GRACE

PART ONE

Everything seemed to be winding down into languid slow motion. They were in the car approaching an intersection; the light was giving them the go ahead. Sully was speaking, something about stripping a layer of skin off of an informant who had given them the slip. Ty spotted someone standing on the corner opposite. He heard himself point the man out to his partner as someone who might know where their informant might be and directed Sully's gaze in the mans direction. Something exploded into the car right on top of him. The scene shifted. He didn't recognise the ceiling. It was white and it was flat, he guessed like most ceilings - but it wasn't one he recognised. It was higher than any ceiling he'd ever slept under, and the moulding that ran around the top of the wall looked like something out of a fancy hotel. With some difficulty he looked over to his right and then around to his left. While the room was a stranger to him the things in it weren't; they were his things. But not the bed. A single bed? He couldn't remember the last time he'd slept in one of those. Ty's gaze returned to the ceiling while his mind travelled his body. It felt wrong. The scene shifted once more. Now he was sitting upright on the bed, or trying to, staring out of an unfamiliar window at an unfamiliar tree. Outside he could hear voices, music and laughter. He looked down. At his feet were his shoes, one sock clinging haphazardly to his right foot and his shirt gaped open through misaligned buttons. This is a dream, Ty thought, this has to be a dream. Behind him he heard the door to the room open. "C'mon Ty, aren't you ready yet?" Sully? The words formed in his mind but did not reach his lips. No matter how hard he tried, no words escaped his mouth. His right fist clenched in frustration. Sully seemed different, looked different. Older. He walked with a pronounced limp. "You need some help?" he asked. Ty looked up at his partner, his eyes pleading. What's going on, Sul? "You OK?" Ty's head rolled from side to side in an awkward attempt to respond in the negative. No part of him seemed under his control any more. "It's one of those days, isn't it?" The look on Sully's face was heartbreaking. Sully shuffled over to where Ty sat and with some difficulty dropped down onto one knee. Quickly he rearranged the dishevelled sock, matched it with its companion and guided Ty's feet into the shoes. "You want to have another go at your shirt?" Sully asked. .2.

Why can't I speak Sul? Why can I barely move or even feel most of my body? Why can't I even put my own damn shoes on? he was shouting inwardly, but his useless vocal chords did nothing more bring forth simplistic grunts. "You want me to do it for you?" Ty could only whimper in protest as his friend deftly arranged the shirt buttons into their proper alignment. All his right hand could do was clench and unclench in frustration, while his left just lay there in his lap, frozen and useless. Sul, what's wrong with me? Why the hell am I like this? Behind them someone else entered the room. Ty heard a familiar voice ask softly: "John, is everything alright?" Mom! Mom, help me! "He's having one of his turns, Maggie," Sully responded quietly. "I don't know if he'll be up to much today." Ty's mother approached him, her face a picture of misery. She placed her hands either side of his face and kissed his forehead. The scene shifted. He found himself in a comfortable chair beneath the unfamiliar tree that sat in an unfamiliar garden, staring at a handsome but still unfamiliar house. The day was warm and magnificent. There was quite a gathering in the garden and those assembled seemed for the most part to be having a great time. Ty's gaze roamed over the faces. Some he recognised as being friends and colleagues of his own, some his mother's, some Sully's and some he could not place at all. But without exception, when their eyes fell upon him all he could see was a look of pity. It didn't stop them from making their way over occasionally to try their hand at engaging him in some form of communication. Ty found it tortuous, and from the looks in the eyes of his friends, they found it just as tough. They made good hearted attempts to involve him, or console him, or go some way to including him in their conversation, but it only served to frustrate him further. The scene shifted. A pretty little girl stood in front of him, smiling. She would have been five or six years old, he guessed, strawberry blonde with the most stunning blue eyes, dressed in a light cotton sundress the colour of sunflowers. "Hi," she said simply. He managed to nod a response. "I'm Gracie." The little girl held out her right hand. When he was too slow to offer her his, she stepped forward and boldly grabbed his hand, shaking it enthusiastically. "You're Ty, aren't you?" Ty nodded. Gracie grinned. A small group of children of varying ages galloped up. "C'mon Gracie." "OK," she replied brightly. "I'll come back later," she said to Ty, leaving him with a wave and a bright, cheeky smile. Ty watched enviously as the children careered across the garden and up the steps into the house. His left leg, a curious combination of numbness and painful tingling, began to shake. He looked down at it like it was a traitor, but try as he might he .3. could not control it. His frustration began to build, but that only served to make the shaking worse. "Hey Davis." Ty's head lolled in the direction of the one who had spoken, and his eyes followed Faith Yokas' every move as she perched herself on the edge of the chair next to him. "You look a bit out of sorts there," she said quietly. What's happened to me Faith? he pleaded, but all that he could manage was a strangled whimper. "Do you want me to get Sully or your mom?" At a loss to do anything else, he nodded. The minute his mother placed her arm around him he dissolved into tears. The scene shifted. Ty found he had not moved from his spot under the tree. Faith still sat next to him to his right. To his left was his mother, his useless left hand firmly grasped, somewhat pointlessly he thought, in hers. Next to his mother was Alex Taylor, speaking rather tetchily to someone on her mobile phone. He stared at Alex. Her pretty face seemed tense, her eyes sad, like something weighed heavily upon her. He didn't see pity in her face when she looked at him, just a look of tense preoccupation. "Yeah, whatever." She hit the end button and tossed the phone into the bag at her feet. Snatching up the glass of wine she had balanced on the wide arm of the chair she took a large mouthful and swallowed hard. "Unbelievable son of a." "You're looking well, Faith," his mother said quickly. She does too, Ty thought, realising that Faith, in sharp contrast to Alex, looked happy and relaxed. "Things are goin' OK then?" Alex inquired. "Things are goin' great, thanks," Faith replied, smiling. "What about yourself?" Ty looked from Faith to Alex, who shrugged. "One day at a time," she answered quietly.