I’ve changed some things. Not too much. I don’t too much to go now before the book is completely finished and ready for edits. So get ready for that.
Again thanks for reading and thanks for all the support. You guys are awesome.
Please leave me feedback if you do read though, good or bad. :)
My bedside table is a suicide ledge for cups.
They dance to its edge and leap to the wooden floor below, twisting and clattering, forever lost to the darkness under my bed. I hope on the way down, they make peace with their God.
That’s the second cup this week.
Earthquakes are common around here. Well, at least these days. There hasn’t been a day in the last week I hadn’t shaken awake by nature’s alarm clock and shattering glass.
I stretch and yawn, hitting the button on top of my clock and wait for the time.
“Five-forty two a m.” The soothing female voice recites.
“Nice. So that’s three hours of sleep total.” I say aloud into my room, sitting up on my mattress. “That’ll get me through the day.” Sarcasm.
I feel my hair spill out of the top bun I put it into the night before and flood down my back like an angry, river. The curls represent the rolling waves and the wooden beads throughout act as the helpless water creatures along for the wild ride.
I’m not a rough sleeper but I just have poor bun skills.
I take another sigh, standing.
My mornings all start the same. It goes sarcasm, shower, and more sarcasm. As a nineteen-year-old girl, it’s my civic duty to provide as much false emotion as possible. At least, that’s what my Dad tells me.
I make my way to my tub. I feel for the tiny, raised bumps on the steel of the handles. My fingers read ‘hot’ and I turn it on. The water gushes out over my other hand and I feel the warmth almost immediately.
I’ve been mostly blind since birth. I say mostly blind cause sometimes I catch small glimpses. Sometimes I catch the blurry smiles on people faces and see streaks of lightly colored flowers.
Most days are like this but some days are just completely blotted out in a white light.
I call these my white days, fittingly of course, it’s better than calling them my worse days. Which would be truer.
Giving extra attention to my back, I pick at the long time scar on my right shoulder. I don’t know what caused it but it’s been there for as long as I came remember. Every now and again, it’ll start to sting and bleed. A thick scab forms over top.
I pick at the stony scab until it painfully comes off in my hand and I throw it easily into my wastebasket.
My armoire is just outside. I open the doors, running my fingertips over the shirts hanging individually. I touch the cotton of a button down and stop to tug it off its hanger. I search for the tag and read the braille sewn in. Purple.
Behind me, a scratching outside my room pulls my attention out beyond my window. I slip my shirt on slowly, still trying to listen to the new noise. The scratching moves, sounding more as if it was in my room now.
“Hello?” I say softly. “Somebody there?”
I hear the noise move around my room, along my walls and across the room of my floor. I turn wildly in each direction, trying to catch whatever was making the sound in a small sight line. I saw nothing. The scratching was louder now, painful even, feeling as if it’s piercing my eardrums. I cover my ears with my palms involuntarily.
“What is happening?” I yell.
The scratching stops just as abrupt as it started. I drop my arms and sigh, closing my eyes.
A steamy flash of heat hits my right ear with a small growl.
I lose control, giving of a strangled scream and jutting forward to my open armoire. I stumble into my clothes and crash next to the dresser on the wooden floor.
“Dad!” I scream.
Without a pause I hear the heavy boot steps of Dad, rushing towards my room.
“Orial?” His voice is calm despite his movements. He enters without knocking. “Everything okay?”
“I, uh,” I move to get up from the floor. “There was a thing.” I say.
“A thing?” His large hands grab my shoulders and stand me upright safely. I hush him and listen intently.
I hear nothing.
“Ori–, ” He starts.
“There was scratching. Something breathed on me.” I explain.
“There’s nothing here sweetie.” He pauses. “Are you feeling okay?”
His tone of voice says it all. He thinks I’m losing my mind. Blood rushes to my face, warming my cheeks. Now I’m painfully aware that I’m standing pant-less in the middle of my room. I pull at the bottom of my shirt to cover my legs.
“Well,” he starts again. “Whatever it was it’s gone now.” He pats my shoulder and backs away. I scuttle back to my dresser and grab a pair of jeans to slip on. I can hear the smile in his voice.
He clears his throat. “You’re hanging with your brother again today. Morrison wants me at the office.”
“Is it cause of the quake?” My Dad works as a geologist at GeoThermics downtown. He works closely with the CEO Alfrand Morrison and has been called in everyday this week. He won’t say but I know it’s because of all the quakes we’re having.
“They say it’s the biggest quake yet.” He tries to justify.
“It didn’t feel any bigger.” I pout dramatically. “What about chicken Friday?”
We eat chicken on Fridays.
