To Turn a Blind Eye
I pushed open the glass door of the small cafe, my ears picking up on the jingling noise of the small bells the proprietors had tied onto the inside handle. The woman at the counter noticed my entrance, and called out to me from her register.
"Can I help you with anything?"
"No thank you, I'm trying to find my friend." Almost as if on cue, I heard that familiar voice call out to me from the back corner of the cafe, beckoning me to come to them. I slowly made my way around the small group of people who had entered the cafe, and sat down across from her, smiling as I did.
"I got your coffee black, with some packets of sugar. I can never remember how much you like in yours."
"That's ok. So, how have you been?"
"Busy. My new job's taken off, and with my classes in college, I think I'm lucky if I have time to bathe and breathe."
*Chuckle* "Well, can't say I've been doing too much. For obvious reasons, of course."
"It's been exactly two years since it happened..."
"Yeah, true. Before we go into that, however, let's get something to eat. I'm starving." My friend flagged down the waitress, who came up to us after taking an order at another table two rows over.
"Ok, what would you two like?"
My friend spoke up first. "I'll take a turkey wrap, and no mayo please. Also, I'd like an Ultra Cola." My friend turned and directed her next statement to me, "I've never been a fan of coffee, much less drinking it with food."
At this I chuckled again, and smiled. "I'll take a personal pan pizza, please. Pepperoni and peppers. Extra cheese."
The waitress acknowledged both of our orders, and walked towards the back room. I turned back to my friend and smiled. The friend that had been there for me ever since that accident. The accident that changed everything. The accident that made me go blind.
My friend spoke up, breaking me from my nostalgia. "Wow, look at that one over there... oops, sorry!" I could only smile at this. There's no way my friend could be used to my handicap. Funny, that word. Handicap. At first, that's exactly what I considered it. I thought for certain that my life was going to end. I had no one to turn to, no one to help me. It was then that my friend approached me, sharing grief and pain from the same incident.
Ah, yes, the incident. I suppose you want to know about that, too? I guess it's only fair, considering I've told you this much.
"What are you thinking about?" My friend's simple comment tore me once again from my thoughts.
"Oh, the accident."
"Do you ever think about it?"
"Sometimes. Do you?"
"It's all I can see. It was the last thing I saw."
"If you want to talk about it, I'll listen."
So, as it's been told more often than I care to remember, I began to retell a story we were both all-too familiar with.
I was driving, my sister in the front seat with me, her friend in the back seat. They had just gotten done shopping, and I had volunteered to bring them home. I had bonded closer to my sister as of late, and enjoyed my time with her much more now. Neither was saying much, however, and I got the impression that it had been a long day for them. I stopped at a red light, waiting for it to change. The colors red and green now stand out in my mind more than any other color.
The light changed, and I started forward. I looked over at my sister, her eyes closed from the long day of exhaustion, her friend in the back with her eyes closed too. It was at this point that I looked back up and saw the pick-up truck. Someone had decided to try and beat the light. Unfortunately for us, they lost.
The scene in my mind plays out almost in slow motion. The pick-up slammed into us with enough force to completely cave in the passenger side of the vehicle. My eyes were fixated on my sister's limp form, so I didn't see the shards of glass hurtling towards me until it was too late. Too late to do anything but lament my fate.
I felt strong hands trying to pull me free from the wreckage. In my haze, I had no idea what was going on. My mind refused to believe I had just been in an accident. It felt more like someone was trying to wake me up. Wake me up from a nightmare that had no end.
I heard someone yell something about fire, and reaching the others before it reached the gas. The strong figure seemed to be between me and my vehicle. I heard something about three G's, or something like that, and I heard someone yell, "Don't worry, I'm the..."
Then, the world exploded.
I felt the figure who dragged me to safely be pummeled by the glass and metal from the exploding vehicle. His bleeding form fell next to me, but I could not tell who it was. All I could tell was that he was no longer breathing, and the sound of sirens seemed distant and far away, as I slowly faded into oblivion.
I awoke much later to find myself in the hopsital. My parents had already been sent home, apparently having stayed with me almost 72 hours straight. However, blind as I was, I could tell there was someone else in the room. She sat by me in silence, apparently watching something on TV. My mind picked up on the fact that the person must not know I'm awake. Not knowing what else to do, I rolled over towards the sound of the breathing and asked, "Who's there?"
Apparently, I startled her, and she bolted from the room, calling for the doctors. They treated me, and made sure that everything was ok before sending me on my way. Ever since that day, she has been my friend. It was her that told me that among those trying to rescue me was my friend, my best friend. I didn't know what to say. Without anything else to look at, my mind was filled with horrible images of my friend mutilated by the explosion. Nothing I did seemed to block them out.
Apparently, her boy friend was one of the people that helped me that day. Another girl lost her boyfriend, too. Both on the football team, and close friends, even though according to her, one would have probably never have admitted it. Unfortunately, the other girl suffered a nervous breakdown, and was now in the Lawndale Mental Health Facility.
So many lives lost, so many others destroyed. All because of one stupid drunk driver.
My friend reached over and clasped my hand. You see, even though I lost my sight, I never lost my tears. She could tell that this was emotional for me. I almost never cried before the accident. Now, the mere thought of it seemed to weaken my resolve and cause me pain.
I returned the grasp. "Thank you for being such a close friend. I don't know what I would have done all these years without you."
Her grip tightened, and she leaned forward and gave me a slight kiss on the forehead. "I never really had a chance to know you before, but now I'm glad we're friends."
"Let's go back to my apartment. I have a couple of hours before my next class, and I would really like for us to talk longer."
My thoughts raced for a moment, wondering about this. I was terribly lonely. My friend was gone. My sister was gone. My family, such as they were, were of little help in this. As quickly as I could imagine, my mouth had already formed the words yes. I slowly followed my friend back to her place. I could feel the smallness and coziness of the apartment. I walked in a few steps, when suddenly I felt my friend directly in front of me. Before I could say anything, however, she leaned forward and kissed me. On my lips. I can only guess the look of shock on my face.
"Oh, I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to! I don't know what I was thinking! I..."
"Don't be sorry. I only have one request."
"Don't stop. Don't ever stop."
"I... I think I can do that."
I smiled slightly, and leaned forward to kiss her again, her soft lips against mine. I had only one thought.
I would never be lonely again.