Accessible Excerpts: Common Experiences
This is an excerpt from my novel, By Wingéd Chair, one in a series of posts in which I try to show how I use disabilities in my writing. Click here for my intro to the series. Merry is on her way home after events in Benevere have forced her departure.
The train platform cleared as people ran from the weather. It was just rain. Did they think they were going to melt? I looked around our stop. The town was no more than a way-point on the train line. A few houses and a hotel were clustered around the tiny station. As if mimicking the buildings, a couple young men waiting for the train had sought shelter under the eaves of the ticket office.
One of them looked at me. He had a mop of bright gold hair and an infectious smile. I found my own lips curving upward in response. He was kind of cute. He said something to his friend before he stepped toward us. My breath caught, and I forced myself not to reach up and make sure my bonnet was straight. My heart pounded as he drew nearer…
And then stepped around me to talk to Cecily.
If my legs worked, I would have kicked myself. Why would he be looking at you, stupid? Even if I hadn’t been forced to live my life in a chair, he still would have picked her over me. She looked like a porcelain doll, one that had never been played with, with her straight blond hair and clear skin and big, limpid brown eyes. Like a cow’s.
Sitting next to her, no one would think to look at me with my messy brown hair, muddy green eyes and skin that was prone to spots.
Finally the boy’s friend dragged him away so they could dash through the torrent to board the train. I glared at him as he went by, but he didn’t seem to notice.
“He was cute,” Cecily said. “And charming, wasn’t he?”
“I wouldn’t know,” I said, lifting my chin. “I don’t pay attention to boys.”
“You will one day.” She gave me a condescending smile. “You’ll meet a boy who’s cute and charming and doesn’t care about your legs.”
My fingers clenched on the wheels of my chair. My mask would protect me. It would hide me from the good intentions of stupid people.
“Oh, do you really think so?” I said, hoping she would catch the mocking in my tone.
But Cecily was about as bright as the cow I’d compared her to. “Of course I do. There’s someone out there for everyone.”
So much for mockery. “That’s complete muck,” I said.
First off, who hasn't had this happen to them? Anyone? I feel like humanity is bound by common experiences and this is one of them. You're standing there and someone waves at you. You look around thinking, he can't be looking at me, can he? But he is. Oh my gosh, he really is. And then you realize his friend is right behind you and now you look like a dork.
Merry's experience has a few other implications. He couldn't possibly be interested in her not only because she's not as pretty as Cecily, but who would want to make eyes at a pair of wheels. And this scene proves that she'll never receive that kind of attention from the opposite sex. Which is okay because she totally doesn't want that kind of drama in her life. Right?
Poor Merry. I spend the rest of the book showing her she's wrong.
As always, comments and criticisms are appreciated. What did you think? What did you like, what did you dislike? Did I accomplish what I set out to do?