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Amanda's Eyes - Chapter 12 - Let's Dance
Submitted by woody on Wed, 10/21/2009 - 14:32
Twelve -- Let’s Dance
The glowing feeling from her date the night before was still with her when Amanda woke up late Saturday morning. After brushing her teeth and washing up, she floated out to the kitchen, wearing her nightgown.
At the table, she literally gushed to her parents about the game, the radio, the band show contest, as well as Ken’s friends, how nice they were to her, and the good time she’d had going out for ice cream with them all. The way her eyes shone and the silly grin she wore on her face as she talked showed them more than her words did, about how she felt about her date. Her parents couldn’t remember ever seeing her so exuberant, even before the car accident that blinded her two years before.
Weekend breakfast was an informal affair in the Jennings home. Kate made her daughter one of her favorites, two slices of French toast with cinnamon sugar, a sliced apple and a cup of tea. As she ate, they reviewed the plans for the day. Amanda was going to have her hair and nails done in the afternoon, but other than that and getting dressed for the dance, there wasn’t much else so she could just relax.
As she was eating she heard and felt her mom come up to her. “Here Honey, let me help you; there’s some sugar on the front of your nightgown,” Kate said as she wiped up the spill with a wet cloth.
“Oh, god, Ken’s supposed to take me out to dinner tonight before the dance. I’ve got to call him and cancel that! I can’t go to a restaurant with him.”
“You know … a lot of things you said you can’t do have worked out very well this week.”
“I guess that’s true, but it’s hard enough to eat at home and not make a mess. Restaurants are worse, and I don’t want to look like a fool eating then go to the dance with spots of dinner on my dress. How can I expect Ken to understand that it’s hard for me to be neat while I’m eating? I sure don’t want to have to ask him to help me clean up.”
“Okay Honey, you why don’t you call and invite him to have dinner with us at home. You can put your dance clothes on afterward.”
Amanda called Ken to suggest a meal with her family. She felt comfortable enough with him now to explain that not being able to see her food or her utensils made eating in a restaurant a challenge. He sounded a little uncertain at first but was understanding and agreed to arrive at half past six for dinner with her family. Before they finished the call, she listened to him tell her how much he’d enjoyed being with her the previous evening and how much he was looking forward to seeing her again that evening. She hung up the phone, her glow recharged to an even higher level than before. She couldn’t help herself and squealed in joy, twirled around once, then went to tell her mom the news.
After her morning shower, she dressed and with her mom headed out for her appointments. The hair appointment was for a simple trim and styling. She and her mom wanted to leave her hair hanging loosely, just adding a little more curl and shape to it. The manicurist did her nails in a color that would complement her dress. Although it wouldn’t show, she also had her toenails done in the same color to complete the look. She of course couldn’t see any of this but the attention felt great and running her fingers over the smoothly polished surfaces gave her a little chill. She decided that being pampered a little was a good thing. Something she’d certainly want to experience again.
Saturday morning, Ken woke up feeling cheerful for the first time that week. Even with his date with Amanda to look forward to, he still couldn’t help feeling the loss of Kelly dumping him as he as he got up each morning. This morning, however, after he’d been up for a while, he realized he was happy. He hadn’t thought of Kelly at all, and he had only pleasurable memories of Friday night and Amanda.
To be honest, he’d had second thoughts about her. Considering how she’d acted during the reading sessions, how could he avoid them? In most of those sessions, she’d been abrasive, verbally abusive, and completely unpleasant to be with. He’d asked her out in a moment of insanity but her reaction to the invitation had convinced him that inside that armored shell, there was someone with real feelings, a girl who might just be worth getting to know. Until Friday, when he’d finally seen her in more attractive clothing, he had only suspected that she could be a very pretty girl if she put a little effort into it. After Friday’s reading session and the game, he no longer had any second thoughts. He knew he’d enjoy taking Amanda to the dance and he’d be proud to be seen there with her. Her blindness wasn’t going to be an obstacle if he had his way. She was simply fun to be with, and at times Friday night he’d nearly forgotten about her vision problem. In fact, they’d made a game of it and had real fun with the result. Afterward, her touching his face to “see” him had been one of the most amazing things anyone had ever done to him, not to mention the make-out session that followed.
He thought about calling to tell her again how much he had enjoyed the evening but felt like that might be pushing things a little over the top, so when she called him, he was both surprised and delighted to hear from her. Her invitation to dinner took him by surprise, but after her explanation, he understood her reasoning. His only hesitation was that he wasn’t sure he was ready to spend that much time with her parents. But to look on the positive side, it would save him some money, and it made the decision on what restaurant to go to unnecessary.
