Love is Patient

If Daniel had freaking legs that worked, he would have gotten up to take a piss hours ago. Instead, he’d laid there with a bladder about to burst, in a futile attempt to get back to sleep. While the accident had sucked most of his dignity from him. Having to pull his emergency cord because he’d pissed himself, wasn’t a place Daniel was prepared to go. He squinted at the clock on the nightstand across from his bed and rubbed his groggy eyes. “Holy hell,” he croaked out as a five came into focus.

He shoved his warm covers aside and groaned as the chilly air crept across his bare skin. Grabbing the strap he’d tied to the end of his bed, he pulled his torso upright. When he got himself into the correct sitting position, he braced himself with his arms and scooted his butt close to the edge of the bed. Then with both hands he picked his right leg up, pushed the dead limb over the side of the bed, and repeated the sequence for the left. He wiggled a bit more to get his body at the correct angle and put his right hand on the seat of his wheelchair to begin his transfer. With one quick motion he pushed himself up and over and plopped his bare bottom down hard into the chair. The impact hurt like hell and he bit his lower lip waiting for the pain to subside.

Before he wheeled himself to the toilet, Daniel glanced around his room at Haven Hills Rehabilitation Center. It was little more than a glorified hospital room with sterile walls, his bed, and a few pieces of furniture. It even had a similar disinfectant smell. He didn’t mind that it was small, or having noises outside his door at all hours of the day and night. For the last six months he’d called it home and though the doctors said he was ready to leave, if it were up to him he would stay.

After a successful pee, he got back into bed, hoping to get a little more shut eye. Same results. His legs might be useless, but his mind wasn’t, and swirled with fears of how he was going to survive when he left this place latter that day. When seven AM rolled around and the morning light began leaking past his tightly closed window shades, he decided to get up. For the second time.

Message you have. Answer or answer not. There is no try.

He and his girlfriend Debbie were both huge star war fans and had set their text message rings to the voice of Yoda, but she wasn’t a morning person, so why in hell would she be texting him so damn early? A chill ran through his body. She hadn’t kissed him once since the accident, barely even looked at him anymore. Though he’d been expecting it for months, was this the end, was she finally dumping him? He flipped on the lights and blinked a few times as his burning eyes adjusted.

His phone lay on the dresser across the room where he’d left it the night before, but thanks to modern technology he didn’t have to drag his useless body out of bed to use it.

“Hey Siri, read my message.”
I didn’t catch that.
Daniel spoke louder and tried to enunciate his words. “Read me my text message.”
New message from Debra Turner.
I’m so sorry Daniel.
I’m so sorry. Didn’t every breakup line start with those words?
“Stop.”
I didn’t catch that.
“End Message.”
Do you want to end the message?
“Yes.”

I’m so sorry, Daniel. His gut ached as her words paraded through his mind. He deserved more than a dear John text from the girl he’d been with since his junior year of high school. Even without listening to the rest of the message, he knew what she said.

I’m so sorry Daniel.

Next would come the proverbial, it’s not you, it’s me. Then the, we’ve grown apart crap. We can still be friends would be the kicker. All would be her stilted attempt to perhaps soften the blow. He could read between the lines though, and knew exactly what she really meant.

I’m so sorry Daniel, but I can barely stand to look at you anymore. I also don’t want to spend the rest of my life having to take care of a cripple
.
Who would? He didn’t blame her for not wanting to take care of a cripple, but the least she could do is have the decency to break up with him face to face. Not in some damn text message. Daniel scowled as anger burned through his mind. If that’s all she thought of him, of the love they once shared, she could go to hell. He gritted his teeth and shut his eyes trying to shake off the growing feeling of hopelessness swelling inside him. He felt like someone had dropped an anvil on his chest and it was crushing the life from him.

The doctor’s had prescribed medication to combat his depression, but he didn’t like having his mind all fogged up and spit the pill out when the nurses left. Without the medication he had to fight hard everyday to keep himself from becoming a blubbering fool. For awhile, he thought Debbie had come to except the way he was and their relationship would survive. Her coldness toward him of late told him otherwise.

