a wing and a prayer....

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic
my story is that of a your woman physiotherapist. her patient, a brilliant engineer who has been crippled through a glider accident that left him in a wheel chair........a touching story love and dedication.....

Submitted: June 16, 2017

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Submitted: June 15, 2017

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Jane pushed the small white button within its brightly

polished brass surround, and waited.  Conscious that her

heart was beating faster, she attempted to shrug off the

apprehension that she felt, but to no avail.The door

opened almost immediately.

The smile of greeting that she expected didn`t

materialise, and instead, the head of a middle aged woman

was framed in the doorway.

"Can I help you?"

A slight blush of embarrassment tinged Jane`s cheeks

as it always did whenever things did not turn out

quite the way they should.

"I am Jane," she began, hearing the quake in her voice.

"Jane Taljaard....the physiotherapist."

The woman`s eyes quickly scanned her from  head to toe,

and her face didn`t soften into a smile as she thought it

might.The scrutiny was unnerving, and the urge

to run from the situation, overwhelming.

"You`re very young?" The door opened a little wider,

allowing Jane a full length view of the woman.  Mid

forties she guessed, with shoulder length auburn hair, and

dark eyes devoid of emotion. The tweed skirt she wore was

appropriate for her slim body, as was the polo necked

jumper that accentuated the curve of her bosom.  A dab of

make up would have made a difference, and the lack of it

was all too obvious.

Despite the strange approach, Jane stood her ground.

"Twenty-four, and I have already completed a year of my

Masters."

The woman offered her hand, and Jane took it in hers.  It

was the kind of formality that meant little..

"I`m Greta Simmonds, Reggie`s mother, come in for a while

if you wish...I haven`t been well."

The front door opened into a large Edwardian looking

lounge, with heavy furnishings sporting antimacassars as

headrests.  Four sash windows, with partly drawn velvet

curtains were set in a row along one wall, and a lavish

crystal chandolier hung from a heavily plastered ceiling.

Jane paused in front of a large portrait in oils, the

military gentleman sported a fine grey moustache that

seemed to match the wings on the tunic he was wearing.

"A relative?" she queried.

"Reggie`s grandfather, Group Captain Simmonds, he died

during World War 2., at Arneim, the landing you know?"

Jane nodded, there was something unique about the

Captain`s eyes, they seemed to glow with a kind of passion

that might well ignite the very canvas on which they were

painted.She tried to find the signature of the artist,

without success.

"It`s a brilliant painting, who did it?"

Mrs. Simmonds attempted a smile, her first since Jane`s

arrival.

"A self portrait, all the Simmonds men paint, a kind of

gift I suppose.

"Reggie?"  The question was to remain unanswered for a

very long time. It was then that Jane noticed the tyre

tracks across the carpet, lots of them, criss-crossing

each other from the doorway opposite, to a small square

table, set in front of the fireplace.

This was to be her first encounter with a paraplegic. Of

course, she had nursed a number of chair-bound patients

during her short career, and without exception, they had

all been able to free themselves of the bondage.

Reggie was different, he wouldn`t walk again......ever.

Jane broke the ice. "Is Reggie here?" she asked.

Mrs. Simmonds face hardened, "Of course, where else would

he be?"

Walking across the lounge to the far corner window, Jane

pulled back the curtain.Sunlight flooded in, and for

a moment, it dazzled her. She looked onto a garden, it was

unkempt, a virtual jungle of weeds apart from some rose

bushes in a centre bed, and a small patch of iceland

poppies.

"I thought he might be in the garden?"

The woman motioned Jane to sit down, "He doesn`t like to

go outside, he won`t let me take him. We had ramps made

for his wheel-chair everywhere, he says.....he says, it`s

too painful for him."  Her voice was full of emotion now,

and it was obvious that Reggie`s mother was very near to

tears.

"I`d like to see him if I may, Mrs. Simmonds....only for a

moment, just so that we can get acquainted."

