Dark as DaybyMSTarot©
I felt the RV lurch as Dad took the corner hard.
"John, for the love of god will you slow down!" demanded Mom holding onto the armrests of the seat.
"Ruth, the sun is going down, it will be dark in twenty minutes. We are about fifteen minutes from the RV Park. If I slow down we have to park this beast in the dark." Dad wrenched the big camper around another corner. "I don't want to have to do that again."
"Well better we park it in the dark, than in a ditch! Damn it John! Oh for gods sake!"
The RV lurched again.
Shaking my head I squeezed my girlfriend Jennifer's hand and got up.
"Where you going?' Jen asks me.
She nods. I look at her hands. They are white knuckled on the armrest of her seat.
Smiling at her I make my way across the unsteady floor using the kitchen counter to grip when we rounded another turn. Looking to the back I see my sister Wendy lying down on the bed. A day and a half of dads driving had her carsick. Poor kid.
"John!" Mom complains.
Stepping into the bathroom I shake my head at my own reflection. The mirror agrees with me. Mom and Dad have been arguing, mostly about his driving, for two days. This trip was suppose to be the chance for them to put every thing behind and just rekindle their marriage. They had been on the edge of a divorce for the last year. Dad's job was taking him away for longer and longer periods of time. I heard Mom talking to her sister Brandy that she thought he might be having an affair. The camper in the driveway and a family trip to the lake country had seemed a good idea at the time.
As I went to sit down on the toilet, the RV lurched. I swear Dad must have it on two wheels! I hit the sink with my shoulder.
"Are you ok?" I heard Jen ask from outside.
"Yea just hit my shoulder." I told her rubbing at the bone bruise.
I hear Dad laughing.
"Hold on back there Jack." He calls to me.
"John slow the Hell down!" I hear Mom's fear laced demand.
"Can't Ruth chasing the Sun." Dad laughs.
I shake my head, I tried to hold on and pee at the same time. I had learned yesterday not to try that standing up.
I had to admit Dad had a point. His trying to park this thing last night in the dark had been a nightmare. Another camper owner had finally asked to do it. I think he was worried Dad was going to hit his. A very real possibility.
I didn't have much hope for this weekend's affect on my parent's marriage. I had watched them spiraling down hill for the last few years. I think they were still together only because they didn't want to break up while my sister and I were still kids. Wendy was sixteen and I could see my twentieth birthday looming like a wall two months away. I didn't have hopes Mom and Dad would stay together till Wendy graduated. But maybe.
In fact my only real I hope had a the moment for this weekend has to do with Jennifer. She and I had a tent to set up once we got to the lake and with a little luck and Dad keeping Mom off our backs we could have some fun in the sleeping bags tomorrow night. I didn't know if Mom knew we were together that way, but I had caught a knowing look from Dad. That and a large box of condoms that just appeared in my bathroom at home.
Standing up I pulled up my pants and turned to flush the tank. Looking at the mirror behind the toilet I see my brown hair is going everywhere. I reached up to slick it back.
In a rush my own face slams into me! I hear screaming then the dark takes me!
* * *
"I think he's waking up."
I heard a woman's voice I didn't know. I tried to move and couldn't, I tried to speak and couldn't. My tongue moved around a piece of plastic that filled my mouth. My heart rate must have been racing I could hear something beeping like mad.
"Jack? Jack its Dr Mathews. I want you to take it slow Jack ok. Just listen to me now I want you to squeeze my finger for yes and no. One for yes, twice for no. Can you hear me?"
I felt his hand move mine, his fingers in mine. I told my hand to squeeze once. It seemed to take a year for it to do it.
"That's good Jack. Now I want you to just try and rest. You were in a bad wreck. You have been in an induced coma for the last two weeks. You have been threw several surgeries. But your doing much better. Ok? Do you understand me?"
I squeezed once. The effort was like lifting a truck.
"That's good Jack. Now the nurse is going to put something in your IV to make you sleep for a bit longer. When you wake up you should be able to talk. We have a tube down your throat helping you breathe."
I felt him pull his hand from mine I couldn't have stopped him if I wanted too. There was an edge of pain that seemed to want to hang just at the back of my thoughts.
The nurse must have done what ever because I felt suddenly like I was floating.
"His aunt will be here when he wakes. We'll let her tell him." I could just hear Dr Matthew's from miles away as I drifted.
