The Chair

March 14, 2010
By , Iberia, MO
They were sitting on the back deck just staring off into the distance; neither one of them saying a word. It was a calm, beautiful summer evening...the kind of glorious, wondrous evening those artists painted pictures of and poets wrote about. But if he had to paint a picture or write a poem about something beautiful it wouldn’t be the evening...it would be Lena. She really was a magnificent sight to take in. Her black wavy hair was pulled back in a low ponytail and her sea green eyes were bright...with tears. He didn’t know what to say to make the tears go away...he would say that everything was going to be ok, but they both knew that that was a lie. They were both changing and needing different things.

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, getting ready to speak but she spoke first, “I don’t think there’s anything we can do...” He looked down at his shoes and took another deep breath. “I’ve stood by for you so long...but I can’t do it anymore. I see how much you’re hurting but it’s like there’s nothing I can do. And that hurts me. I hate feeling this way.” He wanted so bad to yell and get angry but he knew that in all honesty he had nothing to get angry about. She put her hand on his knee and looked at him for the first time tonight. He met her eyes and he couldn’t stop a tear from rolling down his cheek.

“Bye Ollie” she whispered. She got up and walked down the porch steps without even looking back behind her shoulder. He said nothing, just turned around and rolled his chair back into the house.

The chair had started it all. Before the accident everything was fine between them. Sure they might’ve fought some or disagreed but it was always over trivial things like what to do that night, where they wanted to eat, maybe what movie they wanted to see. It was never over serious stuff. They were kids after all, life wasn’t supposed to be serious, but the chair had made it that way. Ollie didn’t remember much about the accident, he had blocked most of it out. But, he did remember the countless hours that Lena spent at the hospital...



Oliver opened his eyes to see a BRIGHT white room adorned in flowers and balloons. Above him was a face half hidden by a screen of black hair. Lena pushed her hair behind her ears and smiled down at him; tears were streaming down her cheeks.

“Hi Ollie” she breathed out his name along with a sigh of relief. She kissed his cheek and lay her head down on his chest. He ran his fingers through her hair. The doctor came in at that moment with his parents and Lena left them alone...he wished she would’ve stayed. By the look on the doctor’s face he was going to need her now more than ever.

After the doctor had come in and talked to him, explained that he was never going to walk again, Lena had come back in and held his hand as he cried. She lay up on the bed with him, listening to her IPod while he closed his eyes, and tried to sleep. Her music lulled him...

When he awoke he had an immense urge to get out of bed but then he remembered it was going to be kind of hard to get out of bed without the assistance of someone. Great. Lena was nowhere to be found but his mom was sitting in the chair across the room. When she realized he was up she sat up in her chair, “Hey Darling. How are you feeling?”

He ignored her and asked about where Lena was. She stood up and walked over to his bed.

“I made her leave. It’s unhealthy how much time she was spending here. She’ll grow depressed in a hospital this much.” His mom said as she smoothed down the blankets on his bed.

“And, what about me, aren’t you worried about my mental state? What if I go crazy in this chair? He asked.

His mom looked at him with a look of pure resentment.

“You should’ve thought about that and the other consequences before you started texting while you were driving.”

His temper tantrums had started about a week after that. His dad had come in tossing a soccer ball that had been signed by the whole team, talking and laughing like nothing was wrong...

“Sooner than later you’re going to be back on that field, kicking that ball, and playing with all your buddies.”

Ollie was looking at his dad with a look of confusion. Did his father understand what was going on? Lena was standing by the window and she smiled and nodded as she listened to his father go on and on.

Lena just stared out the window and his father continued to toss the soccer ball. “Maybe when you get released we can go see a soccer game together over at the University.

He got so mad watching them ignore him and act like he was just going to be able to magically do all the things he used to do.

“I really wish you would just SHUT UP!” He yelled. He didn’t mean to be so loud and he was slightly embarrassed when two orderlies and his nurse walked in.

Lena’s mouth was slightly open and his dad was walking out.

“Dad, wait! I...I didn’t mean it!” But it was too late.

Lena’s words were just above a whisper, “What’s the matter, Ollie?” The nurse and orderlies predicting a private moment walked out quietly. She walked over and placed her hand on his. “Why are you so angry?”

“Maybe because I’m gonna be stuck in this God forsaken chair for the rest of my life!” He bellowed!

Surprisingly, Lena didn’t look scared...she looked worried. Oliver suddenly felt like the biggest jerk in the world. He closed his eyes and he felt lips lightly on his cheek. He was so lucky to have Lena. She pushed his blonde curls away from his face and wiped the tears away from his bright blue eyes. Then holding his hand, she bowed her head and closed her eyes; starting to pray silently. Her words were barely above a whisper. She prayed for Ollie’s recovery and strength for her. She prayed for his family and for all of them to be patient with one another. Ollie watched her quietly.