Voices outside his door told him he wasn’t alone, so he turned his face into his pillow to muffle his sobs. Soon one of the nurses would waltz into his room without permission, a practice he despised, to give him his meds and he had no intention of letting anyone know how weak he’d become.

16 thoughts on “Love is Patient

  1. vanessafowler says:

    The writing is clear, and the text flows well – but it’s hard to find motivation to keep on reading.
    I feel for Daniel, I really do – peeing his bed and loosing his girlfriend…this character feels real in terms of what he is going through – but you haven’t given me a reason to keep reading. I know it is still early, still I think it would be good to at last get a hint of a character goal. Right now I feel stuck in the muck of Daniel’s thoughts with no hope of getting out. This may have been intentional on your part, but there is only so much of that a reader is willing to read, especially if I’m a YA. Maybe it has to do with scene structure – like Ellen was talking about this morning? Maybe if you add a goal for this scene, then it will be easier to journey with Daniel?

    • dlodes1 says:

      Thank you for reading.
      I am going back through and looking for a way to do that. I am open to suggestions if you have any in regards to a goal. I’m thinking of him wanting to not leave the facility as a short term goal. It’s been his home for 6 months and the thought of leaving is very frightening to him.

      • vanessafowler says:

        I’m anything but an expert – but maybe seen structure, the way Ellen says, should have a conflict such as him not wanting to leave – or what about the opposite? Him wanting to leave but feeling trapped? Or maybe it can be smaller. This is a romance, right? Maybe something that will clue the readers into that? Maybe he has to respond to Debra somehow?

        • dlodes1 says:

          That is something I thought of and added some hints of that. Daniel does not want to leave. He is afraid of what lies outside the doors of Haven. Later in the story we find that Debra had not broken up with him at all. He was just so afraid she was going to that he figured her use of I’m so sorry meant she had.
          Added this sentence to the third paragraph.
          If he pleaded, had some kind of setback, contirved or not, maybe they would let him stay.

          • vanessafowler says:

            how long does it take him to listen to the whole message and find out what really happened? I guess, logically, I think that he should listen to the whole message sooner than later. Is the love story between the two of them?

          • dlodes1 says:

            Thanks for your thoughts.
            In answer to your question. No. They do break up soon after. Daniel realizes she does not love him anymore and confronts her. His pride gets in the way and he says things he regrets, begs her to come back. He actually gets on facebook and sees her in a bunch of pictures with his former best friend. Turns out she has been seeing him.

            I’ve actually moved chapter two to the beginning now. Chapter two starts off with the actual love interest, Catie.

            If you’re interested in reading it. I could send it to you. You could send me yours and I will read it.

  2. Gentle Reader says:

    Be careful beginning a romance novel with something so depressing. Usually it’s a good idea to get the reader to care about the character before going down a dark path. Are you starting your novel in the right place?

    • dlodes1 says:

      His life is a mess. Not much good in it. I would have to go back to way before the accident to find anything good.
      I would say this is not a typical romance. It’s kind of like beauty and the beast, but the beauty has a lot of dark secrets as well. It also has christian elements. So there is love, but redemption as well.
      I understand what you are saying and I am trying to weed through the dark beginning. Just not sure how yet.

      • Gentle Reader says:

        Ok, it sounds like you’re writing something more on the lines of “The Fault in our Stars” – not sure if you’ve read the book or seen the movie. You might want to take a look at the opening to that book. Yes, it is depressing, but the author has a very engaging voice. Maybe it will give you some ideas! Good luck.

  3. Shamin Fernando says:

    Yes it does seem to start on a bit of a gloomy note and gets even darker. Maybe you could intersperse with memories of the romantic relationship and happier times before moving to the hospital bed?

    I think it would be good to establish a character goal here. Or at least to begin to establish it. Not leaving the hospital seems like a minor goal and actually leaving could be the “First Plot Point” that Ellen talks about. But she says this has to occur at the 20-25% mark of the novel.

