Again, Silence: What Happens Next

The airport wheelchair feels wrong to me. It holds me without supporting me. It has angles I’m not used to. It fulfills a function, that’s all. I ask Joe if we could go to the bar. I want to be out of the room, out where there is some noise and distraction, out where there are people just living ordinary lives and not appreciating what that means. People who don’t have to be grateful every moment of every day for the mobility they have.

I insist on pushing this clunker of a chair, it’s hard, it’s heavy and it’s not built for speed. The extra weight has me sinking into plush hotel carpet, but I push myself anyways. I will not, in that way, be defeated. We get to the bar and order, tea for me, a draught beer for Joe. The bartender asks about our day. Well she asked so we told her. She was shocked and horrified.

The phone rings three times! It never rings that often at that time of day. Once it was our pharmacy about a pick up. Once it was from a phone company wanting to talk to us about service. Once it was a wrong number. Each time my heart did a flip. Was it information about my chair? Was it information about what was going to happen when we returned home? Was it about a replacement wheelchair to use for now?

When it rings a fourth time I’d become immune but then I notice it’s an Arizona number calling. I answer. The woman who was helping me with all of this was on the line. She had news. My chair had been found, abandoned in the rental car center. Without the cushion, and sitting on Velcro, it must have been too uncomfortable for their use so they dumped it. The tag placed by the airline was still on the chair.

“I will talk to your airline and get it back to you asap.”

I stumble to thank her.

I try not to cry again.

But I do.

We finished our drinks and rushed back to the room. We didn’t want to miss the chair’s arrival even though we knew it hadn’t left the airport yet.

An hour and a half later, the chair was still not here.

The hotel is about 20 minutes from the airport.

We stare at the phone.

It doesn’t ring.


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