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Metamorphosis by Sarah Robin

Updated: Jun 2

“I’m not going!” I throw my arms into the air with frustration. My dad pokes his head

around the door to see what’s going on. Seeing that the coast is clear and there aren’t any

objects flying across the room, he enters my bedroom and stands behind me looking at my

reflection in the mirror. I stare at his large hairy hands placed on my shoulders. “Deep

breath, son.” He picks up my tie, untangles it and drapes it around my neck, tying it into a

perfect knot.


“What if he sees the chair and changes his mind?” I scowl, my head cloudy with negative

thoughts. “Then he’s obviously not the one for you.” My dad had a hard time accepting my

sexuality, but he took it far better than knowing I’ll be stuck in this chair for the rest of my

life. So what if I date other guys? I can’t swim, I can’t play football, I can’t go motorcycle

racing with him. I can’t do all the things with him that we loved doing together as father and

son. Being gay is trivial compared to the loss of my ‘old life’.


In the car, I sit staring out the window, my stomach turning over with nerves, my dad

humming ‘Streets of London’ as we make our way to the restaurant. Once I’m in my chair

and ready to go, he pauses for a moment and his eyes go a little red. “Hey, son.” He looks

me up and down. “You look great.” He sniffs, smiles and then leans forward and nudges me

on the arm. “I’m proud of you, son. Now you go and have a good night.”


I tell him I love him and start to roll away as panic starts to set in. What if there are steps?

What if the table is the wrong height for my chair? What will he think of me? Will he be

annoyed I didn’t tell him I use a chair? Thoughts race through my head as I approach the

entrance to the restaurant. “Great, no steps. Good start.” I reassure myself silently. I arrive

at the doors and just as I go to reach the door handle, a middle-aged guy and his wife spot

me and they hold the doors open for me. “Cheers!” I thank them. “So far so good.” I begin

to ease a little.


A young waitress strides over in her white blouse and black apron. “Reservation?” she

squeaks. I confirm my name. “Great, your party has already arrived. Just this way, please.”

Oh god, he’s already here! I don’t have any time to settle in and make sure everything is ok.

I follow the waitress past many tables, conscious of the odd person looking up from their

tables to look over at me, especially children who gawp at me until I’m out of sight.


We turn into a quieter area with a log fire and an impressive chimney breast. “There we are.

Can I get you some drinks?” The waitress’ voice sounds muffled in my overwhelmed

reaction to meeting Ryan for the first time after speaking online for a little over six months.


“Same again for me, please.” His voice is lower than I thought it would be. “I’ll have what

he’s having.” I stammer. He smiles warmly at me, the orange glow from the log fire flickers

onto his face. “Great, I’ll move this chair over.” I thank her and park myself into the spot. I

stay silent for a moment, unsure as to what to say. I decide to let him speak first.


“Well, isn’t this a surprise.” He grins, looking at the chair. I immediately spill out apologies

and try to explain the many reasons why I didn’t mention anything about the chair

beforehand. Before I could go any further, he raises his hand and I instantly stop my spiel.

He calmly leans over to one side and points towards a wheelchair folded up behind him.

“Me too!” He laughs. I sit open-mouthed and we both giggle uncontrollably. “No way! What are the chances?” We echo each other. This perfect ice breaker relaxes me and the twisting sensation in my stomach eases. Our drinks arrive and we order our food; our starters and mains identical with a dessert to share.


“How long have you used a chair?” I ask. “Parachuting accident four years ago. I did a jump

for charity and the parachute got tangled and we had a pretty hard landing.” He explained.

“What about you?” I tell him about the car accident; about how mum had died and dad

blamed himself, even though it wasn’t his fault. “I’m sorry” he frowned.


“This is my first time out in public on my own since getting the chair, so I was pretty nervous

about not having someone with me in case I got stuck. But then again I didn’t fancy my dad

joining us!” I joke. Ryan explains he had a few guys stop talking to him online after he told

them he uses a chair so he figured just to get to know someone well enough to meet up and

take it from there.


We speak a little about the emotional and psychological effects of using a chair and it

comforted me to know he is fully independent, lives on his own, has a great job and plays a

lot of sports. “You’re welcome to come along on Tuesday night and meet the team. Bring

your dad along, too. It can be something you can do together,” he said enthusiastically.

“How could he play?” I ask, confused. “He would need to use a spare chair from the sports

hall,” he explained. I didn’t know if wheelchair basketball would be his thing, but it was

worth mentioning, I suppose.


We finish our dessert, argue over who pays for the bill and get ready to leave. I watch him

get into his chair quickly with ease. Once outside, we say goodnight and say we’ll talk later. I

roll around the corner to the car park, a contented smile on my face. I enter the carpark to

find, to my surprise, my dad’s car already waiting for me. I knock on the driver’s side

window and wake up my snoring, drooling dad. After some disorientation he rolls down the

window.


“How long have you been here?” I laughed. “I never left. Just in case, you know, you needed

me or things didn’t work out,” he admitted. “You silly sod!” I go round to the passenger side

and heave myself into the car with his help. He pushes the door shut and hauls my chair into

the boot when I feel my phone vibrate;


RYAN

It was great meeting you tonight. See you Tuesday for

Basketball :) I’ll msg you later to sort out our next

date, my treat this time xx


“I take it it went well then, yeah?” he asked, spotting the smile on my face. “I’m taking you

out on Tuesday, Dad. Bring your gym shorts.”



Sarah Robin is a new writer from Bolton, England, only starting her writing journey during the coronavirus pandemic. Robin has had several pieces of work published in anthologies and online literary magazines as well as being a competition winner for both short fiction and poetry. Twitter: @SRobinWriter

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