One Heart: A Story About True Love
There was only one. One leg, one heart. How would the game start? He was disabled, but that never stopped him from being the best he could be. You see, he had so much more to offer on the inside than what it looked like from the outside. There was an inner fire within him that no one had the permission to put out, except for himself.
So many people would give him glances, probably surprised to see him with only one leg. If only people judged others based on their inner qualities rather than their outer appearance. Who cares about the car one drives, the size of their house, or the size of their muscles? He thought he was lucky to be alive.
"So, when's the big day?" asked Mark.
Mark was his friend since middle school.
They were now college buddies. The big day was his wedding day. James found the love of his life in a pick-up game.
His soon-to-be-wife Peg completed him. She was everything to James. She was always there, always kind, and always greeting him with a smile at the door. She was the only one who truly saw him as a force to be reckoned with.
He dribbled the ball up the court, moving faster than the kid without the prosthetic leg. Zigzagging between defenders like Kobe with a three-point splash.
"Nothing but net," Peg said under her breath with a smile.
That was when she fell for him. It was love at first sight.
She tried to introduce herself, but before she could, she tripped and landed face down.
She got up to a helping hand, and it was none other than James. Bleeding from the nose, she thanked him.
James took off his jersey and used it to pinch her nose.
"I am so embarrassed!" said Peg.
"Don't be embarrassed. I'm the one without a leg."
She tried to smile but ended up fainting.
An hour later, she awoke in the hospital. The first person she saw was not a doctor, but James. She was so happy to see him.
"Who is this dude?" she thought.
Then the doctor came in. He explained to her how she fainted and how James caught her.
"That would be me," smiled James.
"Thanks, James. Maybe when I get out of here, instead of you catching me, we can catch up."
That was her thought, but she was too shy to say it.
Instead, she said she was going to close her eyes for now, too embarrassed she had a thought like that.
"I'm glad she's in good hands, Doc. I will leave you to it."
The doc grinned.
Two weeks went by when Peg decided to go to the gym where she first laid eyes on James. Same time, same place. The only difference was this was an official game.
There he was again, zipping in and out. On one possession, he even dunked. She knew that James was special and kind. That was all she ever wanted in a man.
James went on a breakaway when he noticed Peg. He proceeded to run out of bounds and towards her in the stands.
"You're back," said James.
"Yeah, this time without the blood."
James smiled and told her that he was going to win this game for her.
As he gave the ball to the ref to inbound it, Peg looked at the scoreboard. It was 87-53. The fourth quarter was about to start, and she had no idea how he was going to pull that off. She decided she would go on a date with him if he did, though.
James started moving faster and faster than ever. He got his teammates involved with some great assists. The coach wanted to give him a break, but he waved him off to stay in.
It was now 92-80, and James was running backwards on defense. He winked at Peg as he passed.
Then the biggest player on the opposing team ran down the middle of the paint and dunked over James. James hit the ground hard, and his prosthetic leg came flying off.
The ref called a foul.
“And one,” said the opposing player.
The ref shouted “Charge!”
Peg couldn’t believe he took one for the team. Right when she got out of her seat to check on him, he was already standing up. He gave her another wink.
She couldn’t believe this guy. He had the biggest heart on the court and off the court.
James inbounded the ball, gliding like an all-star.
One three, two threes, three threes, four. It was now 92-92. There were only 4 seconds left in the game.
Both teams huddled by their bench. It was a timeout, and James’s team had the ball. Peg was trying to listen to what they had to say. She was right behind and saw the coach drawing up a play. That’s when James said, “Screw this,” wiping the marker off the board. He pointed to the board and said, “Give me the ball here! Whoever throws the ball in will be part of history.”
The whistle sounded. Mark, of all people, inbounded the ball just like James requested. James got the ball. He shot it from his spot. It seemed like time froze.
“If this goes in, he’s the one,” said Peg.
Swish. Game over.
The crowd rushed to the floor and hoisted James in the air. Peg watched him as he crowd surfed. His eyes were locked on hers. They didn’t waver for a second.
She felt like the most important girl in the world.
That’s when Peg woke up again in the hospital. James wasn’t there. Was it a dream?
Just then, a nurse walked in.
“Ma'am, why am I here?” asked Peg.
“Why don’t you ask him?” replied the nurse.
James walked in with a huge bouquet of flowers. He looked older than she remembered, though.
Honey? I mean, I like it, but I don’t even know you, she thought.
“You look older.”
James explained that he was. He explained that she faints all the time and forgets things.
“Yeah, every time you faint, you forget your latest memories. You only have two memories that stick. When I met you and when I hit that game-winning shot!”
“That really happened, James?”
“It did. And then you fainted when I winked at you.”
“You dream about that memory every time you faint.”
“Well, it’s my favorite dream I’ve ever had,” replied Peg.
“You mean memory,” said James.
The two smiled.
“We both have our disabilities, but this love will never break,” said James.
“I see you,” replied Peg. “When will you propose?”
“I already did that. We are getting married in two days.”
“But what if I faint again? I don’t want to forget my wedding day.”
James started laughing. “I videotape everything. Thank God for these iPhones.”
Peg loved him even more than she did at the game. She knew he was the rock in her life.
That’s when she saw the ring on her finger.
“Holy cow! Now that’s a rock!” exclaimed Peg.
“You actually don’t care about that stuff,” said James. “You always saw me for my heart.”
“Well, your heart is like none other, James. I don’t remember much, but that I can feel.”
"Thank you for seeing me for who I am, not what I am. I never felt that with anyone before."
"You will always feel that with me."
The two of them felt each other's presence and love. It was another special moment for Peg, and she was sure she would remember it forever. Maybe it would be her next dream, but she wouldn't mind that.
That's when James said he had to go to work.
"Work? What do you do?" asked Peg.
"I work in an animal hospital."
"Animal hospital!" Peg exclaimed.
"Maybe you can take me right meow," Peg said jokingly.
"We have our whole future to do that. Just know that I love you."
He left, and she smiled.
That night she slipped into a different dream. This one wasn't a memory. She was on top of a tower, holding James by one hand over the edge of a skyscraper and a dog with her other hand. She had to choose.
James told her, "You can let me go. I am just a nuisance. That's what I feel like I am to everyone."
"Not with me," yelled Peg.
"Take care, Peg." He let go.
She fell after him, and they were falling, hands embraced in the sky. It was a moment of tranquility, and they both accepted their fate. That's when James kissed her in the sky. That kiss opened up a new dimension below them.
They landed in a bed together. She looked under the covers, and James didn't have his metal leg.
…But she had one.
"What on earth happened?"
James whispered in her ear, "It's not the leg that matters; it's the heart."
She woke up, and this time she was at her wedding. The groomsmen were holding her up from behind.
"I did it again, didn't I?" wept Peg. "I missed the wedding!"
James kneeled down and said he got it all on videotape. "You told me that your love will never die and that it's not the leg that matters; it's the heart."
She bawled and told James that she loved him.
James gave her a kiss.
"Do you remember that?"
In that instance, all her memories with James came flooding back to her, even her kiss at the wedding. She felt her heart open up, and all her pain washed away.
"Love conquers all," she whispered.
"Love conquers all," James repeated.