First Steps (A Short Story)

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First Steps (A Short Story)

Postby Brian » Sat Jun 05, 2010 1:54 pm

I posted this to Facebook yesterday. Might as well post it here now. :)

Note: This story is a work of fiction I wrote many years ago. Any resemblance to people, living or dead, is (mostly) purely coincidental. I remember a version where Dave got angrier, but I think that was a later version, that I've since lost (in one of my many hard drive crashes in the past 20+ years).

Edited to Add: Mommy: You might remember this one. :)
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"Hello, Dave. I'm Dr. Stevens. Nice to meet you."

"Hi."

"So, Dave, why don't you tell me a little about yourself?"

"Whadda ya wanna know?"

"Whatever you want to tell me."

"Okay. My name's David Riggler. I'm in seventh grade in Garfield Elementary School."

"How's the school year going so far this year?"

Dave looked nervously at his fingers, cracking his knuckles.

"My grades're okay, I guess. Mostly B's. An A in English."

"But things are going pretty well for you this year?"

"Not really."

"Why not? It sounds like they are."

"My grades are fine. But I've got other problems. I'm sure my mother told you why I'm here."

"Actually, I was hoping to hear it from you."

"Okay, it's something like this. The school board pays for my physical therapy. They want me to walk on a walker. I don't want to. They don't understand why, so they sent me here. So they could find out, or so that I could find a way to explain it to them."

Dave gripped his armrests tightly.

"Listen, do you have to write in that notebook? I'd rather you didn't write a damn book."

"It's only to help me remember our sessions."

"It makes me really uncomfortable."

"Do you want me to put it away?"

"Yes. Please."

"Alright."

Dr. Stevens opened a drawer in his desk and laid the notebook inside. Then he continued.

"You were saying? About physical therapy?"

"It's stupid. The physical therapist and the school want me to walk on a walker. I don't want to."

"Why not?"

"Listen, everything I say here stays here, right?"

"Unless you say differently. Doctor - patient privilege."

"It's so quiet in the waiting room. Can anyone here what we're saying?"

"You didn't hear any noise outside?"

"I dunno. There was a noise like an air conditioner'r something..."

"That's a white noise maker. It' isn't loud, but it keeps people on the outside from hearing. It blocks all sound coming from here."

"So I can say what I want?"

"Certainly."

Dave took a deep breath and sat up in his wheelchair.

"Okay. Here's the deal. I hate walking. I hate the walker. I hate everything associated with it."

"Why?"

"Do you know what I have to do to do what they call 'walking'? I have to lock my knees. Then I have to pull myself to a standing position on my walker. After that, I have to lock my hips. All for what? So that I can perform this pathetic little act they call 'walking'. Who needs it?"

"There must be some reason they want you to walk."

"There is. What they want is for me to be more independent. The physical therapist keeps pushing the fact that it's good exercise. They even try to convince me that it looks better."

"When you say 'they', I assume you mean the school board."

"And the therapist, but not only them. My parents like how it looks and the fact that it stretches my leg muscles."

"You don't like those reasons?"

"I guess you do, then."

"It's not important what I think."

"But I'd like to know."

"Your parents are paying forty dollars an hour. You don't want to sit here listening to my opinion."

"I guess you're right. Forget about it."

"What do you think of the reasons they have?"

"They're crazy."

"Why?"

"How can it make me independent? I move about ten times faster in my 'chair than I do with the walker."

"You can't get up stairs in a chair."

"Ever try getting up stairs using a walker? Besides, that's what elevators are for."

"What about crutches?"

"I've tried them. They don't work. I don't really have enough balance."

"Your parents think there are benefits. You don't agree?"

"I agree totally."

"You've lost me."

"Dave glanced down at the floor and the looked back to Dr. Stevens.

"Walking helps keep my legs straight and improves my circulation down there. But I don't care."

"Why not?"

"My legs aren't a real part of my body."

"They're as much a part of your body as anything else."

"Bull. What've they done for me? I can't even feel them! The only time I notice them is when there's something wrong with them. Why should I worry about them?"

"That's an interesting attitude."

"Can we change the subject?"

"Whatever you like. What would you like to talk about?"

"You don't know anything about my social life."

"Tell me about it."

"Well, I'm the only handicapped student in my school."

"Oh?"

"Yeah. Makes things interesting."

"How so?"

Dave leaned down, picked up his right foot, and then threw it over his left leg.

"Sometimes I feel like I don't fit in with these people."

Dr. Stevens smiled, the first expression, other than confusion or concern, that had registered on his face.