“I know Princess.” Dad runs his fingers across my forehead and catches a few of my knotted braids of hair.
He wasn’t always a Geo-nerd. He says before I was born, he worked in construction, building the houses in this very city. He worked by the sweat of his brow and the grease in his elbows. I’d love to see what these walls turned out to look like at the hands of my father. I bet they’re as beautiful as the bedtime stories he spun me when I was smaller.
The stories where he so conveniently left out any mention of Mama.
“How about, if I get done early, we get ice cream from Norma’s and sit at the pond? Deal?” Dad says. He knows how to sway me. Just the mention of the pond brings up the vividly beautiful smell of fresh water. Cool with just enough mystery to keep me coming back. All the ice cream in the world can’t compare.
I nod at him. “Deal.”
“Alright. Be good for Oscar and I’ll see you a little later.” I immediately miss him and he wasn’t even gone yet. “Bye Orial.”
“Bye Dad.” I wave.
Oz is waiting for me downstairs. I know because I can smell his coconut hair oil all through the house. He’s been using it so long I can pick him out of a crowd.
It doesn’t take long before I navigate my way down to him. I can feel his eyes staring holes through me. Oscar’s not a talker, to me anyway. He thinks just because I can’t see him very well that he can just fade away but there’s more than one way to be present.
The entire room tenses whenever he’s around. The air is still and I can swear even the temperature drops. That says more than his words ever can.
“Got a problem?” I say.
“Not at all.” He answers low. “It’s just, I got better things to do than to lead around one of the blind mice.” I imagine his wrinkled brow and permanently clinched jaw. The sharp lines of his face match the daggers in his voice. At only twenty-two years old, Oscar had aged his face by ten years from frowning alone.
I smile. “Right. I’d hate to keep you from…what is it? Brownies and NPR?” My reply is a little meaner than intended but argument trumps the silence.
“Whatever. Just get your crap so we can leave.” He snorts and walks away. The room can finally relax.
I love my brother, I do. But I can’t help but feel it’s one sided. Or maybe it’s side-less all together.
I meet him at the front door; my bag is on a hook just next to it. I slip it on over my head and rest its strap across my chest. I slide on my loafer shoes.
I pause at the door, taking a deep breath.
This is it. This is the point where the world opens its huge jowls and swallows me whole. All the sounds and smells assault my senses and I try my best not to go insane.
“Come on.” Oscar grabs my hand and pulls me down the front steps. I yank my hand back. I may be impaired but I’m not five.
I put my shades on. They help with what little I can see by blocking the glare from the sun. Although they do dim some of the colors I may catch, it’s better than not seeing them at all.
The city of Jefferson, my hometown, isn’t exactly what I’d call crowded but it’s definitely not a small town. There are tons shops, people, and cars. Did I mention the cars? They’re the bane of my existence. They’re loud, nauseously fume-y, and worst of all, they are fast.
Weaving in and out of the foot traffic is easy. Most people have an atmosphere about them. Tall, short, fat, or thin. I can feel them coming before they get close enough to bump my shoulder and we have to have that awkward interaction.
But cars? They’re large, steel contraptions that just race by or through me with no regard. They’re unpredictable.
And when they hit each other, there is no uncomfortable excuse me’s or fumbling phones, there’s only the horrible sound of crumbling metal and the devastation of fracturing glass. Screaming and police sirens. Ambulances and handcuffs.
I am not a fan.
Oscar and I wait at the edge of the sidewalk, letting the cars whip by in their ever-hurried states. There’s a machine that tells us when it’s safe to cross. Oscar is pressing the button over and over again.
“Fifth and Grand. Cross now.” The speaker blares.
I immediately look for Oscar’s hand and without fail; it’s there for me to cling to.
We may not be best friends but some things are just more important.
We start across slowly.
Before we’re even halfway, the machine starts counting down from fifteen seconds. It’s like the countdown to a bomb exploding in a movie. My palms start to sweat on cue.
“Fifteen, fourteen, thirteen…”
Oscar keeps ahold to my hand; I know he can feel how nervous I am. It’s like electricity coursing through me. You’d have to be dead not to feel it.
“Ten, nine, eight…”
He squeezes tighter for reassurance.
“Five, four, three…”
“Oscar?” My voice squeaks accidentally.
“One more big leap.” Oscar pulls my hand up and I jump as if I’m jumping across the Grand Canyon and land firmly on the sidewalk. I hear Oscar step on the curb beside me, chuckling. He let’s go of my hand and the traffic floods behind us. I have to take a deep breath to slow my heart rate.
“You’re ridiculous.” He jabs but keeps walking.
“Oh shut up.” I collect myself and keep pace.
And just like that, he’s back to being an asshole.