Value Village never knew what hit it
I look at my mother with unholy glee and promptly throw myself into the wheelchair she has rolled over to me. It reminds me of an old man, all small and curled inwards with age. The black frame curves around my frame, cradling my small body as I settle in.
Mom wheels me around the second hand shop looking for my father. As we look we wave at the other shoppers, delighting in their pitying smiles. We fill the musty aisles with comfortable joy as we roll about, anxious to show off our new toy.
We find my father and his eyes widen as he takes in the sight before him. By this time Mom and I are laughing, the kind of laughter that fills your stomach and makes your lungs hurt. Our giggles taste like licorice, sharply sweet; the kind that melts in your mouth. Dad backs away, hands held up and out, as if to hold us off.
“Put it back. I refuse to be seen with the two of you like that,” he says and his eyes dart around, searching for the harsh heat of judgement on the faces of the other patrons.
Mom pouts, her eyes sparkling with the same crystal amusement that shines through mine.
“But Clarence, it’s so fun! I’m gonna buy it!” she exclaims.
The horror is evident on his face at this statement and he begins to wildly shake his head from side to side in dismay and agitation.
“You are NOT buying that,” he says.
“I have store credits from that return I made last week. I need to get something of equal value and this is,” she says, her eyes wide with childlike glee at the prospect.
Dad shakes his head again but with less power than before. He knows when he’s beat. He looks down at me and I give him my widest grin, mimicking my mother. He rolls his eyes at the pair of us and hides his face as we begin looking at work boots with me still seated in the humble contraption.
“Help me try these ones, Daddy,” I say, looking up at him from my seat.
He shakes his head vehemently at me, his shaggy hair whipping back and forth to slap his flushed cheeks, his eyes wild in his head.
“Do it yourself!” he practically shrieks, his hands gesturing frantically as he throws them up in the air.
Mom and I burst into giggles at the dirty looks he receives because of the exclamation. He looks around helplessly as he realizes what he must look like, telling his ‘disabled’ child to put on her own shoes without help. His shoulders slump in defeat and exasperation as my mother pretends to comfort me. He visibly gives up, his indignant body deflating like a balloon as vague amusement fills his face at the picture we make; my mother kneeling to help me put on my work boots, my face screwed up as I concentrate on keeping my legs perfectly still to prolong the game.
My mother and I continue to snicker as we try on various boots, looking for ones that fit. The stiff leather squeezes my feet into submission, calling for perfect obedience. Finding a pair, we both realize I will need to stand up and walk around to make sure they feel okay. Exchanging mischievous grins, we look up at my father who looks warily back at us. All of a sudden I leap to my feet, startling the people around us.
“I’M HEALED. IT’S A MIRACLE!” I screech, throwing my arms up and tossing my head back to look upwards in ecstasy. Dad looks on in horror as my mother begins to weep and throws her arms around me. We dance an awkward dance of giddy limbs, celebrating the fact that I can now walk as my father puts his head back into his hands. Mom and I cry with laughter at the wide-eyed looks we are receiving; some amused, some shocked, and some disapproving of our loud display.
Despite his embarrassed exterior, I see love and laughter twirling in my father’s eyes. He wants to laugh, I know he does, so I grin maniacally at him as I spin in the well-worn leather work boots. He finally gives in with a low chuckle and he’s gifted with matching looks of delight from my mother and me.
Our mission fulfilled, we dejectedly return the wheelchair to its home in the back corner of the store. My mother continues to throw tragic looks over her shoulder long after we have left. Even if I don’t have a little black wheelchair to wheel home in, I will always have the memory of giddy chortles, judgemental stares, and amused exasperation to forever warm my heart and delight the ears of those who care to listen.