Amanda's Eyes - Chapter 1 & 2

He needs community service credit to graduate from High School. She recently lost her sight and is having trouble dealing with her disability. His description of her, "She's about as friendly as a razor wire fence." Her description of him, "I can tell by the smell that it's the same pile of crap again today." Sounds like a perfect match doesn't it? Take a look into "Amanda's Eyes".

Amanda’s Eyes

by Woody


One – Community Service

Community service requirement! Seventeen-year-old Ken Webber dreaded his after school-activity for the next two weeks. He had to put in twelve hours of community service to meet the graduation requirements at Gateway High School. Since his job at the movie theater took up many evenings and weekends, he had no choice but to do something in the afternoon. He’d found that the other high school in town, Lincoln High, had a program to “Mainstream” students with special needs and used high school volunteers extensively. Ken had volunteered to read to blind students for an hour a day for the next two weeks.
Ken’s girlfriend, Kelly, didn’t think much of his community service commitment. She understood the need, but didn’t like the way it cut into their time together. Kelly liked Ken to pick her up after cheerleading practice, so they could go out for a snack, or sometimes just for some together-time, before he drove her home. When she’d complained, he’d reminded her, “Hey, it’s only for two weeks!”
Kelly was short, only about five feet three inches, but she was curvy and energetic and all around fun to be with. Ken and Kelly had been going together since the end of the last school year when Ken had asked Kelly to his Junior Prom. He’d met her through his best, friend Jon and Jon’s long-time girlfriend Sandy. At sixteen, Kelly was a junior, one year behind Ken at Gateway. This year, she’d tried out for and made the varsity cheerleading squad. Her cheer activities and his theater job meant that Ken and Kelly had to work a little harder to find time to be together, but both were proud of her accomplishment.
At five feet, eight inches and one hundred fifty five lbs, Ken was physically fit from eating right and being active. He enjoyed going to the school games but didn’t participate in any sports himself. Ken got along with almost everyone -- jocks, geeks, brains, losers, the ‘A’ list, the no list -- it didn’t matter, he could talk to all of them and was accepted where ever he chose to hang out. Being open and friendly just came naturally to him.
He enjoyed computers and was very good at building them, using them, teaching others how to use them, and programming them. He planned to get a degree in Computer Science or Computer Engineering in college which should lead to a good career a few years down the road. He had represented the school in several computer applications contests, and Gateway’s three-person team was one of the best in the state. This year, they had already won first place in four tournaments and were the favorites to be the state champions. There had actually been an article written about them in the local newspaper after their third win.
A lawsuit a couple of years ago had resulted in school “letters” being awarded for representing the school in all kinds of competition instead of just sports. Band members now got them, the debate team got them, and Ken got a letter for his computer club participation; it was sewn onto a letter jacket which Kelly often “borrowed.” In fact, she’d borrowed it for the last two months. He didn’t mind that at all.
It was a pleasant early October afternoon. The trees were just starting to turn color, and the air had a crisp feeling of autumn in it. Ken walked out to the eight-year-old pickup truck his father had given him after buying himself a new one. Although the truck was old, he kept it clean and in great working order. He took pride in his own appearance, his computers, and in his truck.
As he drove the fifteen minute path across town to Lincoln High, Ken wondered what it would be like reading to a blind person. Would they appreciate it? Would they understand? What would the person be like? Could he just read or would he have to explain the vocabulary? He’d never really met or talked to anyone who wasn’t “normal” and had no idea what to expect. Oh well, it was only for two weeks. How painful could that be?
After parking in the student lot at Lincoln, he walked into the school office and explained what he was there for. The receptionist told him to go to room 214 in the west wing of the building and gave him directions. The room turned out to be a large central area filled with tables and chairs with a wide corridor around the edge and smaller conference-style rooms on the periphery. There was a desk near the door manned by an attractive, young, twenty-something teacher, who’s name according to the placard on the desk was Amy Harris. Ken walked toward the desk expecting to be recognized. When she didn’t look up, he cleared his throat and said, “Miss Harris?”
She lifted her head, facing toward him. “Hello.”
Ken noticed something a little strange in that she didn’t look directly at him. Her eyes seemed to be staring toward his chest and not his face. “I’m Ken Webber and I’m here to be a reader.”
The teacher typed on the computer in front of her and it spoke, “Ken Webber, Amanda Jennings, room six.”
Miss Harris told Ken, “You’ll need to go to room six. You will be reading to Amanda Jennings.”
Ken was a little surprised at the computer and asked, “Why did the computer talk?”
