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The worst part for Adriel was the isolation. He and Gabrielle were talkers by nature, “Chatter boxes,” as his father liked to say. Communication was king and Gabrielle shared his love of discussing things to death. Communication is multi-media; looks, touch, physical pressure, but as his muscle control failed doors of communication were slammed shut until he was reduced to grunts, squeals and his voder. Without his voder his ability to communicate was less than a dog’s.

It was maddening that he could receive but not transmit, be touched but not touch, listen without speaking. His wife had made love to him, stroked and soothed, excited and tantalized and then thanked him. He imagined himself the world’s most inadequate sex toy and his wife had thanked him for her tender ministrations. “You’re welcome,” he mouthed.

Pillow talk as monologue proved wholly unsatisfying and his sentence was life in solitary. He could see his soul mate turned cellmate, accept gifts from her, but he had nothing to give in return. He could not help wondering how much better off she would be without him.

Gabrielle took the sippy cup from his lips and stroked his cheek with the back of her hand. “Tomorrow we’ll go see Doctor Theia and find out if I’m eligible for the next round of Ocata trials. Maybe we can get this licked, huh? Maybe we can beat this.”

He groaned to indicate acquiescing assent and pushed his cheek against her hand, just as a puppy pushes against its human’s hand when it wishes to be petted.

“Are you warm enough? Do you need me to slip a shirt on for you?”

More groans indicated he was fine and then he closed his eyes and pretended to fall asleep. Adriel found the afterwards of lovemaking more frustrating than the during. Post coitus warmth was to be shared. Hugs, caresses, sighs, strokes, all were as important as the mating of piston and cylinder and none of these could he provide.

Locked away with no one but himself to talk to he pondered these happy thoughts as his wife lay by him in the dark holding his hand and stroking his arm.

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