The older womans fingers toyed nervously with the fringe

of the antimaccassar on the chair back, then faced Jane

with an expressionless face. "I can`t guarantee that he`ll

see you, Miss..Miss?"

"Taljaard, Jane would be better."

"Miss Taljaard, we have already gone through five other

physiotherapists, and all in a matter of days, I don`t

really think he is ready for it yet, you see..."

Jane inturrupted the conversation, "How long has it been

since the accident?"

"Five months, no six.......six on Friday."

"I`d like to see him......please?"

The obvious reluctance to introduce her son to Jane was

more than puzzling, and the thought that five trained

physio`s had failed to make any headway could only mean

that either Reggie, or his mother, resented their offer of

help.

Jane recalled the incident, remembering the newspaper

headlines. "Young Doctor faces life in wheelchair."

Reggie was twenty-six, a trained micro-biologist at Wits.

University, and with a full life before him when the

accident occurred.

The Regional Court pronounced that it was caused through a

slight mis-judgement, or an error on his part. Yet everyone

knew that gliding was as unpredictable as the weather! One

moment Reggie was being carried aloft by a massive

thermal, with that great feeling of aerobatic freedom

surging through his veins, and his lungs bursting with the

absolute ecstacy of the flight.

The next moment, he was dropping like a stone, the whole

world topsy-turvey, as he plunged two and a half

kilometers out of the sky.

One small hillock with a rocky outcrop saved the day.

Reggie`s sailplane found the thermal just too late for its

complete recovery. The tall cemented light pilons that lit

the main road were suddenly upon him, and no amount of

manoevering made the slightest amount of difference.

The first sickening crash as the aerofoil section of the

wing disintergrated on impact, was the last thing Reggie

heard until he woke thirty hours later. The rest was

history.

"As long as she doesn`t gawk at me like all the others..."

Jane was startled by his vehemence, just prior to his

appearance. Reggie propelled himself towards her, his eyes

directed towards her feet, then he pulled up, some two

metres off, and raised his head.

The shock made the colour drain from her cheeks, and she

suddenly felt weak at the knees as she stared into the

same fiery brown eyes of the portrait opposite.

"Reggie?" she said nervously.

"Reginald...nald, not Reggie, even the name makes  a

freak of me!"

Jane could have bitten off her tongue.  It was a genuine

mistake, for she understood that everyone had called him

Reggie.

Her eyes darted towards the painting, seeking some

strength from its overwhelming dignity perhaps, then back

to the eyes in the wheelchair.

"Sorry Reginald, I am Jane Taljaard, the very last

physiotherapist in town."

Unexpectedly, he swung the wheelchair away from her, and

headed for the small card table beside the fireplace.

A pack of cards lay there, and he picked them up and

began to shuffle them expertly before he spoke again.

"You might just as well pack your bags and get out while

the going`s good!"

One of the playing cards flicked out from the pack,

landing on the floor adjacent to the step of the

wheelchair. He knew it was there and waited for some

seconds, wondering whether Jane would pick it up for him.

"Aren`t you going to pick it up?" he snapped.

Jane didn`t move. "Of course not," she said, "You are

quite capable of doing that yourself!"

Ironically, a smile appeared on the young mans face, to

Jane, it was the first sign of any real hope. Spitting on

his middle finger, he bent down low enough to dab it onto

the fallen card. Miraculously it adhered to it, and he

returned it to the pack.

"I like that," he said suddenly.

"What?"

"Someone with spirit, all the others would have scrambled

to pick that card up.....Ma!"

His mood suddenly changed, and completely out of the blue,

he confirmed Jane`s appointment. "This one can stay," he

shouted, "She`s spirited, like a filly in season!"

A feeling of relief flooded through her, but Reggie`s

quaint expressions were going to take a lot of getting

used to.  His attitude would have to change a lot too,

before any kind of healing mechanism could take effect.

