dad’s favourite. It was in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, chapter 40, verse 31.

‘Those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings as eagles: they will run, and not be weary: they will walk, and not faint.’

He gasped, and buried his face in Carrie’s neck as he let the tears fall. Could it be a sign? Oh, please let it be a sign, he prayed silently.

Carrie smiled as she took the bible from him, placing it back on the table. She had seen the scripture, and though she said nothing, she sent up a silent prayer of thanks, knowing without a doubt that her darling husband would get his miracle back.

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