Marie rushed to the library just as it was set to close. She was having a bad day and she couldn’t wait to see Sam. Her mind hadn’t been focused on her work lately and she found her grades slipping. Her last paper came back with the comments that it sounded like she wrote it during breakfast that morning, which was sadly accurate. She knew she had to spend less time with Sam and more time doing work.
She had never allowed a man to get in the way of her work before. She was always completely focused on her goal of becoming an English poetry professor and dating was just something to do in her spare time. She had three semi-serious boyfriends before Sam, but she never felt much for any of them. Sam was different. She thought about him all the time.
Is he The One? she wondered.
Or is this just infatuation?
Part of her couldn’t help but wonder how things would be different if Sam wasn’t in the wheelchair. She had already been judged by her own roommate for dating a guy who was disabled and she wondered what would happen when she told her family. They weren’t going to be doing cartwheels. She expected that nobody was going to understand.
And furthermore, it bothered her that Sam allowed himself to remain in a job that made him so miserable. She knew he considered his inability to do calculations a major liability, but she was certain there was something he could do that would make him happy. Sam sometimes acted like he was borderline retarded, no matter how much she reassured him that he was normal.
Marie was dismayed to see Dean at the counter, checking out books. She quickly scanned the room, looking for Sam. She wondered if he was hidden in one of the aisles.
“He’s not here, Marie,” Dean said, grinning up at her.
Marie blinked. “Huh?”
“You’re looking for Sammy, right?” He winked, “Just a guess.”
“He’s not here?”
“I guess he forgot to tell you,” Dean shrugged. “He went to his class.”
There was one thing Marie had to admit that Sam was right about: his memory was shit. But then, she had never dated a guy who had a half decent memory before.
“I know I probably shouldn’t say this,” Dean began, “but I just want you to know that Sam is a changed man since the two of you got together.”
Marie raised her eyebrows, “What do you mean?”
“I mean, it’s great,” Dean said. “He’s whines a lot less, doesn’t snap at people nearly as much. I’ve seen Sam happy before, but this is the first time I’ve seen him happy since he got hurt.”
Dean’s words tugged at Marie’s heartstrings. It was moments like this that she believed that what was going on between her and Sam was more than just infatuation. “He makes me happy too,” she said.
Dean added with a stern look on his face: “Try not to hurt him too badly.”
Marie blinked. “What?”
“When it ends,” he said. “Go easy on him. Or else you’ll destroy him.”
Before Marie could say anything else, Dean turned to attend to the line that had formed in front of him. She was speechless. Why did Dean just assume break-up was inevitable? True, every relationship she’d ever had eventually ended, but maybe this one wouldn’t.
Although it probably will.
Marie had work to do, but she was suddenly seized with the urge, no need to see Sam now. She looked at her watch: 8 o’clock. He was probably home from his class by now, or else would be soon. She decided to drop by his apartment to see him.
Marie had been to Sam’s apartment once in the time they were dating, since it was his day off from work. The first thing that struck her was how tiny it was. In his wheelchair, Sam could barely do a 360 degree turn without bumping into something. It was clearly not modified for a disabled person, judging by the number of cabinets that were much too high for Sam to reach. Fortunately, he didn’t have many possessions and just used the cabinets that were on the ground. Lastly, the doorways were so narrow that they were decorated with scuff marks from all the close calls getting through.
It was a thirty minute walk from the library or a five minute shuttle ride. Considering it was already dark out, Marie decided to wait for the shuttle. When Sam rode the shuttle, the driver generally helped him out by stopping right in front of his apartment, rather than at the designated stop several blocks away. But they didn’t make the stop for Marie, so she walked the three blocks in the growing cold of autumn, hugging her thin jacket close to her chest.
Marie saw that the light was on in Sam’s apartment and was relieved she wouldn’t have to wait outside in the cold. She hurried over and knocked on the door, bouncing up and down slightly to keep warm. She smiled as the door open, then frowned and took a step back when an unfamiliar face greeted her.
It was a woman in her fifties, with graying hair pinned up on top of her head. She was holding a crumpled shirt in her hand that Marie recognized as one of Sam’s. “Yes?” the woman asked, raising her eyebrows. The expression was familiar even though the woman wasn’t, and Marie guessed from the resemblance that this was Sam’s mother.
“Oh, um…” Marie stammered. “Is… is Sam here?”
The woman shook her head, then narrowed her eyes. “What do you want?”
Marie suddenly felt terribly self-conscious. She glanced down at the frumpy outfit she was wearing, the twenty or so pounds she desperately needed to lose. Would Mrs. Ziegler approve of her? “I’m Marie. I’m… uh, I’m Sam’s…”
She couldn’t bring herself to say the word “girlfriend.” That’s what she was, she supposed, but they had never said it before. She didn’t want the first time she said it to be to Sam’s mother.
