Accessible Excerpts: Some Essentials
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. There are two scenes here. The first takes place after Merry has decided to travel with her rescuers and the second is that same day just a few hours down the road.
With surprising gentleness, Lans slipped his hands under my legs and behind my back and lifted me into the air. I stifled a gasp. I'd been lifted by many men: the servants at my father's house, the servants at the school. They had all grunted and hoisted me like a sack of flour. None had lifted me with the ease of immense strength, nor to the height of a tree branch. Lans's arms closed around me, and I felt like a knight as he sat atop his warhorse. Safe, untouchable.
I looked around at the clearing with trepidation. I don't know why I expected a hotel. These didn't seem like the kind of people who would bother with a hotel. But I'd never spent the night outdoors. It hadn't even occurred to me that we might.
I could do this. Everyone else in the world did, why couldn’t I?
The three of them set about making camp with an ease that made me realize they'd been together a long time. Lans erected a canvas tarp so we wouldn’t have to sleep in the rain, while Vira-we laid out their bedrolls, and Whyn built the fire
After dinner, I decided I'd put some things off for long enough, and no matter how embarrassing it was, I needed to take care of them. I inched my chair a little closer to the other woman in our party.
“Vira-we,” I whispered. “Could you help- I mean, I have to go- I mean, I know there's no water closet, but…” My face burned as I stuttered to a stop.
I didn't have to say any more. Vira-we smiled and stood up. “Of course. We'll be back in a minute, boys.”
She helped me push my chair through the underbrush until we were out of sight of the camp. It wasn't at all what I was used to, but Vira-we and I seemed to manage all right.
I've included the first excerpt because I feel I should explain something. Eventually Merry is carried by all three of her companions. However, I want to point out that this only works because all three are warriors. They have the strength to pull this off. Even Whyn, the scholar, has spent the last two years running around the woods doing his share of the manual labor. Just wanted to say that I recognize carrying around over a hundred pounds of dead weight is a little implausible for most people. You'll notice even Lans, Vira, and Whyn can only carry Merry short distances. Not really an important point, I know, but one that comes from personal experience.
As for the second excerpt... I'm a worrier. I obsess over little things sometimes. And I'll admit that every time we're in the mountains I've worried about the bathroom situation. I don't believe every author who writes about characters with disabilities needs to tell us exactly how they go to the bathroom (seriously, it's not that complicated, use your imagination), but I did want to show that I had given thought to the fact that victorian-ish era + wilderness + wheelchair = headscratch. Details aren't required but I'm thinking Merry and Vira found a log that would work nicely. Also I think this shows some growth for Merry who has a very hard time asking for help even with essentials.
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?