Ollie held the little black box in his hand. Tonight was the night that he was going to apologize to Lena for everything that he done to her in the last couple of months. All the times that he had grown angry and impatient in front of her, all the times that he had ignored her and been rude to her. He was so angry with himself and he knew that if he didn’t step it up and take responsibility, make this promise, he was going to lose her. And he didn’t think he could handle that.

It was Ollie’s first day of physical therapy and he was a nervous wreck. He had tossed and turned not only with the worry of how much stress it would be to succeed but also if Lena was going to be there to support him. They had gotten in a fight the day before. Lena was being so positive and kept talking about how much all the kids at school missed him and he couldn’t take it. He had yelled and threw his water cup across the room; Lena just walked out without a word. It was his second outburst in two weeks.

Lena sat outside of the physical therapy lab watching Oliver work with the therapist. She could sense another temper tantrum coming on...He was getting frustrated. He was so used to passing physical feats with ease. A boy sat down next to her, on her right. He accidentally bumped into her arm when he sat down.

“Oops! I apologize.” He said.

“It’s okay.” She said as she smiled. She saw Ollie looking at her from the lab; he waved and she smiled and waved back.

“Brother?” the boy asked.

“Boyfriend” She answered back.

“Girlfriend?” She asked. She had seen him push a girl in and whisper something in her ear.

“Sister” He answered in return.

She felt embarrassed and she quickly looked down at the ground.

“Don’t you see the resemblance?” He asked.

She took a good look at the both of them, which made her feel even more stupid...because the resemblance was uncanny. Although they were different genders, they looked exactly alike. They both had reddish brown hair and tan skin. They had huge brown eyes with a layer of freckles underneath them. And, they were both tall and lanky. He was wide-eyed as she stared at him, but he was smiling.

“Do you see it now?” He asked.

“Yes. And I feel like the biggest dork ever! You guys could be twins!” She yelped.

“Um...”

“Oh my...you guys are twins, aren’t you?” She asked.

He solemnly nodded his head and she laughed.

Oliver just happened to glance out the lab window to see Lena laughing with some guy. It was a very natural laugh and he thought to himself that he hadn’t seen her laugh like that since he had been in the hospital. She looked so pretty, sitting there laughing and talking, even if it was with another boy. A very athletic, handsome boy, who looked like he could probably get any girl he wanted. Oliver could tell that Lena was enjoying herself...and he felt indignant at the fact that he wasn’t the one causing her sudden happiness.

“Hey Hon, are you hurting?” Lena asked as Ollie rolled himself out of the lab.

“Yeah, just a bit. Who’s your friend?” He asked back, slowly eyeing the boy up and down.

The boy stepped towards Ollie with a friendly, easygoing smile on his face. He stuck out his hand, “Hi, my name is Keane. It’s great to meet you; Lena told me so much about you!”

“Sure she did.” Ollie said nodding his head. Keane gave him kind of a quizzical look.

Lena noticed Aleksa rolling herself out and searching for her brother. She poked Keane on the shoulder and motioned over to Aleksa.

His face lit up with a smile, “Hey Aleksa, over here!”

Aleksa rolled over and introduced herself.

“Oliver, you did great today! Did I hear the therapist say that you used to play soccer?”

“Yea, I played varsity soccer and was talking to some scouts about college...before.” He faltered on that last word.

“Yea...I figured you were an athlete. The therapists always say it’s easier for athletes, or competitive people to fight back.” She said as she gave him a warm, reassuring smile.

“What sport did you play?” He asked back. As he asked this he noticed that Lena and Keane had started their own little private conversation off to the side.

“I competed in Junior Motocross and was in talk to go pro...before.” She also faltered on that last word.

With this sentence hanging in the air Oliver realized that it was probably hard for everyone to talk about their lives before their accidents, whether they were athletes or not. Ollie had never met a girl motocross rider before...or any motocross rider for that matter and he was curious about what it took to be a rider. But as much as he was interested he couldn’t get over Lena....and how close and comfortable she seemed to be talking with Keane.

Weeks passed and Oliver watched as Lena quickly grew closer and closer to Keane. It went from just meeting at the therapy lab to going out to get lunch and coffee. She was starting to become a part of Keane’s life...and him apart of hers. She was talking about spending time with his family, helping Aleksa and playing with their little brother, Rafe. Keane spent a lot of time in Ollie’s hospital room visiting and although the conversation always was steered in Ollie’s direction, he knew that Keane’s main objection was to get to see Lena. Ollie was also mad at the fact that Keane had started praying and reading the bible with Lena. Which was one thing that Ollie had never had the courage to do. He wasn’t sure of his religion or what he believed and now he felt shameful because Keane seemed to have everything together in that department. And Ollie could tell that Lena was impressed by that.

