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I sit at the edge of the table and lay my hands flat against the surface. I can feel it vibrating with the actions of the kids at the far end of it. Someone’s knee flies into it, the jolt accompanied by a girl’s laughter-laced shriek. The bump is enough to make me cringe with feeling.
I can feel everything in this room. The pulse of breath through the air, the throb of voices, the beat of footsteps. It’s a gift, more than enhanced hearing. It’s enhanced feeling, and the only annoyance to me in this day that could be perfect.
I give in, as I always do, to the feelings, and close my eyes—not to hide the world from me, but to hide me from the world. There I am, nestled in my invisible safety blanket, sitting curled at the far end of the jock’s half-empty table. Half-empty because they refuse to cross the boundary line, that which marks their territory and mine. It’s a classic case of mutual disregard; you don’t bother me, I don’t bother you. I sink into the darkness, growing numb, and indulge in utter self-absorbance. I’m as warm as can be, feeling like I’m nestled up deep inside a soft fuzzy blanket, though in reality I am sitting on hard plastic with a thin tee shirt on my back.
Today there is no hatred for my life, no festering grudge held for the loss of my sight—though it’s not as if those feelings are foremost in my thoughts every day, they do crop up every once in a while. I sit in a quiet kind of beauty, feeling the opening of understanding like an unfolding flower.
The silence of my personal space leaves an opportunity for contemplation. I think of this morning, of how I was happy and eager to roll out of bed at the blaring of my alarm. It was beautiful, how I managed the blank walk from my bedroom to the bathroom, a walk that usually is fraught with imagined peril. Has the railing moved in the night? Am I going to fall over the edge of the stairs? Am I really awake? Is this the bathroom or the closet? This morning, though, no such second-guessing. I was confident, I was brilliant. I felt almost as if I could see. I imagined my face in the mirror, the face of a year ago, with the sunny freckles and green eyes. According to my hands, my hair was tangled. Obviously, I couldn’t tell the color with my fingers, so I guessed that the color I put in it last summer had faded, bringing back the bright blonde shade. I wondered if I was pretty, and decided that I was going to believe that I was, even if I wasn’t. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose.
This morning brought me happiness, because I think I’ve finally accepted what has happened to me. My memories of sight have begun to fade, taking with them colors, shades, hues. Shadows and tints are long gone. All that is left are the brilliant impressions of red, blue, yellow. The primary colors, thrust up against my mind’s eye, flat like colored paper, are there, and if I try hard enough I can mix them to produce equally flat impressions of other colors. Purple, lime green, chocolate brown. Losing the colors is not sad, in a way, because to me, it is a relief to have the longing for them disappear.
So far, the rest of today has been blissfully different from usual. School was a swirl of activity that carried me from one place to another like a buzzing bee from flower to flower, space to space. I listened to the lectures, smirked inwardly at the problems that appeared far too easy for my superior intellect—an intellect superior only for today, that is—and sailed from one class to another in a happy daze. I was untouched and untouchable, left alone in the crowd of bodies, the bodies that I could not see but could feel, the masses pressing against me. I pushed against a body and felt it yield to the force. It disappeared into the unknown, and I pressed on. I felt like the only spot of light in a sea of indistinguishable, writhing entities that moved on the outskirts of my sphere, never making the contact that was needed to be seen and understood. They were the epitome of a faceless crowd, and only to me, because only I could not even see the masks that hid their faces from the others.
But feeling everything so strongly today was my weakness, and I was exhausted after so long in the noise. In the middle of crowds, I am deafened. The roar in my ears, the pulse in my fingertips, the buzz of sound and smell and touch at the base of my skull makes me stagger. There is no peace there, no way for me to take myself into my tiny space of introspection. If I curled up on the floor and closed my eyes, I would be crushed. Time and time again, I find myself shaken and weak once I drag myself from a crowd. These are the times that I beg God for relief from the feeling. I don’t necessarily desire my sight, but the sensitivity is a cross that is too heavy for me to bear. Sightlessness is a welcome relief for at least one sense from an endless barrage of world. It was never necessarily anything I longed for, but once it came, I knew that this was the only thing I would have been willing to have lost.
Today, like most days, I don’t blame God for anything that has happened to me, though, in this case, He’s definitely the culprit. I know that I have blamed Him in the past, at times when I felt like the only way to ease my suffering was to take out my pain and anger on Him, screaming silently at Him through tears in the middle of the night, asking pettishly why He let me go through this when wasn’t it obvious that I deserved none of it? I made too much of it, spoke words harshly and in anger when it would have been better for them not to have been said. My faith was in danger of being lost many times, but the truth of everything that I’d been raised with was not an easy thing to throw away. But though it was not wholly lost, the faith of my youth was thrown away over time. A new faith grew in its place, a butterfly emerging from a cocoon, forever changed and morphed from the gross, underdeveloped little caterpillar it used to be, able to fly.
I lift my head from my knees at the sound of the bell. The table jolts against my shins as the students at the far end jostle to their feet, shoving each other and laughing loudly. The cacophony of voices comes back with a rush, and I’m once again aware of my surroundings.
Cafeteria, twelve forty-five. I’ve sat motionless and alone for nearly half an hour, completely unaware of all activity around me. The realization that I’ve been in a trance is surprising. What was I even thinking about?
I stand up slowly, shaking my fingers and clenching my toes to bring blood back, gritting my teeth against the awkward pain of pins and needles in my nerve endings.
Crossing the cafeteria seems like a daunting task. It’s such a wide space, full of obstacles like bodies and tables, but I start with my first step, trailing my fingers on the back of each seat as I pass, following the echo of voices as fellow students leave the cafeteria.
One girl, one mind, one person, crossing the floor of a building alone. Defective, at a loss for a crucial element of her being, but she is perfect. Capable of all kinds of love and thought and existence.
A true Masterpiece.