Nevertheless, she willingly took up the challenge, without

fear or misgivings regarding the outcome.

"I don`t need mothering," he said quietly, and without

looking up, "What I need is some kind of  miracle."

 

On the following day, Jane stopped off at the hospital

before starting her first session with Reggie.  Armed

with a folder full of X. Ray plates, she felt better

equipped to tackle her assignment.

Reggie answered the door, he was in a foul mood, and

without attempting a greeting, wheeled himself back

inside, and disappeared into the study, closing the door

behind him.

Jane followed, and knocked on the door.

"I need you to strip off to your undershorts, and lie

on your bed for a primary examination!"  she called.

The door remained closed, and Jane shouted again, her

voice raising in pitch as her exasperation mounted.

"Did you hear me?"  she queried.

The door suddenly swung open, and she found herself

staring into those fiery eyes again. "You have about as

much chance of that as Hell freezing over!"

Jane stormed down the passageway and into the lounge,

Knowing that she was close to tears over the

situation.  "You don`t deserve to get better with

an attitude like that, how can you expect a miracle

when the chip on your shoulder is the size of Gibralta?"

Tears welling in her eyes she began to gather the X.Ray

plates together, and picking up her handbag, walked to

the front door.

"Tell your Mother that I`m through," she sobbed.

Unexpectedly, Mrs. Simmonds was on the front door-step

waiting to come in.

"Through child?Why you havn`t even started!"

Jane retreated back through the front door, the sudden

appearance of Reggie`s mother had quite taken the wind out

of her sails.

"He`s impossible, absolutely impossible, it`s no wonder

that none of the other physio`s have stayed, he doesn`t

give anyone a chance to help." she sobbed.

She was unaware that Reggie sat silently in his

wheel-chair watching her tantrum.

"She wanted me to strip off for her, and I told her to

forget it!"

Mrs. Simmonds looked shocked.

"Strip off?"  she repeated.

Jane, who was recovering fast, had found her second wind

by this time, and by God, she was going to use it.

"You are both behaving like a couple of teenagers, how in

the world am I to evaluate muscle depreciation while

Reggie is fully clothed, I am a qualified Physiotherapist

dammit! I work with bodies every day, whatever is the

matter with you two, Heavens, you are both as bad as one

another!"

Her outburst surprised both Reggie and his mother, and

more than a little herself.

Then the first miracle occurred.Reggie wheeled himself

off towards his bedroom. "I`ll get ready," he said

quietly.

Greta Simmonds smiled, "I suppose you think you won that

round, don`t you?"

 

There wasn`t a sign of a scar on Reggie`s body.  He lay

on his back, resigning himself to the examination.

It was one of the many since the accident, and now he

couldn`t remember how many times that he had lain there

while orthopaedic and neuro- surgeons had poked and

probed, then eventually had shaken their heads.

There wasn`t any doubt in Reggie`s mind that Jane was the

best  of  the bunch, when it came to physio`s.Her  long

blonde, shoulder length hair was like silk, and shone with

a  kind  of un-natural radiance. She had a  willing  smile

too, something that was missing in the others.

Now she bent over him, her long supple fingers reaching

for his calf.He closed his eyes, knowing that there

would be no feeling as her fingers touched his flesh.

"Feel that?"  Jane knew that there wasn`t a chance.Six

months without muscle movement ravaged the body, and what

little was left of nerve endings lay dormant and

unresponsive.

"Don`t play with me, you know damned well I can`t feel

a thing!"  he snapped.

Jane ignored the remark, "And here?"

"No."

"And here?"

"No."

"I want you to roll over onto your tummy, with your

hands at your sides please."

The old feeling of helplessness swept over him, he had

already walked this same path a hundred times, and he

knew that it led nowhere.  "Look can`t we call it a

day?"

"No, we can`t, over on your tummy, and I want you to

close your eyes, so there won`t be any cheating.

"Cheating?"  Reggie manoevered his body until he was

lying on his stomach.  "Like this?"

