So, now that you’ve mentioned the pill (Alex)
“Okay,” I said. “Then I’ll talk about whatever you want to talk about.”
I couldn’t seem to stop holding Dylan. My hands were gripped around his waist, and I could feel the hard muscle of his abdominal muscles under them. There was no question Dylan was not the same boy I’d fallen in love with. He’d grown, matured in ways I couldn’t have foreseen four years ago. Sometimes I could look at him and see the hardened soldier he’d had to become: occasionally grim faced, chest and arms built like a boxer, short cropped hair, and especially his eyes; eyes that sometimes stared off into the distance as if he were a million light years away. That was the Dylan it was hard getting used to: the one who could get so angry he would slam his fist over and over again into a wall until he broke bones. I sort of understood what had happened to the man, but it was difficult to match up the reality with the boy I’d known and fallen in love with.
The Dylan I’d fallen in love with was gentle, and kind. Thoughtful. Funny. He was still all of those things, but had an edge to him that was new and, to be honest, it was frightening. This was a guy who’d carried weapons in a war for most of last year. This was a man who had killed, who had seen his friends killed in battle. There were depths to him that were all new, and scary as hell.
“So…” I said, my voice dropping to a whisper. “Where do we start?”
He smiled brilliantly, but I could tell he was in a tremendous amount of pain. “I have no idea,” he said.
I leaned my head back, letting out a low chuckle. Finally, I said, “Let’s take our time. Here’s what I’ll promise. I promise to give it a chance.”
He nodded. “Me too,” he said.
“In some ways, you know, we hardly know each other.”
“It’s true. I mean… we were seventeen the last time we spent any time together.”
“I was sixteen. And yes… that’s a long time.”
“Plus,” he said, “It wasn’t exactly our normal environment. As much as the Middle East sucks in my mind, there’s no denying the incredible romance of it all.”
I looked up at him, meeting his gaze again, and he said, “You know what?”
“There’s a side benefit to this. We get to learn about each other, get to know each other, all over again.” His voice dropped to a husky near whisper, and he leaned close and said next to my ear, “We get to fall in love all over again, for the second time. How cool is that?”
I smiled so wide it hurt my cheeks, and put my lips next to his ear and whispered, “I’d say you’re worth falling in love with twice.”
The old lady who had run off Kelly and Joel cleared her throat, then began grumbling. I rolled my eyes a little, but pulled back all the same. It was just as well, because a few moments later Dylan was called.
I stood and walked with him, holding his uninjured hand. In a curtained off examination room, a young doctor, probably a medical student, took a look at Dylan’s hand, and said, “Holy mother, what did you do?”
Dylan grimaced. “I kind of punched a wall. Pretty hard.”
The doctor shook his head. “That’s one hell of a punch. We’re going to need to get ex-rays. This is going to hurt like hell, I’ve got to clean the wound or it will go septic. Couple questions… any previous hospitalizations?”
“Um, yeah,” Dylan said. I knew he had answered this on the intake form. “Roadside bomb, in February. Screwed up my leg pretty bad. TBI.”
“How’s the leg doing?” the doctor asked.
“I walked in here. The other guys from my hummer are dead. I’m doing okay.”
I shivered at the matter of fact way he said it.
The doctor looked over his glasses at Dylan, then said, “You taking any medications?”
Dylan hesitated, looked at me as if considering something, then answered. “Oxycodone. We’ve been tapering the dosage down for a few months. Paxil. And trileptal.”
I swallowed. He was taking a boatload of drugs. I had no idea.
“Trileptal,” the doctor said. “For seizures?”
“Yeah, I’ve had them occasionally. My primary care doc in Atlanta has been reducing the dosage of everything, but when we tried to stop the anticonvulsants, well… I had seizures. It wasn’t pretty.”
The reality of his war injuries was hitting me hard. Dylan Paris, the guy I knew when we were teenagers … he was a disabled veteran, with severe injuries.
“Hmm…. I think just continue the oxy for the pain. We’ll get some x-rays done, then decide what to do about the hand. It’s going to be a long night for you, Mr. Paris. Wait here, I’ll be right back with you.”
Dylan sighed, then closed his eyes. I held his left hand, and he said, “You don’t have to stay. This is going to take all night.”
I leaned over and kissed him on his eyelid. “Dylan, there’s nowhere I’d rather be than he with you.”
“You’re crazy,” he said.
“Crazy for you.”
He let our a short, barklike laughed, then kissed my forehead. “You didn’t know I was on all that stuff.”
I shook my head.
“The Oxy we’ve taken down to very little in the last couple months. It’s awesome stuff when you have big gaping holes in you. They started me out on morphine, believe or not. Holy cow, that stuff is dreamy. I’ve been trying to get them to keep it to an absolute minimum. A little pain won’t kill me, but drug addiction will.”
I nodded, just listening.
“The uh… paxil… well… you know. I told you I’ve got some uh, anger issues. Post traumatic stress. Depression. All that fun stuff.”
He sounded almost ashamed of himself.
“It’s okay, Dylan. That’s perfectly normal. Half the people I know are taking paxil or something like it.”
He shook his head. “Yeah, well, I’m not a big fan of drugs of any kind.”
“Except your cigarettes.”
He shrugged, then smirked at me. “That’s different. Think they’d notice if I had one in here?”
“Yeah, I do.”
He frowned. “Bummer.”
We sat in silence for a few moments, then he said, “It doesn’t bother you? The anticonvulsants and all that shit? I’m like taking half the pharmacy. I could break down and have a seizure any time, it still happens sometimes, even with the pills. I can’t even get a drivers license because of it.”
I frowned, then said, “Does it bother you that I’m on birth control pills?”
Dylan nearly choked, and I got to see something I hadn’t seen on his face in years. He blushed.
I started to giggle, then broke into real laughter.
“Okay. You made your point,” he said.
I still snickered a little, so he decided to turn the tables on me.
“So, now that you’ve mentioned the pill…,” he said.
“No. Not ready yet.” I shook my head, a little theatrically.
He raised his eyebrows, grinning.
“Stop eying me like I’m a piece of meat.”
He grinned. “I was thinking more along the lines of hmm… strawberry shortcake?”
“Oh, no. You are so not going there. I am not short. And you are ridiculous.”
“That’s why you love me.”
We heard a loud cough and throat clearing behind us, and the doctor whisked the privacy curtain to the side. “This way, please, Mr. Paris.”
This is first draft material from a new story I’m working on. You can find the beginning and contents of the story, here.