Questions Without Answers

Abby watched, horrified, as Carter’s face twisted with pain. She wanted so much to help him, but she didn’t know what she could do for him now.

Carter was now in physical therapy. Three weeks had passed since his accident, and he had been very slowly getting better. There had been no damage to his larynx, and his scars were a pinkish red color instead of the angry, blood red color they had been. A soft brace had replaced the hard cast on his arm. Carter had been using a wheelchair to get around- not by choice, but by hospital policy. Now, though, he would much rather have been in the wheelchair.

Carter was, for the first time since the accident, trying to walk. It hurt him more than he ever thought possible. His legs felt too straight, and yet bending them and walking hurt more. He felt very off-balance. He also felt entirely stupid.

He knew how to walk- or he had, anyway. And with Abby and the therapist watching him intently, he was getting frustrated just trying to walk a few feet. It was embarrassing, and it was torture to his male ego.

But he knew Abby would never make fun of him for this. Somehow, she understood him, more than anyone else ever had. She knew what Carter felt even before he knew it. Yet he felt so guilty for making her go through this.

The therapist rose from her position on the other side of the room and steadied Carter. “I think that’s enough for today,” she said.

Abby came over as well. She gently held Carter’s arm and helped lower him into the wheelchair. He looked at her gratefully, yet she could tell he was depressed with the entire situation. As she pushed him into the hall, he said, “Abby, you know you don’t have to do any of this, don’t you?”

Abby sighed. “Carter, no, I don’t have to do this. But I want to.”

“Why? Why would you want to give up so much, just to see me frustrated and failing in the things I once did so well?”

“That’s why I’m here, Carter. You won’t always fail, and you won’t always be frustrated. But until then, I want to help you. You shouldn’t have to go through this alone.”

“I won’t be going through this alone. There’s the therapist, and all of the nurses and doctors, and the other patients...” Carter trailed off, realizing that this wouldn’t be good enough. 

Abby gave Carter a look as they reached his room. “You know that’s not what I’m talking about.”

“Fine, but... why you? I feel guilty, Abby. I love you so much, and yet I’m putting you through all of this trouble and pain.” Carter stopped suddenly, realizing what he’d just said.

“There, Carter. That’s why it’s me here with you, and not anyone else. No one else loves you like I do.” Abby was shocked with how easily she said that.

“I love you too, Abby.” Carter laughed, breaking the uncomfortable seriousness that had fallen over them.

“Why are you laughing? Do you find it amusing that you just professed your love to someone as ugly as me.”

Carter’s face fell. “Abby, you’re not ugly. You’re gorgeous.  I was only laughing because I was thinking about how positively this whole getting crushed by a helicopter thing turned out.”

“You’re right about that, Carter. Maybe I should try it...” They both laughed.

Part 5
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