|Love Is Blind part I
by AnonSky ©
Brad had this area of the library pretty much to himself - there were only four or five other people in the reading room. It was the first week of the term, and he was trying to get back into his study routine. He was engrossed in his reading and did not notice the young woman until she placed her books on the table, and asked, "Would you mind some company?"
Brad turned and glanced up at her, he could see her visibly recoil when she saw his full face, but before he could respond, she stammered, "Oh, I...I'm...I'm sorry I thought you were someone else." She picked up her books and beat a hasty retreat.
He shut his book more forcibly than he had intended. Several people glanced over at him - he ignored them. "A helluva lot of good those operations and all that damn pain did," thought Brad. Sadden, dejected, a little angry, he had lost interest in studying. Glancing at his watch, it was 7:15, he decided to take a break, and get a cup coffee.
As he walked into the small break room off the library lobby, there was a slight pause in the conversations of the seven or eight students seated at the small tables. Brad walked over to the coffee machine, put two quarters in the slot and punched the button. "Dammit, I should be used to this by now....should expect it," he thought as he looked at his image in the mirrored front of the machine, the scarred face looking back at him like one of the old Greek tragedy masks - one side of the face pure and good, the other side twisted into a horrible grimace. "Nothing can ever be same again," he thought bitterly.
There had been better times. In the eleventh grade, Brad had made first string on the football team, a wide receiver. He caught 14 touchdown passes that year - a school record. He had been named to the "All State-All Star High School Team." He and Julie were a pretty permanent twosome and were already talking about what college they wanted to attend - the accident changed all that. It was July, school was out, and he was cutting the lawn. He left the mower running to get another plastic bag out of the garage. When he came out, he saw Tommy, his six-year brother, trying to pour gas into the mower's fuel tank - he was spilling some and the mower was still running. Brad could remember yelling, grabbing Tommy by the back of his collar, and flinging his little brother backward, away from the mower, the gas, and the explosion.
Brad's next memory was waking up in the hospital weeks later in terrible pain, his life altered forever. Tommy was okay; however, Brad had been severely burned on the left side of his head and body by the gasoline - he was badly scarred. He almost died from the severity of the burns, only the expertise of the Burn Center at the hospital saved him. Julie tried to hang in there with him, but it was too much - she left for college and never wrote. The irony was, that in a right profile view, Brad was still the handsome young man he was meant to be, the damage was all to his left side. Now, five years and seven operations later, he was starting his junior year at the University.
Brad sipped his coffee as he glanced around the room, all the tables were taken, there were some vacant chairs at a couple of the tables, but he didn't want to intrude. He knew his face made most people uncomfortable. He took his coffee and walked out onto the small patio, the place to which smokers were exiled these days. The few tables on the patio were also taken, then he noticed the one in the far corner, only one girl sat at the table. He hesitated and then muttered to himself, "Why not? All she can do is say no, or get up and run away." A couple of the lights were burnt out on the patio and he could not see her very well until he got closer. She was a very beautiful...what his mother called a 'dishwater blonde,' too light to be brown, and too dark to be a true blonde. What surprised him was that she had on sunglasses, not just glasses as he originally thought.
"Hi....do you mind if I share the table with you?" Brad asked.
She smiled and made a gesture with her hand, palm up, "Oh no, please sit down. I'd enjoy some company...I'm new here and don't know many people yet."
"Thanks. I'm Brad Covington, just starting my third year. So, you're a freshman?"
"Hi Brad. I'm Allison McKinley. No, I'm somewhere between being a sophomore and a junior." She chuckled, "I transferred here from Hartwell Junior College, but not all my credits transferred with me - I need six more credit hours to be a junior."
"That's too bad, but that's only two subjects. You won't have any trouble making those up. What are you taking...your major?"
"English....actually creative writing."
"No kidding," Brad exclaimed, "I'm taking journalism but with a heavy emphasis on creative writing...really a double major." He watched her smile and thought "God, she is beautiful. I wish she would take off those darn glasses." He couldn't tell much about her figure with her seated, but it looked equally as nice. He was amazed...she had not shown any reaction to his face, and over the last few years he had gotten very good in spotting the reaction, even in those trying to hide their feelings. Her voice had a soft sultry tone to it - he could feel his prick twitch and stiffen some as he listened to her. It had been a long time since had done this, sat and talked with a girl, especially one as beautiful as this one.
They talked and before he knew it twenty minutes had gone by. Allison took a sip of her coffee and grimaced. "Has your coffee gotten cold?" asked Brad.
"It's not that, I don't mind cold coffee. I wanted black with sugar, but I must have hit the wrong button and got black."
"Let me get you another cup." When she started to protest, Brad hushed her, "I want another cup anyway, and I'll get you one too, a welcome to MSU."
He was back quickly with the coffee. He placed her coffee in the center of the small table. "Here you go...black with sugar."
Allison chuckled, "Okay, thanks....I owe you a cup. Next time it's on me."
As they continued to chat, Brad noticed that she had not picked up her coffee. She was moving her hand slowly back and forth across the small table, a little further out each time. Suddenly it dawned on Brad, the dark glasses on a poorly lit patio, no reaction to his scarred face - she was blind. Brad reached across, gently took her hand and placed it on the cup.
"I gave myself away didn't I?" she said quietly. "I'm sorry. I wasn't really trying to fool you...I just like to see how long I can pretend there's nothing wrong with me. Some people find it awkward talking with a blind person."
"Allison, all of us have our problems, some worse-some better. I've enjoyed talking with you more than anything I've done in quite awhile." Brad shook his head, "But you're new here...how did you find your way here all by yourself?"
Allison laughed, "I rode over with my sister. She's a true freshman....that's why I went to Hartwell for two years, waiting for her to graduate. We've got an apartment over at the Wesley Arms complex." Allison paused, "So I have Bev, and Galahad, my protector and my eyes."
"Under my chair." Allison chuckled as she called softly, "Here, Galahad."
Brad heard a soft "woof" and watched as a German Shepherd materialized from beneath her chair. It was so dimly lit in the their corner of the patio, and he had been so focused on Allison, that he had not noticed the dog.
"Don't pet him - just hold out your hand and let him get to know you."
Brad laughed and held out his hand toward Galahad. Galahad sniffed him, moved a little closer, and pushed his nose into the palm of Brad's hand.
"He likes you," said Allison when she felt the tug on the harness, "that's quite a compliment, he doesn't take to many people."
"He's a beautiful dog," said Brad. "Say, it's getting late, would you like to walk home...it's only about a twenty minute walk and it's a beautiful night. I live in the same place, Welsey Arms, in the C wing."
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