Wheels of Fire
By Carole Lander
CHAPTER 1 – Bec and Rebecca
‘Mum, can I go to school on my own? I know the way.’
I didn’t look at her. I knew she’d be screwing up her face and trying to find a way to say no without hurting my feelings. I looked out of the car window and watched kids from my class walking towards school. I just wanted to be like them.
Mum parked her car in front of the school gates. She pulled my wheelchair out of the back and opened the passenger door. I dropped myself from the seat into the chair.
‘I’ve put your schoolbag on the back, Bec,’ she told me as she does every day. ‘Put your lunch away when you get into school.’
I wish she wouldn’t fuss over me so much. I said, ‘Thanks Mum, see you this afternoon.’ Then I pushed hard on the wheels with my hands and whizzed in through the gates. I can go pretty fast in my wheelchair.
Let me tell you about myself. I have two lives. In one of them I’m pretty popular at school. My name is Rebecca. My legs and are long and strong and I’m good at sport. At recess and lunchtimes I have lots of friends to talk to. After school one of them usually comes over or I go to one of their houses. My parents are in love and we live in a big house. Of course this is in my imagination.
In my other life—my real life—I’m not so popular at school. My name is Bec. I don’t do sport and I don’t have many friends to hang out with at recess and lunch. That’s partly because I’m new at this school this year. When my parents divorced, Mum and I moved house. I see my dad sometimes on weekends.
In this life I’m in a wheelchair. The muscles in my legs don’t work so I have to get around on wheels.
I’d really like to be Rebecca and go to school on my own like other kids. They’re always laughing and mucking around while I get driven there in Mum’s car.
CHAPTER 2 – My school
‘Hey Bec, can I have a ride?’ Hamish McPhee yelled to me when I wheeled into the school grounds. He does that every morning.
‘I’d love to—’ I say but he doesn’t wait to hear.
‘Hey guys, throw it here,’ he called to the gang of boys who play ball every day before classes start. I stopped to watch them.
They have so much energy. I do too. To get around in my chair I use my arms to push myself forward and try to go further each time.
Plonk! A ball landed in my lap. Hamish ran over to get it.
‘Wanna play?’ he asked. I threw it to him and he caught it. Then he ignored me and kicked to his mates, so I scooted towards the school building.
Continued . . .