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The darkest part of night is replete with tormented souls worrying themselves into a lather. Worry’s function seems equivalent to that of self-mutilation; to punish without curing, to endure pain without adding strength. Adriel lay in the dark and passively flagellated his psyche. As a paraplegic alone in his bed, unable to move, unable to respond, unable to act, what other course of action lay open to him?

‘And what if, after her little confession about Bill and lies and starting over, what if that’s where she is now? What if he somehow convinced her to see him one more time? Tonight?

‘Or what if her call was her only chance to send a message of, ‘Help!’ and here I lie doing nothing?’

The wee hours of darkness are a most fertile greenhouse for worry. Who amongst us, upon receiving a mysterious call from his beloved, would not want to know what was going on? To take action? To sound the bugle and rush in as the charging, life-saving cavalry? But in place of action Adriel stewed; scared, supine and suspicious.

‘If you’ve lied to me for nearly two years then how do I know your confession was real, Gabrielle? How do I know that you’re done cheating?’ Even as he thought it he knew this question was unfair, unjust, unwarranted. He had not prodded his wife into telling him of her involvement with Bill Finger, the man she’d described as, “Old enough to be my father.” Her outpouring of emotion had been real and had originated from within. Which begged the question, why now? What had happened to make her tell him now?

Was it guilt at betraying him? The weight of deceit as she had said? The fact that even her friendship with Jenny was affected because he was her boss and yet Gabrielle pretended not to know him while she in fact knew him in that most intimate and Biblical way? ‘Damn it! Stop it! What can I do now, from here, that can help? How can I contact her?’ Getting out of bed was out of the question. ‘Hell, I can’t even roll over on my own anymore.’

The nightstand that held the alarm clock also held his phone. Like Tantalus with the cool water below and life-sustaining fruit above relief was within sight but forever out of reach. ‘That little ambrosia stealing Greek might just stand there and put up with his punishment but I didn’t do anything to deserve this fate except be mortal and by God I will reach for that fruit until it kills me.’

Two feet is not a great distance unless one measures in millimeters. A gap of 6,000 mm to a man who can’t move could be a greater obstacle than a chasm a mile wide to those with hale and hearty bodies. The phone was within sight, surely there must be some way to reach it?

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