TITLE: Two Steps Forward, No Steps Back
AUTHOR: Jos Mous
DISCLAIMER: I own none of these characters, I'm not making any profit out of this, blahblahblah.
PAIRING: Sam/Brooke seems most likely here.
NOTE: This is nothing more than a crazy idea that came to me while I was at school. I don't know if I'll continue it since all I have right now is this short prologue, but since it's written in a (for me) rather unusual style I'd really like to hear some (or a) reaction(s) to it.
**Why did you go after Brooke?**
**Someone'll have to carry you.**
**That's not funny Sam.**
**You're not going to like what I have to say.**
**Nicole's in rehab.**
**We've arranged a new school for you.**
**How bad is it?**
**See that Mac?**
**Fortunately the upper half is far larger than the lower half, but...**
**Stay with me.**
**Brooke, careful now.**
**Hey, it could be worse.**
**You mean everybody in my former class.**
**How is she?**
**And she has to do some community services.**
**I'm afraid the crash caused a transverse lesion.**
**Your big sister is in a wheelchair.**
**You are a very lucky lady.**
**Don't want two people with broken backs.**
**God, I was so scared.**
**Most of your injuries have healed just fine.**
**There's no way we can install an elevator.**
**Funny, I didn't even know we were dating.**
**Look, everybody in our class sent you a postcard.**
**Basically it means that your spinal nerve has been cut in half.**
**I'm sorry we couldn't move your bed to ground level.**
**If I didn't push you out of the way, you could be dead.**
**Why did you go after Brooke?**
Sam was interrupted from her incoherent line of thoughts. The ride home had been long and boring. During those trips from school to home her mind always started to wander. Usually it wandered to Nic's impersonation of a maniacal drunk driver and the very long summer that followed. She hadn't completely accepted what had happened yet, but she knew that she would in time. She wasn't sure if that was a bad thing or a good thing, though. The back doors of the small van opened and someone pulled Sam back and out of it.
"See you tomorrow, Sam."
"Yeah, later Dave."
Sam turned and made her way to the Palace. One image stuck in her mind. The image of her doctor, telling her one simple fact.
**You'll never be able to walk again.**
NOTE: The problem with my ideas is that they never come with some sort of coherent plot. The idea for this one was (obviously) 'Sam in a wheelchair', but other than that... nada. So I'll just see where it goes from here.
The alarm-clock did what alarm-clocks do best. It made a high-pitched, barely tolerable noise just to wake up the occupant of the bed. Said occupant managed to push the correct button and make the whining stop in one graceful movement of her right arm. After that the occupant of the bed pulled herself upright with a the help of a bar that had been fastened against the wall. She then proceeded to take off the shirt she had worn that night and casually threw it to the floor. She leaned over and gathered up her clothes with one hand while the other tightly gripped the metal bar. Putting on bra, shirt and sweater was fairly simple. Putting on the pair of blue jeans, on the other hand, was always a challenge. First she carefully put each of her uncooperative legs into the equally uncooperative item of clothing. With much effort and a lot of help from the bar she managed to pull herself up enough to put the pants on. Having done that she stretched out one leg and crossed the other over it so she could put on a sock. After that she repeated the process with the other leg. Then she did it again, but this time to put on her shoes. Now fully clothed she pulled herself up and into her wheelchair which stood conveniently next to the bed. The wheelchair was black with a simple lightweight frame, two large wheels, two small wheels and two supports for her to put her feet on. The chair part of the wheelchair was fairly comfortable, with the back ending just below her shoulders. The back of the chair also had two handles, but since she was not one to be pushed around they were not used very often. With a professional ease that betrayed a lot of experience she turned her wheelchair and headed for one of the doors in her room.
"Hi Sam." Brooke greeted as the brunette entered their shared bathroom.
"Hey." Sam greeted back.
Brooke automatically moved over so that Sam could position herself next to the blonde in front of the sink. The brunette put the brakes on her wheelchair and sat up on one of the arm-rests, careful as not to unbalance her wheelchair too much. As she brushed her teeth she noticed Brooke staring at her.
"What?" Sam asked.
"Nothing." Brooke answered. "It's just..."