Jane knew that it was a `last ditch' chance to determine

whether Reggie`s shattered spinal cord would register the

most sensitive part of his body, the balls of his feet.

Using the thin edge of the spatula, she drew it

down smartly from toes to heels, first left, then right.

Reggie`s head moved slightly. "Hey, do that again."

Jane repeated the proceedure, hardly daring to breathe.

"You felt that?"  she asked.

Reggie screwed his eyes tightly closed, and concentrated

on his left foot, he was sure that there was some kind of

feeling there.  Yes, there it was again.  Suddenly he

felt light headed.

"Yeah, kinda",  his voice quaked. "Nothing definite, but

I felt something, like...like..." Suddenly he was

devoid of explanation, but his sudden loss for words

could not overshadow the wonderful feeling of elation

that surged through his heart.

"Do it again." he half laughed, half cried.

The spatula scored a small white path down the length of

his foot now, as Jane increased the pressure.

"Feel that?"she said, feeling his excitement.

"Yes....it`s...it`s rather like you were tickling my

feet, as you would a baby?"

Jane didn`t believe in miracles, she believed in prayers,

and once again, her prayer had been answered.  Her

thoughts flashed to her mother`s bedside, to the smell

of clean linen sheets and camphorated oil.  The warmth of

her mother`s hands encircling her own. "You only need to

pray darling." she had said, shortly before she died.

"Think how lucky we are not to have to make wishes."

Reggie turned over by himself and lay on his back.

"Is that good news, or what?" he laughed.

Jane pulled the sheet up around his shoulders, confident

that time and determination was all that was needed.

"It`s a start,"  she said smiling. "A very tiny step in

the right direction, it`s all we have to work on, but

it looks  more than promising to me!"

 

It was three weeks later, to the day that Reggie hauled

himself off his wheel-chair, and stood trembling between

the parallel bars.  Red faced and biceps bulging, he

called Jane by her first name.  "Jane," he called,

choking with emotion.  "I`m....." but Jane`s strong hands

were already around his waist, her fingers biting into

his firm flesh.

"I`ve got you," she murmered softly, not realizing the

true significance of her words.  "That`s enough for today

Reggie, you are going ahead by leaps and bounds."

Rita Simmonds watched silently from the outside patio,

consoling herself that this was just a farce.  Reggie

would never walk, not as long as she were there to tend

his every need.  Walking to the open window, she called

to him, ignoring Jane completely.

"You are overdoing it darling, now come back inside, and

I`ll make coffee."

Reggie`s exhuberance shone with a dazzling brilliance, "I

stood Ma, I actually stood on these rickety legs!" he

shouted gleefully.

The stark chill of reality spread through Jane`s body,

making her shiver.  Only now did she realise that

Reggie`s mother didn`t want him to get well, in fact, she

never had.  She was binding him to the wheel-chair by

her negative attitude, just as she might bind him with a

length of cord.

"He`s going to walk, Mrs Simmonds, I just know it." she

said, but Rita Simmonds was no longer standing there

On the following day, Reggie`s mother dropped the

bombshell.  "I`m taking Reggie on holiday with me, we

have a small flat on the North Coast, so we won`t be

needing you for some time I`m afraid". she said without

showing a sign of emotion.

Jane felt sick.  "But..but you can`t, he`s doing so well,

why, only yesterday he stood for the first time in seven

months!"

"I`ll pay you what is due Jane, we won`t be needing you

until we get back."

"How long?" Jane heard the quake in her voice again, the

idea of taking Reggie off his therapy was preposterous to

say the least.

"Four, maybe five...."  Jane didn`t wait to find out

whether the answer was in days weeks or months, she

headed for the den, where she knew Reggie would be

sitting.

The sweet smell of aircraft dope overwhelmed her as she

opened the door.  Reggie was busy with a life-time

ambition, to build a radio controlled slope-soarer.  It

was big, with a wingspan of over six feet, and was

something that he could control from a wheelchair, the

main purpose of the venture.

