Part Two: The Mark Twain Cruises an Endless River

A snippet from the text:

They watched and waited as the boat docked against the loading platform. The costumed cast member opened the gate and Addie’s father rolled her wheelchair onto the lower deck of the Mark Twain. The rest of the family followed them to the bow of the boat where Dad parked the wheelchair in the very front.

“You should get a really good view from here,” said her father. “If it gets too hot, we can move you into the shade.”

While the landing’s entrance gates were closed and a cast member secured the opening in the boat railing, a few others joined the family at the bow. A woman off to the side looked over and down at Addie, smiled at her, and said to her mother, “It’s wonderful that there are a few things here that your daughter can do.”

“Well, Addie’s very happy just to be able to see the park. She’s told me many a time she wanted to come.”

“Oh, she can talk? That’s a blessing.”

It came out of her mouth with great difficulty, and to her ears, the word didn’t sound the same as the way it did when the normal people said it, but she really wanted the lady to know she could say it, “Y-y-yes.” And then, “I c-c-can t-t-talk.”

The woman smiled, nodded her head, and her gaze returned to watching the passing shoreline. Addie stared straight ahead as best as she could. She wanted to see both sides of the river flowing by. She could feel a slight wind on her face. Ahead she could see the water path begin to reveal itself. It’s like a reality dream, she said to herself, just a pleasant and realistic dream sequence where each new scene blends into another with a foggy transition. In this dream, my wheelchair disappears and in this dream, I can stand at the ship’s bow feeling the breeze caress the skin of my face, spread out my arms, and same as normal children, dream of gliding freely over the water. She looked left and right for her family, wanting to show them what she’d become, but they had gone away. She felt no concern. Everything is just fine was her somewhat hazy thought, the kind of thoughts one thinks as one relaxes into a soporific consciousness – everything is okay.  It even felt okay to be independent of her family. In fact, it warmed and satisfied her to think that they loved and trusted her enough to be left alone, even though it must be a dream.

“It might seem like a wonderful dream, Addie,” said a young man’s voice. “But it is far more than that.”

Addie, now sitting upright in a chair and now feeling a dreamy sort of body freedom, turned around to face the man, young and tall, but slightly built. His dark wavy hair covered his ears, giving him a slight resemblance to one of the Beatles, but his clothes looked as old fashioned as did the other cast members in the New Orleans part of Frontierland. Despite of the change of costumes, Addie recognized him as the man at the Alice in Wonderland ride control console.

“It seems too real to be a dream,” she said. “Who are you?”

“Do you recall the name of the person who wrote The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland?”

“Are you Lewis Carroll?” Addie said.

“I am called that. Would you like to meet another author? I think it is someone whose stories greatly delight you. Follow me. He’s in the pilot house.”

“Mr. Carroll, I’m not sure I can…” Overwhelmed by the surprise of being able to rise from her chair simply because she’d wanted to, she exclaimed nothing. But when she began walking across the deck with an easy stride, she cried out, “Mr. Carroll, I can walk!”

“Of course, you can. In this special realm, I can be young and you can walk – no flying, though. By the way, you needn’t address me as Mr. Carroll. That is only what I am called: Lewis Carroll. I know, be the first to call me Lewis.”

“Okay, Lewis.” Addie giggled and thought, “Imagine me calling Lewis Carroll, Lewis; and talking to him. That’s the most amazing thing of all. I must hurry to tell Mom and Dad.”

Addie nodded her head, and followed the young man up the stairs. Yes, oddly enough, she had been wondering what to call him, but mostly, her mind pondered, in a pleasant haze of acceptance, this curious dream like state. After all, the sunny fall day had been replaced by the soft and faint light of sunset, and without feeling too strange about it, she could walk and climb stairs. She wondered – without feeling a sense of panic – where her family had disappeared to but at the same time she didn’t want to rejoin them if it meant she had to stop dream walking – sleep walking, that’s what I’m doing. The humor in that made her smile. Wherever she’d wandered into, it was a place where her heart felt light and easy, her body could follow her mind anywhere, and she didn’t want to wake or leave anytime soon.

They entered the pilot house where at the wheel, and even from the back, Addie recognized the famous author.

“Samuel Clemens,” whispered Charles. “Pilot, captain, and owner of the A. T. Lacey.”

“I’m not on the Mark Twain anymore?” The question struck Addie as slightly ridiculous as soon as the words left her mouth.