Therapy for his Heart
By: Robin Gagnon
Jesse groaned, as he struggled to get out of his wheelchair. Ever since the car accident, he had been unable to walk because of two broken legs. Now, after his legs had healed, he was forced to endure many sessions of physiotherapy until he could walk properly again.
His nurse, Mrs. Stuart, was a no-nonsense lady in her forties, that often times pushed him to his limits. Every time he went in to see her, her blond hair was cut short and her steely blue gaze always had a disapproving glare. He didn’t like her very much, since she reminded him of his strict grade two teacher.
“I’m disappointed in you this session, Jesse,” she would often say. “You could of done much better. You can’t expect your mother to always look after you and push you around in that wheelchair of yours.”
Jesse always hated that last line. Of course he didn’t want to depend on his mother. He was in his twenties and plenty old enough to look after himself. He’d never tell Mrs. Stuart that, though, because the woman was much stronger than she looked and often caught him when he fell.
After a month of his therapy, Jesse wheeled himself into the room, expecting to see Mrs. Stuart, but she wasn’t there. A few moments later, the receptionist walked in and explained that she had gone on leave due to a family emergency and that he would be getting a new nurse for a while.
As he waited in the room for the new nurse to arrive, he silently wished that it wasn’t a guy. He figured that if it was, the male nurse would be even harder on him than Mrs. Stuart had been. After what felt like a really long time, there was a knock on the door.
“Sorry that I’m late,” a light, female voice apologized. “My last patient needed help getting a ride home.”
Jesse turned to see the most beautiful girl he had ever laid eyes on. She had straight, dark brown hair that was tied into a ponytail and gorgeous honey coloured eyes that appeared to sparkle when she smiled.
“I’m Stephanie and I’ll be filling in for Mrs. Stuart,” she explained, walking over to him and holding out her hand for him to shake. “It’s nice to be working with you on your road to recovery.”
He laughed at her cheesy line and she blushed, as he shook her hand. When she wasn’t looking, he ran a hand through his blond hair and hoped it didn’t look as messy as it felt. After she had gotten ready, she helped him out of his chair and he began to try and walk again.
For months, Mrs. Stuart didn’t return and, hoping nothing was too wrong, Jesse wished that she would continue to be away for a lot longer. His moments with Stephanie were things he looked forward to, since they often laughed together and had interesting conversations. After his last break-up, he had felt like he could never love someone again, but he had grown really close to Stephanie and had a feeling that she might like him as well.
“Your progress is really slow and I’m a little worried,” she told him one day, as she helped him into his chair. “Hopefully you’re just a slow healer and there isn’t anything wrong.”
“I think it’s fine,” he replied, turning to look into her eyes. “I guess I’ve just been a little distracted.”
She stared into his blue eyes, as she blushed. She was so close, Jesse realized, that if he just moved in a little closer, there lips would be touching.
“I can’t,” she mumbled, before standing straight up and trying to look calm. “You’re my patient and, as your nurse, I cant be in a personal relationship with you. My job doesn’t allow it.”
Jesse had gone home disappointed that day, but soon came to realise that the faster he recovered and was able to walk again, the faster he would be able to finish his therapy. Once he was done, he would no longer be Stephanie’s patient and he’d be able to take her out on a date.
From that moment onwards, he tried his best to complete his physiotherapy. He even practiced at home and forced his younger brother to help. Eventually, his hard work began to pay off and he moved on from a wheelchair to crutches.
“You’re doing so much better,” Stephanie had exclaimed happily one day. “You should be out of here in just a few weeks.”
Jesse had grinned broadly at her, proud of his accomplishments, and vowed not to give up. His happiness was short-lived, however, when he went to physiotherapy the following week and was greeted by Mrs. Stuart’s scowling face.
“You should of been out of here by now,” she scolded him. “Don’t tell me my replacement wasn’t doing her job very well.”
“What, no,” Jesse had denied, quick to defend the young woman. “Stephanie was great.”
Mrs. Stuart cocked an eyebrow at him and replied, “Is that so? Well then, prove to me that she worked well with you by walking on your own for at least five minutes.”
The next two weeks felt like boot camp to Jesse, but, eventually, he was walking again on his own for long periods of time. He never once mentioned Stephanie to Mrs. Stuart or asked where she was, for fear that the older woman would think that Stephanie had broken her rules of conduct.
On his last day, he quickly walked up to the receptionist and asked the question that had hardly left his mind for weeks, “Do you know what happened to Stephanie? Does she still work here?”
The receptionist didn’t know what to say at first, but then looked up at Jesse with sad eyes, “She doesn’t work at this building anymore. She was transferred, but I don’t know where.”
Jesse’s heart sank. That was it. He’d never see her again and it hurt him to reach that realization, like a stab in the chest.
“Mr. Patterson,” Mrs. Stuart’s voice rang out, as she walked toward him with a clipboard and a stern look. “Why do you want to know Ms. Baker’s whereabouts?”
Jesse panicked, trying to explain himself without getting Stephanie in trouble, “I just wanted to know because I wanted to thank her for the good job she did. I didn’t get to say goodbye before she left.”
Mrs. Stuart lip picked up in the corner slightly, as she replied, “That’s no problem. I can pass on your word of thanks to her.”
Jesse’s shoulder’s sagged and he looked at the floor as he admitted quietly, “I was also hoping that, maybe, I could ask her out on a date.”
The older woman smiled and handed the disappointed young man a folded up piece of paper.
“You ran out of the room so fast, that I didn’t have time to give this to you,” she explained, as Jesse took the piece of paper from her. “Ms. Baker requested that I give this to you once you were done your therapy.”
Opening up the paper, Jesse saw that written in nice writing was Stephanie’s phone number. He looked up at the short, blond haired woman and smiled.
“I may be strict,” she commented, turning around to leave. “But I’m not all that bitter.”
Not waiting another moment, he inputted the number into his phone and called her. He waited patiently and she answered on the first ring.
“Hi, Stephanie?” he asked, feeling nervous and excited all at the same time. “I just finished my physiotherapy and I was wondering if you wanted to go out to dinner sometime…”