Ever dream of flying high?
|1920 word entry for the January 2020 "Paranormal Romance Short Story Contest" prompt: enhanced human
“Son? It is time to wake up. You can’t sleep all the time.” The sound of his mother’s voice was filled with syrupy sweet pity. The shadow of her hand pushed open the bedroom window drapes.
Light beamed straight into his eyes forcing movement. “Please, mom. Just a little longer,” Jamie Stewart’s flying dreams began right after his accident. Spending most of his life in a wheelchair meant dream flying offered his only sense of freedom.
“I’ve laid your clothes out. Do you want help putting them on?” Silvia Stewart’s quiver of sadness in those words triggered Jamie’s self-pity. “If you must. I wish I were dead. Without my legs what is there left to live for?”
Once more, the scene of the accident struck him full force. The drunk driver’s startled face as he dropped his cellphone and looked into Jamie’s eyes. The car crash trapping Jamie’s broken legs in the twisted wreckage. The blackout erasing the pain and everything else.
“I can do that, mom.”
Physical therapy taught him how to roll inching side to side. He pulled and tugged his pants up and fastened them. He was thirty pounds lighter than he had been. “Why get me up? Jamie looked at his mom. "The therapy sessions are over. No friends come to visit. It is just you and me now and I am only half here.”
Silvia Stewart lashed out. “Yes. I 'am' here. Why do I have to listen to you talk like this? You stopped when the accident did. I am tired of your complaining. I need you out of this house. I am wheeling you to the park with a packed lunch. I am going to get some ‘me’ time.”
It was easier giving up. Neither said a word while she pushed and locked the wheelchair into place. Pigeons flew down to peck at Jamie’s lunch he threw at them. “Have it your way." She said. "I’ll be back before dark,” and his mom was gone.
The heat of the summer day made him drowsy. Jamie’s head nodded off and jerked back up as he was nudged. The dream of flying had been so close.
“That’s not the way you do it.”
The stranger jostled his wheelchair with her own sport's model. Jamie opened his eyes to a girl about Jamie’s own twenty-one. The scars on her face twisted one eye down. It made her smile only half normal.
The sight made Jamie feel relaxed. Here was someone who might understand.
“Do what? Where did you go?”
“Fly. Silly. Watch. I saw you trying but you got lost in yourself.”
Jamie stared at the empty sports wheelchair rocking back and forth. No-one sat inside. “What’s going on?” he demanded looking from side to side. “Why are you making fun of me? Where are you?”
“Up here, silly, right where I want to be. Come on up. The view is fine.”
The same pony-tailed girl draped herself on a branch in the tree above him. What he could see of her legs was worse off than his. She was almost invisible in a cluster of green leaves. “Here. I’ll help you. Close your eyes.”
Jamie blinked. His next view of things was of his and her wheelchairs keeping company down below. A stomach-dropping moment later had her giggling. “Hold the tree, silly, not me. We aren’t that well acquainted yet. I’m Sally Bitmore. Just a bit more than you thought I was, right?”
Her chatter helped. “I’m not dreaming this, am I?” The bark of the tree trunk was too real to be anything else. So were the warmth and curves of her body so recently known.
“I couldn’t do this before my accident. Maybe it is the same with you. Try.” She gave him a push.
Jamie floated a foot above the grassy ground.
“Come on back.”
And there he was hiding in among the tree branches by Sally Bitmore’s side. Having felt the flying sensation twice now it was harder not to accept. “You are a freak. Your accident gave you this super-human talent? How do they let you out of some cage?”
“They can’t stop freaks like me. Of course, I have to be cautious. I knew that from the start. That’s why the sport’s wheelchair. We could trade chairs if you want.” Sally’s hand moved up Jamie’s muscled arm, squeezing here and there. “Nice.”
The look in her eyes was filled with sparkles. “You are cute. I know you won’t say anything about the way we met. Who would believe you?”
It seemed so natural sitting and talking together like any other couple. The hours fled. The tentative first kiss whispered a promise of more to come. “I have to go. See you in my dreams,” Alice laughed and she was gone.
Jamie settled back into his wheelchair as his mom came into view. He felt like he was walking on air the whole ride back home. He was ready and waiting when his mom came to get him up the next morning. “What kept you? Can you make lunch for two? I met a friend yesterday.”
“Well. Good morning to you, too. No time for your mom? I thought we’d go to the museum today.” she teased. “I saw the empty sport’s chair next to yours. Was that your friend’s? Why did they leave it there?”
It was obvious Silvia Stewart was curious about the sudden change in her son and who had made it. At the park, she seated herself next to the tree trunk and chewed on a piece of grass. “I want to meet your new friend, Jamie. Here are some breadcrumbs. Feed the pigeons while we wait.”
