I was nervous as hell as I pulled into the parking lot of the playground. I'd been on a couple of dates with Bella and I really liked her. I mean really liked her, and I was pretty sure that she liked me too. In all of the previous relationships I'd had, this had been enough for us to continue seeing each other, but this time around there was another factor to consider. Bella's son.
I didn't know much about him, other than his name was Joseph and he was six years old. I climbed out of the car, locked it with the remote and turned to walk toward the play area. I quickly learned something else about him, as I approached the bench where Bella sat, watching a dark-haired little boy sitting on one of the swings: he could bring the most amazing smile to her face.
She offered a small wave as she saw me approaching, and offered another smile just for me.
"Hey," I greeted her warmly, sitting down next to her.
"Hi, Edward," she replied. "How are you doing?"
Before I could reply, a young voice rang out.
We both looked up to see Joseph running awkwardly toward us. I frowned slightly as I watched him, trying to work out what was wrong with his gait.
"Slow down, honey, be..." Bella was interrupted by Joseph tripping and flying forward. "Careful," she finished quietly, getting to her feet with aa sigh.
"I'm ok," he said as he got back to his feet, but as she reached him, Bella insisted on inspecting him for injuries. She took his hand and they walked back over to the bench.
"Why don't you just rest for a while?" she said, pulling him onto her knee. He sat for a couple of minutes, long enough to be introduced to 'Mommy's friend, Edward', then he said a polite hello, slid down from her lap and set off back toward the play equipment.
"Maybe we could take a walk to the other side of the park and get an icecream after?" I suggested. Bella grimaced. "Uh, we don't have to, I mean-" I stuttered.
"No!" Bella interrupted quickly. "It's not that I don't want to, it's just that Joseph'll struggle to walk that far. He's got a neuromuscular condition. It affects his legs mostly, we say he's got 'wobbly legs', so he falls a lot and can't walk long distances."
I examined the look on Bella's face as she kept her eyes fixed on the little boy laughing and shouting as he played with another child, trying in vain to keep up as he chased after him, then stumbling and falling again. My heart went out to her.
"It must be tough," I said quietly.
She sighed and turned to look at me.
"Yeah, no-one wants to see their child struggling, or to have to comfort them when they're crying because other kids have been teasing them."
I put my hand over hers as it held gently onto the edge of the seat.
Ok, I'll stop there. Of course, it's not a real fanfic, but I had something I wanted to share this week and thought this would be one way of sharing it that hopefully held your interest a little.
This week - in the UK at least - it's CMT Awareness Week. For those of you who've been around here for a while, you'll probably already know that this is an inherited condition shared by my father-in-law, Mr Stan, and William, our eldest Stanlet. The piece I wrote above is how William and myself would be in that situation (although obviously I edited out the part where I'd take a friend along to watch my son while I disappear discreetly for a quick fumble with Edward behind some trees or in the car).
I'm not going to bore you all with the details, it's about making people more aware of the condition, and if you'd like to know a bit more then you can go here to find out more. If you can't be bothered doing that - which is fair enough - but there is something you'd like to know then please feel free to ask here, I'm open about the condition and how it affects us.
I'd also like to point out that in no way am I moaning about it. Yes, it makes life difficult at times and I hate seeing my little boy struggling, in pain or upset about things linked to his CMT, but especially visiting the various clinics and things that we do to see various doctors and other health professionals, you see other children and begin to realise exactly how lucky we are for all of the things that he can do.
Will having a well-earned rest at his school sports day last year, having done nearly everything the other children did and enjoying every minute!