Page 67

Author: Kirsty Moseley

I would have lived every day of my life making her happy but it wasn’t enough, I wasn’t enough for her now, and I was doing the right thing letting her off. She didn’t deserve a life sentence being tied to a guy in a wheelchair. I’d thought about this since the moment I woke up this morning, seeing her sitting there on the chair asleep at my side. I knew she wouldn’t want to go, but if I couldn’t walk again then I wasn’t what was best for her anymore.

Sure, everything would have been fine for a year or two, but after a little while she would start to resent me for holding her back and then she’d leave me. It was best to set her free now, and then I could learn how to deal with this on my own, I’d be on my own sooner or later anyway, so why delay the inevitable?

After a little while the nurse pulled the mask off of my face and looked at me sympathetically. “Are you ok? Can I get you anything? Call someone?” she asked kindly.

I shook my head and forced a smile. I couldn’t hold it together for much longer; I didn’t want anyone here when I lost control. “I’m fine, can I just have a minute?” I asked, my voice husky and filled with emotion.

“Sure hon. If you need me then press the buzzer, ok?” she smiled and put the call button on the bed next to my hand.

“I’m fine now, thanks,” I lied.

She took one last look at me before she walked out. As soon as I the door closed I couldn’t hold it anymore, I gripped my hands in my hair and I sobbed. I sobbed for what I’d lost. I sobbed for what I gave up. I sobbed for what could have been. I hadn’t cried since I was a kid but I couldn’t stop. I prayed for death because that would have been easier than dealing with this, this was like living in hell on earth and I wasn’t strong enough for it.

After I calmed myself down I laid there numb, staring at the ceiling waiting for death to come and get me and take me out of here, to stop the pain and fill the gaping hole that used to be where my heart was. My parents came, but I couldn’t even bring myself to talk to them, couldn’t even shout at them for not sending me in for the surgery. I couldn’t even utter a single word because they didn’t matter. Nothing mattered apart from Riley, but she was gone. I just stared straight ahead and blocked out their words, replaying images of Riley in my head.

The doctors and nurses fussed over me for a couple of hours, I heard someone mention something about me being on suicide watch or something, but that didn’t matter either. How the hell was I supposed to kill myself when I couldn’t even get out of the bed? Maybe they were worried about me starving myself to death or something. Whatever, they were all stupid anyway and the sooner I was out of here the better.

A couple of hours later and I heard a commotion in the hallway; I didn’t bother to open my eyes, what was the point? There was no point, there was no point in anything.

The door to my room started to open and then closed again. “You can’t go in there,” the nurse said sternly. Oh great another f**king visitor, why couldn’t they all take the hint and just leave me alone?

“I need to talk to him.”

My breath caught in my throat, that was my angels voice and it hurt to hear it. Why was she here? Was she really going to make me ask her to leave again? Could I do it again? Could I say the words and rip my heart out for a second time?

“He doesn’t want to see you,” the nurse said sternly.

“I don’t care what the hell he wants. He’s seeing me!” Riley said, as the door burst open.

I flicked my eyes to her and I felt sick, she looked so sad. Her face was all puffy and red from crying, and I felt like a piece of shit. I wanted to throw myself at her feet and beg her to forgive me, the selfish side of me was rejoicing that she was here but the more rational, sensible part of me, was wishing she would leave and never come back. That was what was best for her and I needed her to be happy, that was the only thing I needed out of life.

“I know you don’t want to see me but I have something for you,” she growled angrily as she strode over to me and emptied the contents of a shoebox into my lap. She threw the empty box against the wall angrily as she glared at me.

I glanced down at my lap confused, what the hell was all this junk? There were movie stubs, a quarter, a couple of buttons, an old shirt of mine. A ring box, postcards, a little stuffed dog, a flattered helium balloon with happy birthday printed on the side. There were birthday cards, Christmas cards, photographs of us together and a couple of folded up pieces of paper, amongst a ton of other little knick knack things. I picked up the papers and opened them to see a couple of drawings that I’d done as a kid, letters that I’d written her asking her to come and play. There were little notes that I’d written for her recently, telling her that I loved her.

