In Between Shadows

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Chapter 6

Their eyes met, but she didn’t move. There were dark circles around her bloodshot eyes, accentuating the paleness of her face, and he wondered if she’d slept at all! She wasn’t wearing her wig today, but one of the staff had styled her hair into a close crop-cut, framing her lovely face.

Brad swallowed back a hard lump in his throat. He was sure that she could hear his heart pounding, but he didn’t know what to say. He wanted to take her into his arms and kiss her, tell her how much he loved her, and ask for her forgiveness once again, but he was too afraid of her rejection this time! Where had she spent the night?

He opened and closed his mouth several times, but no words came out, and in the end, he gave up and lowered his gaze. He had lost her, he knew it!

“Are you going to eat breakfast?” Her voice was flat, toneless.

Brad raised his eyes again, but he couldn’t trust his voice, so he just gave a very brief nod. It wasn’t as if he really wanted food, but he needed to somehow appease her anger, and if that meant that eating breakfast would do that, he was prepared to try.

She came towards him, and he stiffened as she stood in front of the wheelchair and very hesitantly put her hand on the armrest. He looked from her hand to her face, then his own hand hovered over hers for the briefest moment before he touched her fingers, his eyes searching hers for permission. She swallowed as if she was as nervous as he was, then, very slowly, she bent forward and let her lips touch his.

He groaned his unexpected pleasure, and grabbed her waist with both hands, pulling her forward to draw her onto his lap. But she gave a little cry and flinched, jolting backwards. He let her go immediately, shocked into silence, but she bit her lip and moved back to him, muttering, “I’m sorry. It - it’s still painful.”

He was confused, frowning, hardly daring to touch her. “What is? Are you hurt? Your hip can’t still be sore, surely?”

She cautiously settled on his lap, saying, “Not - not my hip. My ribs. Where you - where you kicked me!”

He froze! What did she say? He must have heard wrong! He stared at her in horror, but she lifted her t-shirt a little to show him the purple bruise across her ribcage.

He gasped, his eyes wide in sudden panic. “My God, Carrie! I did that?”

Carrie dropped the t-shirt quickly, covering the bruise. “You didn’t know! You were fighting the allergic reaction! I just got in the way when you kicked out. It’s fine, Brad!”

“Has Max seen it?” He was completely panicked now. All he could ever remember about these allergic reactions was that he felt as if he was dying while the breath was being squeezed out of him! What had he done? No wonder Max had blasted him with his fury!

“Uncle Max knows you kicked me, but he hasn’t seen the bruise,” she whispered, tentatively putting her arms around his neck. “Are you - are you still so - so angry with me, Brad?”

He didn’t understand her question. Angry with her? He wanted to hold her, but he was too afraid that he would hurt her again. “Why would I be angry with you? I’m not angry. Just - ashamed, I guess. I thought - I thought this time I’d lost you for good! I’m so sorry. I don’t know why I’m like this! I keep telling myself that I have to pull myself together but - but….” His voice trailed off and he felt the tears hot on his cheeks again. Oh, hell! This emotionalism had to stop! He wasn’t a baby!

Carrie’s finger slid across his face as she brushed the tears away, and her soft lips caressed his forehead. “I know how depression works, Brad! You can’t just pull yourself together. You need help!”

Her closeness made his heart pound and he hid his face in her shoulder. “I need my life back! I need my wife back.” he cried. “I need you!”

“You’ll always have me.” she said simply, but firmly. “I’ve tried not to pressure you too much, but - but this can’t go on any longer!”

“Help me, Carrie!” he sobbed. “I do need help! I can’t face this alone anymore. Help me!”

“You close down whenever anyone tries to talk to you. No one knows how to make you understand that you’re not in this alone, Brad! We’re all here, but you’re shutting us out!”

“I can’t walk! I’m a - a useless invalid! A cripple.”

“Stop that right now! If you want my help, you must understand that I’m not going to stand for negativity. There is nothing useless about you and you are not an invalid!” She smiled gently. “Did I let you be pessimistic after your last spinal op? No. You worked hard to get back on your feet. Are you willing to work as hard as that again?”

He was silent for a moment, then he muttered. “You don’t understand, Carrie. God promised me that I’d be ok if I…” He lowered his head. “…if I gave Him the glory and - and helped as many people as He sent my way! I - I didn’t always keep to my end of the bargain - but He - He always kept to His! Until now! I - I can’t f-feel His presence anymore. My miracle is over!”

She narrowed her eyes. “So, now you’re sulking because Daddy has said “no” for a change? Or has He? Maybe He’s waiting for you to try helping yourself a little too! Remember what He said to you? That even when you believe you can’t, He can!”

Brad sat very still, the shock of her words registering on his face, while she went on.

“Have you done any writing since the surgery? Have you played even one note on the piano? No! You’ve done nothing! You hardly speak to any of us. You won’t make the effort to go out into the grounds, even when it’s not raining. I’m surprised you agree to go to church with us! You’re sinking deeper into depression everyday - and the first time you’ve even managed to show your anger was yesterday, when we thought you’d taken the wrong pills on purpose!”

“I didn’t! I promise, I didn’t!”

She took a breath. “I know. And I’m sorry I thought that! But surely you can understand why? It’s been nearly two months now, and you said yourself that you don’t want to live like this anymore!”

“Carrie, I will never try anything like that, I promise! It was just a mistake!”

He held her close against him, and his lips found hers at last. But she pulled her head back and gazed into his eyes. “So, what’s the answer, Brad? Are you willing to work with me so we can beat this depression of yours? Will you at least try not to become despondent and frustrated if things don’t move as quickly as you’d like them to?”

He bit his lip, but he gave a quick nod. “If - if you can promise not to give up on me when I fail!”

“Well, that’s already a defeatist attitude, isn’t it?” she said. “You can’t fail! It isn’t a test, Brad. We just carry on until you feel that you can cope again, and hopefully you feel a whole lot better than you do now! Ok?”

He swallowed, nodded again, and whispered, “Ok.”

Carrie smiled at him and allowed him to kiss her, and he wrapped her in his arms, being careful not to touch her ribs.

He felt terribly guilty that he had hurt her, though confused. How had he kicked her when his legs didn’t work anymore? He hated these allergic reactions, when he could never remember what he had done. They terrified him. Why would they think he would ever bring one on himself?


She moved in his arms. “Yes?”

“Where - where did you sleep?”

She gave a little smile. “I stayed in Sarah’s room. You were so angry.” A long pause, then she mused, “I heard you scream. I wanted to come in, but I was - too ashamed! You’ve never been as angry as that with me!”

His arms tightened around her. “Please, don’t ever do that again! I thought I’d lost you.”

“You’ll never lose me, Brad!” She wet her lips and added, “And you’ll never lose God either! He’s still there. Waiting in between the shadows! Waiting for you to come back to Him.”

Brad drew in his breath sharply, and closed his eyes, resting his chin on her head. For the first time in two months. he felt relaxed. Not happy, not in control, not even contented, just calm enough to know that Carrie was not going to give up on him. There was hope! Even if he couldn’t walk!

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