"So what do you think his chances are?" I heard the nurse ask as I felt the drugs taking me.
"He should make it. His vitals are all good and he's young and healthy."
The doctor must have shook his head. I couldn't see though, the lights were out in the room.
Sleep took me.
* * *
There was a tube under my nose. The air from it stank. Like a cold metal smell. There was a wasp sitting on my arm stinging me. I tried to swat him away, but I couldn't seem to reach him.
My left arm itched horribly, but the wasp was so heavy I couldn't reach over to scratch it.
"Damn it," I muttered. "Can't this hospital pay its power bill?"
"Jack?" I heard someone move, I felt a hand in mine. "Jack can you hear me?"
I recognized Aunt Brandy's voice. She sounded worried. She was squishing the wasp, which was making him mad so he stung me harder.
"What? Oh I'm sorry Jack." she let go of my arm and the wasp settled own.
I noticed then that there was a bandage over my face. My eyes.
"What happened?" I asked around the dryness in my throat.
I heard her pull a chair across the floor. The wooden legs squeaking on the tile.
"Jack you were in a wreck. The RV was hit by a semi truck coming from the other direction."
A semi! An image of the kind of destruction that could do flashed threw my mind.
"Mom? Dad?" I took a deep breath. "Is Jennifer ok? Is Wendy here?"
There was a long pause. I heard her take a breath that was half sob.
I knew at that moment. I listened to her tell me how I was the only survivor. How they had cut me from the wreckage an hour after the wreck. Someone had noticed blood coming from a piece of wreckage in the ditch beside the road. How they saw it in the dark with only red and blue lights to light the night was a miracle she said.
Jen. Wendy. Oh god no.
I tried to cry. The sobs sent wracking pain threw me. It tore at places in me. I heard Aunt Brandy calling for a nurse. The wasp got very angry then.
As sleep took me again I couldn't help but wonder where my tears were.
"WHERE IS HE!"
A woman screaming woke me.
I heard Aunt Brandy's voice trying to answer, then the voices became distant. Muffled. The sound of the room was different too.
The door was closed.
I moved my hand to the side of the bed and hit a plastic railing. Reaching up it I found a button and pushed it. Slowly the bed sat up.
"Please keep your voice down." I head Brandy say through the door. For me to hear it maybe she should do the same. I reached up for my face.
"I WILL NOT BE QUITE! I WANT TO KNOW WHY MY DAUGHTER IS DEAD AND HE'S ALIVE!"
I recognized Jen's mom's voice then. My fingers touched the thick bandages over my eyes.
"HE TALKED HER INTO GOING WITH HIM. SHE'S DEAD BECAUSE OF HIM AND HE'S JUST FINE!"
My eyes hurt under the badges. They itched, like my arm. Reaching over I felt cold plaster encasing my left arm from my shoulder down.
"You Stupid woman! He's not Fine! He's held together with tape and stitches. He's had seven surgeries and has been awake twice in three weeks. Does that sound fine to you?"
I reached back to scratch at the bandages covering my eyes.
"HE'S ALIVE! THAT'S BETTER THAN HE DESERVES.IT'S MORE THAN MY DAUGHTER IS!"
"Oh Jennifer" I whispered to myself. I scratched around the tape where it pulled on my eyebrows.
"HE'S BLIND YOU STUPID CUNT! He may never see again. They pulled a half a cup of glass out of his eyes."
My fingers stop, then unable to help it I began to claw at the bandages.
"No. NO. NO!"
I heard the door open, I heard feet running, people telling my Aunt and Jen's Mom they would have to be quite or leave. Then a nurse's voice demanding they move.
I felt hands near my face, but I didn't fight them as they redid the bandages. I sat numb,
The sun on my face had been warm. It came in through the window I knew. I had felt it around my eyes burning the skin. Like ants biting me.
I couldn't see it.
I was in the dark.
I could hear my Aunt crying. Jen's mom was as well.
I wished I could,
* * *
I know now I will never cry again. Not for the rest of my life. The tear ducts were destroyed. Pieces of mirror.
My own reflection took away my sight. There's some ironies to that I'm sure. If I cared to search for them.
If I cared for anything.
First an eye specialist, then Dr Mathews, my families doctor since before I was born, explained it to me. When humans go threw something traumatic they cope with it by going through stages. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.
