Leaving the Lunch Room

The lunch room was packed and brightly lit. Most people ate the macaroni, talked loudly while chewing, and slurped caffeinated sodas through plastic straws. Michael allowed his ferret to sit on the table and it happily scarfed down the gory remnants of a sloppy joe. With greasy finger Michael tugged at the chains attached to the piercings in his face. He raised his macaroni bowl to his mouth and slurped the rest of the noodle sauce down. When he was finished he threw down the plastic bowl and lifted the ferret up with his hand to fly it through the air and land it safely in his lap. He then rolled his wheelchair away from the table and around the regular chairs to the hall.

In the hall a tall, achingly beautiful nurse in a flowing white robe met him and took the handles of his wheelchair, pushing him down the hall. The further down the hall they went the darker and colder it became. Michael turned to look back, leaning out to see past the nurse. The bright doorway into the lunch room with all its commotion was getting smaller and smaller. The ferret squirmed and bit his hand. He lifted the ferret off his lap and dropped him lightly down onto the ground. The ferret bounded back towards the cafeteria, darting under people’s feet to get at some food that had fallen on the floor. Then Michael turned back to stare into the swirling darkness, hearing his wheelchair wheels squeak squeak squeak. Now he felt the nurse’s cold hands directly on his shoulders, pushing him. His feet caught on something and he tumbled forward into a numbing void, flapping his arms like a bird but not hitting anything. His legs flopped around too as he spun in the blackness. He called out, “Hey!”

Then he splashed into what felt like mud, submerging at first and then sticking his head out, sputtering. He looked up and saw a sky full of stars. Paddling with his arms he finally made it to a bank of black sand. He dragged himself onto the sand and clawed his way further and further until he became too tired to move his arms. He rested his head on the sandy dune. “I’ll only close my eyes for a second. Just for one second,” he whispered. “Then I’ll get going and find another wheelchair somewhere. Maybe a motorized one this time. Or one that hovers. Or I’ll get mechanical legs that extend as long as stilts so I can see in people’s windows. Or maybe magical legs that let me step from here back across time to when I was in high school and walking around like crazy. Is that really so hard? To just step from here back to there?”

The tide came in but he didn’t feel it because he had fallen into a wonderful dream. He was pouring Coca-Cola over his ice-cream. Drinking Sangria by an old sawmill. Stealing a bicycle and taking it for a joy-ride…

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