Iggy sat in his wheelchair beside me on the elevator; his arms crossed as usual, and eyes fixed straight ahead on the doors.
I smiled to myself. It hadn’t taken much convincing to get him out of his room after he’d ended up in mine. It was seven in the evening (the same day I’d met Iggy’s father) and we’d gotten permission to go outside after dark. When it actually happened, it was . . . sometime in late August.
“You know I’m not going to like this,” he muttered.
“Say whatever you want, you stubborn bull.” I nudged the side of his head with my elbow. “You just don’t want to admit that you’re actually happy I’m dragging out of that old room.”
He grunted, clearly disinterested—which was good, in a way. It meant he’d recovered from the shock of his dad showing up out of nowhere, drunk, and with a hangover of all things.
The doors slid open and he grabbed the wheels of his chair, as though he were afraid of rolling right out of the elevator.
“Oh come on. It’ll be fine.”
“But my legs. People are gonna stare at them. “
“We already went over this,” I huffed, then took hold of the handles on the back and pushed the wheelchair out before the doors closed again.
We’d covered his legs with a blanket from his room, but we both knew it wouldn’t be enough to cover up the fact that half of them were missing. Needless to say, Iggy was scared of other people’s reactions.
So instead of making him worry more, I leaned down and whispered in his ear so none of the passing nurses could hear me. “We could go fast, if you want.”
He was quiet for a second, then smiled slightly. “Really fast?”
“If you want.”
“You’re on.”I took the handles in my hands the best I could and muttered, “brace yourself.”
Then we were off, racing down the hall, Iggy barking a “HONK, HONK” at anyone who might be in the hallway.
“Faster,” he yelled to me, pounding the armrest as though he were a little kid again, demanding to go faster in a shopping cart through a parking lot.
But I couldn’t go any faster, knowing that we were already going to be in trouble. I figured that helping Iggy find his life again made up for any punishment we would get.
Now that I think about it, I can only imagine what anyone passing by must have thought. A bald, wild green-eyed boy with a navy blue cap on, pushing a wheelchair at high speeds through the hospital, the younger boy ( who still wasn’t very young) in the chair, slapping the armrest for all it was worth, yelling “honk, honk,” and “faster!” every other second, a white blanket with blue stripes flapping to both sides, exposing his stub-legs with their folded-up pajama pants for all to see. And for the first time, in a very long time, their eyes smiling wider than the grins plastered across their faces.
At least that what I see. It’s crazy, to say the least.
After we reached the lobby (it was a straight shot from the elevator, so we raced down the whole hall), I slowed to a walk and smiled at the secretary and receptionist. They both stared at us like we were looney-bins.
We left through the doors, the secretary calling after us, “Be back by eight!”
We weren’t back until 9:30.