“This is stupid. Just take me home again.” Ryan’s eyes flashed with anger and resentment.
Peter wasn’t ready to give up quite yet though. They’d come this far and everything was ready, he wasn’t about to give up less than 50 meters from the finish line.
Just getting Ryan here had taken endless talking, arguing and something uncomfortably close to emotional blackmail. Shame filled Peter as he remembered the moment when he’d told Ryan to stop being selfish.
“You can go out with me. Just once won’t kill you. I’d like to spend an evening doing something other than watching television for a change.”
It had been impossible to miss Ryan’s flinch when he heard those words. The pain reflected in Ryan’s eyes had almost made him apologize and backtrack, but he’d stopped himself.
“Peter, you can’t pull the chair through that grass. It’ll get stuck.” Ryan sounded resigned rather than angry and Peter wasn’t sure which was harder to listen to.
It had been a long six weeks for both of them. Immediately after the accident they’d both just been happy they’d survived the crash. It had taken a few days before they’d realised what Ryan’s prognosis meant. He’d be in a wheelchair for at least three months after which he’d have to go through months of rehabilitation with no guarantee that he’d ever get all power in his legs back.
Peter bent his knees and knelt in front of Ryan’s chair.
“Just wrap your arms around my neck. We’re nearly there. Our dinner awaits around the corner there. I’ll carry you.”
He didn’t turn his head to look at Ryan while he spoke – all too aware how much Ryan hated being dependent on others...on him.
Getting up with Ryan on his back was harder than Peter could have imagined but he made it. He fixed his eyes on the spot he had to reach and concentrated on getting there.
If this didn’t work he’d no idea what to try next. He could see Ryan retreating from the world in front of his eyes and unless he found a way to get Ryan interested in life again.... Peter stopped himself from pursuing the thought.
It wasn’t fair that Ryan - who’d always been on the move, played three different team sports, and actually enjoyed working out - might face a future with limited mobility. But Peter knew without a doubt that if Ryan gave up - if he surrendered to his darkest fears now - he’d no hope of getting better.
Ten more steps to the corner. Ryan had been quiet during Peter’s slow progress. Peter concentrated and counted down from ten. When he reached three he coughed. Three steps later, as he rounded the corner, hundreds of lights sprang to life and recreated the night sky over his head. Ahead of them family and friends burst into Happy Birthday to you.
Ryan’s grip relaxed and he laughed softly.
“I love you, you bastard.”
With thanks to Allison Hickman for choosing this wonderful picture. Don’t forget to visit Brigham Vaughn’s blog for your chance to enjoy what this photo inspired her to write. We'll be back next Monday with another picture and two more stories.