"I sometimes just wonder when exactly your being in a wheelchair became normal."
Sam shrugged. "I guess it became normal ever since I got my spinal nerve severed. Not sitting in a wheelchair would be abnormal after that."
"That's not what I mean. I just wonder when it was that we sort of stopped noticing."
"You're still noticing it Brooke." Sam pointed out, brushing her own hair. "Otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation."
"Yeah, but still..."
"Brooke, I'm going to be stuck in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. Deal with it." Sam snapped a little harsher than she had intended. "I did."
"You see, that's one of the problems. You shouldn't just accept the fact that you're crippled for life like it's no big deal."
"Then what should I do?" Sam asked casually. "Get depressed, bitter and suicidal?"
"Well... yeah... I mean... sort of."
Sam grinned and got back in her chair. "I'll pass." She said. "Help me down the stairs?"
"Let me finish up here first."
Breakfast was quiet with neither girl really in the mood to talk. Sam wondered if Brooke blamed herself for putting her in that wheelchair. It was very much possible. After all, if she hadn't taunted Nicole, or if she hadn't run away from the table, or if she hadn't just wandered up the street without looking, or, or, or, if, if, if... Well, in Sam's opinion it was done and over with. Yeah, she was in a wheelchair and yeah, it sucked, but that was it. No need to make such a big fuss about it. After all, giving up one good pair of legs to save the life of another seemed like a pretty fair deal to Sam.
Obviously, Brooke didn't share that sentiment.
Sam was about to say something, anything, when a horn blared outside.
"Crap." Sam said. "He's early." She quickly moved away from the table and went to pick up her bag.
"Bye Sam." Brooke said.
"Later!" Sam shouted as she raced towards the door.
"You're early." Sam said, a little miffed.
"Sorry about that." Dave, her taxi driver, said. "But Mike got sick, so I gotta pick up one of his kids."
"Well, you could've called."
"I'll do better next time, alright? Now, if you would be so kind as to get inside."
Dave opened the back of the mini-van and pulled down a metal plate from its upright position. He then proceeded to push a small button and the plate slowly descended towards the ground. Sam got on the miniature elevator and within moments she stood in the back of the van, the doors once again closed behind her.
"Who're we picking up?" Sam asked, as Dave sat down behind the steering wheel.
"Don't really know. Just got an address."
"Like I said, I don't know."
"Sorry. Just asking."
The second passenger on the trip towards school was indeed 'a wheelchair'. The electric wheelchair was occupied by a girl a few years younger than Sam. She had black hair and a certain fondness of bright pink clothes. Her mouth hung a little open and she didn't seem to have full control of her limbs.
"Hi." Sam said.
"Hi." The girl answered. Her voice was rather weak and sounded unnatural. It was obvious that talking was a bit of a challenge for this girl.
"So..." Sam started. "Why are you in that wheelchair? If you don't mind my asking."
"Muscle di-disease." Tina answered with some difficulty.
"How'd you catch that?"
"Born with i-it."
"Jumped in front of a car."
Sam grinned. "Normally I would agree, but I did it to push someone else out of the way."
"Do-does it h-h-hurt?"
"Nah." Sam answered. "The damage isn't in my legs. Well, not any more anyway."
"Nope." Sam said. "Spine."
The rest of the way was spent in silence, each of the girls feeling secretly sorry for the other. One thought it a tragedy for a normal person to suddenly have that normal life ripped away from her, the other thought it a tragedy for someone to never even really have had a normal life to begin with. Both of them kept silent about it of course, since they both knew the other didn't feel sorry for herself.
"We're here." Dave said at long last.
Both girls let out a sigh of relief.
NOTE: Besides an idea, I now also have a situation. Still no plot, though. Oh, and I pinched one litttle line from a Buffy ep, so that one doesn't belong to me either, obviously.
Sam had never before in her life considered herself to be the sporting type. Gym class was something for brainless jocks and equally brainless cheerleaders. The one good thing about it was that helped staying in shape and all that. Never once had she thought that it could also be fun. Surprisingly enough, however, it could be fun. On the condition, of course, that there were no arrogant jocks or coaches who favoured them. Because, in all honesty, how big are the chances of discovering a sports hero on a school for the sick and invalid? So now Sam, sitting in the bright yellow three-wheeled sports-chair borrowed from the school, swiftly managed to pass a few walking defenders and score two points by gracefully throwing the ball through the hoop. There were a few small, but heartfelt cheers from her teammates and several groans from the opposite team.
