tagRomanceRehabilitation Ch. 01

Rehabilitation Ch. 01


"I can´t fucking do it!" she screamed, the frustration clearly getting to her.

He raised an eyebrow at her words but spoke in a calm composed voice, "There is no need for language like that. Just try it one more time."

It annoyed her how he was always so calm and composed. "That's easy for you to say when you're not the one stuck in a bloody wheelchair!" she scolded, resting her hands on the beams in front of her and trying to pull herself to her feet again.

He chuckled as he watched her put up a fight, "You hardly seem stuck to me." He knew she was stubborn and getting her frustrated would only feed that stubbornness and her determination to stand up.


It had been six months since the accident had happened. What had started as a fun night out with her then boyfriend, Joshua, ended in weeks in the hospital and hours of therapy. The car crash had caused - what was thought permanent- nerve damage, paralyzing her legs. But to her doctor's surprise Leah had started feeling pains and tingling sensations in her feet after a few weeks.

As her body slowly recovered, Leah started regaining power. Due to intense physical therapy she was now able to stand on her legs for a few moments. Even though she still needed to support herself by holding onto the wooden beams or the back of a chair, it was a progress that made her and her family feel hopeful. Even the doctors were impressed by her improvements. Some of them even believed that if she wouldn't have had the mental set back in the beginning, Leah would have been up and running again by now.

Joshua had visited her almost daily the first week she was in hospital. But as time passed and things didn't seem to change, he panicked at the idea of a girlfriend in a wheelchair and dumped her without any warning. Like it wasn't bad enough that his reckless driving had caused her so much hurt while he only had a few bruises. He added an extra layer of emotional pain by leaving her. When she needed him the most, trying to recover, he disappeared and left her to deal with things on her own.

They had been together for almost two years and then he broke her heart. Crying was too much, her body still hurt from the impact of the crash, but she didn't feel like eating for days. The idea of getting physical therapy was only making her more depressed. What was the point if she'd never walk again?

After a week of her refusing to do any exercises Paul had walked in, a young physical therapist in his mid thirties. He was specialized in physiotherapy for children but due to budget cuts at the hospital he was now forced to treat grownups as well. Leah had been his first adult patient and initially he had been just as unhappy with the task at hand as she was. From the very first minute of therapy she had been reluctant and uncooperative. But the more she protested and refused to take his advice the more resolute he had become to help her. She was now able to stand up and walk a few steps, be it while resting her weight on the wooden beams next to her. Paul was quite satisfied with the progress they had made so far.


After an hour of therapy Leah had become tired and most power was gone from her arms and legs. "There! I'm standing again. Happy now?!" she exclaimed.

A small grin was showing on Paul´s face as he nodded his head. "Yes...yes I am happy for you," he said, supporting her as she lowered herself down into her wheelchair again. She had to bite her lip to keep quiet and not respond to his words as she slumped into her seat again.

Paul kneeled down in front of her and started undoing the straps of the braces around her legs. "So, have you considered that hydrotherapy I suggested last week?" he asked without looking up at her.

Leah nodded her head and mumbled, "Mum thought it was a good thing to try."

His hands where still busy with the braces as Paul replied, trying not to show too much triumph in his voice, "That's at least one smart woman in your family."

If she would have had the power she would have kicked him but feeling exhausted all Leah could do was reply with an annoyed "Fuck you!" Paul had to suppress a grin as he freed her feet from the braces.

He had worked with her long enough to know she would get angry when tired but couldn't help to tease her a little more. "I'm sorry dear, that's not part of the therapy."

A soft mumbling noise was the only reply he got. Worried that he might have pushed her just a bit too far, Paul smiled at her, "I'll schedule our next appointment at the pool then."

Without looking at him Leah grabbed her bag of the table, placed it on her lap and headed for the door."Good, the sooner I walk again, the sooner I'm done with your bad jokes," she murmured and with that Leah left the room.


That night Leah was tossing and turning in her bed. She had moved back in with her parents because her own apartment wasn't wheelchair friendly, but the familiar room didn't help to keep her from a restless sleep filled with dreams and nightmares. One moment she was jumping and running through a field of flowers and long grass and the next she was swimming in open water and struggling to keep her head above the waves. Her feet couldn't touch the ground and her arms were too heavy to swim with. Just as she thought the waves would wash over her a boat passed by. A hand reached out and pulled her into the boat to save her from drowning. Both scenes kept playing through her head all night. Sometimes the boat wouldn't be in time to safe her or rocks in the long grass made her trip and fall, and the next minute she would be happy and dancing all around. When she got up in the morning she felt both exhausted as well as somewhat hesitant about going to the new therapy.

After struggling to eat her breakfast, Leah decided to pick up the phone and call off the water therapy. It was a bad idea to jump in a pool when her legs were still tired from the day before. Paul surely would understand that.

