WHEN DESTINY COLLIDES
Three souls tangled in a web of past lives.
Although Elizabeth never wanted to be in Ireland, she realises everything does happen for a reason because if she did not move to Ireland, she never would have met Jared with his ruffled hair and emerald green eyes that see right through her pretences.
All the pieces of her life falls into place and it feels so right to be with him, like deja-vu, but Elizabeth makes mistakes and it seems her happiness will only be fleeting, until she meets Joshua with his piercing blue eyes, and rosy cheeks that match his lips perfectly.
With the love Elizabeth feels for Jared, where does Joshua fit in her life? Is he destined, with his unselfish love for Elizabeth, to always only be her friend.
If she believes getting to her happy place will be easy and pain-free, she is mistaken.
An ABNA Expert Reviewer 2010, says, “Recycled Souls grabs the reader with a personal but very absorbing story, projecting the main character's emotions with unusual intensity. This contemporary Young Adult excerpt is written in the first person, from Elizabeth's point of view. Uprooted from her home, teenaged Elizabeth moves to Ireland with her mother and step-father. The writing style, expressive of a young girls' experience and accentuated by a dreamy present tense style, offers an excellent read.”
First chapter: When Destiny Collides
After I watch Jared walk away, knowing there is a chance I will probably never see him again, I want to turn myself onto my side, to curl myself into a ball, but my paralysed legs will not help me, so I have to stay lying on my back. I pull the pillow out from under my head with my un-encumbered, drip-free arm and pull it over my face. Tightly I hold the pillow down on my face with my free arm and I cry, sobs shaking my body violently.
I have this urgent need to scream, to make the hurt in my soul escape through my mouth, but I pinch my lips together, not wanting to make a scene and wake up the whole hospital.
Later when my mum and Sean come rushing into the room excitedly, I am still crying.
My mum leans over me, wrapping me into her arms, hugging my head tightly to her chest and I cling to her, crying even louder.
Sean hugs both of us, cooing, “Okay, okay my Lizzie. You’re okay now.”
The nurse comes in and gives me a mild sedative. They must think it is an after effect of being in the coma. If only they knew that it is not fixable or curable with a drug. This feeling will stay with me for always.
My mum looks around the room and asks concerned, “Where is Jared? It is funny not to see him here.”
Sean adds to this, making it worse, “That boy seriously likes you.”
I take a deep, deep breath and dig out my trusty smile, the one I have not used in a long time. I paste it to my face and mumble, “He had to go.”
A look passes between them, but they say nothing further about Jared, sensing it is something I did not want to discuss.
They stay for the longest, longest time making idle chitchat, telling me everything that has happened during the last seven months, what has happened in the village, in the world. Jane kept them updated with all the news from school, so soon it is as if I was never in a coma and I know all the most important details of what everybody had been up to over the last couple of months.
When my mum and Sean eventually leave, I am relieved. I pull the pillow over my face again, feeling as if I will surely die from the pain in my chest–it is sharp, and it is piercing.
My doctor says my paralysis is only psychological, they cannot find anything physically wrong with me.
I hear him tell my mum and Sean that after a neurological examination it was revealed there were no muscle atrophy, no sensory or autonomic deficits and full sphincter control. The shock from my head knocking against the side window caused a swelling on my brain, which was revealed by an early scan, but now the scans show that the swelling has disappeared. It would appear my body shut down its motor functions so that my brain could fix itself, and this would explain the coma and now the paralysis. My brain still had to realize the swelling was healed, and then resume the pulses it sends to my legs to make them do their job.
He suggests physiotherapy and absolutely no stress.
Amused I consider he should have mentioned the 'no stress' part earlier, because my emotional state has been a little haphazard these days.
I spend the next two weeks in the hospital, doing physiotherapy for most of this time. All I must do now is get my legs to work, by practising repeatedly the simple thing of walking. Something I used to do without a second thought, now takes an immense amount of concentration and physical effort.
I learn that during the seven months I was sleeping, Jared used to do specific exercises with me, as demonstrated by the doctor, to keep my muscles from degenerating. My heart hurts when they tell me this, but by now my smile is my constant companion, so much, that at night my cheeks hurt.
