Sirwin
Sirwin
luxury hotel

Beth

By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 6 May 2023


 

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The next morning I awoke to the most curious sight. She had risen before me, entered the bathroom, bright with the morning light. Through the open door I saw her standing motionless in front of the mirror, the band off, staring at her pretty face, one hand raised and her finger touching her lip. What an odd experience this must be, the first sight of oneself at fifteen, what a revelation to a consciousness that had been shrouded in darkness until this moment, a lifting of the veil, an epiphany.

She turned when I made a sound and this time she ran to me, leaping across the bed and clasping me with an emotion beyond words as she could only cry. The thought occurred to me that she had never experienced the childhood joy of running or jumping before.

A blind person’s existence must be a confined thing, like living at the bottom of the ocean in an old fashioned diving suit and every movement a slow and ridiculous motion, or like one constantly living in a medieval suit of armor, encumbered and clumsy.

Now she was free of this burden and pulled away from my arms and looked me square in the face, saying I was just like she imagined, handsome and young. She told me she couldn’t see perfectly yet, every object had fuzzy outlines, but she was beginning to perceive colors, something she had never imagined and to her they were like delicious flavors as she drank them in.

We had a search to conduct this morning and after a quick meal we set out. I took Amira to the alley where I found her and asked her to recall the other places they had been hiding. She was looking about her curiously, at all the lamp posts and buildings and street signs, taking her time to catch her bearings. This was not the world she had known and after a minute she began touching the building and drawing her hand along it as she led me, up the avenue and across a street to a similar structure two blocks away.

“This was our school” she told me, “and in the basement we had a large stash of food because we stayed here most of the time.”

I could see it was a school as we walked along a corridor of classrooms. At the far end there was a steep flight of stairs leading down into pure darkness and I had no flashlight with me, so I paused until Dora spoke: “I have night vision and thermal imaging and I can perceive from here that there is a human form in the room below and that it is alive.”

Amira pulled me hard by the hand down the staircase, probably able to see even better than me now with Dora’s help, a strange reversal of roles. She guided me to a pitch black corner and a mattress on the floor where Beth lay, unconscious but faintly breathing. Amira cried out her name as she embraced her and this woke her a bit.

I didn’t trust myself carrying her in this darkness so I dragged her through the gloom and up the steel stairs backwards. She issued faint cries of pain as her feet banged against each step as we went up. In the light again I could see that her one leg was broken above the ankle, swollen and bloody, a large gash in her skin and a piece of bone visible. She was in a delirium and didn’t know what was happening.

But now I could carry her. She didn’t weigh much, she was short and slender, and soon she was in a bed, the nurse's office of the school. As Amira sponged her face with cold water Dora played doctor, instructing me to sterilize the wound with the supplies at hand and snap the bone back into place, which took several clumsy tries on my part. In the pain of these attempts Beth woke up. She recognized Amira and hugged her, thanking God over and over for our aid, though I doubted that my aid was worth a thanking.

She needed much more care, so with Dora on my neck I made a trip to the hospital. I was amazed at her efficiency. She seemed to know exactly where everything she asked for could be found, as if she’d been a doctor in that place for ten years. And it was a very long list of items I collected, filling two satchels, from scalpels to sedatives.

With Beth somewhat washed and fed, I carried and drove her back to our hotel suite for all the comforts there and what would prove a slow recovery, Amira her constant nurse. But I was in no hurry and now I had two humans to talk to.

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Diomedes
Diomedes

B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.


Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

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