Author's Note: Please forgive my absence lately. School started back and well, this teacher has been super busy. I will TRY to update a couple more things this weekend if I can. Please consider reviewing this story and all others you read. Reviews really are important to us writers. (At least all the writers I know appreciate feedback).
"Change can be a good thing"
Annie rolled her wheelchair up the sidewalk of her new three bedroom house. It had taken considerably longer for the contractors to finish their work than anticipated. Weather had played a big factor, as well as the rusty pipes and ancient furnace that unexpectedly needed replacing. Annie also found that she wanted to go ahead and do the optional things that the rehab center had suggested to her on their walk through with her in December.
Annie smiled to herself as she remembered her conversation with Auggie an hour before.
"Why can't I go with you?" he almost whined as he poured them both coffee as she rolled down the ramp from the bedroom.
She sighed. "Auggie, we've been through this. I don't want you to see it until at least all the furniture is in." She answered taking the coffee he held out for her.
"Toast is on the counter." He reminded her, knowing that at times she forgot to look up onto the counters that were too tall for a wheelchair user. Not giving up on this conversation, he continued to try to convince her that he should come today. "But Annie, I want to be there for you. You're going to need support today, it's a big step. I promise I won't get in anyone's way."
Annie took a bite of the toast she had taken from the plate on the counter. She was trying her best to not make Auggie think she was pushing him away. That wasn't it at all. She knew today would be hard, but she wanted to try to handle it on her own.
"Auggie, it's not that I don't want or need your support or that I think you will be in the way. I just want to know I can do this by myself-that I'm not incapable of being there alone. I need to get a feel for the place before everything starts being moved in. I promise you'll be visiting enough later that it won't matter that you weren't there today. Please just let me do this my way." She pleaded before taking a sip of her coffee.
"Why does Danielle get to be there if you want to do this alone?" Auggie asked suddenly curious.
"Well, because she won't take no for an answer and respect my wish to do this alone. Trust me; I've tried telling her over and over to let me handle it all. You know how she can be. I've decided that since she won't listen to me say no, I'll put her to work." Annie said after finishing the last of her toast and coffee. Before he could say that she could put him to work as well she placed her hand on his forearm and added, "But you, my dear boyfriend, will respect my wishes, right?"
Auggie sighed at this "Of course, but I expect to help tomorrow." He felt a little guilty for continuing to push the subject, but he wanted to be there. He wanted to know for himself that she was doing well. He understood first hand that changes like this could be hard on a newly disabled person. She was adapting remarkably well and he hoped he was part of the reason behind that. But he also knew that one small comment, look, or unexpected challenge could set a person spiraling into a deep depression for days, weeks, even months.
Smiling she said, "Yes sir." At this she lifted herself out of her wheelchair slightly so that she could reach his lips as he sat on a stool at the breakfast counter. "I know one thing for sure, I'll be glad when we start spending at least part of our time at my place, I'll be able to kiss you much easier when I can reach you better." She added as she positioned herself in her wheelchair.
"Really?" Auggie questioned.
"Yep. Everything in my new house is lower to the ground than what you have. Not by much, but it means I can use it better. Makes kissing boyfriends sitting atop stools easier if they aren't as high from the ground." Annie explained.
"Oh. I'm sorry. I didn't think about that. I didn't mean to make things harder on you." Auggie said frowning. He'd really tried to think of everything she'd need and wanted to accommodate for as much as he could for her. He'd clearly not thought to everything.
"Auggie, it's okay, you did more for me than I expected anyone to. You don't have to completely change your apartment because of me. The ramp and bathroom modifications were plenty. Just as you don't expect everywhere to be accessible to you, I don't expect everywhere I go to be accessible to me. We learn to adapt, right Babe?"
Auggie chuckled at this. "Yeah, I guess you're right. But still, you shouldn't have to work to kiss me." Auggie reached down and gently brought her up to a standing position as he supported her back, holding her close to him. Tilting his head to her he kissed her passionately on the lips for several minutes before cautiously setting her back down. No matter how many times he did that, he always worried that he might misjudge the distance or something and accidently drop her. She never seemed to have the same worry or fear as she always giggled after he lifted her.
She reached up and put her hand on his arm, "As much as I would love to stay here and kiss you all day, I do have a house to make sure gets furnished. I'll be back later tonight. As agreed, I'll stay here one more night then we will get up early in the morning to go work on more unpacking at the house."
As he leaned down searching for her again, he kissed the top of her head, "Okay, call me though. I'll miss you being here."
It was the truth, since Annie left rehab three months ago, there were very few times that she wasn't home with him on weekends and when he got off work. As much as he had hated the idea of her not working at the CIA at first, working at the University had its perks. For one, she was always home before him. Secondly, he never worried that she might be in danger. Not that she would have ever left the office working at the position offered to her at the CIA, but there was always the nagging feeling that something could go wrong in their line of work.
