The Blind

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic
Short story for Christy R's "Fictional Writing Contest".

Submitted: July 06, 2016

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Submitted: July 06, 2016

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“If tears could build a stairway and memories a lane,

I would walk right up to heaven and bring you back again.”

 

My name is Karen Lovett and I have a blind for a mother. And I am ashamed.

We weren’t rich. We slept in the slums of the ever-bustling New York City. Our lives were contradictory to the metropolitan grandeurs and luxuries that surrounded us. Every day from dawn to twilight, she would be sweeping the wrapper-littered streets just for a plate of pasta we would share together. Despite the circumstances, the good cheer that graced her spirit never wavered.

When I was eight, we had enough fund for me to finally enter school. At first, I was happy beyond thinking. I thought I could finally be like all the other kids and had higher possibility to reach my dream career as an artist. I thought I could finally be normal. I thought I could finally have a future, unlike my pathetic excuse for a mother.

I was wrong.

The second I set a foot on the white-tiled classroom floor, there were sneers and whispers all directed to the brown-haired girl in blue.

“I heard she started school late because she’s poor.”

“She’s uglier than I thought.”

“Hey, her mother’s blind, right? Must suck.”

From that day onwards, my dislike for school escalated. Every class was a persecution. There would be paper-wads on my desk, torn pages in my locker, spit on my hair, and post-its of insults on my back. I never understood why I was such a damned existence in the social circle, but now I do.

It was all because of my mother.

She was the reason I had to endure the excruciating hours of embarrassment because of a fault I thought was my own.

One day, I stopped talking. My mother had just arrived in our tiny new home with dinner stowed in plastic wraps dangling from her calloused fingers. The bitterness hidden in the depths of my heart multiplied as she groped into the kitchen.

“Karen, dear?” she said. “Can you get me a glass of water, please?”

I did not respond.

“Karen? Are you home, honey?”

I sighed, striding into the kitchen to fetch a glass of water before roughly shoving it into my mother’s open hand.

“Oh, dear,” she chuckled. “That was a surprise, wasn’t it? I have one for you too. Guess what? We’re having scrambled eggs tonight. Your favorite.”

My fingers were twitching with resentment at the black-haired woman.

“Karen? You’re being quiet today. Is everything alright? How’s school?”

“I’m leaving,” I said, unable to conceal my emotions any longer.

“You’re…leaving?” she leaned against the wall. “But why? All of a sudden?”

My gut boiling with rage, I stomped to my room and began stuffing my suitcase. My mother appeared at the doorway, but I kept my focus to the task at hand. I was aware of her silent sobs and her hand groping the wall to reach me. I zipped my suitcase and stood up, slapping her fingers away from my hair.

“Don’t you know it’s rude to touch someone’s head like that?” I exclaimed.

“I—I’m so sorry, honey but why leaving now? You’re just sixteen for goodness’ sake.”

“I’m big enough to look after myself.”

“Look, we can talk about this.”

I grabbed thirty dollars from the shelf next to her bedside and dragged my suitcase to the door. “Bye, mom.”

“Karen! Please, come back. I love you.”

Those were the last words I ever heard escape her mouth.

~*~*~

I viewed the world through a canvas. I sat by the window in my apartment, the brush in my hand bringing the blue feathers to life by the smooth streaks of my wrist. Works of colored liquid adorned the beige walls—a woman bent low on her load in Thailand; a multicolored sunrise over the mountains in China; a pair of luscious red lips craving the touch of another.

I sighed and leaned back. A blue jay stared back at me, the striking sapphire hue of its feathers contrasting elegantly with the autumn leaves. I settled my palette and strolled to fetch myself a warm mug of instant cappuccino. As the bitter-sweet sensation tamed my tongue, my mind couldn’t help but replay a fragment of my past I chose never to remember.

It has been six years. Six years since I left home. Six years since I left my mother and a portion of my heart with her.

I settled the drink on the table, the familiar guilt gnawing at my chest. Now that I have a stable income and a comfortable life, I might as well seek forgiveness and pay my mother a visit. After all, I’ve came to the conclusion that my actions were outright foolish.

The next day, I booked a flight back to New York. The one-and-a-half hour flight from Toronto was exhausting with the armful of tributes I have prepared for my mother. The rundown white bungalow was exactly the way I had seen it last, though the pots of daisies that used to greet me by the doorway were now shriveled and cracked.

I stepped up to the door, towing the gifts in my arms. The door swung open just as my knuckles were about to make contact with the worn wood.

Her hair that used to glisten like strands of black silk was now thinning tufts of gray. Her skin was tan and flecked with years of toil under the sun. Her lids were closed as if she was sleep-walking instead of being blind by birth.

“Who is it?” she asked with her usual quirky smile.

“Mom.”

Her lips fell. “Karen?”

“It’s me, mom. I brought you some gifts fro—”

My speech was cut short as she threw her arms around me. “My darling! I’ve missed you so. Come in, come in.”

I followed her into the place of my memories. The scent of baked goods wafted from the kitchen door. As she prepared the afternoon snacks, I tiptoed into her room to take a peek. A notebook lay on her bedside table, the worn leather cover beckoning me to open it.

I gingerly lifted it from the nightstand. The notebook was no bigger than my open hand. I stared for a moment longer before flipping open the bookmarked page.

I went to the next journal.

I skimmed past several entries until my eyes landed on the last page.

I reread the last sentence over and over. I closed the journal and touched my cheeks, realizing they were wet with fresh tears. I realized I was a fool, and all the apology and the gifts I’d brought were not enough to compensate with the sacrifice she had made.

“Why would you hurt yourself, mom?” My voice was barely audible. “Why keep on giving when you’re losing more of yourself?”

My mother was silent. She stood up from her chair and groped towards me, before embracing me in her frail, thin arms.

“I realized that this life is useless if I lived it for myself,” she whispered. “I’m sorry if by my eyes you get to see the pains of this world. I wanted to show you so many things, though this world is both beautiful and defective.”

I held my mother tight. She rubbed my back soothingly as I sobbed, just like the time when I scraped my knee in the playground. I will never forget that day of my life, even though her body now belonged to the Earth, her warmth unreachable except for the golden memories she’d painted my life with.

My name is Karen Lovett and I have a blind for a mother. But I am proud.

 

Dear daughter,

If I could give you one thing in life, I would give you the ability to see yourself through my eyes. Only then you would realize how precious you are to me…

 

 


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