In the comments on my last post, someone suggested that maybe I should try to write a ‘flawed’ disabled character in two hundred words. It was a good suggestion.
It’s also, as I acknowledged in the post, really damn hard.
Plus, I think my real flaw, as a disabled person, is not my disability. It’s all the toxic ableism I’ve allowed myself to internalise. That internalised ableism makes me hate my body, it lies to me, it tells me I won’t be loved, won’t be desired.
And I think – hope – it’s a flaw that will resonate with other disabled people. We’ve all done shitty stuff in our time – lied, been mean, pushed someone away – because of shit of our own that we’ve not yet learnt to deal with.
That was what I wanted to write about. The problem is, I already had.
In my novel, which is still a work in progress, the main character does exactly that. She jeopardises a prospective relationship because of the ableism she’s internalised. Right now, I can’t envisage writing anything that captures that more vividly than the bit where I wrote it in the novel, so I thought I’d share that with you instead, being careful to stick to the two hundred word limit.
He sits a little too close, my knees between his. We share a cheeseboard, get another bottle of wine. I’m wary, because I like him – I’ve liked him since we started talking online – and I don’t want to make the mistake I always make with guys I like. I don’t want to sleep with him tonight.
We’re a bottle and a half down when I excuse myself to go to the bathroom. I almost have to stop myself from shimmying across the bar. I feel invincible, beautiful, fuckable. When I return, he’s watching me.
I limp because I was starved of oxygen at birth. It’s not a big thing in the scheme of things, I guess, but it’s a big thing to me. In fact, it’s a little more complicated than just a limp – the whole of my left side is weaker. Although my body has learned to compensate, there’s an awkwardness, a lack of dexterity, a clumsiness to my movements that I’ve yet to reconcile myself with.
‘I twisted my ankle.’
‘Dancing at the weekend. You know, stupidly high shoes, too much wine …’
I can’t wear stupidly high shoes.
He buys the lie.