Fiction in response to Reduced Inequalities
By Karen Wu
Leon looked around and saw his friend, David, waving at him. He rolled his wheelchair up to David.
“Hey, man,” he said. “Is Sam here yet?”
David shook his head. “Nah.”
They were meeting up to go check out a new cafe that David heard his mom say was really good. Apparently, it sold ice cream and coffee. Leon pulled out his phone and check his messages. Three minutes ago, Sam had said he would be there in three minutes.
Sam was sprinting up to them, looking out of breath. His red hair was ruffled.
Leon grinned. “There’s no need to work too hard for our sakes.”
“Jerk,” Sam said. “Let’s get going. I want some ice-blended mocha.”
They went inside through the sliding doors. People were packed inside. A group of teenagers were eating ice cream. The shop had a second floor with a winding staircase leading to it. Leon hoped there was an elevator.
Sam waved an employee over. “Do you know where the coffee is?”
The employee winced, staring at Leon. “It’s… upstairs.”
She quickly averted her eyes. Leon’s grip tightened on the armrest of his wheelchair. He really wasn’t in the mood for this. Just this morning he had gotten another job rejection.
“Is there an elevator?” Leon asked.
“W-we haven’t… installed one. Sorry for the inconvenience.”
The lady scrambled off. Leon leaned back in his wheelchair, sighing.
“You guys go ahead upstairs,” Leon said. “I’ll wait for you outside.”
He began to roll out. David and Sam went with him.
“We’re not getting coffee without you,” David said.
“Aren’t there supposed to be like, legal protections against this sort of stuff?” Sam asked. “Anyways, screw those guys. Let’s go get Starbucks.”
Leon rubbed his face. “Thanks. I just… I’m really frustrated right now. You know the job I thought I actually had a good chance to land? They send me a rejection email today.”
“Oh, man,” David said.
Sam winced. “I’m so sorry.”
“Sometimes I think I should just suck it and stay where I am,” Leon said.
“At a failing software company?” Sam asked. “C’mon. You’re smarter than that.”
Leon sighed, running his hand through his hair. He had been wheelchair confined since he was six and the only two jobs he had ever had was at Walmart and a failing software company, never mind that he had gone to a decent college for a degree in software engineering.
“Sam is right,” David said. “You’re smart and you’re tough.”
“Yeah. Let’s go get Starbucks.” Leon was starting to grin again. “And don’t lay the praise on too high. My head might get so big it’ll be heavier than my wheelchair’s capacity.”
Leon and his friends began to go towards the elevators. He had seen an ad for a pretty good company the other day. One of his friends from middle school was working there. Why not try that one? Someway, he would make things work out.