Welcome to Friday Fiction. Thanks to those who came along last week and linked up. It was nice to be back and I enjoyed reading your stories. This week I’ve chosen an extract from the novel I wrote for NanoWrimo. I haven’t had much time to work on it, as I’ve been working on my other manudcript, but I’m itching to get back to it. This extract is a re-work of the opening scene, which I changed completely. I don’t know if you remember, but I shared the first passage without any editing for a previous Friday Fiction post. If you have the time to read both, I would be interested to hear your thoughts of the two pieces.
If you would like to link up your own work, the link is open as usual, via the blue frog at the end of this passage.
What does she want now? I wish everybody would just leave me alone.
Sitting in his wheelchair overlooking the manicured gardens of the hospital grounds – a scene he had to stare at day in day out – Dillon sighed.
‘Dillon, couldn’t you hear me calling,’ Angela, his physiotherapist said as she came up behind him.
‘I may have a shattered body but I’m not deaf,’ he said.
‘Oh dear, you’re a bit grumpy today, did you have a bad night?’
‘Every night’s a bad night, you should know that by now.’ How is it even possible to get a decent night’s sleep when you can’t move your legs or turn on your side. How can lying on your back in one position be good for anyone?
Angela came to kneel in front of him.
‘No need to glare at me, it won’t make any difference. You can be as grumpy as you like, but you are going to work hard for me today. You will probably hate me even more by the end of your session, but I don’t care.’
‘What’s the point, it’s not going to make any difference. I’m confined to this thing for the rest of my life.’
It’s no more than I deserve anyway.
‘No you’re not. The accident was terrible and you did a lot of damage, but you never severed a nerve in your spine. Your muscles are weak, but that doesn’t mean you will never walk again. Dillon look at me.’
I don’t want to look at you. Your enthusiasm makes me want to puke.
‘Meet me half way eh? Humour me by doing the exercises today. Besides, I’m sure you’re bored of sitting out in this garden looking at those rose bushes.’
You can say that again. For fuck’s sake, she’s never going to give in.
‘Fine, let’s get this over and done with,’ he said, turning his chair towards the main building. He knew his way to the physio suite well enough, having been there every day since moving to the hospital three weeks earlier. The white washed walls, fluorescent lighting and clinical disinfectant smell was becoming a way of life ever since the accident. The accident that broke almost every bone in his body; the accident that should have killed him but somehow didn’t. He was here, he was alive and there was even a chance that he would walk again. He should have been happy about that, so why did he feel as though he would have rather died?
‘Your arms are certainly getting stronger,’ Angela said as they went in to the physio room. You couldn’t wheel yourself all the way here from the garden when you first arrived.’
‘That’s because I’ve been lifting these weights all day every day,’ he said, taking the dumb bells that Angela offered him. ‘What else is there to do in this shit hole anyway?’
‘It’s good you’re getting stronger. The more you work your upper body, the more you will help to engage your core. We’ll get to work on your torso, but we need to build up the leg muscles first. They’ve been wasting away after you spent so long confined to a bed.’
The thought of the accident made Dillon shudder. He relived the moment every night in his dreams, always waking up as the motorbike he was riding span out of control. That was the last he could remember of what happened. He had woken up not knowing where he was, only conscious of the beeping sound filling the air around him, the oxygen mask on his face and the tubes sticking out of his arms. The realisation of not being able to feel a thing was still fresh in his mind, as was the sound of those beeps getting faster and faster as he tried to speak but couldn’t get the words out through the oxygen mask that felt as though it was smothering his face. There were doctors and nurses all around him. He didn’t understand what they were saying. They were speaking in French that much he recognised. Then he remembered he had been on his way home when the accident had happened.
‘Are you settled here now?’ Angela asked, bringing him back to the present.
Oh God, she’s making small talk. I really can’t be arsed with this.
‘Yes it’s great, thanks. Just like staying in a hotel.’
‘Can we just get on with this,’ he said.
For all the good it will do.
The physio session was agony. Having stronger arms did help, at least when it came to supporting his weight whilst holding the bars. His legs couldn’t take the weight of his body just yet, but he could at least feel them as they scraped along the floor. Sweating from the strain, Dillon flopped back in to his chair.
‘Don’t you want to walk out of here one day?’
‘Stop giving me all that psycho shit, of course I do, what you think?’
‘I think that you have got to stop feeling sorry for yourself and get on with it then,’ Angela said. ‘You’re 23 years old so you’re not done yet. You need to get out there and start living again. Anyway, we’re done for now, you can relax. I’ll see you tomorrow.’ Angela collected her things and left the room.
Cheeky bitch, who does she think she is? Fuck her. I don’t feel sorry for myself, I’m just being realistic. Aren’t I?
He stared at the door.
‘Aargh,’ he said, throwing one of the gym balls as hard as he could.
Starting the exercises again, Dillon went over and over them until he felt sick with exhaustion. Glancing at the clock, he saw that it was nearly lunchtime. His dad and sister wouldn’t be on their way until later that evening. The hospital was less than an hour by car from where they lived, which wasn’t too far, but neither of them could visit until after they had finished work. At least it was nearer than the French hospital where he’d first been taken after the accident. The French doctor had explained that he couldn’t be moved straight away because of the injuries he’d sustained, so he had remained in there for a month before being flown back to England. His dad and Maia had been to see him, of course, but they couldn’t stay with him all the time. He was on his own for most of the day, with nothing to do except lie or sit and stare at the ceiling, wondering how his life had ended up at that point.
Of course, he knew why. The series of events that led up to this point started in his hometown. Leaving had seemed like the right thing to do at the time. It was always his intention to come back one day, but not like this. Not as a cripple and not when things were still so unsettled. It had been five years since he left: five years since Kate went missing. Back then, everybody blamed him and with her still missing, Dillon wondered whether they would still feel that way, after all she had yet to come home or be found. He doubted whether his accident would cause the people of this small town to change their attitudes towards him, they were more likely to think that he got what he deserved. More than likely, they were right.
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