“I can’t read the screen very well, so it’s set up for audio output.”
He was embarrassed to suddenly realize that this teacher was blind, too, just like the students he’d be working with.
“I didn’t realize there were special computers for blind people.”
She smiled and laughed. “The wonders of modern technology never cease to amaze and delight.”
 “Ken… relax. You’re new to the reading program here. Try to remember that the only difference between a sighted person and one of us is that our vision is impaired to some significant degree. Otherwise, we’re no different.”
Looking at her curiously he asked, “What do you mean by impaired? You mean you’re not all totally blind?”
“Oh no, the girl you’re reading to is one of the most severely impaired here at the school, but even she has some very limited use of her eyes. She can see light and dark and in a bright area, she can see large objects as a kind of shadow. I can see quite a bit, but for me, everything close is completely out of focus and blurred beyond what reasonable glasses can correct so I use a computer with voice output.
“I do need to give you a little warning. Amanda can be very moody and is sometimes difficult to deal with. She lost her sight a couple of years ago in an accident and hasn’t really accepted her situation yet. Now, why don’t you go down to Room Six and have a seat; I’ll bring Amanda in as soon as she gets here.”
Room six was about half way around the open area. Each of the conference rooms had both a room number on the door and an area of raised dots at about chest level on the wall. Clearly, they were labeled both for people who could see and for people who could read Braille. Ken found room six and walked in. It was set up to be a comfortable oasis in the large school with two armchairs and a small table between them. He sat in the chair farthest from the door and waited, wondering what he’d gotten himself into. He closed his eyes and listened to the activity in the area trying to discern what was going on. What would it be like to not be able to see?
A few minutes later, Miss Harris came to the door leading a girl by the hand. She was thin and about five feet five inches tall but looked shorter because she walked a little stooped over. Dark brown hair hung down to the middle of her back, but it looked messy and tangled; as if she didn’t care about it. She was wearing a baggy sweatshirt and rumpled-looking jeans. The scowl on her thin face didn’t improve her appearance at all. Ken looked up toward her eyes and almost shivered. She had huge dark brown -- almost black -- eyes that a guy could get lost in, by far the best feature of her face. She was carrying a book titled The Lovely Bones in her hand, and after Miss Harris helped her to the chair, she sat across from Ken. It was a little weird thinking about the blind leading the blind, but that seemed to be the situation.
Miss Harris introduced them, “Ken Webber, Amanda Jennings.”
Holding the book out in front of her, Amanda didn’t even try to be polite or pleasant saying, “Get on with it and finish so I can get the fuck out of here.” She might have had a pleasant voice if not for the surly tone and the words she used.
Miss Harris turned around from the door of the room and scolded, “Amanda, you don’t need to use that kind of language here.
She sneered, “Sooooo sorry.”
Ken reached over to take the book, but as soon as Amanda felt him touch it she let go, and it fell to the table with a slam. As he bent down to pick it up he noticed a smirk of victory on her face.
Miss Harris left the room, shaking her head.
He asked, “Where are we in the book?”
“Didn’t they tell you anything? We’re on fucking page one. I can’t believe they’re making me waste my time with you.”
Ken opened to the first page without another word and started reading. She just sat in her chair, hands clenched tightly, facing forward. The book was actually interesting; a young girl who’d been murdered was watching her family go on with their lives without her. He tried to read with appropriate expression.
Amanda interrupted, “Just read the fucking book. You don’t have to pretend you’re some kind of damn actor.”
“Excuse me for trying to make it interesting. If you’d like, I can read to you in a boring monotone, but I’m afraid that would put both of us to sleep. So, if you don’t mind too much, I’ll keep working on making it interesting for me at least. You can deal with whatever is wrong with you.” He was trying to keep the irritation out of his voice, but not succeeding very well.
“What’s wrong with me? Didn’t they tell you, or are you too fucking stupid to guess? I’m blind. I can’t see. I have to deal with losers like you reading a fucking book to me so I can make it out of this damn school. Now shut up and finish so you can get out of my face. If you look anything like you smell, I’m glad I can’t see you.”
Shaking his head, he apologized and then continued reading. After another ten minutes, Miss Harris came to the door and said they were done for the day. As she helped Amanda out of the room, Ken said, “Bye,” and got up to leave.
Miss Harris said, “Thanks.” Amanda didn’t say anything.
There was a woman holding a purse and car keys waiting by the door of the room. She looked enough like Amanda for Ken to decide that she must be Amanda’s mom, there to take her home. He could tell by looking at her that something, probably having to deal with Amanda and her disability, was wearing the poor woman down, and he was sure that Amanda’s attitude wasn’t helping.

