The wheelchair sat in the front hall, parked by an electrical outlet, where it’s battery could be recharged. She gave it a wide berth when walking past, grimacing. She even hissed at it once, and walked away.
Correction: she doesn’t really walk anymore. Leaning heavily on her walker, it’s more of a trundle. “Okay then” she said, “the next sunny day, I’ll take you out.” She called her friend and neighbour, asking her out for coffee and mentioning that she’ll need some help holding open doors and testing her new vehicle on the sidewalk.
Her friend arrived and they chatted as always. Preparing to leave, she strapped on a fanny pack and belted herself in her new wheelchair. Then she tested the stick-shift controls. Her friend opened the front door of her apartment and they headed to the elevator. Backing out of the elevator will take practice. Eventually she learned that doing a 360 turn in a tight space is easier than backing out. The friend opened the door to the building entrance and the door to the street. They were off! She tested various speeds, finding out which speed left her friend out of breath, and, which was a leisurely stroll. They tested ramps: the buildings, the sidewalks, and, finally the ramp to the coffee shop. In her wheelchair, she pulled right up to the cafe’s table and her friend bought the coffees. The accessible bathroom was especially nice, with its easy to open, non-weighted door. The sink and grab bars were well-placed. The paper towels and soap were all reachable from the chair. The coffee was good too. They sat and chatted of their kids, who had met in preschool and who were now good high school buddies.
While the sun was still high in the sky, they headed home.
Satisfied with the test and cheered by the sun and good conversation, she thanked her friend. Her friend had made sure she got through all doors until she was safely home. Finally home, she parked her wheelchair and happily grabbed her walker. Stretching out her calf muscles and standing on tippy toes, she gratefully moved her leg muscles. Wonkily walking to her room, she laid down on her bed and napped soundly.
“The Dragon of Despair Faces its Enemies” is an oil painting by Joanna Strong. To see more of Joanna’s artwork please visit http://www.joannastrong.com