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This is Blue
The floor was made up of white marble she had been told, swirled into smooth perfection. The girl felt her hand along the delicate surface, enjoying the momentary coldness that seeped in through the first icy touch. Her fingertips traced the circular patterns engraved beneath her, and felt a warm hand clasp her wrist gently.
“Be careful, Charlotte,” Nurse said gently. “You don’t want to harm yourself.”
She finished brushing the girl’s long hair and ran her hand through it affectionately. “You look so beautiful,” Nurse commented, her voice filled with praise from behind her. “You have your mother’s blue eyes, you know. I only wish….” Her voice trailed off. To make up for the sudden silence, she began to braid the girl’s hair.
Charlotte spoke for the first time that morning. “I wish I could see them too.” She twirled a stray strand of hair around her finger, her blind eyes staring straight ahead into oblivion. “Blue… what is blue?”
Nurse’s fingers paused their braiding for a moment. “Blue… is a color,” she began uncertainly, as though unsure of how to explain the phenomenon.
“Yes, a color, like an abstract reflection of light.” Charlotte shook her head and said in her quiet voice, “I don’t understand.” Nurse sighed, grabbed the second section of the girl’s hair, and began to braid that too. “It’s hard to explain if you have never seen a color before, but I’ll do my best. Blue is… the endless stretch of the mysteries of the heavens. It’s the quiet serenity of mist rolling in from the far away mountains; a single tear falling through darkness; the sudden gust of wind carrying whispers from around the world….” Nurse gave a nervous tinkling laugh. “I’m sorry, looks like I got a bit carried away.”
She tied small silk bows around the end of Charlotte’s braids, but the girl remained motionless.
“Blue…” she whispered.
Nurse smiled at her, a smile she could not see. “You haven’t eaten all day and it’s nearly time for supper; you wait right here while I fetch you something to eat.” Her footsteps clicked across the marble floor, fading away until they were out of earshot.
The girl counted to ten slowly before deeming it safe that Nurse would not return immediately and took a brave step forward. She remained standing- shaking a bit, but standing nonetheless with a pleased sort of smile on her face. She always felt this momentary gladness each time she moved on her own, without the help of countless of servants.
She took another eager step, confident now, and found that although her eyes remained shrouded in darkness, her memory knew where to take her. She held her hands out for certainty and felt a small flame of hope in her heart when they brushed against the sides of the doorway. She followed muffled voices to the left and shuffled closer to the door, pressing her ear against it.
It was Father. She could recognize his stern voice anywhere.
Although she had been practicing walking on her own for a while, there never seemed to be time to show Father (or rather, Father never had time). She smiled in pride. She was overcoming it, her pain, his disappointment, and her failure.
He never did seem to have enough time for her. He was always busy, one way or another, no matter how long she pleaded with him to just give her moments of his time. There used to be a time where he had constantly been at her side, supporting her as she walked. Perhaps he felt it better to leave it to the servants; or perhaps he just simply got bored of it. Whatever the reason, the only time she got to be with Father was by meal times, and to that he rarely showed up to as well.
He would be proud, she knew, proud that she no longer needed guidance whenever she walked. She opened the door and almost ran inside. So this was how it felt to be free. Any pain she had ever felt ebbed away in this one moment of liberty; the one moment where she proved that she was capable.
Charlotte smiled, imagining the brilliant look on Father’s face.
And then she fell.
She collided, hard, into a small column directly in her path, and barely had time to register the shock before her head hit the floor with a thud. The sound was engulfed by a loud crashing noise.
The tears welled up and spilled across her face before she could suppress them and her head hurt terribly. She touched the back to feel for any injuries and felt her hand come in contact with something sticky.