An hour later and it happened like the day before. “Psst. Up here.” Sally’s familiar whisper caught Jamie off-guard. She waved down at him from her tree branch. Jamie made his wheelchair do a one-eighty. His mom dozed with her head almost in her lap.
This time flying felt as natural in reality as it had in last night’s dream, except he was doing it with someone, a very special someone better than any girl he had ever dreamed of. “Hey. The second kiss lasted longer. Jamie put some feeling into it and felt Sally respond.
“Hmm, now that is some real flying, isn’t it?” Her fingers brushed the morning breeze through Jamie’s hair. “Your eyes are sparkly, are mine? I think I fell in love with you at first sight.”
“Jamie? Where on earth are you?” his mom was on her feet hunting frantically around.
Sally kissed his lips shut, winked, and pressed against him. Jamie would have fallen if it had been up to him. They waited and watched Silvia Stewart hunt further around the park.
Jamie found his arm around Sally’s shoulders, her head resting against his chest. “What am I going to tell her?”
“Spoilsport. I am just building her interest in me. Let’s float on down into our chairs. You can introduce me when she comes back. You were going to, weren’t you?”
“Where where you? How did you get back?” Jamie’s mom looked relieved but her temper was up.
“Hello, Missus Stewart. Nice to meet you. Jamie proposed to me, today. We are engaged.”
The news took both Jamie and his mom by surprise. Jamie fumbled the first squeeze of Sally’s hand in his, then took firm hold. “Sorry, mom. We got picked up and dropped off. You were sleeping and I didn’t want you to be disturbed.”
“Disturbed? Do you know what it felt like seeing you gone?” Sylvia Stewart’s face was a mask of disbelief. “Marriage? I can’t believe it. You can’t handle your own life much less another wheelchair cripple. Come on we’re headed home.”
Do what he could there was no way of stopping his mom. He thumped bruised fingers into his lap after trying to hold his wheels still. The quick forward motion prevented him from tipping himself over. Jamie closed back down like a turtle in its shell on the longer than long ride back home.
“We are not going back to the park. Do you hear? What were you thinking of with a girl like that? Silvia Stewart went on from worried comment to threat. “No, we are not inviting her here. It would only break both of your hearts and mine.”
His mother left him alone in his room on his bed to ‘think about it’. Jamie closed his eyes willing sleep to find him. The tapping on his window and Sally’s floating face found him instead. “Shh. So this is where you live. Let me in. I followed.”
It seemed to take forever for Jamie to pull himself off the bed to the floor and inch his way to the window. He dragged a chair in place, pulled himself up and unlatched the pane. The hug with Sally felt immensely satisfying. “I thought I lost you.”
“No way, Josie.” she kissed the words away from his lips. They floated back to his bed. “This is better. It is where I belong. I feel like we are already married.” Hands teased and fluttered the rising passion between them. Soon they both felt like flying as they had never flown before.
“Whew. Heaven isn’t any higher, is it?” Sally rubbed her palm over Jamie’s naked chest, tracing the feel of his slowing heartbeats. “Does your bedroom door have a lock?” She floated up from the twisted sheets to find out, clicking the lock in place as the door attempted to open.
“Jamie? Lunch. Don’t be like that. Look. I did it for your own good. I’ll check back later. Don’t make this a hunger strike you’ll regret.” Silvia Stewart knocked a few more times on his bedroom door before sighing and walking away.
“I’m hungry. Nice of her to leave us some food.” Sally nuzzled against Jamie’s neck. “I’ll get it. Where’s a pen and some paper? You’ll have to leave a note when we depart.”
It was easier getting dressed while floating an inch or two above his bed. His suitcase seemed no bother at all for Sally to hoist into position beside them. “Oh, your mom will worry. Moms always do. We’ll check in when we get to my house.”
They closed the window as best they could. Sally settled into her sport’s model. Jamie adjusted himself in his seat and both wheelchairs rolled out to the sidewalk barely touching ground. Their speed picked up, both laughed with the wind in their hair as they raced each other along.
As usual, few people bothered walking. At this time of the workday, now-one was around. An hour later in a cul-d-sac, they faced a white picket fence. A two-story stone house with a flowery border waited a few moments beyond. “It isn’t much but it is mine and paid for from the insurance claim. Now it is yours. Make yourself at home.”
The marriage was simple. The only ones who attended besides officials were Alice, Jamie, and his mom. “I wish you two would let me help you more. It can’t be as easy as you are making out.”
Silvia Stewart blushed at the sight of the pair doing just that right out in public. They’d started their honeymoon early but paused as Jamie’s mom made her motherly fuss.
“It’s all right, mom. Things will get better when the first grandbaby arrives in about nine months. You might need a wheelchair of your own then. There's all that work taking care of Jamie Junior while we get busy creating his sister, little Sally Ann.”