Worth Living For

Harold has been sitting in a wheelchair and staring out of a window for days now. He won't do his physical therapy. All he does is think about what he lost. The fact that it was all his own brain means nothing. For three years he had a different life in which he was rich, powerful, hidden from the world, brilliant, heroic, and a friend. He even owned a library, for goodness sake! He lived every moment of three vivid years, and now it's still difficult to sort out what was dream and what wasn't. He still expects every footstep outside to be Reese, the best part of the whole dream, the cruelest figment of his imagination, the person he wanted to be who became his friend instead. Instead of who he was, a meek, quiet, uninteresting, funny-looking minor programmer. Not even Nathan Ingram's friend, just his employee. He remembers years of friendship with the man, being uncle to his son. But Ingram doesn't have a son, and Harold doesn't have a friend. No John, no Nathan, no—

Footsteps behind him. The little nurse named Megan, whom with his typical delusions of grandeur he had dreamed into a talented young doctor to be rescued from herself, enters the room.

"Harold, you have a visitor."

"Tell Nathan I don't want to see him."

"It's not Nathan."

He stares out of the window, not caring. But a swift figure moves around the bed and kneels before his wheelchair, and slender white hands take his small, almost pudgy ones. Red hair appears before his sun-dazzled eyes, a pale, lightly-freckled face, a beautiful, trembling smile.

"Oh, Harold, thank God. Harold, I've been so worried. You just disappeared. I realized I didn't know where you lived, where you worked. I've been crazy."

He stares at her and dares to lift his hand to her cheek. "Grace…?"

He'd thought she was all part of the dream. He remembers how in his dream they were engaged, and he disappeared to protect her. In real life he'd never even had the courage to ask her out, he remembers now, even though he knew she wanted him to. It was just endless cups of tea in a coffee shop halfway between their respective homes. But here she is, the one thing he denied himself in that dream where he was a much less pathetic man than he really is, and her eyes are full of tears.

"Did you really worry?" he asks.

The tears spill over. "I was afraid you were dead in an alley somewhere."

"I've been wishing I was… But maybe I don't wish it anymore." Maybe there is actually something in real life that is better than what he'd had in the dream. He puts his finger under her chin, but since he can't lean forward, she is the one who rises and leans forward and kisses him softly and long on the lips.