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>Short Story – Motionless

30 Dec


I did not feel her mouth as she kissed me. Nor the raindrops feasting on my skin. But I remember how I used to walk down this narrow, cobblestone path. Glowing with the smile of youth and a dollop of ice-cream on my chin. I steal a glance at a distant football field and the past dances before my eyes.  I had the best kick of all the boys on the football team.

”The Tornadoes” I had dubbed our team of which I was the leader. They handed me a shiny medal with a star on my last day of primary school. ‘’Most likely to be successful,’’ it read and my parents flashed their cameras and hung the pictures in the living room for all the neighbours to see.

‘’He’s got a bright future,’’ my mum would say over a cup of gossip and a slice of cake. My neighbours visited often.
‘’That’s what happens when women don’t work,’’ my father whispered.
‘’They stay home, do the dishes and turn into chocolate-eating soap opera enthusiasts. And that, my boy, is not what men want.‘’

I wanted to ask him why. But I didn’t. I liked chocolate and sometimes mum would let me watch the telly with her and we’d worry over the latest kidnap plot together. Would I end up like her? Inviting neighbours over for a calorie fest and indulging in brainless entertainment? A housewife. Apron strapped across my chest and the aroma of culinary delights slithering from the kitchen door. But I had my men activities.

Climbing trees, collecting toy cars and chasing the pig-tailed girls in the park. But everything was different now. Secondary school would make me a man. ‘’I am one of them now,’’ I thought as I strutted down this very path, the stones weeping beneath my feet.  I did not talk like them or walk like them, but I could try. I practised in front of the mirror, posing with sunglasses and a leather jacket from my father’s closet. With cool, macho strides I made my way across the room. It felt natural, intimidating and slightly theatrical – in a cool, masculine way of course.

I transitioned from tree house captain to class president and years passed in the blink of an eye. Study I rarely did, but this was hardly reflected in my grades, which ‘’was a sign of remarkable cleverness’’ according to Mrs. Millton, our English teacher. Parties were frequently abandoned for a night of teenage passion with one of the many girlfriends I had. Their mindless giggling and fashion tips bored me.

‘’I want three kids when I grow up,’’ Wendy, the first girl I slept with, informed me on the moment of entry. The useless piece of information weakened my resolve and we were forced to postpone our little adventure. Needless to say, every time we made love (well, it was love to her anyway and let’s leave it at that) I pictured Wendy as a middle-aged woman dressed in an oversized shirt, eating cake and organising tea parties to discuss the latest TV drama. Was I going to marry my mother?

My performances during that relationship were less that inspired. I was knocked off my feet, literally, when I bumped into Helen at the local coffee shop. A college student with fiery red hair and a devious personality to match, my heart leapt into my throat when our eyes met. I stared at her with a vacant expression for what felt like an eternity until she spoke and I was released from my trance.

‘’Hello,’’ she addressed me.  I grinned like an idiot and mumbled a greeting in return. We made out for the next hour and my lips felt sore when I finally reached my bed. Helen. Helen. She made me want to sing and dance and laugh and scream. All at the same time. She was Helen of Troy. The fairest of them all. And she was mine. For the first time in my life, I was in love. The forced poetry assignment took flight and earned me the nickname ‘’Will’’ after William Shakespeare.

It also spoke to Helen’s sentimental girly heart and her messages became more and more lovey. Either too juvenile or too mature to deal with it, I broke up with her and caused quite a scene when my next poem jumped from lovesick to heartbreak to murder.

It was the beginning of my career as a writer, a study I pursued at university and ended with a degree in journalism and a job at the local newspaper. Obituaries, not the kind of articles you pour your heart and soul into to sculpt the ideal linguistic piece of art. But it was a start. So, with my youth forgotten like yesterday’s caramel-coated donut, what now?

The path is no fluffy mattress – its embrace painful rather than loving. I know that now. The past is gone. And I am here. The fresh smell of blood is clinging to my lips. I wait for them. Surely she’s called them by now. Her kisses tickled me. She’s a tease, always was. But caring.

Here they come, stretcher in hand. I feel light-headed as they lift me and I close my eyes so the world may stop spinning.
I awake. That familiar beeping of a heart monitor trespassing dreams.

‘’Where am I?’’ My voice sounds different yet the same. Weak yet strong. Confused.
‘’You’re safe now.’’ It is her and it takes me a moment for my brain to register that she’s holding my hand.
‘’They kicked you because you got in their way. They pushed you out of your wheelchair.’’ There is sadness in her voice but her smile only grows wider to conceal it.

I steal a glance at the object in the corner and remember – I am cripple. I cannot walk and it’s many years since I last played football. One fall down the stairs and life as you know it – gone. Forever.
”The Tornadoes” they called us. And I was their leader.