Laurie is stuck in the hospital and desperately wants to go home.
No time like the present,Laurie thought to himself. There wasn’t anyone here to stop him.
He hauled himself up using the right-hand bed-rail and swung his legs over the left-hand side of the bed. There. He was sitting upright. On his own.
He drew in a deep breath and let it out. His feet were flat on the tiled floor, reassuringly solid and cold beneath them. He wiggled his toes and watched all ten of them respond with detached interest. Well they seemed to be working all right. That was a relief. It was all coming back gradually, like they said it would.
It had been three weeks now. He was sick of being hovered over. He was done with it. He was going to prove to them that he could manage on his own and then he was going to get Sally to take him home.
He reached for the stick that the nurse had left beside the bed. A walking frame was no good, because his hand wasn’t working well enough yet. Carefully, he put his weight on his legs and leaning on the stick in his right hand, he pushed himself to his feet.
Jesus, that was an effort.
He balanced himself on his good leg and the stick, tentatively lifting his left leg. It went up all right, but it was a struggle. He concentrated really hard, dragging the foot forward. One step. One step at a time, that’s all he needed to think about.
…small-town found-family solace is also the bedrock of our fourth and final romance, TAKING STOCK (JMS Books, 280 pp., e-book, $3.99), a queer 1970s romance by A. L. Lester set in rural England. Fans of Cat Sebastian and K. J. Charles will find this book quieter but no less pleasing. Phil is a stockbroker in disgrace after his ex-boyfriend frames him for insider trading; when he retreats to a country cottage he is soon smitten by Laurie, a former runaway turned farmer just beginning to put his life together after a stroke. It’s rare to see chronic disability handled with such precision in romance — the author’s own experience certainly informs the text — and this book is open about how Laurie’s frustration makes him vulnerable as he relearns the limits of his body’s capabilities. But it is no savior narrative: Phil’s own past has enough pain in it that it feels like any rescuing is entirely mutual. It’s a delicate story, clearly told. It’s restrained but earnest; the focus on farm life (spring-fed ponds and sheep shearing!), and on rebuilding and rebirth, offers an earthy kind of hope, for whenever you feel like the world is falling to pieces around you.
I can’t really articulate how chuffed I am by this. The other three books Olivia reviews are by authors I admire immensely and it’s wonderful, and rather shocking, to be written about on the same page as both them and Cat Sebastian and K. J. Charles. Thank you so much to everyone who has bought Taking Stock. I really hope you enjoy it.
I had a lot of backstory about how Laurie’s friends dealt with his stroke that were from different POV’s and/or slowed it all down unbearably. Here, Sally, Laurie’s best friend, is talking to Patsy, who runs the Post Office.
Deleted Scene #2
“He’s going to be a handful,” Patsy Walker said to her friend Sally Beelock as she filled the tea-pot. “You’ll have trouble with him.”
Sally pulled a face. “You don’t need to tell me that,” she said. “He’s already talking about coming home and the stupid idiot can’t even stand up without help yet.”
“He’s improving though, yes?” Patsy asked.
“Yes, definitely. And it’s only been a week. They say that he needs to keep trying to move everything, his arm, his fingers, his leg, and the more he does that the more it’ll help.” She sighed. “They don’t know if it’ll all come back properly, but they say there’s a good chance.”
Patsy passed her a mug of tea and sat down opposite her at the kitchen table where she could see in to the shop. There weren’t any customers at the moment, but the early autumn day was warm and she had the outside door propped open as usual, so the bell wouldn’t ring if anyone came in and she had to keep an eye out.
“How are you managing?” she asked Sally. “It must have been a shock. He’s only what, thirty?”
“Thirty-three,” Sally said absently. “Yes. I thought that was curtains for him to be honest, Pat. Jimmy came down to get me at Carsters once the ambulance had gone. He didn’t tell me much, just said I should get into the hospital. Apparently he was unconscious, pretty much.”
Patsy patted her hand. “Well, he’s going to be fine, love. You’ll see. Look at Roger Chedzoy. He had a stroke four years ago and you’d never really know to look at him now.”
“He’s sixty-three though,” Sally said. “I mean, there’s never a good age, is there? But Laurie’s so young.”
Patsy nodded. “And that means he’s got more fight in him and he’ll get over it quickly. You’ll see.”
“What do you mean, I can’t go home?” Laurie was almost crying with frustration. “I can go home if I like!”
Sally glared at him. “And how are you going to get up and down the stairs? Or even down the hall to the bathroom?” she said. “And wash when you get there? And turn over properly in bed? And what happens if you actually fall out of bed in the night and can’t get up? And come to that, who’s going to take you home, you idiot? You can’t drive!”
He glared back. “I thought that you might!”
“No! Not me!” her glaring was so much better than his.
He pushed against the pillows, but because he was unable to brace properly with his weak leg, he couldn’t make himself sit up any further. She stood up and hauled him forward with competent strength, shoving more pillows behind him to support his bad arm and shoulder. Damn her.
When she sat back down, he lowered his gaze to his lap. His hand lay across his legs, curled and useless. He imagined moving his fingers and he felt it happening in his head. But in his lap, they lay dead and still, obvious betrayers of his helplessness.
“Laurie…,” her voice was kind. “You need to stay in here for a bit and let them help you. They say at least some of the use of the your arm and your leg should come back quite quickly, specially if you work at it. And then we can get you back home.”