Lucy Knight laid on the mat while the physical therapist stretched her legs. Of course, she had no feeling in them. She hadn't felt anything below her waist since Valentine's Day, the same day she and her friend John Carter had been stabbed by psychiatric patient Paul Sobriki. Carter had been lucky, Lucy thought to herself. He got stabbed and can walk. I'm going to spend the rest of my life in this damn wheelchair.
Lucy's life had drastically changed since the night of the stabbing. Her family lived far away, in Ohio, and she didn't want to leave Chicago, so Carter had invited Lucy to live with his family. She had gratefully accepted, and she and Carter had become closer friends. They had both survived one very hellish night, and it made them both stronger in some ways. Lucy looked over at her wheelchair. And weaker in other ways, she thought sadly to herself. She hated that wheelchair. Hated wasn't even strong enough. She loathed it, she abhorred it. But it had been a couple of months since the stabbing and she had yet to feel anything below her waist. I'm going to be stuck in that horrible chair forever, Lucy thought, fighting the tears that came to her eyes.
Carter entered the physical therapy room to see how Lucy's therapy was progressing. It was the end of her session now, and Carter usually stopped by if he could to see how Lucy was doing. He cared about her a great deal, but she had been very distant lately. Carter knew exactly how she felt. There were times that he wanted to crawl into bed and pull the covers over his head and tune out the rest of the world, but there was one person who stopped him from doing that: Lucy. He knew that she needed him, as well as all of her friends from County, now more than ever.
"How did it go today, Luce?" Carter asked kindly. Lucy looked up at Carter, then away, and closed her eyes. "I know, it's tough. But just be patient. I know you'll get the feeling back in your legs soon." Lucy felt even more discouraged after hearing that, since she hadn't felt anything in two months. She climbed back into the wheelchair with the help of the physical therapist and ignored Carter.
"Spare me the pep talk, Carter. Take the cheerleading routine somewhere else." Lucy wheeled past Carter and into the hallway. Carter ran to catch up with her.
"Lucy, wait!" Lucy wheeled over to the elevator and hit a button, then looked at Carter.
"I want to go home. Now." Carter saw that Lucy was fighting tears, and went to ask the hospital van driver to take them both home.
Lucy sat outside in the garden of the Carter home that night. It was a beautiful spring night, and sometimes coming out here was the only thing that put a smile on her face. Lucy wheeled over to the flower bed. Soon, they would be filled with her favorite flowers, tulips. Lucy smiled, thinking that she would be able to see the beautiful garden from her bedroom window. The entire Carter family had been wonderful to her, and she thought of a way to show them how much they meant to her.
Carter emerged from the kitchen, carrying two glasses of iced tea. He set them down on the table and Lucy wheeled her chair over to sit with him.
"I thought you might like something to drink," Carter said. Lucy smiled sheepishly at him.
"I'm sorry about how I acted before," she said. Carter took off his jacket and put it around Lucy's shoulders and smiled.
"It's all right. We both have bad days." He raised his glass. "To good days. I think we'll both have a lot of them. We deserve it."
Lucy raised her glass and clinked it with Carter's. "To good days," she repeated. Lucy sipped her iced tea and her eyes wandered around the garden. "I want to walk through there." Carter took her hand and looked into her eyes.
"You will, someday," he said gently. Lucy shook her head, more frustrated than she had ever been.
"Forget someday. I want it to be now," she said, and pushed herself up from the chair. She had no feeling in her legs and nearly stumbled to the ground, but Carter quickly caught her.
"Lucy, are you insane? You could've hurt yourself!" Carter helped Lucy back into her wheelchair and she burst into tears.
"I'll never get out of this damn wheelchair," she said, and Carter wiped her eyes.
"Yes, you will. I believe that you will, Luce. Just don't give up. Please," he said, then added, "For me, okay?" Lucy laughed through her tears as she looked at Carter. There was something about Carter that endeared him to Lucy. She shook her head.
"I won't," she said. "Just promise me that you'll keep seeing your counselor." Lucy extended her hand. "Deal?"
"Deal," Carter replied, and they shook hands.
The next day, Carter stopped by the physical therapy room to see how Lucy was advancing in her effort to walk again. He peeked into the room and saw Lucy enthusiastically working with her therapist. Happy with what he saw, Carter walked off.
That night, Carter and Lucy returned home together. Carter was thrilled with the change in Lucy's personality. She was happy and upbeat, and had been in a very positive mood since the night before.
"What do you want to do?" Carter asked. "We could watch TV. Thursday's a good night, there's a great show on at ten." Lucy shook her head.
"Actually, I was hoping we could spend some time outside," Lucy said. "I've been cooped up in the hospital all day."
"No problem," Carter said. "Allow me." He wheeled Lucy outside to the garden. Carter and Lucy sat and looked up at the stars. Carter glanced at Lucy. "Are you cold?" he asked.
"No, I'm okay," Lucy replied. She smiled at Carter, who reached behind his chair and picked a small flower from the bed behind him. He handed it to Lucy and she smiled. "Thanks."
"You're welcome," Carter said. He took Lucy's hand and looked into her eyes. "Lucy, I never told you this, but you were the one who kept me going after the stabbing. If it weren't for you, I don't know if I could've survived living anymore." Lucy reached over and hugged Carter.
"I don't ever want to lose you," she said. Lucy and Carter parted from the hug and looked into each other's eyes. Lucy stroked Carter's face and backs away. "Forget it, Carter. You don't want me."
"Why not?" Carter asked, bewildered by her statement. "Lucy, you're a beautiful woman. I'd give anything to be with you."
"What if I can't walk again?" Lucy asked softly. "You deserve a complete woman." Carter looked at Lucy and stroked her face.
"I love you, Lucy," he said. "I know you will walk again. I believe in you." Lucy believed what Carter said and smiled.
"I love you, too," she replied. "Thank you for believing in me."
"I always will, my love," Carter said, and leaned in. He and Lucy shared a kiss. "Come here." Carter picked Lucy up out of her wheelchair and carried her over to a nearby lounge chair. They sat together, their arms around each other, talking, kissing, and falling more in love with each other.
Part 1 Part 2