As long as Mya could remember she wanted a chair. Everybody knew it, because she used to whine to her parents about it. When she went to school she made comments about them that her friends thought were abnormal.
Mya knew she wasn’t abnormal, she was just different, like gays or mathmaticians. Mya belonged in a chair.
In college, she took courses in psychology to try and discover if her therapist had been correct and she had simply developed this outlandish desire from some traumatic memory or a need to show how she associated her difference within her own family with physical social differences.
It was all bunk.
The truth was, Mya was born with something not connected the way the connection was made in everyone else’s body, at least she thought everyone else had been connected. Mya woke up some mornings unable to really appriciate the fact that she had working legs. She would have to really concentrate to get moving.
She had the body parts and they worked, but somewhere in her brain she would feel as if they didn’t and would have to convince herself otherwise.
Mya never really got to express this. She didn’t have the nerve to buy a wheelchair online and she didn’t know that there was anyone else out there who could understand her. So she would look up the kinds of chairs that interested her online and browse assistive device catalogs.
One afternoon she was doing just this in the college library, when a young man approached her.
“Excuse me, I hate to interrupt, but i’m majoring in physical therapy and noticed you going through that catalog.”
“oh? she said. “From all the way over there?” she covered the title line. “i’ll bet you can’t guess which catalog this is.”
“Sure I can, you see, because i came all the way on campus to get that catalog and the librarian told me you pick it up at this time, almost every wednesday.” he chuckled and sat.
“oh.” Mya was embarrassed.
“So what is your interest in the wide, wide world of accessibility?”
Mya hesitated. She had always been willing to share her secrets with her friends, but going to an out-of-state college had sort of knocked that out of her. She wasn’t sure how he’d react. Not that she should care.
“Well…she stammered, unaccustomed to lying, “I’m a psych major and I am sure some of m-my clients will have disabilities. i’m just trying to get inside their heads.”
Hmm, A psyche major, huh? Well I’m Brent. Good to meet you.”
“Uh, nice to meet you, too. And you’re majoring in PT?”
“Yep. If I’m not mistaken I think we have a few things in common. How’s about you throw me a line and meet me for dinner tonight? You name the place.”
Mya didn’t want to pass a date up, no matter who asked her. She’d spent most of her time settling into a shell, since she wanted to tell anybody she’d get close too about the difference they couldn’t see. All in all she was a pretty girl, but she just couldn’t hang out with people if they started to use what she considered pitying or negative terms about people with some sort of physical difference, something that wasn’t uncommon on her very physically focused campus.
So, Mya smiled and agreed to meet Brent at the campus diner.
Mya was early. She was pretty smart and didn’t have to study much before she had the main idea of her lessons, so she took off the afternoon to pamper herself. When Brent finally arrived, about 20 minutes late, she had already convinced herself he was standing her up and was on the way out the door. But she was wrong. Just as she stood up to leave there was a slight commotion, dishes crashing and people yelling and right in the middle of it, was Brent.
She had to look closely and twice, but she was certain. It was Brent. The only difference about him from this morning was he was about four feet tall, that is, he was seated in an Invacare A-4, the chair of her dreams, and he wasn’t using it to get a better angle to tie his shoes.
When he looked up and saw the look on her face, he smiled the biggest, “i knew it’ smile she had ever seen. She was positively dumbfounded. When she realized what was happening happening she rushed towards the sceen, making her apoligies and rushed out.
She soon heard him wheeling behind her, laughing. She stopped.
“You think this is funny?”
He laughed, “You should have seen your face. You would think it was funny, too.”
‘You know, what is going on here? You’re in a wheelchair? Is this some kind of joke?”
“Do you think you’re just a bit overacting? You are drawn to this, Mya. It is written all over you.”
Mya looked around selfconciously. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. And anyway, there is no way I could show up in public in a wheelchair, when everybody who knows me, knows I don’t need it! And you were late.”
“Hey, I’m sorry about that. I can meet some unforseen challenges on chair night.” He stopped her. “Listen, I’m sorry. I still wanna buy you something to eat. Why don’t we take a stroll into town?”
Mya took a deep breath. Beyond being hugely embarrased at letting her interest in disability show on her face, she was also relieved to find someone who could maybe understand her for once and who was even using a wheelchair (and not just any wheelchair) boldly, in public places. Needless to say, she was intrigued.
She smiled, “Ok, you can buy me something to eat. But I don’t think I want to eat out anymore.”
“Alright then, let’s go to my apartment. I have a lot to show you.”