But even though she didn’t say the word, Mrs. Ziegler seemed to figure it out. Marie could see the older woman’s expression soften, then she lit up like a candle. For a second, Marie thought Mrs. Ziegler might hug her. “Oh, that’s so wonderful!” Mrs. Ziegler gushed. “I didn’t know Sam was seeing someone. That’s so wonderful! I mean, I just can’t believe…”
Marie’s heart sped up in her chest as she realized Mrs. Ziegler was starting to tear up. It seemed like today she was getting a glimpse of how miserable Sam had been for the last five years. “You said your name is Marie?” Mrs. Ziegler asked. Marie nodded. “I’m Annette Ziegler, Sam’s mother. But please, call me Annette. It’s so nice to meet you, Marie.”
“It’s nice to meet you too,” Marie murmured.
Annette Ziegler took her by the arm and led her to the couch to sit down, then sighed contentedly. “Is there anything I can get for you, Marie? A drink? Something to eat?”
“Oh no… I, uh…” Marie fiddled with a button on her shirt. “Do you know when Sam is going to be back?”
“Any minute,” Annette replied. “I was just finishing putting away his wash.” She blushed slightly, afraid she’d said something she shouldn’t have. “Well, you know twenty-something men, they all need a woman to help them with the cooking and laundry. Am I right?”
Marie smiled pleasantly.
“So how long have you two been dating?” Annette asked. “I don’t mean to be nosy, but…”
Marie glanced back at the door, wishing Sam would hurry up and get home. As if on cue, she heard his key in the lock. She whirled around just in time to see the shocked look on his face. “Marie? What are you doing here?”
She shrugged helplessly. Sam looked over at his mother and his face turned red. “Mom…” he said.
“Sam, why didn’t you tell me you had a girlfriend?” his mother demanded to know.
Sam scratched his skull and looked over at Marie. “Well, she’s not exactly my…” He stopped himself when he saw Marie nodding at him. She couldn’t let him tell his mother she wasn’t his girlfriend. And anyway, that’s exactly what she was. “I guess it never came up.”
“Never came up!” Annette cried indignantly. She sighed and shook her head. “I suppose I should let you two have some privacy.” She pushed the basket of laundry she had been folding into a corner of the room. “Sam honey, I’ll come put the rest away tomorrow.”
“That’s okay, I can—”
“Nonsense, what’s a mother for?”
With those words, she strode towards the door, kissing her son on the forehead on the way out. After the door closed, Sam wheeled over to the couch and flashed Marie an apologetic look. “I’m so sorry,” he said. “Was she grilling you?”
Marie held her thumb and index finger a millimeter apart, “This close.”
“I’m so sorry,” he said again. He leaned forward and kissed her on the lips. “She just comes every once in a while to… check up on me, I guess. She thinks I need all my laundry and cooking done for me. I guess I sort of do.”
“How come you didn’t tell her about me?”
He inhaled deeply. “I don’t know. I mean, I guess I didn’t want to get her all excited in case… you know…”
Marie didn’t say anything. It disturbed her that nobody seemed to think their relationship would last, even Sam himself.
“So,” he said, looking deep into her eyes, “are you my girlfriend then?”
“Is that what you want?” she teased him.
“More than anything,” he answered.
“Then you’ve got yourself one girlfriend, Sam Ziegler.”
He grinned at her as he pressed his lips onto hers and pushed her down against the cushions of the couch. As he transferred to be next to her, she idly wondered if he had gotten that prescription for Viagra yet.
Sam had the bottle of Viagra sitting in his medicine cabinet for nearly two weeks but he didn’t tell Marie. He had tested it out in the privacy of his bedroom and it seemed to produce a half-decent erection, but he was still nervous. Things were going so great with Marie and he didn’t want to ruin it with an unsatisfying sexual experience.
Instead Sam tried to satisfy her with oral sex. He had only two girlfriends prior to his injury and neither of them had been particularly interested in being eaten out, but he wanted to give it a try now. One night in the library, he pushed her onto a table, lifted her skirt, and lowered his lips onto her clitoris. She loved it, or so he inferred from the way she screamed. He loved it too. It was comforting that if all else failed, he knew he had a way to give her an orgasm.
Still, he knew that Marie was eager to consummate their relationship. He supposed it was flattering that she desired him so much. It was still hard for him to believe she could be attracted to him at all, much less to the point where she was begging him to have sex. She really was one of a kind.
