I’ve got good news and bad news, Mr. Ironside. The bad news is that the third and fourth vertebrae were shattered in the accident, and your spinal cord has been completely severed. In spite of our best efforts, you will never walk again. You will have to learn how to live your life fully, meaningfully, confined to a wheelchair. The good news, Mr. Ironside, is that your last name is “Ironside”. I want you to ask yourself, how many people get to stumble upon a circumstance that lends so much meaning to their last name? You’re in a cage of iron save for the front – sides of iron. Now, you should understand that it is unlikely that the chair you are given will literally be made out of iron, and really, in the interest of affordability and weight reduction, it’d most probably be some sort of plastic composite, but I assure you that the actual material of your wheelchair will not undermine the fittingness of your name. You know, Mr. Ironside, in wartime, “Ol’ Ironside” refers to battleships and tanks, which is essentially what you have become – half man, half tank, or a “choo-choo person”. Your stalwart defense is a limitation in as many ways as it is your strength. Your function is to the detriment of mobility – the price you pay for your power. In a lot of ways, Mr. Ironside, you’re a very lucky man. Maybe not as lucky as somebody with functioning legs, granted, but certainly luckier than anyone else confined to a wheelchair. Not to mention, it happened completely organically. You have to understand that the effortlessness of it all is really what makes it so remarkable. Any schmuck can get into a life changing accident, but you arrived at this junction with a name like Ironside as if by fate. I want you to look at me for a moment. Look at me as I walk from one side of the room to the other. Seemed pretty easy, right? Watch me bounce up and down, jump around a bit. Kinda fun, don’t you think? It is. It is pretty fun. Do you know what my name is? Anthony Watterson. What am I supposed to do with that? Should I change my name to “Toby Sugarfoot”? And what if I get paralyzed later in life? I suppose I could become “Antonio Rollins” or “Ricky Spokes”, but always I will be reminded of the artificiality, the fraudulence I had to stoop to. You, meanwhile, get to live out the rest of your life with the knowledge that your last name is perfectly thematic of your circumstance. And that, Mr. Ironside, is something you can be proud of. Look, I’ve gotta go, there’s a patient in room 601 with rabies and as terrible as that is, what’s worse is that their last name does nothing to complement their affliction. Nurse Sheila will bring you your chair, which, once again, I must implore you to consider your chariot. May you conquer all over whom you roll. I know it sounds like I’m being glib, but in my professional medical opinion, this is the single best thing that could have happened to you. You’re self-actualized, more a man now than you’ve ever been before. Sheila, while I’m gone, please show Mr. Ironside his excretory bag and the button that summons people to swap it out.
Creative Writing Workshop Students Lit Mag Short Fiction