It always felt like someone else was pushing my chair. It helped me think. I rolled my eyes and risked a glance back at Jacob. I was met by his warm green eyes and I smiled. "Help me" I mouthed. He laughed to himself. I rolled my eyes and winked. He tilted back in his chair and shooed me with his hand. "Back to your audience," he laughed. I put my hand up and turned around. Ashley, Marilyn, and Dana were in front of me. "We haven't seen you in forever! How are you?" Dana was rattling her mouth. Fast. "Despite what everyone thinks, I've been doing very well. I just want things to be . . . Almost the same," I muttered under my breath. Tears burned my eyes. I couldn't blink them away anymore. "Excuse me," I sniffled, turning and speeding out of the room. Footsteps chased behind me. A heavy pair of feet. I risked a glance back, and then stopped. "Jacob what are you doing?"
His sympathetic eyes found mine. "Let's go," he murmured. "I'm fine."
Jacob stared down at me. "You're about to go into hysterics, I'll take you to lunch early," he said calmly. "We'll go out for the day." His voice was assuring and calming. It was like he knew what to say, and exactly when. He slowly extended his hand to me, his eyes never leaving mine. They saw more than my face. They saw who I was inside. Every bit of my soul, all of my pain, everything.
It was like it was his to share, though it was all mine.
All mine, and I had never been so alone in my life, even with the looming presence of something else that was with me half of the time since the accident.
It was obvious Michelle was in a lot of pain. I had no idea how badly it hurt her but she was drowning. There was that forlorn look in her face all the time, the look I had when Mom died.
We went silently to my car. She opened the passenger side door and pulled herself in. Her seatbelt clicked and in seconds her wheelchair was folded up and she handed it to me. "Is it okay if it goes in the backseat? I broke the trunk lock." Her head bobbed once. "Put it on the floor though."
The whole ride was silent. She just stared out the window. I didn't want to make her feel uncomfortable at all, not since her biggest life changing experience happened in a car. I concentrated on the road entirely, not moving one hand from the wheel at all. "You don't have to act so paranoid. I can tell you're uncomfortable." Her voice was a feathery sigh in that statement, like she was irritated but trying to hide it by whispering. "It's better I be uncomfortable than you, Michelle."
She sighed. "Everyone has been treating me like I'm some sort of . . . Like I'm dying and like I should be pampered. I don't want to be treated any differently than I did before the accident, but nobody seems to see this. I can't do some things that I used to. Well the world will just need to turn a blind eye to that and pay attention to the fact that though I am not physically whole, I am whole in spirit, and one day, I will walk again."
Her small speech-y rant-y thing was moving. However I wanted the world to leave me alone and allow me to die after my incident. She wants to look them all in the face and spit.
I parked the car in front of the mall and she tilted her chair back to grab the wheelchair. "Hello were you a gymnast too?" I asked, astonished by how she could nearly bend all the way back on her own. Her sideways smile and wink indicated that I was correct.
"So, Jacob, where do we start?"
I looked at her across the table. I didn't want to talk about it. I knew she'd lost more than I had but I hid this from the world. Her hand snaked over the cold surface of the table, capturing mine. "I lost my mother when I was small. It's nothing." Something warm touched my face, slithering down my cheek. It touched my hand, and then Michelle's. We both pulled our arms back instinctively. "What . . . Was that?" The words escaping Michelle's mouth went through my ears that would not hear.
Oh, Cupid, you little devil. I really do despise you, sir. You don't pull together two burn survivors. Not when both are completely unstable. What are you doing?
Only I understand all the emotions these little humans feel, Cupid. I watch them, I see them as they love, cry, hate, mourn. Everything they do I have seen. Cupid only seems to understand love. My lovelies, I'm not as cruel as they say. I feel sympathy for the children that lose their parents to me, for the parents that lose their children. For brothers and sisters who lose a sibling. I don't enjoy my field of expertise. I really don't.
Well I didn't until this moment in time. I have never seen anything as beautiful as this moment.
Jacob asked Michelle if she would go to the prom with him.
Of all people, he'd picked the only girl that couldn't dance. I suppose he saw her soul as clearly as I had, if not clearer. I saw her eyes water over. Her positive answer escaped her lips in a breath.
Prom was months away, so far.
And the events leading up to this dance were all dull, except for one more moment that stood out in Michelle's recovery. You'll love me for witnessing it, lovelies.
. . . Maybe.