and they always ask, the other me doesn’t say no. She doesn’t get the follow-up questions – Do you plan to, later? or, worse, Why not? Other Me doesn’t have to weigh whether to tell a lie, something easy, or to plunge into the sudden intimacy of the truth of life as a disabled woman.

Other Me’s thighs aren’t sticking to the plastic seat protector, because she is not replaying being seventeen and learning about a genetic disorder with the spiky name Stargardt’s, then spending years in and out of eye clinics as more and more vision slips away, being told to wait just a bit longer, that there will probably be a treatment soon that might be able to help. Soon. Maybe. Wait. These aren’t her memories, because her eyes are healthy, undamaged ,perfect.

And, actually, Other Me isn’t in an Uber at all. She didn’t give up her driver’s license at 23, terrified that she wouldn’t notice when her vision degraded so much it would endanger herself and others. Other Me has her own car. It’s a blue Volkswagen GTI, a stick shift, because that’s what her parents taught her to drive on. Other Me loves control, loves to gun it up on ramps, feeling the speed unfurl beneath her hands, leaning out of the inertial drift as she flies through the gears. But when she hits the highway, she backs off, careful to slide risklessly into the arteries of traffic.

Because Other Me does have a child. When she was pregnant, she made lists of the things she couldn’t have and immediately wanted. She worried, but not about shards of broken DNA passing silently along, taking on new life. She didn’t know why, when her baby was born a miracle of perfect health, she sobbed with relief so intense she feared everything left in her body would come pouring out.

When she’s born, she names her girl Emma Grace, after her great-great-great aunt, the singer. Other Me will not expect her Emma Grace to be a singer, or good at music. She does, however, play a lot of Mozart when Emma is teething because it soothes them both. And also just in case. 

As Emma grows older, Other Me reads books to her. The text on the page is clear and solid. Reading aloud is something she loves, giving voices to the characters just like her father had – high and squawking for birds, rumbling for bears and grandfathers, strong and sensible for young girls. She does the entirety of the Winnie the Pooh series in a British accent, since it never made sense to her that the animals on the TV show sound American. Whatever logical consistency she can provide for her child, she will. Plus, her British accent is pretty decent. When Emma begins writing and illustrating her own stories, which are mostly about places she and her best friend go in their magical hot air balloon, Other Me pores over them diligently, using her excellent eyes to point out how nicely Emma has described the trip to an iceberg full of grumpy penguins and how well she’s drawn her own hair and how to fix the spelling of “polar.”

When Emma is six and her fever hits 101.8, Other Me breathes through the body-buzz of fear and settles her moist, cherry-faced daughter securely into the back of  her blue GTI and speeds a responsible amount on the way to the pediatrician who, fortunately, reassures her that all is well, that her daughter is not dying, will be fine after some Tylenol and rest. Other Me is maybe a bit anxious, maybe a bit alarmist when it comes to her daughter, but she is equipped for all of the streets and highways required for having a child in America.

Other Me is always driving. To baseball and dance, which Emma will hate and give up. To swimming, which Emma will enjoy despite complaining about the snap of frozen hair in winter and the lingering chlorine smell. To playdates and movies and parent-teacher conferences and restaurants and art classes and school when Emma misses the bus and ice cream and the lake just to watch the way the water holds the sun as it sinks. When Emma points and says, Mom, look at that, Other Me looks, and sees.

I will never be her, this mother by the lake. I am in an Uber, and I have to say something.

I say, I just never wanted kids.

Wendy Elizabeth Wallace (she/her) is a queer disabled writer. She grew up in Buffalo, New York, and has now landed in Connecticut by way of Pennsylvania, Berlin, Heidelberg, and Indiana. She is the co-founding editor of Peatsmoke Journal. Her work has appeared in The RumpusWillow SpringsPithead ChapelThe Los Angeles Review, and elsewhere. Find her on Twitter @WendyEWallace1 or at

Photo by Laura Oliverio