Blindness

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Lights strung among raftersHe held her close in the silence and the darkness. He felt her sigh; her body contracted and was stiff and distant in his arms. “What’s wrong?” he whispered, relaxing his hold. A few moments of silence passed. A tentative patter of raindrops began to drum the roof of the cabin.

“I’ve never spent so much time with a sighted person before,” she answered at last.

“Is that a problem?”

“Well. It just makes me feel like I’m missing out on something. More than usual.”

He lay still, thinking. “Can I help somehow?”

“Tell me what it’s like.”

“Sight?”

“Tell me about the night sky.”

“Well. It’s big. Huge. It’s dark,” he began, hearing how inadequate the words were the moment he said them. He began again.

“You know when you’re outside really late at night, and everything is very quiet? You can sort of hear the silence expanding way into the distance?”

“Yes,” she said slowly.

“It looks like that. And it’s full of stars.”

“What do stars look like? How is it full of them?”

He paused to think, listening to the rain beating harder.

“They look like raindrops,” he decided. “You know how, if you’re outside in the rain, you can feel drops hitting you. Some bigger, some smaller. Sprinkled throughout the sky. Does that make sense?”

“Sort of. How big are they?”

“They look tiny. Like the head of a pin. And when you’re far away from the city, you can see so many more of them. So, still going with rain here, instead of just experiencing the raindrops that are striking your skin, you can see thousands of them falling towards you. And there are so many of them, at so many different distances, that you can imagine thousands more of them that are still too far away to perceive.”

“I understand,” she said dreamily. “What about a sunset?”

“A sunset looks warm. Even if it’s cold out. You know how a flame works? The middle is the hottest, and it sort of fades out from there. A sunset is like that, except instead of fading out in a circle, it’s in a line. The sun goes below the horizon—the long, flat line of the ground—and so just above the ground is like the hottest part. And it fades up from there, looking cooler and cooler until it reaches the night sky.”

“And the stars.”

“Yes, and the stars. You don’t see many of the stars until the sun is fully gone. They slowly start to appear at the edges where the light starts to cool down. But instead of temperatures, we see changes in colour.”

“I’ve heard so much about colour,” she said mournfully.

“It’s definitely a hard one to explain. The closest I can think of is heat. We even describe it like that—there are warm colours and cool colours. Red is the hottest, so people associate it with hot emotions: rage and passionate love. And blue is the coolest, so it’s linked to the opposites: calmness and sadness or loneliness. Red is at the hottest part of the sunset: like rage and love, it’s in your face. It’s so close you can’t ignore it; you can’t think about anything else. And blue is at the very edge of the sunset, past all the warmth. It’s feelings that are far away.”

“I like this game.” She had relaxed in his arms. “What’s a shadow?”

“You know how structures can block waves? Like, a noise on the street is louder if your window is open, and even louder if you’re outside? Well, they do the same to light waves. The sun comes from one direction. You can feel it on your face or back, right? But not at the same time. But the waves of light, like the waves of sound, hit your body and get blocked. So whatever’s directly opposite where the sun hits you—the ground, usually—doesn’t get exposed to light. And it makes a pattern—a shape of your body.” He traced her outline, his finger gently travelling around her shoulder, up her neck, around her ear. “You can see the outline of a body—or any structure—copied onto the ground.”

He waited for her to ask about another sight, but her breathing had grown soft and even. He felt himself growing drowsy, too, as the rain pattered on the roof in the darkness.

Follow Lindsay Vermeulen:

Lindsay has edited multiple works for publication, including magazine articles, web content, e-newsletters, and a novel. She loves chocolate, afternoon tea, and design with vintage appeal.

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