“Golden Wheels” by Kaitlin Hulsy

They didn’t know how she’d lost the use of her legs. Perhaps she had been forced to dance in fiery red shoes for a stepmotherly transgression committed in a previous life. Perhaps, it was a witch at the end of the wood. Regardless of the how, her blood sisters had purchased a dilapidated chair, using the rest of her monthly disability check on frills. However, for some unspoken reason, the wheels always glowed gold. Her heart was good, and it showed. One day, the princess went with her horrible blood sisters to market. The aisles were very thin(ADA accommodations are rare in fairy tales). The blood sisters glared as the princess perused scarves and baubles. They typed into recently updated electronic devices. They resented her. They were scared of her non-sameness. A fairy godmother clad in Michael Kors tried to pull the sisters away from their screens. She tried to wave her giant rings in their face, to tell them without words that time is fragile and fleeting. She cried golden internal tears as she remembered her own godmother, stricken by cancer, shopping in a wheelchair. But the princess was no victim. She navigated the aisles with a closet of clothes in her lap. When busy merchants forgot to help her, she asserted herself fully. When her blood sisters told her that there was no use in trying to feel beautiful, she ignored them. Soon enough, while her sisters ditched her to procure processed mall food, fellow customers talked to her. They did not know of her royal status. Therefore, she was treated no differently than the walking. The godmother gently pulled beautiful things from inaccessible shelves so that she could see and touch. She was quietly grateful. But there was one accessory she would have to fight for: the debit card in the hands of the normal sisters. As she went up to the counter to ring up her items, the fairy godmother clicked her heels, and tapped her wand. She hissed a little glitter. And then she realized that the princess could hold her own. Kind words said in passing had given her strength. As the blood sisters sucked Pretzel icing from their fingers like it was marrow, the princess held up a palm outstretched like a starfish. From the center came a snapping jaw with teeth that could cut like words. She said only the following: “I am going to be your sister for the rest of your life. Therefore, I suggest that you start treating me like a human being.” With that, the jaw extended and swallowed the debit card back into her hand. After her purchase cleared, the entire world became paraplegic for one day a year. Most of the chairs had wheels of gold. And nobody complained. Not even the sisters.

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