"OK, I guess that makes it ten to zero in favour for the rollers then."
"That's twenty to zero, coach." Said a helpful student. "This is basketball, remember?"
"Who cares?" The coach responded. "The point is that the walking team _should_ have a major advantage, but you're getting your asses kicked. Care to explain?"
Several walkers looked at each other, a little embarrassed.
"I have CFS." One of them offered hesitantly.
Coach Micheals waited with responding until his brain decipher the abbreviation. "OK, fair enough, I suppose. But that's still no excuse for the rest of you."
Then Sam said one thing that would stick with her for quite a long time, since she had never really thought she'd ever say it in her entire life. "Could we just play ball now?"
The start of new year at Kennedy High had heralded several unforeseen changes. First, and most prominently were the absence if Sam and Nicole, since both of them had been forced to move to another school, albeit for different reasons. The second most interesting thing was that Brooke had been in quite some emotional turmoil and had abdicated the social throne. All of which had led to Mary Cherry's rise to stardom. The Texan was now officially numero uno. The first thing she had done was gather a group of followers around her. They were a bunch of people who only said the right things like: "Yes, Mary Cherry" or "Of course Mary Cherry" and, naturally, that all-time favourite, "I'd be more than willing to kiss your feet, Oh Most Beauteous And Supremely Magnificent One". And so, in the style of the emperors of ancient China, Mary Cherry was surrounded by people telling her how great she was and didn't bother with the outside world. All in all, it was a surprisingly good deal.
So as Mary Cherry breezed past a certain table in the school cafeteria with her professional butt-kissers in the making right behind her, it is no small wonder that she completely ignored its occupants.
"I wonder how she'll do in the real world." Lily said, after the Texan and her entourage had passed.
"Depends on whether or not she inherits her mom's fortune." Carmen said.
"Or debts. You never know how it will go with rich, yet rather stupid, people." Brooke added.
"So, having exhausted that topic, how's Sam?" Lily asked.
"Pretty good." Brooke said.
"That's all?" Carmen asked.
"Yeah. She's dealing pretty well. Maybe a little too well."
"What do you mean?"
"It means that she doesn't seem to care that she's in a wheelchair."
"I mean, people don't just accept stuff like that, do they?" Brooke asked.
"Yeah, I mean, look at Harrison." Carmen said. "He sure as Hell didn't deal."
"Well, speak of the Devil."
The mood at the table dropped from about zero degrees Celsius to zero degrees Kelvin as Harrison sat down next to them.
"Hi." He said hesitantly.
"Harrison." Lily greeted curtly.
"Normally I'd make some excuse about needing to be someplace else, but since you're worth not even that I'm not going to bother." Brooke said harshly as she stood up. "Carmen, Lily, see you later."
"Oh come on, Brooke give it a rest." Harrison pleaded.
"A rest?" Brooke said. "Well, maybe I will. I think I'll stop caring about it as soon as everybody else on the entire planet stops fighting."
Brooke turned around and left, without saying one more word.
"Well," Harrison said, attempting to talk with a light-hearted chuckle. "She's in a bad mood."
"Gee, I wonder why." Lily said sarcastically.
"Come on you guys. How much longer are you going to make me pay?"
Carmen briefly considered it. "Pretty much indefinitely."
"Please, tell me, how can I make it up to you?"
"It's not us you have to make it up to Harrison." Lily pointed out. "You know that."
"She'll never listen. You guys both know that she's way too stubborn for that."
"Then I guess you don't stand a chance with us either." Carmen said as she stood up. "Coming Lily?"
"Right behind you."
Harrison kept sitting alone at the table, the sounds of the Cult of Mary Cherry in the background.
NOTE: I suppose it’s pretty obvious that my personal view of Harrison is not one of the most positive ones imaginable. This is in part due to the way he keeps behaving.