"Hi Jane, come and hold this spar while I wrap this

aircraft tissue around i.,"His eyes sparkled with

enthusiasm.

Jane butted into the conversation.  "You can`t go on

holiday Reggie, what the Hell is she thinking about, just

as you are doing so well."

Reggie looked up from the bundle of balsa wood, a tube of

cement in one hand, and the spar in the other.He

looked different somehow, she thought.More mature

perhaps, or was it a little independance that was

showing through his infirmity.

"We`ll be back, Ma wants to get away, I think she

deserves it, don`t you?"

"How can you say that?"  Jane exploded, almost in tears.

"Don`t you realise how important it is for you to

continue this therapy, it`s a long road Reggie, and we

have only just begun!"

The tube of balsa cement fell to the floor, leaving a

long skein of the cement still attached to his thumb.

"Dammit Jane, she needs the rest, she`s worked her butt

off looking after me night and day, it`s the least I can

do under the circumstance."

Fraught with anger, Jane turned from the bench and stared

out of the window. Slowly she regained her composure,

what she had to say was going to shock Reggie, and she

was prepared for the worst.

"Don`t you realise that she doesn`t` want you to get

well?"she said coldly.

Reggie wheeled himself away from the work-bench to where

Jane was standing.

"What the Hell are you talking about, Miss?"

She turned and faced him head on, "She`s been fooling you

Reggie, the months without any medical attention, the

six  physiotherapists, your lack of any recognisable

progress, she doesn`t want you to get well, she wants to

have you just as you are, in a wheelchair for the rest of

your life, so that she can mother you to......to death!"

Reggie`s eyes were focussed onto the pair of useless feet

that rested without feeling on the footpad. The silence

between them lengthened into minutes, until Jane could

stand it no longer.

"Your Mother is paying me off today, so there`s nothing

more to be said."  She turned and walked towards the

door, just in time to see the flare of Rita Simmonds

green skirt flick out of sight.

Reggie called her back.  "Jane........" her footsteps

echoed up the hallway towards the lounge.

"Damn!" he called, realising that it was the first time

that he had used the profanity in over three weeks.

 

The phone call that evening during dinner was quite

unexpected.  For some reason, the sound of Reggie`s

voice, and the unmistakable urgency in it, made Jane`s

heart skip a beat. "Yes?"  she said, timidly.

Reggie sounded calm, "It`s Ma," he began. "The old girl

has decided to go off on her own, there`s a problem

though!"

For a moment Jane was unable to comprehend the situation,

hardly daring to question the reasoning.

"What problem Reggie?"  she asked, expecting the worse.

Reggie laughed, he seemed happy and relaxed."The

problem is me Jane, I need a temporary housekeeper!"

"Housekeeper?"

"Can you cook?" The smile on Jane`s face broadened into a

great big grin.

"Of course I can cook, are you really sure about this?"

Reggie sighed softly, "Very sure."

"And Ma?" the short silence was un-nerving.

"We had a long talk, and in a strange kind of way, you

were right Jane, this is a kind of retribution, if you

know what I mean?"

Jane packed a few things in a bag, and in twenty

minutes she was sorting herself out in a strange

kitchen.

It was later that afternoon during another parallel bar

session that Reggie bared his soul.  Perhaps through

weakness, for the heavy physical exertion was  more than

telling.  He had lowered himself back into the

wheelchair, and Jane sat swinging her legs to the

rhythm of the music on the C.D. player, when out of the

blue, he turned to her, admitting his guilt.

"I`ve been such an ungrateful ass Jane, it was only when

I realised that you wouldn`t be around that I came to my

senses!"

Slipping off the table,  Jane went to him.

Unexpectedly he reached up and took her hand. The warmth

of his touch made the tears well in her eyes, and she

knew that it wasn`t out of pity that she wept.