Two – Second Try

That night, after talking on the phone to Kelly, Ken did a little internet research on blindness and schools. He learned that authorities currently thought it was more effective to place ‘visually impaired’ students in mainstream classes in normal schools; the years of special schools for the blind were long past. Schools often provided extra help, tutors, and special facilities to blind students, but the blind students were expected to do normal course work, and meet the same graduation requirements as sighted students.
The reading he was doing wasn’t strictly necessary, since books on tape as well as Braille versions were available for most required texts, but some experts felt that personal reading enriched the experience of the book, so they encouraged it. He chuckled when he read that; it didn’t seem like Amanda found his reading to be a very enriching experience.
Tuesday afternoon, Ken again drove to Lincoln High and made his way to room 214. Miss Harris was manning the desk and Ken greeted her, identifying himself and finding, to his great joy, that he’d be reading to Amanda again in room six.
“Do you know what the story is with Amanda? I tried to be polite and friendly yesterday, but she just about took my head off.”
“Amanda lost her sight in an accident two years ago. She’s having trouble dealing with her blindness and isn’t always nice to people… well, I suppose you could say she’s hardly ever nice to people. If you’d like to change and read to someone else, we’ll swap you, but I’d sure appreciate it if you would give it another try.”
Ken thought for a moment, “Okay, I’ll take another shot at it, but can you suggest anything I can do to try to get along with her?”
“Not really. It’s her attitude, nothing about you, that’s the issue. Just be patient and try not to take what she says too personally and I really do thank you for being willing to deal with her.”
Ken walked to room six and again and took his seat. He sat in the chair daydreaming a little until he heard Miss Harris bring Amanda in. Her clothing and personal carriage were a duplicate of yesterday. “Amanda, Ken is here to read to you again today.”
“Yeah, I can tell by the smell that it’s the same pile of shit again today.”
Miss Harris sounded annoyed as she replied, “Amanda, you really don’t have to insult everyone around you.”
Ignoring the admonishment, she sat down, held out the book, and growled, “So, what the fuck are you waiting for, get started.”
Ken reached for the book, and in a repetition of yesterday’s performance, Amanda let go of it as soon as he touched it. Expecting this, Ken was ready and reached out with his other hand to catch it. He politely said, “Thanks,” despite her attempt to trick him again.
Just maybe, Amanda’s smirk changed to a slight grin for a moment before she growled, “Just read the fucking book.”
After reading for about fifteen minutes Ken paused, took a breath, and asked, “Amanda, how old are you?”
“What’s that have to do with the damn book?”
“Just asking. If we’re going to spend an hour a day together for the next two weeks, it might be nice to at least know a little about each other.”
“I’m seventeen fucking years old, I’m a junior in high school, I flunked sophomore year, and I can’t see. Is that enough for you?”
“I suppose. I’m seventeen too, and I’m a senior at Gateway.”
“Good for you. Now, why don’t you keep your stupid questions to yourself and just read the fucking book.”
At the end of the hour, when Miss Harris came to get her, Ken wished Amanda a good evening. Her response was, “What’s good about it?” as Miss Harris guided her from the room.
Over dinner with his parents that evening, Ken described his reading experience. While they were sympathetic, they didn’t really have any advice for him beyond what the teacher had suggested. They reminded him that at his age, teenagers are extremely concerned about peer image, and Amanda, having been blinded only two years ago, was probably feeling very left out of many of the things she used to do. Maybe that was part of what caused her to lash out at him and everyone around her. She also might be jealous and resentful of anyone who could have fun in ways she no longer could. When they asked why he was so interested, he replied that he just wanted to be friendly, and it was frustrating to be yelled at for everything he did.
Later, the first thing Ken asked Kelly when he called her on the phone was, “Do I have a weird smell?” She laughed and said that he smelled good to her. She mentioned usually noticing his aftershave, or his deodorant, or sometimes -- if he’d been really active -- he smelled a little sweaty, but she found that to be a turn-on.
She asked why he was worried about his odor and he described the meetings with Amanda. Kelly asked, “Is she cute?”
Thinking for a moment, he replied, “No, the only thing about her that’s remotely attractive is her eyes. She dresses like she’s homeless, her attitude sucks, and she’s a rude bitch whenever she opens her mouth.”
Kelly replied, “Good, I wouldn’t like to think you’re abandoning me for another woman after school.”
“No problem there! You’re the only one for me, and she’s about as friendly as a razor wire fence.”
They talked a while longer about random topics, and renewed their plans for Friday night after the football game. Kelly had to cheer, but she and Ken would get together during halftime, then again after the game for a snack at the drive-in and some personal time together.
Before he went to sleep, he thought about Kelly’s question. Was Amanda cute? It was kind of ironic that she had the loveliest eyes he had ever seen, but he’d never gotten past the attitude, and actually taken a good look at the rest of her. Was he interested in her?
No way, he had a girlfriend who he was in love with, and Amanda was completely unapproachable.
(To Be Continued)


Beginning a story

This is a story that I'd previously partially posted on another site. I'm in the process of re-editing it before I complete it. I've got 14 chapters (225kb) written so far and I'll post as it's edited. Please feel free to make suggestions and point out corrections - that's what is so valuable about this forum. (of course that invitation is hardly needed)

(Note - It contains some profanity. I consider it essential to the plot.)

Amanda's eyes

So good to see that you've done your homework. Of course, you could also be, or know, a visually-impaired teen.

I've only read part one so far, but I suspect that it's a fair representation of the attitude of someone who hass been full of life, but has a major trauma which turns that life upside down.

I'm looking forward to future episodes.

BTW I am severely visually impaired (SVI), so have a good idea what it's like, especially having suffered the teenage from hell for being both TG and SVI.


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