Denial. Yea, your going to deny you can't see. Right.
Bargaining. With fucking who!
Acceptance? Not a chance in this fucking life.
Anger and depression. Yea, those two have become old friends.
I was in the hospital for two months after I woke up. The final tally ten broken bones, two punctured organs, a near complete facial reconstruction, one amputation 'my pinky on my left hand' and a partridge in a fucking pear tree.
Oh and my eyes.
That fucking specialist had dangled hope before my blind eyes for awhile then his tone changed. He started talking about schools for the blind. Eye centers. Crap like that.
I would have punched him if I could have seen where to swing.
I had night terrors the whole time I was there and for weeks after I got home they would come back to visit. I had almost no memories of the wreck, but that didn't stop my vision-deprived mind from giving me a nightly rerun of it.
I would wake screaming as shards of mirror like a million razors tore into my face, again and again. I could hear Jen's sweet voice. Her last screams echoing up out the dark.
I would wake into blackness clawing to get to her. To save her.
That must be the denial part.
A woman's arms always greeted me. Aunt Brandy stayed at my bedside threw the whole thing. She never left. In the weeks as my strength came back I must have hurt her a dozen times waking like that. She never once mentioned it. In the dark, that's now my home. I would fight anything that I could get hold of.
Her soft voice brought me back from the edge time and time again. Her soothing tone would caress me back down onto the sweat soaked bed. Cool water she would give me from a straw to ease a throat scream raw.
She was always there for me.
I hated and loved her for that. I can't explain it any better.
They released me into her care when the majority of the casts came off. The physical therapy to learn to walk again after that long in bed is a bitch. She would be there to message my cramping legs after the doctors were done with me.
How did I thank her? With angry shouts to leave me to die. Hard words that ripped out of me at every chance. I hated having to be alive.
It hurts to be alive.
To be alive and in the dark hurts so very bad. I hated the world around me. It was my enemy as I started to walk again. It would move things that would be driven into leg bones just out of casts. It tried to conquer me and would have except for one thing
She gave up her apartment to her roommate and moved into the house with me taking Mom and Dads old room. She went threw the house and got rid of everything sharp or hard-edged, glass or breakable. She cleared the rooms of useless items put there to decorate a sighted world. How she coped I don't know. I didn't have to see when she donated everyone's clothes. When family heirlooms went into the trash because they weren't safe around a blind person.
She got rid of things that would remind me of what I had lost. My car I would never drive again. My bike I would never ride threw the woods again.
I hated and loved her.
It was her that got the damn cane into my hand. The tap, tap, tap that was my vision! All the colors of the spectrum reduced to a stick that makes a tap. I despise the fucking thing.
I just wanted to toss the thing into the trash and walk out into traffic. Go be with Jen like I should be.
But I couldn't.
I couldn't find the damn trash can without it.
* * *
They, being the sighted who I no longer was a part of, tell you when you go blind your hearing becomes near super human to compensate.
They.....are lying cocksuckers!
Better to describe it as owning a Ferrari and a Pinto. If you blow up the motor in the Ferrari you can still get where you need to in the Pinto. It's just not as fun a drive.
You can if you have no choice learn to navigate with your hearing. It takes effort and concentration. If you let your attention wander you will miss the click as a traffic signal switches. The shift in the road noise that tells you it's time to walk.
Hearing isn't alone though You come to see by feel, by smell, by touch, hell even by taste, though that one is as weird as it sounds.
Sitting in the living room with the TV on, a movie I had seen years ago playing, I heard Aunt Brandy in the hallway. I smelled her. She had just gotten out of the shower. Soap, shampoo, her deodorant and a hint of perfume. The personal collection of scents that moved with her everywhere she went.
"Jack?" I heard her voice in the doorway.
"Yea Brandy?" I had dropped the 'Aunt' when talking to her at the hospital. Kind of hard to say something that respectful when you're dog cussing her at the same time.
I heard the click of the light switch.
My god how I hate that fucking SOUND!
"Oh there you are."
Ever been in the house with the power out and you try the switch. Know how stupid you feel when you do that. Now think about the power never coming back on. But you want to keep trying the switch.
Welcome to my fucking world.
I heard her bare feet on the carpet. The rustle of her clothes as she knelt down beside me. I was lying on the couch facing the ceiling. Like it made a difference.
