Her life had been decisively and horrifically split into Before and After.
Before was when her life was her own and she didn’t have to depend on anyone but herself if she didn’t want to.
Before was when she was a whole person and not the patchwork girl she was now.
Before was what she desperately wanted to return to, but knew it was impossible.
There was no Before anymore. Now there was only After.
After was finding a way to live with what she’d become.
After was learning to read with her fingers instead of her eyes.
After was learning to walk again; a task made even more difficult since she couldn’t see anymore.
After was learning to do everything she’d ever known differently, or not all, because now it just wasn’t possible.
After was never dancing again; never seeing the sun or the mountains or a stranger’s smile again.
After was living in eternal darkness.
Some days she felt like a tourist in her own life, certain that she couldn’t possibly be stuck where she really was. She was just passing through. Her situation was temporary. She’d wake up one morning and her sight would have returned and she wouldn’t have a permanent limp and she’d be back to work with the dance company and getting ready for the new tour.
But all she ever woke up to was the faint smell of disinfectant and the bored, forced, insincere cheerfulness of the rehab center’s staff.
She hated feeling so helpless. Hopeless. Useless. She hated feeling so much woe-is-me self pity, but she couldn’t stop. She flat out could not dig herself out of the hole of depression she was in and she was terrified of telling anyone. They all handled her with kid gloves anyway and dumping this on top of her already glaring issues was just begging for more meds or worse, being left alone because she was more trouble than she was worth.
She was just about ready to give up, something she honestly never thought she was capable of. She’d always subscribed to the thought that suicide was a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but her problems weren’t temporary and ending it was starting to seem pretty damn appealing.
Some gods must have been looking out for her, though, because just when she was seriously starting to consider that permanent solution she met Nathan.
One day he’d thrown himself down next to her while she was halfheartedly practicing Braille and said, “Hey, pretty lady. Whatcha doin’?”
She couldn’t even remember what her response had been, just that it had been pretty scathing. Nathan wasn’t deterred though. He just laughed and came back for more. Every day. It got to the point she actually looked forward to him bothering her. After a week or so he dropped down next to her and said, “So, we haven’t been properly introduced. I’m Nathan Carver.”
The name sounded vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t place it. She hesitated for a moment, then haltingly held out her hand in his general direction, and said, “Lara Whitcomb.” She startled a little when his hand wrapped around hers; no one had casually touched her in so long, she wasn’t used to it anymore.
“Pleased to meet you, Lara Whitcomb. Would you like to have dinner with me some time?”
Lara blinked a few times. “Uh, yes?”
She could hear the smile in his voice when he replied, “You don’t sound too sure about that. I promise I won’t bite. Well, unless you ask me to, but I usually try to wait until at least the fifth date before getting into anything kinky.”
Lara laughed. She laughed like she hadn’t since Before. Her reaction was very likely way out of proportion to the situation, but she didn’t care. She felt lighter and more herself than she had since she woke up in the hospital to this nightmare that was now her life.
Nathan sounded quietly satisfied as he murmured, “There you are. I knew you couldn’t have completely disappeared. Welcome back, Lara.”
She sobered. “Do we know each other?”
“No, not really. I interviewed your dance company a couple of years ago for a spread in the New Yorker. You gave me one of the best quotes.”
She smiled sadly. She remembered him now. “‘I don’t dance for anyone but myself. I do it because when I’m on that stage I feel alive and free in a way I never do at any other time. That others enjoy it or are inspired by my performance is lovely, but even if they hated it I wouldn’t stop. I dance for me. Anything else is just a bonus,’” she recited from memory. Then she narrowed her sightless eyes at him. “Are you here to get a story, Mr. Carver?”
“No,” he said flatly. “I’m here for the same reasons as you: Learn how live with limitations. I lost most of my left leg in a climbing accident.”
Lara swallowed. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have assumed.” She gestured to her face. “I can’t read situations like I used to.” Understatement much?
She could picture Nathan’s lips quirking up as he said drily, “Yeah, kinda got that.”
She snorted. “So,” she started slowly, “still want to have dinner with this cranky harpy?”
“I think I could be persuaded.”
Lara smiled tentatively. “Good. Anything but sushi.”
After might mean never seeing the sun again, but she could still feel its warmth. She could also feel Nathan sitting next to her and whimsically thought the sensations felt about the same.
Maybe After had something to offer after all.
Characters/Pairing: Lara Whitcomb, Nathan Carver; pre-Lara/Nathan
Warnings: angst, thoughts of suicide, sever injuries (not graphic), accident recovery and rehabilitation (If you think there should be others, please let me know.)
Prompt: Original Fiction- Tourist
Disclaimer: This is an original work of fiction. Please do not take, borrow, copy, or otherwise make like it is yours. Thank you.
Authorís Note: *spreads hands* IÖI donít even know. Sionnach_ayame gave me the prompt and the line ďSome days she felt like a tourist in her own lifeÖĒ popped into my head and then this happened. Iím not exactly sorry, but Iím pretty sure this is in no way what you were expecting. I do hope you enjoy it, though!
Authorís Note the 2nd: Since itís still February, and this was a prompt on my prompt call list, I am including it as part of my 9th Writing Anniversary Fic-A-Palooza. Unbetaed, except for having been read over several times by me. If you notice any glaring errors, please gently point them out to me. Thank you.
Written: February 25, 2013
Word Count: 941