"Dave, we all feel like that, sometimes."

"I know. I've heard. It's more than that, though."

"What?"

"The therapist and the school board want me to walk on a walker. They have this idea that it'll be good for me, or that it will make me independent, or look good. They don't see it."

Slowly, Dr. Stevens removed the notebook and pen from his desk. He leaned forward in his chair, eyes in the notebook, furiously scribbling notes.

"See what?"

"Every time I have to get up and walk, they think I'm winning a victory. I'm really suffering a defeat. For all the pain in my hips, the trouble of locking my knees, the frigging hop-drag motion of 'walking' itself, nothing happens. Nothing I can measure or appreciate. For all the work, I end up with nothing but a greater sense of being alone. Sure, maybe I look better. Maybe I look less handicapped. But that's not how I feel. When I walk, I feel more handicapped, more helpless. That's what it does for me. Nothing else."

As the buzzer went off, Dr. Stevens looked up.

"I think we're done for today."
"I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower
Makes you talk a little lower
About the things you could not show her."

-- Counting Crows, "A Long December"
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Re: First Steps (A Short Story)

Postby Brian » Sat Jun 05, 2010 2:09 pm

lady cop wrote:interesting Brian, and i won't ask if it's partly autobiographical. it certainly provides insight into a youngster's feelings about being disabled.


Thanks, LC. :)

Actually, it's about being handicapped, rather than disabled, but that's probably a discussion unto itself. :D
"I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower
Makes you talk a little lower
About the things you could not show her."

-- Counting Crows, "A Long December"
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Re: First Steps (A Short Story)

Postby Brian » Sat Jun 05, 2010 2:36 pm

Actually, I take that back. It wasn't really clear in the story, so I guess he could be handicapped or disabled. :)
"I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower
Makes you talk a little lower
About the things you could not show her."

-- Counting Crows, "A Long December"
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Re: First Steps (A Short Story)

Postby Brian » Sat Jun 05, 2010 2:45 pm

lady cop wrote:i should learn which is correct usage for any given scenario.


Pretty simple, really. To be disabled, you have to be abled first, so it breaks down like this:

Born with a birth defect = handicapped
Suffered an injury = disabled

I really wish this concept would get a little more recognition, actually. The government's definition of "disabled" pretty much ignores the whole concept of "handicapped" (e.g., they ask questions on forms like, "When did you become disabled?", and a handicapped person can't claim disability when they get laid off).
"I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower
Makes you talk a little lower
About the things you could not show her."

-- Counting Crows, "A Long December"
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Re: First Steps (A Short Story)

Postby theia » Fri Jun 18, 2010 4:05 pm

That was a powerful story, Brian..and very moving. It shifted my perspective, and that is no easy task.
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Re: First Steps (A Short Story)

Postby Boba » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:29 am

I'm still waiting for the next chapter! How about it Brian? :WTF:
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Re: First Steps (A Short Story)

Postby Brian » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:52 am

Thanks, Theia. (Sorry I didn't respond to your compliment sooner. I think it got buried in all the other posts! :dontknow: )
"I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower
Makes you talk a little lower
About the things you could not show her."

-- Counting Crows, "A Long December"
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Re: First Steps (A Short Story)

Postby Brian » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:53 am

Boba wrote:I'm still waiting for the next chapter! How about it Brian? :WTF:


I wrote another Dave Riggler story that I'm revising now. I wrote the second one starting when I was ~ 17 and finishing when I was 19. I'll post it ASAP. :)
"I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower
Makes you talk a little lower
About the things you could not show her."

-- Counting Crows, "A Long December"
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Re: First Steps (A Short Story)

Postby Brian » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:07 pm

I decided I'm going to try and publish this on the Kindle store. Wish me luck, everyone! :)
"I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower
Makes you talk a little lower
About the things you could not show her."

-- Counting Crows, "A Long December"
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Re: First Steps (A Short Story)

Postby Brian » Sat Jul 10, 2010 8:53 pm

Brian wrote:I decided I'm going to try and publish this on the Kindle store. Wish me luck, everyone! :)


It looks like Amazon doesn't do any publishing over weekends. The story has had the status "Publishing" since last night. I'll let everyone know when it's available. You've read it here, of course, but if you want to contribute to my (hopefully) budding writing career, I'd be eternally grateful. :mrgreen:
"I guess the winter makes you laugh a little slower
Makes you talk a little lower
About the things you could not show her."

-- Counting Crows, "A Long December"
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