"Can you find it in your heart to forgive a poor

misunderstood cripple?"

Jane touched his lips with the fingers of her right

hand, enough had been said, "Not misunderstood, and not

cripple Reggie."For Jane, anger through

frustration was common among handicapped people, but

it was rarely a permanent feature of real  their character.

"You are improving daily, it`s only a question of time

before we will be running after that slope-soarer glider

of yours."  Jane used the `we', hoping that perhaps it

might register, but he looked up and smiled wistfully.

"Am I forgiven then?"

Two more weeks passed, Dr. Martin Stapleton, Reggie`s

orthopaedic surgeon gave the go-ahead for a pair of

crutches. Reggie was no longer bound to his

wheelchair, although his extreme dislike for the

`sticks' was more than apparent.

"How the Hell am I supposed to get up steps," he yelled,

soon after he`d had a calamity.

Jane smiled, her hands still wet with washing-up water, she

ran to his aid.  "You don`t," she said firmly.

"You avoid them like the plague!"  The significance of

her words were embarrassing to her, and although they

were not pre-meditated, she knew that they ably

described the situation between them.Only once had

there been the slightest hint of any intimacy.They

had kept strictly to their own seperate rooms, and the

only body contact had been purely in the line of duty!

Jane`s heart sank when Reggie announced that Rita would

be coming back in less than a week.

"How many days have we left?"  she asked urgently.

"How do you mean?"  Much to Jane`s disappointment,

Reggie appeared to be a little too eager for his

mother`s arrival.

"You know, together."  she said, putting it as

delicately as she could.

Reggie pulled himself up off the chair and grabbed his

crutches, "I got a thousand things to do before the old

girl comes, I`ll be in the den!"That evening,  Jane

decided to pack her things.

The slope soarer was completed, and once its wings had

been secured, it was far too large to be accommodated

in Reggie`s tiny den.  It lay resplendent in a corner of

the lounge.

The day before Rita was due to arrive back home, Jane

heard the clatter as Reggie`s crutches skidded on the

highly polished floor, and heard the sickening thump

as he collapsed onto the wing section of the red and

white glider.

For some reason, he had attempted to pick it up and make

a minor adjustment. A single shout escaped his lips.

"Jane!"

She was there in seconds after the fall. Reggie lay with

his legs crumpled beneath him, both crutches lay at odd

angles, yards from where he fell. The glider that had

taken so long to complete had been shattered beyond

recognition.

"You all right?" she whispered, hardly daring to touch

him.

Reggie just lay there, his eyes focussed on a tiny patch

of cloud, far beyond the window, the house, the garden.

Left rudder....easy does it.......straighten out.....

easy....more aeleron.... let her settle....that`s it.

"Are you all right?"  She called again, this time

touching his arm lightly and waiting for a response.

The old feeling of absolute exhilaration was still with

him as he turned to her. Head in the clouds, the wind in

his hair, he smiled with absolute contentment. "Jane,

darling Jane, what an absolute fool I`ve been all these

weeks."

Strugging to sit up, his hand searching for one of the

crutches, without knowing how, suddenly she was in his

arms. "How could I have been so foolish to think that I

could spend a single day without you?"

Jane drew him closer to her, it seemed that all the days

and weeks that she had prayed for him to say those words

were now a reality.

She teased the curly brown hairs at his collar with her

finger tips, and stared into his stubborn fiery eyes, so

full of determination. "It`s taken you so long my darling,

so very long."

Helping him up, they stood where he had fallen for what

seemed an eternity, their bodies locked in an embrace that

Jane wished would never end.

"I love you darling Reggie, and have done right from

the very first moment I saw you."

He kissed her gently on the lips, and quite unexpectedly

she pulled away, a puzzled look on her face as she

realised that she was n`t quite telling the truth.

"No, I`m mistaken, it wasn`t you darling........the Group

Captain in the hallway , he was my first love!."

 

 

 

END

 


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