"You getting hungry?"
I had smelled her cooking before the shower had turned on. Chicken. There were some tomatoes involved. An overall kind of corn smell. Mexican food.
"A little." I told her swinging my feet up. I hit the off button on the TV and got to my feet. Reaching out I found her elbow and she guided me by walking in front of me.
I have the layout of the house down good, but a door frame in the face had shown me I still needed work.
Once in the kitchen I turned her loose and made it to the table by myself. Only two chairs now. The others were put away in case we needed them. Why we would I don't know. We never entertain. We are all that's left of our family except for some distant cousins. And a great uncle in a loony bin. Always been told I favor him so I got that going for me as well.
I'm a cheerful asshole aren't I.
Oh you don't like it?
I'm BLIND! Fuck you too!
God the food was good. I'll say one thing for her. She maybe a pushy, demanding, interfering, overprotective bitch, but damn she can cook.
"How did school go?" she asked me between bites.
I shrugged. I'm blind I can still get away with it. Just everyone else can't.
"Do I have to call there to find out?" she asked her voice still sweet.
"No. You don't have to call. We learned about two new words and did review on what we learned yesterday and last week." I took a big bite to give me an excuse to not talk more.
"Is it coming to you any quicker?" she asked. I could hear her move something on the table. Then a sipping sound. Her glass.
"Yea maybe. I can kind of, I guess, 'see' the word now. Some of it's still just a bunch of dots." I moved my fingers slowly till they touched my glass. Five inches exactly from my plate on the right. Setting it back down, after a sip, in the same place, I reached two inches towards me and down for where I had left my fork.
"Well your just getting started its going to take awhile to get good at it. You didn't learn to read when you were a kid overnight either. I remember trying to teach you your letters with flashcards."
"Hey that's an Idea. Let's try that, Braille with flash cards." My sarcasm was thick enough to cut with the knife that's two inches to the right of where my fork was siting. Fuck I just want to eat a meal! I don't want to have to memorize the damn table just so I can find my food! And why the fuck won't she shut up. I can't remember where my fucking napkin is.
She ate in silence for a second. Then put her fork down on an empty plate. It has a different tone than when there is food on it.
"You know it might work at that."
"What?' I asked scrapping my last bite together.
"Flash cards. With the letter done in Braille."
Chewing threw the food I swallowed and reached for my glass too fast. I felt it tip then stop. She had caught it.
"How in the hell would I see flash cards, Brandy?" I demanded.
She moved something.... My plate I think. Yes I hear it placed on top of hers.
"With your finger tips. Like you have been learning to do. I'll ask your teacher. They may even have them with the letter printed on them.
So she could see what I was reading.
Hate was beating out on love tonight.
* * *
Hot glass! PAIN! Horrible screams all around me. The squeal of tires, crutch of metal, hot liquid pouring down my face.
Jen! Must get to Jen. She can fix my eyes. If I could only see her I could save her.
"Jack wake up!"
My hands clawed at fabric. Thin stuff it tears in my fingers. Soft skin, warm and hard with muscle, under my fingers.
I turned screaming and crying without tears into Aunt Brandy's arms. She holds me to her chest as the shattering pain of loss made me want to crawl under a rock.
"It's ok Jack. I'm here. I'm here. I'm not going to leave you. It's ok."
I cling to her wishing the tears would fall. Her skin warm against my face. I feel her hand brushing the back of my head. Her fingers soft, gentle, strong and protective. Slowly the sobbing stopped. The scent of her was filling me. All I could see was her. Every one of my senses was filled with her.
It was that feeling that pulls me back once more. Safe in her arms.
Trapped in the dark.
My arms tightened around her. At this point before she has been shoved away, slapped, hit closed fist, clawed at and once at the hospital, under the drugs influence, strangled.
She felt me tense up and didn't even flinch.
Love won after all. Tonight.
I noticed at that moment, as I hadn't till then, that my face was pressed into her breasts. That they were bare........ And that her nipple was pressing hard against my cheek.
I turned her lose startled.
"Another shirt destroyed. Maybe I should learn how to make rag rugs. All these fabric scraps would be useful then."
I sat up on the bed and stripped off the tank top I was wearing. I handed it to her. I had to place it into her hand. The room must be dark. Ha!
"Well thank you Jack, but there isn't much point in me being modest."