The warm sun beats down on my face, making me calm. I take a deep breath, breathing in the warm morning air. I’ve always loved the sun. On days like this, I close my eyes and throw my head back, soaking it all in (lively description). This has become a routine for me, especially on mornings like this. My mom and dad are good people, but not good parents. Their perspectives and thoughts are unwavering; their old people’s brains are molded from experience.
“Eden, I’m so tired of yelling at you about the same thing every day,” my father looks at me with an expression I’d gotten used to by now. Disappointment.
“Then don’t yell at me,” I throw him a sarcastic smile, hopping into our old, beat up van. I don’t even know what he’s yelling at me for, but somehow we have the same argument every day before school.
My mother tells me that we’ll talk after school, but doesn’t make eye contact with me. She slides into the passenger seat, exchanging a glance with my father.
I tune out my parents and just watch the trees and leaves fly by my window as we drive. When I get bored, mad, or even sad, I like to focus on the changing colors all around me. Watching the sky distracts me from whatever is bothering me. Just as I start to calm down, I’m pulled back into reality by my parent’s screams. The car starts to sway. It moves back and forth across the road. One second I’m fine. The next second my body is being slammed into the seat in front of me. My body aches. Everything goes black.
My whole body aches to the point where even just trying to open my eyes drains me of energy. I feel numb. I try to sit up, but something is restraining me. When I attempt to open my eyes, a huge pain shoots down me like a firework. The pain is nearly unbearable, unlike any other, but I’m too weak to scream. I know there are police cars and fire trucks around me. I can hear them. Though my ears are ringing, I hear men murmuring.
“There are two adults and one child. They got smashed by that semi. The father’s fine, but the mother and daughter are in bad shape. The mother is hypotensive and her daughter has glass shards all over her face.” I hear the man sigh, and I imagine him shaking his head at the scene. I bet it’s pretty gruesome. If the van wasn’t beat up enough before, it definitely was now. As I lay here, staring at the backs of my eyelids, all I want to do is look up at the sky. I need something, some color other than black, to calm me down.
“We’re going to need to take out these glass shards here and try to do something about the bleeding. There’s no way we can get to the hospital in enough time if we don’t start now.” I feel people loading me into what I assume is an ambulance. Cold hands move over me, pulling pieces of glass from my cheeks and nose. Warm tears roll down my face, but I know it’s not from me crying. It’s blood.
“Everyone, careful around the eyes. We don’t need her going blind.” Someone pushes my hair out of my face.
“She probably already is.”
I feel a few quick yanks. The pain is so intense that I can’t even feel it anymore. After a second, I feel my eyes being pried open. All I see is darkness.
It’s been a few years since the accident. My dad and I are back home now. Mom didn’t make it out of the crash. My dad came out of the accident with all of his five senses intact. I only have four now, but I make do. Now that I’ve lost my eyesight, I can’t look at the sky for comfort when I feel alone. I feel sad a lot these days. But who needs the sky when I have Alex?
I met Alex at my support group for blind people. My dad said he made me join so I could “meet people like me,” but I think it’s because he doesn’t know what to do with me now. Alex isn’t blind, but he comes to the group with his sister, Emily. She’s only 10, so he stays to make sure she’s comfortable. Well, that’s what he tells everyone. He told me that she can do fine on her own. Now he comes to see me.
I’m definitely not a seasoned blind person. It’s been hard for me lately. Simple things, like walking to the bathroom from my bedroom, are difficult now. My whole brain is rewiring itself to be able to function without eyesight. Alex doesn’t care that I’m blind. He says he likes my scars. I may not know what he looks like, but I can tell he’s a good person. That’s all that matters to me.
I head up the steps and into the church where my support group is. I can’t help but smile as I think about getting to be with Alex again.
“Eden!” I feel a warm presence on my arm, stopping me in my tracks.
I smile even wider, putting my hand on top of his. “What’s up?”
“How would you feel about sneaking out?” I can hear the grin on his face through his words. I wish I could see it.
“And go where?” I pull my lips into a straight line, trying to hide my excitement.
“Anywhere we want.”
“How about somewhere with lots of trees? I love the smell of the leaves.”
“As you wish!” He swoops me up into his arms and heads for his car.
The car stops. Alex gets out and opens my door for me. I grab my white stick, which is basically a walking stick for blind people.
