Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Hear (07/08/10)
TITLE: Even without seeing
By Graham Starling
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We were pretty much an item from our first day at high school. We didn’t share many classes, me being a sports major and Elie-May studying science and stuff, but we met up most breaks and lunchtimes, and of course we still walked to school and back together.
Then the accident happened. Mr. Hennessey, Elie-May’s chemistry teacher, had paired her with Tommy the class joker, as lab partners to see if she could quiet him down. It didn’t work and one day Tommy just started dumping different stuff into a test tube and heating it to see what would happen. When it kind of exploded out all over the place he was ready to laugh fit to bust his sides ‘till Elie-May started screaming and jamming her hands into her eyes.
Mr. Hennessey was quick. He ran over and took hold of Elie-May’s hands, pushed her under a faucet and started washing her eyes. He yelled at one of the students to call 911 and then told Tommy to write down all the chemicals he’d mixed together.
I was playing football at the time. I remember seeing the ambulance come and go, but it wasn’t till later that I learned what happened. I went to visit Elie-May straight after school that day. Her face was red and blotchy and her eyes were covered with dressings. I sat on her bed and cried for both of us while she told me what had happened.
I wanted to go after Tommy for what he’d done but Elie-May said no, there was stupid enough to go around and she was as much to blame for not wearing her safety glasses. I went looking for Tommy anyways, but when I found him he was hurting so much over what he’d done that all my rage just drained out of me.
I was with Elie-May when the dressings came off two weeks later. When she told us all that she couldn’t see it was like all the blood in me turned to ice. I guess she’d been expecting it though ‘cos she just took a deep breath and said if that was the way it was going to be she’d just have to make the best of it. I ain’t never been more proud than I was of her that day. Next day when I visited, she was teaching herself to read braille, and when she was released from the hospital two weeks later, I was there to see her swinging her white stick around like a pro.
Next day she insisted on going to school, so I walked her there as usual. I don’t know why, but I found myself describing everything as we walked from the blue sky with its cotton candy clouds to the patterns the wind made in the corn. It was like Elie-May losing her sight made mine all the keener. When we got to school she went straight to Tommy. I don’t know how she knew to find him, but she walked right up to him and wrapped him in her arms. I ain’t never heard anything like the noise he made as he cried hisself out, like all the pain in the world was giving voice. By the time he was done there wasn’t a dry eye in the school.
Later that evening, Elie-May and me was out walking near the river. I was describing the colors in the sunset to her till she started laughing and told me how with the way I talked I should be on the radio or something. Come into my world a while she tells me and closes my eyes with her fingers before putting them on my lips so’s I couldn’t speak.
Before long I could hear the river bubbling over the stones, the birds singing in the trees, the wind rustling the leaves. Even without seeing the world is beautiful.
I love you Elie-May I whisper to her. I know she replies, I hear that too.
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