I looked up at her confused, why did she keep all of this stuff? It was all just junk that should have been thrown in the trash years ago. “What’s all this?” I asked, my voice shaking slightly where I was trying not to cry again. I refused to cry in front of her, she hadn’t seen me cry since I was nine years old and I wasn’t going to let her see it now.

“That, Clay Preston, is everything important that has happened to me in my life up until this point. Every single thing in there involved you, and I kept all of this stuff because it means a lot to me. My whole life is in that box up until this point,” she stated, her voice breaking slightly as she spoke. “And this,” she continued, holding up her left hand and pointing to her wedding ring. “This is my whole life up until the day I die.”

Oh god she’s killing me! How could I get her to understand that I’m doing what’s best for her, by setting her free? “Riley, I…” I started, but she cut me off.

“You look me right in the eye and you tell me you don’t love me, and I’ll walk out of this door never to return again. But you’d better make it convincing, Clay, because I always know when you’re lying to me,” she growled, looking at me challengingly.

I gulped there was no way I could say those words to her, I’d never be able to say those words to her. “Riley, please,” I begged.

“Do you love me or not, Clay?” she asked, looking me right in the eye, a tear slid down her check and I longed to kiss it away.

I knew I couldn’t lie to her, I could never force those words out of my mouth, and even if I could then she knew me way too well, she’d see through it immediately.

“I will always love you, Riley bear,” I said honestly.

She swiped her face with the back of her hand, wiping her tears away. “Then don’t you dare insult me again by telling me that I don’t love you enough for this!” she hissed through her teeth. I’d hurt her by saying that I could tell.

“I want what’s best for you. I’m thinking of you,” I whispered.

She shook her head, “You think being miserable and living without my other half is what’s best for me? Where are you getting this crap from Clay? You were always what’s best for me, always!” she said, sniffing loudly.

“Maybe not anymore.”

She stepped closer to the bed, looking right into my eyes making my heart speed up and I was glad I wasn’t hooked up to that monitor anymore so she didn’t know. “Stop being such a freaking hero! I love you, I want to be with you. If you don’t want me then this is another matter, but that’s not it, is it?” she asked, looking at me hopefully. “You’re my life Clay. You always were, and you always will be.”

I gulped, I could see the truth in her eyes, she always was damn stubborn, it was one of the things I loved the most about her. “You’re my life too,” I admitted quietly.

I felt like such a coward for doing this, I felt so selfish in keeping her, when she would be happier without me. I should be brave enough to let her live a full life with someone who could give her everything, but I wasn’t. I couldn’t say the words again, I wasn’t strong enough to cut out my own heart for a second time.

She smiled and stroked the side of my face and I couldn’t help but close my eyes and savour the feel of her skin against mine, an hour ago I never thought I would get to touch her again so I was making the most of it now. “No more stupid talk about me leaving you. No more talk about you not being the best thing that ever happened to me. No more talk about what’s best for me,” she said sternly.

“I don’t want this for you, Riley,” I whispered, looking at her pleadingly.

She cupped her hand around the side of my face and looked right into my eyes, “I want this for me. I want you. For better or worse, until death do us part, that’s what we promised. And the last time I checked, you were still alive.”


She smiled and traced her thumb over my bottom lip softly, “Barely is enough for me, Clay.”

“But I want to be the one to take care of you. You deserve someone to look after you Riley; it shouldn’t be the other way around. That’s a husband’s job, it’s always been my job to look after you.”

She smiled and shook her head at me, “I love you more than anything, Clay. I’ll always love you, and as a couple we’re supposed to take care of each other,” she whispered. Her eyes were burning into mine making hope bubble up in my chest; she really didn’t want to go I could see it in her eyes. She really wanted me, wheelchair or not.

I couldn’t speak, I really had the most amazing girl in the world and I loved her with every bone in my body. I just prayed that I was enough to make her happy, that the changed version of me was enough for her. I took her hand off of my face and interlaced our fingers, my fingertips seeking out the wedding band that I had put there. I couldn’t find the words to say to her, I had nothing, nothing at all was going through my brain. All I could focus on was her, her beautiful face and how much I loved and needed her.

“I need you to say those five words to me, Clay. I need to hear it, right now,” she said, looking at me pleadingly.