In A World Gone Black

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Anna goes blind following an accident when she is eight years old. Will years of undergoing treatment allow her to see again or will she always live in a world gone black?

Submitted: June 25, 2016

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Submitted: June 25, 2016

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In A World Gone Black.

 

Today was the day and Anna was so nervous. In just a matter of minutes she would find out if allowing herself to become a test subject had paid off. She knew, she had been told, that the odds of regaining her sight were poor, but there was a slim possibility of her recovering some of it. She had refused to let herself hope as so many previous treatments had failed but still she couldn't totally avoid some sense of anticipation.

 

* * * * *

 

Anna had lost her sight in an accident when she was just eight years old. She had been playing in a tree-house with her brother and her best friend. Things had got silly, excitement had led to foolishness and Anna had found herself plunging face first towards the ground.

 

Anna did not remember much of that first hospital stay. She did remember the feeling of absolute terror when she regained consciousness only to find herself living in a world turned black. There was hope that her sight would return; that her eyes would recover along with the rest of her body from the trauma.

 

Her broken collar-bone mended. Her arm mended. It took a good bit more time but her neck recovered too. But Anna, it seemed, was destined to spend the rest of her life in darkness.

 

Anna had loved to read. She had loved to draw. She was young enough to adapt, they said. She could learn Braille and then be able to read again, or there were plenty of audio books around. She could learn an art that relied more on feel than just on sight. Engraving and sculpture were both suggested as possibilities to Anna.

 

Technology allowed easy listening to stories, anywhere and any time. It was not the same. Whenever Anna had been reading her imagination had been vividly involved. Listening to someone read out the words was not the same. The way the reader read the stories, the parts they chose to stress, made the experience of listening a product of their interpretation rather than her own.

 

Anna was given a special keyboard to type on. The characters were raised on the keys. When they were pressed the characters were called out, a function that could be turned off once she was confident at touch-typing. Anna would be able to write her own stories, her own poems. Without the colours to enrich her world the words just would not come.

 

Anna grew more and more listless. She became more and more depressed. She had to attend her appointments with the eye specialists but it was always to be told the same thing. Her sight, or rather lack of it, had not changed.

 

The treatments she was offered became few and far between. Anna, it seemed, had tried nearly all of those available and had achieved no improvement in the process.

The doctors were giving up on her. Anna knew this as the time between each visit continued to lengthen until she was only attending the clinic twice a year.

 

The days began to pass in a mixture of sameness and nothingness. Anna went through the motions; getting dressed, eating, finding some way to pass the time. But with her loss of sight it felt to her like a part of herself had already died.

 

Then out of the blue a letter arrived. Anna's mother tried not to show any excitement as she read it out loud to her daughter. There was a new treatment still only in its experimental stage. The doctors and specialists had studied her notes and thought that she might be a suitable candidate to undergo treatment. Anna substituted her own words at this – 'You have nothing to lose and can't accuse us of making your condition worse.' If she was willing to become a test subject she should contact the eye clinic without delay.

 

What do you think, Anna? Will you give it a go?”

 

Anna could hear the eagerness in her mothers voice. And why wouldn't she be eager! She had been a victim of the accident too, devoting the last eleven years of her life to looking after a daughter who by now should be well and truly independent.

 

And Anna decided that she would go along with it if only to please her mother. She would not allow herself to believe that the treatment might bring about some improvement to her condition. She would go through the motions but would do so with no hope of success.

 

Once the phone call was made things began to happen very quickly. She was given an appointment with her usual eye specialist for the next week, something that usually required a wait of a couple of months. After he confirmed that there had been no change to Anna's vision she found herself with an appointment to meet the experimental team just two days later.

 

The team consisted of four different specialists, each wanting to make their own thorough inspection of Anna's eyes. She patiently bore their attentions, fitting her head into this apparatus or that. And with each examination she could hear their increasing excitement. By the end of the appointment Anna had earned the dubious honour of becoming their guinea pig. But only after she had signed, with her mothers help, a 'no liability' statement.

 

She would be admitted into a special clinic in the city. Anna would have to stay there for a while but she would be in her own room. She could even bring in some of her own possessions. And the treatment would begin immediately.

 

Her mother fretted. Where would she stay? How often would she be able to see Anna? The doctors and surgeons were reluctant to answer so Anna spoke up for them.

 

I'll see you when this is all over.” Anna cringed at her words; she had not meant to imply that there was any chance of success. “You have a break. Take a holiday or something. Just for once stop worrying about me. You know I'll be well looked after.”

 

The examinations started all over again, along with injections directly into her eyes. Anna would have found this terrifying but she could not see the approaching needles but just felt the following sting. This was taken as a good sign, proving as it did that the nerve damage was not total.

 

The surgery followed. At first Anna was conscious during it. She did not notice so did not react to the laser. As the repair work progressed more and more intricate operations had to be performed and for these Anna was anaesthetized completely. Just a tiny movement could have led to her instant death.

 

And then, when Anna was on the verge of screaming, 'No More', the treatments were complete. Anna's head was wrapped in bandages. She was to stay in bed and to move as little as possible. There was nothing further left to do than to play the waiting game and that was something Anna was well used to.

 

* * * * *

 

And now for the moment of truth. Anna had promised herself that she would not dare to expect success but as the days in the clinic had dragged slowly by she had found herself hoping. Her mothers approaching voice told her that she was about to find out.

 

As the bandages were removed Anna could feel her pulse pick up speed. She found it impossible to keep her breathing even; she could not help but hold her breath.

 

The dressings are off now, Anna. Open your eyes.”

 

And Anna did. There was still darkness. Anna refused to let herself feel disappointed, she had known from the start that this was all doomed to failure. Just as she was about to let her eyelids close, she noticed it. One tiny chink of light and then another.

 

Soon she was being swamped by a cascade of colours. It hurt! She wanted to scream. She wanted the blackness back This was all just too much for her brain to process.

 

What happened, Anna? Did you see something?” Her mother was beside her, full of questions, eager for answers.

 

I don't know. There were colours but too many of them. They hurt and I want them to go away.”

 

One of the doctors placed her hand on Anna's shoulder. 2I'm sorry. We should have warned you, Anna. Your brain has spent so long not having to process visual images that it could not cope. It became over-loaded, it panicked and screamed 'Pain' at you.

 

We should have thought to warn you. We did not want to raise your, or even our own, hopes of success. But that is what that bombardment of colours means, Anna. The experiment has been a success!

 

Now try it again. Just open your eyes for a few seconds, close them and then open them again. Let your brain acclimatise gently.”

 

Each time Anna opened and closed her eyes it became less painful. Each time the colours became less chaotic. And after a short while she even began to make out shapes.

 

I can see.....sort of,” Anna gasped, as she listened to her mothers sobs beside her.

 

We've got a long way to go, Anna. And your vision will never be perfect. But it's worked. We've succeeded. We've brought back your sight.”

 

 

 


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