I was in Borders, tickled pink at my purchase. I wasn't going to let some rude woman and her rude brood make any difference to my mood. I had the book in my bag and was pushing over to the line up for the till. I saw Joe sitting out in the mall people watching as I shopped. He looked relaxed, that pleased me. A young mother carrying a stack of books along with a girl of around 8 and a boy of around 14 each of whom had a book or two, sees me headed for the line and then takes off like a shot. She arrives just before me, squeaks by my wheelchair and are now at the head of the line up. How's that for a victory - quick abled bodied people beat out fat guy pushing his own chair. There must be a reality show in there somewhere.
But I don't care, I tracked down a book that I've been waiting to read. A book with a primary character with a disability - a book spoken of as literature by all reviewers. I'd watching for it to come off the 'too be released' list at Amazon and here I have it in my wheelchair bag. I become surrounded by nuclear family as a woman a little girl pull up behind me. There is something about the child's voice I recognize. Like an accent from a country I've visited an enjoyed. I listen harder, then glance to look. Sure enough we've a tyke with Down Syndrome. A chatty Cathy of a girl. Mom is smiling but in the way that mom's do to encourage without actually listening.
The woman in front loses patience with her daughter, "You need to shut up now, it's times like these that I can't believe I gave birth to you. There's a decision I'd like to take back sometimes." Shock trailed through the line up. Then the boy got a withering attack, "you were useless as a child and it looks like your going to be useless as a man.'
I looked at the woman's face, expecting to see hate there. I didn't. I saw something worse. Pleasure. She was taking pleasure in what she was saying. I looked back down the line. Everyone had the look that I was sure was on my face, "I want to say something but I'm afraid I'll make it worse, later, for the kids."
Then she started up again. The little girl, with Down Syndrome, behind me whispered to her mom in that whisper that only children can do -that whisper that can be heard on the next block.
"Mom, doesn't she know that people can hear her?"
Well she heard that and spun around looking for the speaker, who was hiding her face in fear behind her mother. She took a breath to speak to the little girls mom, who just quietly said, "Don't."
Standing there, waiting as time crawled like at the speed of a government acting on a promise, she was entirely alone. She knew what she looked like to all of us in the line up. She knew that her kids had been thrust away from her.
Realization - I hope so.
I would edit, because well, I would edit, what the little girl said, though ...
"Doesn't she know her kids can hear her?"