Finally, Sam decided to just do it. Marie was at his apartment and she was looking especially hot somehow. He couldn’t keep his hands off her. He really wanted to fuck her, whether or not he could feel it. “Marie,” he whispered in her ear, “should I get the Viagra?”
She nodded eagerly.
He hopped off the couch and into his wheelchair. He rolled into the bathroom to get the bottle of pills. He kept his pill bottles in a drawer below the sink, since he was unable to reach the medicine cabinet. There were nine bottles total, which seemed like an awful lot. It was probably why he forgot to take his medications as frequently as he did. There was Ditropan for his bladder, baclofen for his spasms, Colace and Dulcolax for his bowel regimen, Zoloft for depression, Ambien for sleep, Neurontin for the burning pain he sometimes got in his legs, Vicodin for the sharp pain he sometimes got in his shoulders and upper back, and now the Viagra. He had to go through every pill bottle and look at the label before he found the right one. He took out a pill and swallowed it without water.
He glanced at his watch and saw that he still had another hour to go before it was time to catheterize his bladder, but decided that it was better to do it now than take any risk of having an accident with Marie. He would never live that down.
When he finally wheeled out of the bathroom, she was lying on the couch with her eyes closed. She looked so sexy, all stretched out, her full breasts straining against her blouse. Once again, he wondered what she could possibly see in him.
“I took it,” he announced.
Marie opened her eyes, “I was worried you went out the window.”
“Sorry, there were a lot of bottles—” He stopped himself mid-sentence. The last thing he wanted was for Marie to know that he was now taking nine medications. It was bad enough she now knew that his mother came by several times a week to cook for him. He was still embarrassed about that.
“Let’s go to the bed,” she suggested.
He followed her into his bedroom. He was so anxious that he smashed one of his wheels into the wall while trying to get through the too-narrow doorway. He wanted to remind her that the pills took about 30 minutes to kick in, but what were they going to do in the meantime—play Scrabble?
She lay down in his bed and he transferred into the bed next to her. He started to sit up but she pushed him back down. “You,” she said, “be still.”
He obeyed. He lay on the bed as she tenderly unbuttoned his shirt, running her hands over the flaccid muscles of his abdomen. He didn’t know how many men Marie had been with, but he was certain he had the worst chest of any of them. He was paralyzed at the T1 level, which meant that none of the muscles in his abdomen and chest worked at all anymore. There were paraplegics who had decent chests, but he was one vertebra away from being a quad. Technically, since his hands didn’t work quite as well as they used to, he was a quad. But saying he was a paraplegic made him feel less disabled.
He watched as she unbuttoned his pants. As much as he tried not to, he felt himself starting to tense up. Marie touched his shoulder. “Relax,” she whispered.
“Okay,” he said.
“You’re still tense,” she observed.
Sam did his best to try to relax. He took deep breaths as she unzipped him and pulled off his jeans. She then slid his boxers down his legs. He looked down and was unsurprised to see that he was completely flaccid. “I can’t get hard just from looking at you,” he explained, not making eye contact. “I need the manual stimulation.”
Marie nodded and began to gently stroke his penis. Slowly, it began to grow. He watched as she lowered her lips onto the head and it quickly doubled in size. Please don’t shrink, he instructed his penis.
“You’re really hard,” she observed.
“Yeah.” He grinned.
“Can you feel it at all?”
He shook his head.
Her eyes softened for a minute and he was worried that she felt sorry for him. Nothing killed the mood more than pity. But then her lips were back on him and he tried not to think about it.
“Are you ready?” she asked.
“Yeah, let’s do it.” Quick!
Marie lowered herself onto him and by the way she moaned, he knew he must be inside her. He couldn’t feel a thing, but there was a nice tingling sensation in his arms, neck, and face. Since she knew he couldn’t feel anything in his chest or below, she focused on touching him on his face and scalp as she pumped against him. She pressed her lips against his and their tongues danced together.
This is amazing, Sam thought. He never believed he’d experience anything like this again.
Finally, Marie arched her back and let out a loud moan, then collapsed against him. He hugged her sweaty body close to his. “Done?” he asked her.
She nodded and slid off him, snuggling her way under his arm. She looked up at his face. “How about you? Did you cum?”
He shook his head. “I don’t think so. I mean, not the way I used to. I don’t think that can happen anymore. But… it was really great.”
Marie smiled and kissed him on the cheek. He was relieved the sex had gone well and that she hadn’t pushed the issue of orgasm issue. He enjoyed what went on between the two of them and just because it wasn’t quite the same as it used to be, that didn’t mean it wasn’t satisfying. He hoped she realized that.
To be continued...