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Are we, human beings, defined by what we sense?
Is everything based on sound? Do bass guitars ring in our ears when danger approaches, and do we hear a tinkling of bells when it’s time to slow down? Does a smile make a noise? How about tears, with their multitude of meanings. Do they sing their emotion like bluebirds?
Is happiness felt with the hands? Can we tell whether or not to stop moving, either our bodies or a vehicle, by a sensation received by the hands? Yes, a hand can touch, but does it feel? Does it understand more than hot versus cold and rough versus soft? A hand can reach into a cloud and sense misty moisture, but a hand doesn’t see the lightness and glory the cloud possesses.
A nose may tell you when a woman enters the room. Her perfume will alert you to her entrance, and you can estimate her age or style by the scent. But can your nose tell you that she has dark blue eyes? Can her scent tell you that she is wearing a rosary and a smile? Your smell may be pleasant, but that isn’t enough.
Bitter or sweet, your taste buds will decide the flavor of anything that passes your lips. A salty cracker or the fresh taste of meat can satisfy your mouth. A cake can do the same, with its sugary delight. However, your mouth may be able to taste the frosting, but can your mouth read the beautifully scripted message painted on by hand? Can your mouth hunger for the sheer sight of such a culinary masterpiece? Its taste may be fabulous, but what the mouth misses, the eyes see.
The eyes sense light and color, but they see more than that. Eyes see out. Aside from the hands, the eyes are the only instrument of the human body that interact with other human beings. Sight is the brains link to beauty, the neurons link to notice. Your body can feel snowflakes, and the ears can hear laughter, but the eyes will see children playing in the streets, playing and enjoying the white chill.
I blink, preparing myself for the torture that is sure to come. I suppose it’s fairly benign for torture, but nonetheless, torture it is. Trying to busy myself, I readjust some articles of clothing. I hate riding on the city bus, but it’s the safest way for me to get around. People stare.
It isn’t bright outside, but I feel a lot better when I slide my sunglasses on. I’m a little less self-conscious than I was before, but the awkwardness lingers. I can feel their eyes on mine. I tilt my face down, pretending to inspect a rebel hangnail. I suppose they’re all wondering why I’m not more… protected (for lack of a better word). But why would I draw even more attention to myself? The bus drags on, as does the torment.
Finally the bus stops. A man asks me if I need help with anything, and I politely refuse him. I can handle this. I’d done it millions of times before. Except, those times, I’d been in a much better state that I was currently in. I kept my shades on as it neared six o’ clock in the evening. After all, I had a party to go to.
The smell of smog greeted me as I stepped out into the city. People bustled on by as if I was a normal addition to the crowd. Had the city missed me while I was gone? It felt like déjà vu in an odd sort of way. I was a regular to this place, and the city life welcomed me back in with wide arms.
Making my way through town, I felt relieved. These streets were as familiar to me as my own home. I was going to a back city club, where loud local bands would be abusing the air. I was planning on meeting some friends there, but solitude would be fine as well. This was the city of angels. Someone would watch over me, right?
I had no time to doubt myself. I was confident in my heels and party dress. I was okay with the fact that I was different from everybody else now. That made me all the more interesting. I could only hope that others saw me the way I’d been trying to teach myself that I did. It was a difficult lesson to learn, but I wasn’t going to make a show of myself.
My disability burned in my handbag. I could almost feel the shame leaking off of it from under my arm. If I had to show up at a club with it… I couldn’t face my fear. I suppose the more I ignore it, the stronger it grew. Eventually, I was going to have to face my difference head on, but it seemed as if I’d have to wait. There was no way I was ready to reveal my issue to the world.
The alleyway I’d stepped into was quiet. There was very dim light here, I knew, which wasn’t assisted by the twilight. The walls were grimy, but I could already hear the vocal assaults of a band called the Naked Corinne’s. I was excited for this band in particular. I’d been anticipating hearing them for quite some time.
There was a sharp corner in the alley, which I wasn’t expecting. Had I taken the wrong turn? There was no possible way…
In all honest truth, there was one hundred percent a possible way that I’d taken a wrong turn. But as I aforementioned, I wasn’t going to admit it. I took a deep breath and reached in my handbag. As soon as my skin met the cold stripes waiting for me, I cringed. It burned my skin. Maybe not physically, but to me it was a white and red hot piece of fiery coal. I decided to keep it hidden. I’d made it this far and ff I could just reach the club, I could find my way to a seat and take a break.
Suddenly, as if dropped out of the sky to spite me, a wooden crate tripped me. I heard it fall over and its glass contents knock against the ground. The shattering only worsened my humiliation.
“Hey, lady!” I heard a man say. He had a deep voice, middle-aged at best.
“I-uh, I’m so sorry. I just didn’t…” I stammered.
“You didn’t see my beers?” He sounded angry.
“No.” I said quietly, balancing myself on my knees, attempting to get up.
“It’s a big crate! How could you miss it? What are you, dumb or something!?” He was very upset. I slowly stood, clinging to the wall for support.
I reached into my bag and clamped my hand on the fire. I’m sure my cheeks burned hotter than my hand did at that moment. “You see,” I started, “I should really be using this.” I drew out my red and white striped cane and pulled it out to its full extent. I readjusted my glasses. “How much do I owe you for the beers?”
My self-confidence was bleeding in the street, murdered with the shattered glass of this mans broken alcohol. I pulled out my wallet as well and felt around for my bills. Besides my family, this man was the only person who knew of my disability. I was blind.
“I…” He trailed off. I’d shocked him.
“Sir?” I asked, holding out all my bills. “This should be forty dollars.” I said, giving it to him. I knew it was a lot, but I owed this man.
He gasped for air. “No, please. Keep it. I’m so sorry miss. Can I help you get anywhere?”
I didn’t want his pity. That’s not why I revealed my weakness to him. It was due time for my courage to emerge. “Please, sir. Will you take it? I’ve ruined your beer. Can you tell me where the Quirk Club is?”
“It’s, uh, just around the corner. Y-you can’t miss it.” He said. “I mean… um…” I could tell he was struggling. Obviously I could miss it. He took a single bill from my hand after I had offered it in his direction for some time. I thanked him, and was on my way.
Accidents have consequences.