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Today's excerpt comes from a YA titled, "She Loves Me Anyway." In this scene, Gabriel Allen, who's suffered a leg amputation, wants to see the girl who convinced him to try harder.
“One more time, Mr. Allen.”
Gabriel seated himself, despite Nina’s insistence, and reclined. “I’m done.”
“No, you’re not. Repetition is what works those muscles. Remember your goal. Miss Vargas said …”
He cut her off. She was forever giving him speeches. “I need a short-term goal,” he said. He could hear the thoughts in her head whizzing by.
“What did you have in mind?”
“I want to talk to Arden.”
He hadn’t seen her since that moment in the hallway, had no way to reach her either, and suddenly, her voice was important. “Call her and let me speak with her,” he said.
Nina straightened, smoothing her blouse. “I can do that,” she replied. “Then you have to try again.”
He nodded in acceptance. He hated trying, hated seeing how inept he’d become, hated the cheerful look-at-you’s spouted afterward. But liked hearing his progress reported to his mom.
Nina extracted her cell phone from her pocket and dialed. She leaned her weight on one hip. “Hey, it’s me.” She glanced at him. “You’re new boyfriend wants to speak with you.”
He resisted the urge to laugh at Nina’s sarcasm, mostly because she was half-serious. She passed him the phone, and he pressed it to his ear. “Hello?”
“Hey, Nina sounds frustrated.”
The smile he’d tried to hide came flooding out at the sound of her voice.
“She is, and it’s my fault. I’m intractable.”
That was the word she’d used at his last session. You’re trying my patience, she’d complained. I’ve never seen anyone so intractable. That must mean a lot coming from her. She seemed willing to tolerate just about anything. He gazed at the therapist, aware she was listening.
“Why?” Arden asked.
He shrugged, though she couldn’t see it. “I’m angry, I guess.”
“Myself, my friends.” They all avoided him now, except for Irving. He’d been around and acted normal. “My parents for coddling me,” he continued. “Nina for making me do this again and again. You …”
“Me? What did I do?” She said it playfully.
“I haven’t seen you. I want to see you.”
Why that had become so important was a mystery to him, but it was.
“That’s sweet. I can come on Friday.”
“Friday?” Friday was two days from now. Too long.
Arden laughed into the phone. “You sound disappointed.”
He turned his head away from Nina’s persistent gaze. “Because I am. I want to see you today. You could … could come to my house.”
“Come to your house?”
“Yeah.” He said it wistful. She wouldn’t come to his house. She’d only agreed to the date to make him feel better, he knew that. But it meant something to him, and he intended to keep it.
“Tell you what,” she said. “You have a cell?”
One he didn’t much use, not having anything to say anymore.
“Get my number from Nina and text me the address. I’ll come around seven. That okay?”
“Y-you will?” He sounded childish, his voice hopeful. Pathetic. Yet his heart beat harder. If she’d actually come––
“Sure. But this isn’t our date,” she said.
“I … I know that.”
“Good. Talk to you later, Gabe.”
He hung up the phone and returned it to Nina’s palm.
“You happy now?” she asked.
He nodded, sharp. Happy was relative. “You’re supposed to give me her number. I have to text her.”
“Okay, but after you repeat the exercise one more time.”
He frowned. “I’m gonna change your name to Helga the Horrible. Seems fitting.”
She reached for him, lifting him from the chair. “Call me anything you like, so long as it gets you out of that chair.”
But getting out of the chair was only a means to an end – that of walking hand-in-hand with a girl who didn’t care half of him was missing.
Suzanne D. Williams
Suzanne Williams Photography
Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.