Understanding he definitely was, but not in a sympathetic way. Paul saw trough her excuses, "I know you're worried but I won't let you drown," he replied with a serious voice.

Getting no snarky reply from her side of the phone he quickly added with a slight chuckle, "I've yet to kill my first patient," hoping he hadn't scared her more. Leah sighed a deep sigh and before she could try any more protesting Paul spoke up again, "See you in a few hours!" With that he ended the phone call, leaving Leah annoyed with his happy, cheery mood once again.


A few hours later Leah was waiting at the side of the pool for Paul to pick her up. Her mother had dropped her off and seemed extra hopeful about the possible result from this new therapy. Leah was fidgeting with the big towel that was lying across her lap. Still feeling quite nervous about being in the water but at the same time being slightly insecure about sitting there in nothing but her black bathing suit. To that extent the water almost seemed like a safe place to be. Hiding her body from any peering eyes. Even though the scars were still healing, they would leave permanent marks on her legs. Like a souvenir to remind her of the numerous hours she had spend lying on the operating table.

After a few minutes of nervously waiting Paul walked in, wearing blue swim shorts with a white stripe on the side and a plain black shirt on top. Leah immediately wished she had thought of wearing a shirt and pulled up the towel a bit more. "I'm glad to see you're feeling well enough to join me for a swim after all," Paul smiled. He dropped his big towel on one of the benches and pulled the shirt over his head. Not wanting to stare Leah couldn´t help taking a quick glance at his chest and caught herself biting her lip for a brief moment.

"Well then," Paul said while turning towards her, "are you going to sit there staring at me or shall we get to work?" Leah felt her face turning red at his words, unsure if he had noticed her looking or that he was just teasing like always. Paul stepped towards her and held out his hand to take the towel from her. Feeling very self-conscious Leah pulled the towel away and threw it towards the benches. The lucky shot made it land on top of Paul's but dragged it down and both fell on the floor. "Thanks for that," he sighed, realising she was going to give him a hard time again.

Placing his hands on the back of the wheelchair Paul gave it a push, more forceful than needed and rolled it towards the shallow end of the pool. "Hey!" Leah exclaimed in shock, already nervous about getting in the water.

"Don't be a baby," Paul replied, his voice a little annoyed all of a sudden. Leah felt her body shivering. It wasn't just the air conditioned pool, mostly it was the daunting sight of the water that made her on edge.

As if he had sensed her discomfort, Paul crouched down next to her and gave her a friendly smile. "You'll be fine," he said, trying to put her mind at ease, quickly adding "I promise!" Leah looked up at him, trying to smile back. For once Paul saw a worried woman, not the tough girl that didn't need any help. He took her arm and placed it around his neck, scooping her up from the wheelchair and helped her to her feet. "Do you think you could walk in?" Paul asked while holding her, providing the support she needed.

Leah looked at him and blushed while shaking her head, "I'm scared..." she whispered.

"Don't be scared," he tried to reassure Leah and with that he placed one arm around her waist and the other behind her knees and lifted her from the floor. She gasped softly as he picked her up, but his arms felt stronger than she imagined them to be. Leah wrapped her arms around his neck and let Paul carry her into the water. As he walked down the slope into the pool, water slowly raised around their bodies. After a few more steps Paul leaned down so that Leah was in the water from her shoulders down. Her arms were still wrapped around his shoulders as she felt her legs were starting to float.

"Try standing up now, the water should make it much easier," Paul said, slowly releasing her from his arms. Leah gasped softly and hugged herself closer to Paul's chest in fear of having to let go.

She looked into his eyes and felt herself blushing again. "I...I'm nervous...and scared," she whispered softly, feeling ashamed of her own insecurities. She noticed his cheeks were slightly flushed as well and for a moment she thought it was carrying her into the pool that had caused it.

"Don't be scared, I won't let you go," Paul replied, biting his lip for a moment before adding, "I'm nervous as well..."

Leah raised an eyebrow and almost chuckled at his words, "How can you be nervous? You can swim, right?!"

He smiled shyly at her, unsure on how to react to that, "Well, of course but..I'm nervous about..." Paul didn't finish his sentence right away but instead tightened his grip and pulled her closer against his chest. "To be honest, I'm nervous about being so close to you...like this."

Leah was dumbstruck and felt a bit lost for words as her smart-ass comments failed her. All of a sudden she became aware of the feel of his body against hers. The physical contact had been there for minutes but she had been so wrapped up in her own anxious thoughts that it was only now she realised they were touching skin to skin. "You mean...you..." Leah stuttered, feeling her cheeks burning up. Seconds passed without a word from either of them. All of a sudden Paul leaned in and kissed Leah softly on her lips. As he pulled away again she looked at him with a surprised look in her eyes. "Did you just..." Leah started, "You can't just kiss me! Let me go right now!"

Paul loosened his grip on her, "I will if that is what you want," he replied, clearly regretting the kiss.

To be continued...

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