There was one thing about physiotherapy that Sam always found a little strange. The leg-exercises. The mainly just consisted of her lying back and letting her physiotherapist moving her legs up and down. It was just strange to see those legs moving, but not feeling them move. She usually considered her legs to be dead weight. The fact that they were in perfect working order was one tiny detail Sam casually ignored.
So, after five minutes of futile exercises, Sam was sick of it.
“Can I ask you something?”
“What’s the point in all of this?”
Mark, Sam’s physiotherapist, didn’t reply and continued working on her legs for a couple more minutes.
“You can sit up now.” Mark said as he carefully put her legs down on the table again.
Sam moved herself to an upright position, letting her legs dangle uselessly down the table.
“I got something to show you.” Mark said.
He walked over to a small case and took out a little rubber hammer.
“You’re not going to hit my knee with that, are you?” Sam asked.
“That was the idea, yes.”
“You do know my legs are paralysed, right?”
Mark walked over to Sam and carefully hit her with the hammer just below the kneecap. Completely in the line of expectation, Sam’s leg jolted. Mark then tapped Sam’s other leg and that one too gave a jolt at the impact.
“What the…? How’s that…? I mean…”
“Sometimes, the brains do not control movements. Basic reactions such as this one,” And here Mark tapped her leg one more time to illustrate his point. “work without any co-operation from the brains. Your legs still work. The muscles still work. The bone marrow still produces white blood cells. And it’s my job to see to it that your legs don’t whither away because they’re not being used, got it?”
“Yes, sir.” Sam said.
Sam rolled towards the front door, reached up and rang the doorbell. She waited until she realised that there really was no-one home. Muttering a little profanity under her breath, Sam fished a key out of her pocket, unlocked the door, opened it with some effort and gracefully tackled the threshold, which was still in need of lowering. She picked up the mail, after which she proceeded to the kitchen, dumped the mail along with her bag on the kitchen table and opened the fridge in search of something to drink. Her search was interrupted when the doorbell rang again. Sam went back to the door, opened it and considered slamming it shut again. Her politeness won, however, so she kept standing in the doorway.
“What do you want?” She asked.
“Can I come in?” Harrison asked.
“Only if you haven’t become a vampire recently.”
Harrison looked confused. “Was that a ‘yes’?”
“So, I ask again, what do you want?”
“I wanna talk to you. And… apologise.”
Sam quirked an eyebrow. “Really? Apologise? And here I was thinking it was all _my_ fault.”
“That was one of the things I wanna apologise about.”
“Well, I’m here, you’re here. Go ahead. Apologise.”
Harrison was at a loss for word for several moments. This was not how he envisioned it would go. For one thing, he had expected to be inside. Possibly sitting on a couch.
“OK… err… right… so… I’m sorry. I’m sorry for everything I said and for the way I treated you. It was wrong of me to behave the way I did and I apologise.”
Sam yawned openly. “Do you really expect me to accept a lame apology like that?”
“Come on Sam. We’ve been best friends since forever. What more do you want from me?”
“Sincerity would be nice.”
“What? I am sincere!”
“Really? So you’re not just doing this so that everybody stops hating you?”
“Oh come on. You know I’m not stupid. I know Brooke won’t even talk to you and I’ve heard Carmen and Lily aren’t very fond of you either right now. And I think, deep down, you’re blaming me for that. Just like you’ve blamed me for a whole lot more. I think the most memorable one was the one where you somehow managed to twist everything around so that my being a wheelchair was a way to hurt you. You _do_ remember that one, right?”
Harrison suddenly started to intensely study his shoes. “Of course I remember. I don’t know why I said all that, but I remember.”
“Oh good. So then you also remember that you said that I shouldn’t have rushed after Brooke. I’ve forgotten the precise reason behind that one, but I’m sure it was another plot to hurt you.”
“Yes, OK, I know!” Harrison yelled, anger getting the better of him. “I remember! And I come here, trying to make up for it all and you won’t let me! Instead, you just keep digging into me and kicking every painful nerve I have!”
Sam’s face went blank. “At least your nerves can still send that pain up to whatever passes for your brain.” She said evenly. “Goodbye Harrison.”
And then she slowly shut the door in his face.
|Section 2||Jos Mous||Popular||Main Index|