16 | in which he gets her to sing along

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'To be loved or appreciated, which is more important?'
'To be understood is what matters.'


Ryan Falls

|in which he gets her to sing along|

"Can I hold your hand? I'm afraid of needles."

Am I lying? Yes. Does Crystal buy it? Hell yes! 

My question causes her eyes to go so wide I'm afraid they'll fall out and roll across the hospital floor. The sight is kind of funny, but I keep a straight face, giving Crystal the most adorable puppy-dog eyes I can manage. Pretty sure I don't look half as cute as a pup, but she pities my lame attempt and reaches out.

In my mind, I'm doing somersaults. In real life, I'm limping -- with her hand in mine -- towards the chair the doctor points me to.

"Have you taken your medicines?" the man asks me, looking half-asleep already.

I nod. Lying is easier when you don't actually voice the lie.

The man picks up a pair of really thin scissors and reaches out towards me.

"Don't move, all right?" he asks.

I swallow, trying not to think of another man who said this to me. Instead of letting the past control me, I close my eyes and root myself in the present. My therapist taught me how.

Focus on my breathing.

Going in and out.

Feel each breath in my abdomen.

My entire body is breathing.



With this breath.

Listen to my body.

Listen to what it says, where it hurts, where it doesn't.

Listen to all the places that want to talk to me.

So, I listen. I listen to my aching leg and the skin tingling under the cast enveloping my arm. I listen to my heart beating wildly in my chest, telling me it's scared. I listen to my brain whirring in the silence, reminding me not to move. I listen to my muscles, tightening when the doctor's gloved hands touch my face as he cuts the stitches.

I listen to the warmth of Crystal's small hand in mine.

"You're good to go," the doctor finally says.

I'm not ready to come back to the world yet, enjoying my moment of being with myself. I can't stick to my plan, though, so force my eyes open. Straightening up, I extend my right arm towards the doctor so he can remove my cast. I'm aware of Crystal's hand in my clammy left one, but she makes no attempt to let it go.

According to the doctor, my arm is good now, which means I no longer have to wear the cast. He instructs me not to lift heavy weights or over-do it. My leg, though, isn't fully healed, which means I need to wear the cast for another two weeks.

Crystal helps me out of the hospital and back towards her car, finally turning to look at me when we're seated.

"You lied to him," she points out, her face stern.

"What?" I pretend not to know what she's saying.

"Ryan, you lied about taking your meds," she explains. "You can't tell people you're on painkillers when you're not. Especially your doctor when --"

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