And as the weeks passed the tension grew stronger between Oliver and Lena. By now Ollie had been released from the hospital and that helped....for awhile. But Lena was still leaving to hang out with Keane. And the jealousy from Oliver intensified...

“I just don’t understand why you can’t eat dinner here with me?” Oliver asked as Lena started to gather her books and put them in her backpack. She had come over right after school and done homework with Oliver and after receiving a few dozen texts from Keane, she had decided to meet him at The Drive-In for dinner.

“Because it’s been a week since I’ve seen Keane and he wants to meet for dinner.” She said quietly, and as Oliver noticed without looking up from her backpack.

“When I told him I was with you he said you could come, too.” She said, continuing to look down.

“No!” he said angrily. When he noticed how shocked and hurt she looked he continued in a softer tone, “Sorry but I don’t want to be the third wheel to yours and Keane’s night out.”

All he heard was something slamming into the ground....she had thrown her backpack on the floor.

“We would be going as a group of friends! How many times do I have to tell you that there is nothing going on between Keane and me” She was yelling and her eyes were welling up with tears.

She stormed out of the room as her phone rang. She was slamming the door just as she answered it.

“Yea, sorry Keane. I’ll be there in a couple of minutes. No, it’s nothing, I’m leaving Ollie’s house right now.”

Ollie didn’t really know how he felt about being described as nothing. He was angry at Lena for acting this way and for how she left things but he was also angry at himself. He had used every possible chance to get angry or get upset, just to see if she would stick by him and now he was losing her because of it. He felt that she was growing closer to Keane because she was tired of his antics. He needed to figure out a way to keep her. He couldn’t deal with losing her; she was his rock and he needed her.

He had his best friend Pete drive him to town the next day. He bought it at a pawn shop. A simple, silver ring with a minute piece of emerald in it; it was nothing extravagant but he knew that it would mean the world to Lena. The ring was going to be his promise that he would get his act together, and when the time came, if they were ready they could take the next step and get engaged. He held the box in his hand as he dialed her number.

“Hey hon. what’s going on?” Lena said when she picked up the phone. She sounded chipper and happy, and not a forced happiness either.

“Nothing, just wanted to see if you wanted to come over. I wanted to give you something.”

She faltered before she said the next sentence, “Well, I’m on my way home from Keane’s house. Rafe had his birthday party and I’m covered in cake.” She laughed.

“I have to go take a shower and then I can come over, okay?” She said.

“Yeah, that’s fine, can’t wait.” He mumbled and hung up the phone.



They were sitting on the back deck just staring off into the distance; neither one of them saying a word. It was a calm, beautiful summer evening...the kind of glorious, wondrous evening those artists painted pictures of and poets wrote about. But if he had to paint a picture or write a poem about something beautiful it wouldn’t be the evening...it would be Lena. She really was a magnificent sight to take in. Her black wavy hair was pulled back in a low ponytail and her sea green eyes were bright...with tears. He didn’t know what to say to make the tears go away...he would say that everything was going to be ok, but they both knew that that was a lie. They were both changing and needing different things.

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, getting ready to speak but she spoke first, “I don’t think there’s anything we can do...” He looked down at his shoes and took another deep breath. “I’ve stood by for you so long...but I can’t do it anymore. I see how much you’re hurting but it’s like there’s nothing I can do. And that hurts me. I hate feeling this way.” He wanted so bad to yell and get angry but he knew that in all honesty he had nothing to get angry about. She put her hand on his knee and looked at him for the first time tonight. He met her eyes and he couldn’t stop a tear from rolling down his cheek.

As he watched her walk off the porch, the little ring box felt like a thousand pounds in his pocket. He rolled his chair into the house, stopping in the den to put the ring box in the back of a junk drawer that was filled to the brim. Where it could be forgotten....

As Lena walked farther from the house, her tears intensified. She didn’t think she would be this upset when she had decided to break up with him, but it was harder than she thought. As she was wiping her eyes her phone rang. She looked at it and sighed when she noticed it was Keane. She hit ignore and pocketed her phone. The truth was even though she denied it she was beginning to love Keane. But she couldn’t talk to him now, because he had played an infinite role in their break-up, she would feel guilty talking to him so soon after. She continued walking down the road, knowing that she should give this part of her life over to God, and let him make the right decision for her.

Continuing on down the road, without bowing her head or closing her eyes, she prayed. He told her not to forget about Keane or Ollie, and to always keep in them in her prayers. But, to focus and be with him and in time he would let the perfect man cut in.





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