“Sir, is she alright?” came a surprised man’s voice, strange and unidentifiable. Charlotte heard Father let out an angry hiss. “She’ll be fine,” he said, and then moved toward her to help her up. He squeezed her elbow hard and hoisted her up. “That was foolish and dangerous!” he muttered in an undertone, but in the small room the girl was sure the other man could hear perfectly well what Father was saying. “You interrupted a very important business deal,” he continued, “and not only that, but you break my Caspian head statue into hundreds of pieces! Don’t you understand you can’t just do what you please? I don’t want you roaming off on your own anymore.” He kept a firm hand closed around her arm. “Nurse!”
Nurse came sprinting in, her clicking heels betraying her arrival. Charlotte could hear her harried breathing and felt awful for leaving without saying a word to her. “I couldn’t find you,” Nurse cried, “and thought-”
Father cut her off. “Never mind that; you are never to let her out of your sight again, understand?” Nurse made an unidentifiable choking noise in the back of her throat and held the girl’s hand in her own, pulling her out of the room. “Oh, the back of your head is bleeding!” she said worriedly. “We should clean the wound as soon as possible.” Charlotte allowed herself to be tugged away, sniffling into her sleeve.
She turned her head back just before the door was closed, and caught the last bit of the conversation.
“Sir, was that your daughter?” asked the surprised man.
There was an uncomfortable silence.
“I don’t have a daughter,” Father replied coldly.
The girl gasped loudly, then released Nurse’s hand and ran. “Charlotte!” Nurse yelled after her, but the girl didn’t look back. She blundered into obstacles in her way but bounced off them, unhurt and uncaring. The small of her back hit what felt like a doorknob, and the bruise added to her already pounding head. She heard the sound of clicking heels behind her and pushed hard against the door, sliding through the opening. She clumsily found the small lock on the handle and turned it sideways, hearing it snap successfully.
She was in the garden. Her toes were spread wide through the grass, and there was a bird somewhere above chirping loud. She had only been there twice before, with a watchdog and two servants; but never alone.
Only here did she collapse on the ground and weep. She knew she was getting her dress covered in dirt, but found that she didn’t care. She hated him. She hated Father. Charlotte ripped out a handful of grass and threw it in fury. The pieces of grass only fluttered back on her, which made her angrier. She stood up and walked shakily.
She was so angry with herself. Why was she born blind? Why did she drag everyone down with her? Why did she have to be the disappointment, the failure, of everyone’s lives?
And what was she doing with her life? She sat on a stool while Nurse put pretty ribbons in her hair. Meaningless. Everything she did, everything she said, was absolutely meaningless. She was just there, living- contributing nothing, gaining nothing. Being nothing.
Her toe came in contact with something cold and calm, and she breathed slowly as she felt the cool water caress her feet. The garden was very large, she knew, not quite a garden but more like a small forest in itself. Besides for the abundant fruit trees and whatnot, there was also a pond, if it could be called a pond. Charlotte didn’t know what to call it. It was deep, deep enough for the servants to steer her clear from it.
The chill emanating from the pond water subsided her hurt and opened her eyes in a way she had never seen before. She didn’t have to be angry. She didn’t have to feel this pain.
It was so simple.
So simple the girl laughed. She hadn’t thought of it before. She would be happy, Father would be happy… and that’s what she wanted, right?
She steadied herself. Vaguely she heard what sounded like Nurse banging tearfully against the garden door, but the noise didn’t register in her head. The bird had suddenly stopped chirping. She felt an insane laughter bubbling up in her throat.
Everything was silent.
And she jumped.
The water closed over her head and danced around her, dragging her lower and lower to the depths below. A few bubbles escaped her lips, but she didn’t thrash once. The girl ignored the water burning her open eyes and concentrated instead on the tranquility. She was moving almost in slow motion- spiraling, floating, drifting off to nowhere.
A new kind of darkness shrouded her eyes now, thicker, heavier… yet more comforting. She didn’t find it in the least frightening. Charlotte embraced it with a light heart, continuously swirling down beneath the water.
Her pain was fading away. She was fading away.
The darkness obstructed her senses, and right before her mind became completely clouded over, she thought to herself-
So this is blue.
And then her eyes shut.