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What do people who are blind see? All I see is a desolate, barren landscape of black. It’s like a moonless, starless night, a night that makes you relive all the scary fantasies the played through your mind as a young child. Now that I’m here, stuck in a world plagued by darkness, I always have nightmares. It doesn’t matter whether my eyes are open or closed; it’s never light. Unfortunately, childhood fears are not what thoroughly coats my mind; I see his eyes as I turned the dark corner of my street, I see the wheels closing the gap between my rooted stance and that demon stare, and I see the concrete come up to meet my face with sickening force. Those were the last things I ever saw, the last memories of my life on the earth. Now I lived - no- belonged to an unfamiliar world of dark shadows.
Doctors all over the world, every minute, tell people good news. “Your surgery went well”, “Your son is recovering wonderfully”, “There are no more traces of the cancer”, or, “The baby is healthy”. They also tell people bad news, “The cancer is terminal”, “your son died on the operating table”, “You’re going to be paralyzed for the rest of your life”, or, “your baby died”. Here’s how they chose to tell me my bad news. “Miss Artel, you suffered a concussion that has caused the blindness, unfortunately it will be permanent, fortunately, that was the only major injury you sustained. You will need rehabilitation, but you can get on rather easily with your life. Good luck.” When the doctor uttered those last two words, I felt like hurting him, like I had been hurt.
After that, I sagged my shoulders, drew up my knees, and went within myself. I sat on the hospital bed, dazed, wonder about things I would never experience. Starting with this tiny room in which every hope I ever had was suddenly stomped out, like a little fire, never allowed to burn grand or free. I felt like my life no longer possessed any value. Everyone told me that everything would turn out fine, grander even than the previous life I lead. But I was in self-denial and every painful thing I had to endure was just made worse by the fact that I still couldn’t walk, read, write, or even go to the bathroom by myself.
After months of grueling, almost impossible rehabilitation, most of my initial questions were answered. I now knew how to walk across the planet I was the prisoner of. I knew what certain fabrics felt like, so I could dress on my own. I also learned to use the restroom. Although the most pressing questions were answered, one still bounced around the edge of mind. What do blind people see? I was still constantly crushed by the sharp, black stillness of my sight. I was still constantly haunted by my last real memories.
I remember walking down the street, strolling easily home, and even though it was dark, I could see the eyes of my own hunter, the glossy sheen of too much alcohol shining at me. I lay in bed each night, thankful that my own screams had woken me from the nightmare, only to realize that I was still stuck in it pinned to the bed by the gravity of my black world. In the darkness of my room each and every night, I prayed, though I no longer believed in God, to open my eyes; waking from the nightmare.
It was one of those mornings, when I laid still on my bed and concentrated on opening my eyes, feeling the muscles tugging on my lids, yet still no light succeeding to poke through the impermeable shield of my sight. My mother chose one of those mornings to enter my room and speak to me, something we didn’t often do. There was nothing more I wanted in that moment, than to see the look in her eyes, to see why she was there. “Your farther and I have decided that you need to go back to public school”, her voice had dropped off sharply at the end. Like the precarious cliff I now faced, but couldn’t see. I decided I couldn’t do this anymore.
I used to be popular; I had an endless amount of friends. But after the accident, I forgot entirely what my days, months, and years consisted of. They were shoved, violently away by pressing thoughts of depression and blackness. Now that they were back, I wished I had never let those memories go. That day, I never rose from my bed, instead I laughed and smiled, because every memory of the friendships I had, played over the abyss of my sight. It wasn’t until it was night again, that remembered what I was now. That night, I cried myself to sleep with the blackness crushing me, strangling me, killing me.
I was almost sure that I had wrinkles by the first day of school. What would happen? I had hundreds of scenarios they all included failure. I mainly worried about my social life, I hadn’t even thought of the friends I use to have before the accident. I suddenly wished that I had kept in touch, even though I had moved to this entirely different, shadowed planet.
There I was, at the front entrance of my school, Kingshire High School, I tilted my head up to the sky wishing I could see all of those little red bricks towering over my head, ready to squash me. I opened the door and probed through the hall, to the office. I wished I could see the receptionists assuring smile or the expressions on my peers’ faces as I slowly meandered down the hall. I felt like the alien I thought I was.
It wasn’t until lunch that anything truly happened to me. I knew it would happen, I still wasn’t perfect on my feet in my black shrouded world. I tripped. I fell right on my face in the middle of the cafeteria. Needless to say, even though I had prepared my self for this, I was humiliated. This was a rare moment were I was glad I couldn’t see everyone’s giggling faces. I was struggling to get up, my own type of gravity holding me down; then, I felt hands helping me up, heard concerned voices, inquiring if I was alright. This, I had not prepared my self for.
I was helped to a table, I did not know who my rescuers were, but what I saw were angels, descending down on me. I recognized a voice, and even though I hadn’t heard it for months, I heard my best friend, Dylan. “Dylan?” I whispered cautiously, ”Is that you”. Of course everyone exploded into laughter. I went around the table naming everyone I had been a friend to. They all explained to me honestly how they didn’t know I was the one involved in the accident and how they worried I was simply no longer interested in their friendship. They also told me regretfully how they didn’t notice who I was until I was lying on the cafeteria floor. “You shoulda’ seen your face, girl. It was all twisted, like you was in pain or something”, Maurine said with a laugh. I sat next to Dylan the entire time, we were sitting so close together that our thighs and shoulders touched; that was exactly how it used to be and we fit together, like puzzle pieces, or a broken heart, mended.
That was my first day of school on my new planet. The day I had worried about endlessly, and now I could sit and laugh about it. I felt the rough, white painted, wood of the porch swing scraping the backs of my tender thighs. I was aware of the warm breeze that enveloped my body and the muscles of my cheeks, heavily used, burned under my skin. I heard the leaves on our trees rubbing together, shivering in the undercurrent of the atmosphere. The taste of fresh cut grass had exploded on my tongue; it was the first taste I had truly experienced in the past months. And the smells that had become tangled into my thoughts made my mouth water. I could see.
I can feel the fine parchment as they place the diploma in my hand. I hear clapping in the audience, and the dry sobs of joy in my throat. I had made it and surpassed odds. I am graduating from high school, the top of my class. I can feel Dylan’s arms encircling me as I finish my well-deserved walk across the stage. I already know what college I’m going to, what career I’m following, and what it took to get here. What I don’t know, and am eager to discover, is what I will see in the years that stretch ahead of me.