TRUE EVIDENCE OF LIFE
I’m still suffering writer’s block somewhat, not because I’m stuck for ideas but my head is full of them. On a personal front, in my real life, there are ongoing issues of my dad’s health, my son being a teenager, and family drama where I’m always the black scapegoat.
In my fictional worlds, I’m writing more short stories and a couple of books. None of which I can write about here because they’re works in progress. It’s like writerly constipation.
I hope other people read my stories and often I happen upon other people’s. There are only so many storytellers, but there are close to eight billion of us on this planet. None of us will ever hear every story, but while there are readers and sharers, stories live on. Like Paul Auster collecting true tales of American life, which can sometimes be indistinguishable from fiction.
This one started with a question in my Quora list:
If you are visibly disfigured or disabled and a random three-year-old loudly asks their parent(s) about you, what would you prefer the response of the parent(s) to be?
It had already been answered by Cecelia Smith, from Dallas in Texas:
It happened today … a very lively and curious 3 year-old was running through Starbucks, making her sparkly neon shoes blink, and nearly landed in my lap because she overshot the spot where she planned to turn. As she backed away, she noticed that I don’t have feet … her eyes got wide and she spun around “Mommy!! This lady doesn’t have feet!”
Mommy was looking mortified but was balancing a baby in a carrier while trying to say “I’m so sorry” and get the child to come back to her … but the bright little spot of energy had already spun around to me again and was studying the bright knit socks I wore over the stumps.
“Where did your feets go?” I told her I’d been in an accident.
“Will you grow new ones?” Nope. They don’t grow back. But that’s ok, because I have the chair to let me get around.
“How fast can your chair go?” … Which turned into a discussion of who was faster, me in my chair or her with her pretty, neon shoes that lit up when she moved!
We ended up having a “race” across the store .. and she WON! She was so excited, and showed me how her shoes sparkle when she dances too!
Then she suddenly stopped and got a seriously sad look on her face.
“You can’t dance can you?” I had to admit, no I can’t dance like she does. BUT if she holds my hand while she is dancing, then it is like we are dancing together.
So she grabbed my hand with a big smile and danced with me!
Everyone was just delighted watching her – because she was just delightful.
Mom still looked uncomfortable – she wasn’t sure how she, as the parent, should respond. When the dance ended, Mom came over to apologize – and I told her there is no offense in the honest innocence of a child. I had enjoyed our talk and our dance.
I was really glad Mom had another child to tend to, so that I had the opportunity to have such a positive interaction with the little girl. When a child notices me and my “invisible feet” … all too often the parents pull them away, and tell them they are being rude and teach them to avoid interacting with people like me. I understand the parents think they are being polite and teaching their children manners – but what they really are doing is teaching their kids to ignore the existence of disabled people. I’d much rather have them see me as just someone who is a little different.
I didn’t bother to answer the question myself. I’m not sure why it appeared on my answers (requests for) page. Despite social anxiety disfiguring me in the eyes of the blinkered, I’m not one who necessarily draws glances.
I could make it into a sci-fi tale: I could strap rockets on those feet, make it a meeting of races from different worlds experiencing music for the first time… I could do so much, but it stands alone as a story which touched me, in that small part of the heart which still hopes for humanity. Despite what has happened to our countries, the UK and USA will always have a special relationship among those of us who see it for what it is.
Some stories require no embellishment. But there are billions of fables, anecdotes and thoughts of whimsy in all of us, which would go untold if there weren’t writers. I once had nothing, but I found the written word. We can all tell stories.
Maybe this one accidentally ended up in my list of questions for a reason.