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Listen to Our Stories: Words, Pictures, and Songs by Young People with Disabilities
Listen to Our Stories: Words, Pictures, and Songs by Young People with Disabilities



The Blue Dot

Margaret O’Nan

When Margaret was about two and a half, she invented her own personal prayer: “Dear Lord, please make me funny.” When she was thirteen, about six years after she had developed multiple chemical sensitivity (MCS), Margaret wrote the story below. It was at that time that her mother described her as “a most hilarious and entertaining child to live with.” Apparently, Margaret’s prayer of some ten years before had been answered.

Here is Margaret’s story, preceded by her own introduction:

“I spent most of my early years in Texas, until the house that my family and I lived in was contaminated with an application of the pesticide chlordane. Five years after that, when we were thoroughly disabled by the chemical, we decided to move to North Carolina. This brought about quite a few amusing events like the one that is described here."

My mother and I live one and a half miles inside a national forest. We live in this isolation to avoid the severe reactions we have to “chemicals” other people take for granted. Chemicals like soaps, perfumes, fabric softeners, deodorants, and pesticides. We often must shop by phone to avoid being injured by the toxic chemicals in stores.

Due to chronic pain, Mother ordered the softest mattress possible. When the store delivered the mattress, we waited by the creek until the house aired out. Even so, we were sick for days from the aftershave and tobacco odors the delivery men wore. The mattress was as wonderfully soft and comfortable as we’d been told it would be. We didn’t realize our mistake until a month later.

The directions, which came with the mattress, said to turn the mattress once a month. That was easy, on paper.

In reality, the mattress was as soft, limp, and heavy as a giant overcooked noodle. To us it weighed a ton. Due to our pesticide poisoning, we were always exhausted and felt like we had the flu. As we struggled to turn the mattress, it fought back. It wiggled, wobbled, and flopped. We couldn’t tell if we’d actually managed to turn the mattress over.

I put a blue-dot sticker on the top side of the mattress so we’d know if it had been turned. We attacked our giant noodle again. It fought back even harder. I looked up and saw that Mother was near tears. We struggled out of the mattress’ grip. There, mocking us, was more humiliation. The blue dot was still on top. With cries of anger, we leaped on the mattress, determined to turn it over. It won again. And again.

I finally felt we could take no more, so I said, “Don’t worry, Mother. I’ll just move the dot.” Mother has a little mental confusion since she was poisoned. I could see that for a moment she was seriously considering my proposal. Then we both laughed till we were in tears, which was the best and only thing we could do.

For more information about the disabilities discussed in this story, please visit the Resource Links page.




spacerLinda Hillyer, compiler and editor of Listen to Our Stories
logo art by Adiyana Paramita
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