“You don’t need that. I’ll lead you myself.” He grabs my hand and we start walking.
I can feel the presence of trees all around me. Alex tells me that we’re on a hiking trail. Though I can’t see it, I can hear and smell it. Birds chirp loudly above me. The wind blows my hair in my face, and Alex pushes it behind my ear.
“I brought some food with us. We can have a picnic!” I feel a whoosh sound as Alex lays down the blanket. He leads me over and helps me sit down.
“What did you bring?” I try to smell the air and catch a whiff of what’s in the basket.
“See...I mean taste for yourself,” he says, handing me what feels like a sandwich. I can feel the rough texture on my fingertips.
It’s been hard putting all of my trust into Alex. Now that I’m blind, I just have to believe that he’s not doing things that could hurt me. For all I know this sandwich could be a dirty diaper or something. He could easily fool me if he wanted to, and I wouldn’t be aware of it until it already happened. Despite all of this, I take a small bite of what Alex gave me. Sure enough, it’s a sandwich. Peanut butter and honey, my favorite.
“You’re amazing, Alex,” I pull my lips into a smile and take another bite.
“So are you.”
As we continue eating, I feel the mood change very quickly. Alex seems tense, apprehensive even.
“What’s wrong?” I pull my eyebrows together, displaying my confusion.
“I need to tell you something. I think it might ruin what we have now, but you deserve to know.” I imagine him looking at the ground, nervous to tell me what he’s been hiding.
“Alex, I can’t think of anything that could ruin us. Trust me.” I feel for his hand and grab it. He pulls away.
“Honestly I’m surprised you haven’t realized it yet. Or maybe you have. I can’t believe my sister didn’t say anything. The only people who know about us are my sister and your dad. We both know he doesn’t agree with us. It’s how he was raised and how you were raised. Has he told you anything about me? What I look like?” Alex is shaking his head, I can sense it. I feel his exasperation, and I want to comfort him.
“No, my dad doesn’t talk about you. Alex I don’t need to know what you look like. I know who you are, and I know your heart. That’s all I need, okay?”
The air feels still. Why is everything so tense all of the sudden?
“You don’t understand. Eden, I’m a girl. In these past few months we’ve been together, I’ve tried to hide it from you,” he...or she... grabs my hand, “I didn’t go to the bathroom at the same time as you. I tried acting more ‘boyish’ I guess. But I’m done making a fool of myself. And I’m done hiding from you. I’m a girl. I hope this wasn’t news to you,” I hear Alex take a deep breath. I didn’t see this coming.
Now I’m the one pulling away. I have no idea what to say. Yeah, Alex. This is news to me. I had no freaking idea. I don’t know whether to be mad at Alex for hiding this from me, or mad at myself for being so stupid. I can’t believe this could happen after giving all of my trust to this...person.
“Bring me straight home, now.” Fuming, I get up and start walking. I focus on putting one foot in front of the other as twigs and leaves crunch beneath my shoes. I hold my breath, trying to focus on what’s around me. I wouldn’t want to run into a tree and be more humiliated than I already am. I wish I would’ve brought my white stick
“Please, Eden. Let me help you. There’s no way you can do this on your own. Please,” I feel the warmth of her hand on my arm, trying to guide me. I used to crave this touch. I used to crave his touch. This girl is not the person I loved. This new warmth and this new hand is not what I used to crave. This is not the same person.
“Take me to the car. I don’t even know you anymore.” I let her lead me by the arm, towards what will probably be the most awkward car ride of my life.
As soon as the car stops at my house, I grab my white stick and hop out.
“Eden, wait! Please just listen to me.” I let myself relax, hearing the pleading in her words. What else could she say that would hurt me more than I already have been?
“Eden, what changes now? I’m the same person you loved two hours ago. I don’t feel any differently. Why do things have to be like this?”
I run my fingers through my hair and sigh. “You can’t try and guilt me into this. I’m not gay. I like boys. I’m not into girls, Alex. I put all of my trust in you. I let myself be vulnerable around you. You can’t expect me to just change my sexuality to make you happy. I can’t see you anymore because of how much you betrayed me. Please, leave me alone. You’ve lied to me enough.”
“Eden, please,” her voice cracks. I hear the sadness in her voice.
And with that, I slam the car door shut and walk away.