I get together with a couple of friends at the mall most Saturday mornings. Two of us are in wheelchairs, the other uses a scooter. We roll merrily along the cacophonous corridors discussing health issues and news events of the week, all the while dodging in and out of clumps of shoppers hustling to get to big weekend sales. Some look at us with a touch of pity in their eyes, others are oblivious to our presence. Invariably, though, one (usually a man) will see us coming and raise then lower his arm as if he’s the starter at the Indy 500.
I lay in the dim quiet of the calculatingly sterile room, alone with my breath and thoughts, awash with discouragement, wrapped in the icy cloak of depression. My head jerked to the side repeatedly, unpredictably and uncontrollably to my chagrin and dismay. This was the onset of the “tic” that would haunt me for years as a foreboding precursor to “events.”
Whether its genesis was a reaction to one of the prescriptive magic bullet-esque capsules I obligingly swallowed every morning and evening or had some more organic cause, I never learned. I just knew in that moment, in that mental-ward room alone, IT was in control and I was out of it.
Exactly how long King Tut the Tortoise had been around was a mystery, even to him; he seemed as old as the earth. And no one dared to ask him, because he liked to be left alone to enjoy his own company, and because the mere mention of birthdays could make him turn snappish.
What was certain about King Tut was that every year he grew more beautiful. The patterns on the green-brown squares of the huge curving shell across his back became increasingly intricate, until they looked like part of an ancient Egyptian pyramid, inscribed with ancient writing. Yet proud as he was of his appearance--with the possible exception of his bowlegs—he took even more pride in his reputation as the wisest one in the woods.
"Life in Status Epilepticus or What to Do When You Think You’re A Jellyfish"
In 1894 Phineas Gage, a railroad worker, changed the study of neuroscience forever. His job was to clear rocks for railway tracks, however, one day his iron rod – which he used to tamp down explosives before lighting the fuse – scraped the side of a pile of rocks, igniting a spark which set off the gunpowder prematurely. The explosion sent the iron rod straight through his left eye, into his skull, through the back of his head, and out to the ground almost thirty meters away. Miraculously, Phineas survived, yet became unreliable, partial to swearing and inappropriate remarks. Because of the sustained damage to his frontal lobe, Phineas developed epilepsy as well as witzelsucht, a neurological condition characterized by the impulsive and often uncontrollable desire to tell jokes, puns, and pointless stories. In 1860, at the age of 36, he died ‘in status epilepticus’.
The first thing you'll notice is the wheelchair. You won't comment on it though, because you aren't a small child and you aren't an asshole. It will be the second thing. The suit, I bet, it usually is: tan with ivory pinstripes really draws the eye. It's a damn fine suit, I look great in it, and you'll figure it's safe to talk about, so you'll compliment it, and I'll tell you that my boyfriend made it for me, bespoke, because he's a tailor. And now I'm a gay guy in a wheelchair and you've got two things not to accidentally say the wrong thing about.
Albert Poe sat alone in the hallway outside of Mr. Martinez’s fifth grade classroom in one of the three green plastic chairs that lined the wall. He strained to overhear what was being said inside. He wasn't sure why his parents, Adam and William Poe, had been called in for a parent-teacher meeting, though he suspected it had something to do with the story he turned in as part of a class assignment on Caesar and ancient Rome. Especially given Mr. Martinez’s reaction after reading it.
The thought made Anna light and weightless as she shut the door to the spare room behind her. She felt certain that the past half hour had been the last time she'd ever indulge in her habits. And tonight, she would tell Steven about her success. She would tell him she had gotten rid of her addictions, and he would be proud.
Anna left her apartment and hurried down Ninth Avenue, feeling, as she often did, a spike of fear as she merged with the crowds around her.