Annie got out of the car and rolled up the sidewalk to her new home. She paused for a minute just to take it all in before rolling up the gradually inclining sidewalk to the front door. Taking a deep breath she unlocked the door and went inside.
It was 6am on a Saturday in mid-March and she was finally moving in. Luckily it was spring break at The University, so she had all weekend and the next week to get everything settled.
She had used the insurance money she got for being injured on the job as well as some of the inheritance money that her grandparents left when they passed. The money from her grandparents had been being saved and used for travelling expenses after college. She had just always assumed she would love traveling, so she always had at least twenty-five thousand dollars saved. Now, since she wasn't so sure she would be doing a lot of travelling, she used nearly half of the money she had in the account to remodel her home.
She outfitted the entire house with hardwood floors so that she could clean the floors better and be able to get around easier with the wheelchair. All counters in the kitchen were lowered about six inches so that they would be easier for her to use. She had custom made cabinetry put in that included drop down shelves that would enable her to reach everything in her kitchen. The kitchen sink allowed for her to roll under the sink so that she could easily do dishes, clean fruits and veggies, or wash her hands. The appliances were also all updated to reflect her needs.
The bathrooms were gutted and completed redone to include showers with seats, tubs with transfer setting, rails, a pedestal style sink with forward pulling fixtures, and other minor details. All doorways were widens about two inches to allow for more space for her wheelchair to pass through. She had combined the walk-in closet and office next door to make one huge closet to hold all of her clothes and keep them close to the ground so she could reach them. In order to not waste space, she planned to store seasonal clothing on the racks above the clothes she needed for the current season.
One of the extra bedrooms was turned into her office complete with a new desk that would adjust so that she could sit or use a standing wheelchair. Her new computer would be set up by Auggie when he visited and would allow her to work from home if she needed to. She had started her new job in January and was lucky that the weather had only prevented her from working a few times so far. The third bedroom would be used as a guest bedroom and would soon have Chloe and Katia's old bunk beds in it.
Annie had tried to think of every tiny detail that could help her live completely independent in her home. The only part of the home that was not almost completely accessible to her was the basement. She could access it if she went outside and around the house and then in the back door that lead into the basement, but she couldn't go down the stairs from inside the house. There was nothing down there now that she would need except for an old chest freezer that she'd planned to use in the winter if she needed to stock up on food when they expected bad weather. She'd handle getting to the food later.
As Annie rolled around the empty home, checking that everything was done as it was supposed to be, she began to feel anxious. This was her home and hers alone. She would be responsible for keeping it clean, entertaining here, and filling it with memories. The movers would be there in about thirty minutes and her sister would be there shortly after that. She kept reminding herself that change was good-at least some change was good, she amended bitterly. Living life in a wheelchair was NOT a change she was welcoming with open arms. It was what it was. And so far she was having more good days than bad. But right now, this change-buying her own house, having it customized to meet her needs, purchasing furnishings-this was going to be good. At least she hoped it would be.
The whole moving process had been more organized and precise than Annie ever thought she could orchestrate, but she chalked it up to not having a job for a month or so that gave her time to plan things for the move.
As it was, the layout of the home was in the hands of the movers. It had been color coded by room and each box had a color on it to tell them where it went. All furniture was also labelled as to where it went. She and Danielle knew exactly where every piece of furniture was planned to go so they would each be directing the movers as necessary. Annie had tried to plan everything the best she could. She felt bad that she couldn't help more with moving things. She knew it was a ridiculous thing to think, but she was still struggling to get used to not doing absolutely everything on her own. Auggie had told her it was a control thing. Once a person is disabled, the way they each had been, they lose so much control that anything they could control, they sometimes went a bit overboard with. So she had gone overboard on being prepared for this process. It wasn't necessarily a bad thing.
After making a second trip around the house checking each room and getting a feel for going from place to place, she looked at the time. The movers would be there in ten minutes. She took a deep breath as she parked her wheelchair at the window in the living room. She wanted to wait for the movers inside rather than allow all her neighbors to see her. She was afraid of what assumptions they might make of her if they saw her. She knew they would make snap judgements of her just because they saw the wheelchair. She wasn't ready to face those people yet. For now, she only wanted to be Annie Walker, home buyer-not the wheelchair bound home buyer.
So, what do you think? Was this too boring? Too short? Too long? Too much of anything? Not enough of something else? I don't have set plans for this story yet, so ideas are extremely welcome and even encouraged so that I can get the story updated quicker. I SHOULD have another chapter up for this story AND "Family Ties" soon-ish.