I rolled my eyes as the elevator doors slid shut.
I sighed heavily, my hands tense on the arms of my wheelchair. I was annoyed at the man in the suit who couldn’t help himself, who had waited fifteen flights up to bless me as he exited the elevator. I’m sure he was well meaning, but I didn’t need anyone’s blessing.
I knew what I looked like. I mean, truly, I was a disaster. I’d take a second look. Not only was I in a wheelchair, but I had hair that stood up in short dark spikes, a by-product of a shaved head and hair desperate to make a comeback. I wore white pressure garments resembling too-tight spandex that I would tell every girl to run away from, and, here I was, forced to wear them to combat the raised scars on my arms and legs. I was too pale, too skinny, but it was my legs, or lack thereof, that alerted people to the obvious, that something had gone very wrong. I was a clown in a garish costume in a sea of ordinary and all I longed to do was to step out of my costume and join the sea.
That longing grew greater as strangers went out of their way to place a hand on my shoulder, mutter a quick prayer, or crouch to look me in the eye and ply me with questions.
“What happened to you?”
This was usually asked slowly, each word enunciated, emphasis on the you.
My standard answer was, “I was in a car accident.”
For some, who understood tight-lipped responses, the answer was satisfactory and they moved on. For others, who were immune to social cues, followed up the first question with wide eyes, “Was it bad?”
I wanted to respond with snark. To ask incredulously, “Are you freaking kidding me?” Followed by, “Seriously??” And, finally, a roll of the eyes so huge I would put a moody teenager to shame.
But, I opted for the polite way, the Emily Post way, and met their irritating curiosity with calm.
I enjoyed not giving them what they wanted.