Originally posted 2016-01-08 08:00:41.
“The tablets have stopped working haven’t they?”
I heard something in his voice. I wanted to think it was concern but it sounded more like anger. I put out my hand to reassure him but he pulled away sharply. “I’m fine Paul,” I said. I tried not to sound as if I was pleading.
“No you’re not,” he said coldly. “You’re twitching and spasming every day and every night. You can’t walk anymore. We can’t do anything. It’s driving me mad.”
“It’s not that bad is it?” I asked softly. “The twitch, well it’s more like a shiver these days. A tremor really. No more than that. I just need to get my strength back and ….”
“A tremor!” he interrupted. “Your legs are wrecked Helen. You’re sat in that chair all day long. And what kills me is you had a chance. You could have …”. He stopped himself.
“Had the operation?” I finished his sentence for him. “Paul, he wanted to take my legs. He was a butcher not a doctor.”
“He was a surgeon and you didn’t hear him out.”
“I’ll up my dosage,” I said.
“You’re already on the maximum dosage,” he replied. “The doctor said there was a limit to what the tablets could do and he was right. You’re at the end of the road.”
“Well I’ll just have to live with it then,” I said slowly. “We can…”
Again he interrupted me. “You can live with it if you want to but not me. I’m not carrying on like this.”
He walked out of the room. A few seconds later I heard him start the car. I knew where he was going. It was where he always went these days. I felt sick. How long until he left me for good. She could offer him everything. I had nothing.
Hours later he returned, reeking of beer, cigarettes and her. Always her. I was still sitting in my chair, alone in the dark. Just me and my spasming, twitching, useless legs
He knelt beside me and held my hand. “I’m sorry Helen,” he whispered. “I don’t know why I do it.” I felt something unfurl within me. He still loved me. There was still hope. I just needed to act. No more hesitation.
“It’s my fault Paul,” I said. “You’re right. I should have done it when I had the chance. But I’m ready now. I’ll have it done as soon as the doctor can see me.”
He sighed. I reached out to hold him but he was already getting up. “I’ll make us a cup of tea,” he said.
Three weeks later I was back home. No more twitching, no more spasms, but no prosthetics either. There’d been a complication. Something to do with my immune system. Most unfortunate, according to the doctor, but a risk I’d apparently accepted when I’d signed the forms.
Paul came into the room, car keys in hand. “I’m going out for a bit.”
I noticed he still couldn’t look at my bandaged stumps. “Where are you going?” the question was out before I could stop myself.
“Just out,” he said, already turning to leave.
“Please stay Paul,” I said, this time not even bothering to hide the pleading in my voice. “We can …” The front door slammed shut before I could finish.
It was after midnight when he returned. I was still sitting in my chair by the window. He crawled onto the sofa and fell asleep without a word. I stayed in my chair for awhile, watching him sleep. Then I felt for the syringe hidden underneath my cushion. It was right next to the knife. Carefully I lowered myself onto the carpet and pulled myself over to the sofa, tools in hand. I would like to say I hesitated before I plunged the needle into his neck, but I didn’t. I’d already learnt my lesson. His body twitched in response, but it was no more than a shiver really. Then his breathing slowed as the drug took affect. He drifted into a deeper sleep and I wondered if he would dream of her or me. The blade gleamed in the cold moonlight. As I looked at it I felt something unfurl within me. Maybe he did still love me. Maybe there was still hope. I lifted his trouser leg and set to work.