Staying here in hospital with nothing to do but think about Jared and reliving our short time together over and over in my mind, is making me more and more miserable as each day goes by. I believe with all my heart that when I go back to my daily routine, I will soon be over him. Even though people come and go, hovering around my bed constantly, I am always hoping to see Jared walk into the room, but he never does.
The day before leaving the hospital, Jane surprises me with a visit.
Looking at me concerned, she sits down on the chair next to my bed, “How are you? I hear you are going home tomorrow.”
“Yeah, at last, but please let’s not talk about all of this,” I say as I sweep my hand across the room. “Tell me something normal for a change.”
I see her hesitate as if she is contemplating telling me something significant, but then she decides not to. She says instead, “Well, I never told you this interesting bit of news. Aaron and I broke up, so now you and I will have lots of time to spend together again.”
I frown briefly. “Why did you and Aaron break up? When?”
She smiles sadly. “A while ago already.” She looks out through the window, a distant look in her eyes. “Sometimes you think you want something so badly, and only when you have it does it turn out it was a trouble you could have managed without.”
I give her a small, sad smile. My heart is aching to hear news about Jared and her mentioning Aaron makes it worse, so I ask hesitantly, “What happened to Jared? Is he okay?”
She looks back at me, and then warily she says, “Jared left Ireland and he is backpacking through Europe. Aaron says when Jared came home that morning he went straight to his room and packed a bag. The first thing they knew was when he announced, apparently with the weirdest expression on his face, that he would be travelling through Europe for the remainder of his gap year and he'll only be back in time for Trinity. He then got into his car and drove off. He phones now and again, but not often.” She adds with an accusing tone, “Why did you break up with him, Elizabeth? You said you would never hurt him.”
I look back at her blankly and then sighing, I say, “It’s complicated and I never meant to hurt him. It’s just that I had no choice.”
“What do you mean, you had no choice?”
Astounded I reply, “Hello? Can you not see I am unable to walk? I was not going to burden him with me. As it is, he was constantly by my side for seven months. He put his life on hold for me and I couldn’t allow him to do it any longer.”
“The doctor says you can walk, all you have to do is do it,” she says, even more accusingly.
I ignore the tone in her voice and look up at the ceiling, willing my tear ducts to stop being so over-productive.
“You have to stop feeling sorry for yourself, Elizabeth,” she insists.
Tears start rolling down my cheeks and I try to wipe them away unnoticeably.
She stands up from the chair and steps closer to me. She leans down and hugs me. Apologetically she says, “Don’t worry. You have to concentrate on getting better now anyhow. You have already missed half of this school year, and to get into college you are going to have to work hard at catching up. At least that would take your mind off things.”
I grab onto this straw of hope that everything will work out just fine.
She steps away from me and sits down on the side of my bed. We change the subject of our conversation to school.
After a little while she leaves, promising to visit me at home.
The next day I go home.
Sean pushes my wheelchair out into the grim morning, and I remember Jared once saying I brought sunshine to his day. I sigh softly.
My mum and Sean help me into the car with a struggle and I feel humiliated for being the reason for their discomfort and effort.
When we stop in front of my manor, I am once again shocked at the sight of it. It is completely different from the first time I saw it, and it looks magnificent. Sean has really poured himself into it. There is now a sculpted garden where the unkempt lawns once roamed, taking with it my memories of Jared on so many sunny afternoons. The two horses are grazing in a field nearby and the only thing I really recognize is our red front door.
Sean and my mum are incredibly excited to show me the car they bought for me—a royal blue two-door Peugeot. It remains unsaid, but I get the impression the gift is supposed to motivate me to work harder at walking again. I am amazed my mum would even allow me back in a car, especially driving myself.
I missed both my birthday and Christmas last year—how sad.
How sad it must have been for Jared. He let his life pass by him, and he knew that it was. At least I was asleep when my life rushed past me. I wonder if I never woke up, if he would still be sitting by my bed every day, still cuddling up to me every night. I persuade myself that now he can travel throughout Europe, without me holding him back. It must be exciting. I definitely made the right choice letting him go.