    The voice seems strong and engaging. It is down to earth and a little self deprecating which I can relate to. The genre is romance however, so we’d expect there to be a little levity or a little more light on the horizon.

    I guessed that Debra wasn’t actually calling to break up. Daniel I’m sorry, but I think you should come home to me now (?) Daniel I’m sorry but I shrunk your favourite T-shirt in the wash? Daniel I’m sorry I can’t come visit this weekend(?) But I think it’s a good tension to set up but I wouldn’t labour it.

    In general though it’s a voice I can relate to and the action unfolds smoothly and clearly. I enjoyed reading it. Well done and good luck with your writing.

    • dlodes1 says:

      Thanks so much for your comments. I’ve actually moved my second chapter to the beginning. It features Catie who is a much more likeable character and will be the love interest.
      This is not a typical romance I would guess. It’s more like beauty and the beast. Daniel is not the macho hunk normally seen. I have added a few things to make his goal a little clearer.
      Tell me which submission is yours and I’ll be sure to read it.

  4. Jayce says:

    I was trying to figure out what bothered me about this and I finally got it. Why do you have your main character wake up, pee, and then go back to bed, only to wake up again? If the only point is to show that his paralyzed, you can do that with the text message wake up call.

    And others are right: this is pretty gloomy. I don’t read YA, but I read a metric ton of romance, and I don’t know that I would continue (I have absolutely zero interest in TFIOS). But, I think you can make your point without being cynical. I think snarky might work equally well, because you’re dealing with a teenager who’s life has gone to pot, who’s GF is breaking up with him (so he thinks), and he’s supposed to leave and re-enter a real world that he’s not sure he’s interested in. I think I’d be a snarky jerk under the circumstances.

    Also, and I can’t believe these words are coming off my fingers, have you considered re-writing this in first person? I usually despise first, but I could see this being very engaging in first person. Try it with one scene and see. I think with some modifications, you can still show that he feels like his life is crap and engage readers to continue reading. Best wishes!

  5. Noelia says:

    I was confused if he peed the bed or not because if he did then why would he get back in? And why was he butt naked?

    I’m going to start with the title. Love is Patient sounds like the theme of the story. Like all themes, it shouldn’t be openly told in the beginning or middle and it is only acceptable to be said at the end (but it can also never be openly said but still obvious). It also sounds like something an adult would say which is not attractive to a young audience.

    Your writing is good, it flows well, and I like the character design. As a young adult, the character impacts me because I know about people my age getting into wheel chairs for being a reckless driver and i am really close to people with depression and other mental health issues.

    Depression pills have been described to me as making you feel like an emotionless robot who doesn’t care about anything when you don’t take enough of a dosage. I’ve also been told that they don’t want to continue taking it because it makes them feel like they are living a lie and that how they saw the world with depression is how the world actually is. But other than the description of the medication, you did a very good job in showing he has depression, I could tell without you having to say it at the end.

    Even though I can care and relate to the character, I am not hooked. Since you have a protagonist with depression it can quickly make the story seem like it’s going to be a sad series of events. Young adults often read books that help them escape from stressful life, not sign up to care about a character and then watch them struggle. The fact that they are depressed makes hooking an audience tricky.

    I would suggest that you make the chapter longer so you can make it clear what the characters goal is and add some sort of hope, maybe humor (a person I know loves to make jokes out of having depression), or something to lighten the load because it’s good for the load to be light in the beginning. Also, end it at a cliff hanger where he is about to enter school where his old classmates will see him again (something like that).

    I really like the potential for this story so I hope I helped you write it to its best possible version.

  6. Isabel says:

    I think the character is interesting the story of a newly paralyzed man is intriguing. I liked thst it was third person, but i felt close enough to protagonist that sometimes it felt like first person.

    He didn’t sound like a teenager to me, he souded mid- twenties. I think that’s okay, but not if you’re trying to write YA. Maybe change the genre, make it new adult?

    I think parts of it verged on melodramatic. For example this sentence, “He felt like someone had dropped an anvil on his chest and it was crushing the life from him.”

    I agree with the other reviews, that he needs a goal to keep the reader gripped.

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