A Song of Wheelchair Running

I skitter over the semi-cobbled sidewalks as I exit the Oakland BART station and begin to make my way into the human traffic of the boulevard. I lean forward, accelerate with short, powerful pushes as muscles ripple across my upper back. The sweet, subtle downhill slope of the street, imperceptible to the pedestrians around me, adds speed to my stride, and soon my strokes against the pushrims stretch into longer, graceful sweeps: my arms extend behind me with every stroke before compressing like a spring for the next push.

I approach a bunched-up crowd and lean back, easing my speed as I scan for holes in their formation to break through and move ahead. I dodge, dance, pass before they realize I was ever behind them. This next cluster is tighter — I slow until I match their sedate stroll. My fingers feather the rims while I wait in agonizing anticipation of the unobstructed sidewalk just a few feet ahead. Before they’ve even reached it I am pushing, pushing, pushing, gathering speed until I explode past and curve around in front of them.

It would be cutting them off if they were even a fraction as fast as I am.

The cobbles give way to smooth cement, and now I truly fly. I scout ahead for cracks in the sidewalk. There’s one. With precision timing, a twitch of my muscles raises my little casters into the air inches over the sidewalk’s imperfection. My rear wheels bump over it just a moment later, and I post up as if I were on horse to absorb the force of the bounce.

I settle into a meditative rhythm as I run the streets: push push wheelie, push push push push, gliiiiiiiiide, weave, wheelie, push push push push push push. I am bound to my chair and we are one: strapped tightly to her, the tiniest twist of my trunk turns us, my body melding metal and flesh into one inseparable whole. I relish her responsiveness. We soar over slick streets.

I race off, disappearing into the cool evening.