Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Cerebral Palsy is a devastating condition that effects the baby while it is in it’s mother’s womb. Basically someone with this condition is totally unable to talk, move or even eat independently. Quite literally they sit there like a vegetable and no one really knows what is going on inside their head.
This story is a work of fiction and a very short story at that. The author gives voice to Sean McDaniel who is stricken with Cerebral Palsy. Told from the child’s point of view, we soon realize that despite the fact that he cannot speak or move or even communicate with people there are some deep thoughts going on inside his head. All his memories re intact. He can remember everything from the time he was a small child all the way to the present age .
He describes what it is like for his family to feed him and what his school day is like. It is a challenge to feed as he can spit up food if his automated swallower is not activated. Oft times he will spit up his food. People call him a retard and sometimes even make fun of him. Basically it is like he sits there drooling for most of the day. People ignore him and go about their daily routine almost oblivious to his prescence and they are oblivious to the thoughts going in inside his head.
The whole family is impacted by his condition. Most effected is the father who really cares deeply about his son but cannot stand to see him in such a condition. After all Shawn is vulnerable an cannot be protected his entire life. To end his pain the father talks about killing the child and Shawn is painfully aware of this.
Mr. McDaniels is involved in the media and he gives a special report on his son Shawn and others like him. In a newscast he visits his son’s school and gives a report that for each child like Shawn it cost the tax payer 35 grand yearly andhe may not even be able to tie his shoes. Shawn is in a word uneducable. The news report also talks about a Mr. Detraux who goes to jail for killing his child with the same condition. Mr. Detraux did not hate his child but he could not stand to see him suffering.
When Shawn has his seizures it is almost like a spiritual experience of astral traveling. In the end he goes in a trance but you are left unsure of what his father ultimately decides to do.
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