Legs and confidence

Staring at the blank lines, I know I have to write something, anything. But voids and I go together, my life a nothingness; no job, love life.

Loads worse off than me, I know, Maria keeps telling me. She’s my oldest friend… not quite back as far as school but not far off.

With just the TV for company, there’s nothing to do but sit and stare at it… and eat.

“Chins up,” she tells me then laughs as if that would make me feel better.

It’s alright for her; she’s got a job, a man in her life. She said I could go out with them but who wants to be a gooseberry? She suggested it again today, said they’re going to the cinema but back row for three? No, thank you. Besides, I think Andy’s a little jealous of our friendship.

Maria buys me the local paper every week… for the jobs section, I’m sure, or maybe the dating column, or both.

She says she’s done with it but I know she’s not read it. She’s not careful enough with stuff to leave it that tidy-looking.

She brings me teabags too, knows I get through them too quickly, even at two cups a bag.

Almost at the end of the milk, so better ration it. She takes a lot in her drinks so that doesn’t help but I don’t mind, she’s good to me… said that already, didn’t I?

Some people love being at home all the time but I hate it. I want to work, really I do, but Maria doesn’t understand why I’m hesitant. I suppose she just likes to remember the old me, the sporty me, the pre-Afghanistan me. The ‘me’ with legs and confidence.

“You’ll get new ones soon,” she says, and I’ve seen the Paralympics, I can see what’s possible but it’s years of work, isn’t it.

Maria says I won’t look forward but what is there to look forward to? I lost her when Andy came on the scene. OK, that’s not fair. I pushed her away, but she didn’t leave completely, won’t leave for good, like I told her to… shouted at her to.

I should be grateful… I am, really I am, but…

“Write it down,” she said. “Like an autobiography. It’ll be therapy.”

I shook my head but she put the paper and pen in front of me anyway, kissed me on the cheek and left for her date with Angus Andy.

So here I am. TV switched off, remote at the other end of the room (thanks, Maria) and I have to write. Something, anything…

‘Legs and Confidence by Tom Butler’.

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