His truck wasn’t really dirty, but he washed and waxed it anyway, then wiped out the inside to make sure it was as ready as possible for a fancy date. Maybe Amanda couldn’t see how good it looked, but she would probably notice the nice, slick waxy surface, and her parents and everyone else would see that he cared enough to try to make everything just right.
After he finished with the truck, he drove to the florist to pick up the corsage he’d ordered. He’d told the florist that it had to be attractive to someone who couldn’t see, and she had promised to do her best to make one that was pretty and would smell sweet. It was a small one with roses and a few other flowers, along with some ribbon on a wristband. When he looked in the fancy little box and gave it a quick sniff, he agreed that it was everything he’d asked for and he looked forward to seeing it on Amanda’s wrist.
On the way back home, he filled up the gas tank. He didn’t want to risk spilling gasoline on himself before the dance. That smell never goes away and it would not make a good cologne substitute.
Four o’clock in the afternoon, with more than two hours before he would leave for Amanda’s, everything seemed ready. He tried to sit and read a book, but his attention kept wandering. He got on the web searching for information on dining or dancing with a blind person but didn’t find much beside some weird stuff about a restaurant that had everyone eat in complete darkness. Two hours was a VERY long time when you were a little nervous, a lot anxious, and very full of anticipation.
One hour before he could leave for her house, he couldn’t stand it any longer. He had to do something, so he decided to get dressed. He’d read books describing knights preparing for battle and felt a little like them as he showered, shaved, and layer by layer, put on his “armor” -- the underwear, the shirt and pants, the socks, the shoes, the tie, and the jacket. His hair was short, so no issues there, nothing he had to do to it. He examined his face in the mirror to make sure he looked good. No new zits. He checked his teeth -- it would be embarrassing to have something stuck in them, and he realized he hadn’t brushed them yet. Off with the jacket, loosen the tie and rotate it safely to his back, brush, then gargle with mouthwash. He checked his shirt to make sure he hadn’t dribbled toothpaste or mouthwash on it, rotated and tightened his tie then put his jacket back on. Finally, he came to the realization that there wasn’t anything more to do and he should just sit down somewhere and calmly wait. Of course, “calmly waiting” was the one thing he found he couldn’t do.
After what seemed like an eternity, six-ten eventually arrived and sitting in his truck he took inventory.
Tie on? Check. Jacket on? Check. Good shoes? Check. Corsage? Check. Dance tickets? Check. Money for after-dance refreshments? Check. Truck key? Where is the damn thing? Oh, in the ignition, that’s why the truck is running. Deep breath, calm, now drive to Amanda’s house without running any stop signs, getting lost, or hitting anything. Corsage? Dummy, already checked that…
While driving, he thought about Amanda’s “seeing” session the night before and felt a bit of discomfort in his groin, so he switched his thoughts to her parents. Really, his only worry there was her father’s concern over whether a school letter should be given to a non-athlete. They seemed like a nice, caring couple who were concerned about helping their daughter. He assumed they were interested in art, and although Ken didn’t have any real aptitude in it, he still appreciated art. It sounded like Amanda had really enjoyed art before losing her sight, and he felt bad that it was no longer something she could do. Their art supply store sounded like a fun business, especially the part about the eclectic mix of customers.
He pulled the truck up in front of the house and walked to the door, checking that his jacket hung just right one more time. Mrs. Jennings answered his knock and called out, “Amanda, Ken is here.”
He was a more than a little surprised when she came down the hallway to greet him. While her hair was done up and fancy, she was wearing shorts and a sweatshirt. Definitely not dance attire. Her mom saw his puzzled look and said, “Amanda will put her dress on after dinner.”
Amanda stopped walking and blushed, but he stepped close to her and took her hands and said, “Your hair looks beautiful.”
“You’re flattering me.”
“What did I tell you yesterday? Accept compliments when and where ever you get them. Besides, it’s the truth!”
“Okay, thank you kind sir,” she said with a giggle and blush.
“You’re very welcome. But what’s the story with the clothes?”
“Something you’re going to have to get used to if we eat together. It’s hard to be neat when you can’t see, and as I said on the phone, I don’t want to risk spilling on my dress, so I’ll change after we have dinner.”
She ran her hands up his arm and felt his jacket, and at the base of his neck, his tie. “Tell me what you’re wearing. What colors?”
“My pants are grey wool. My shirt is white. I’ve got a wool tweed jacket that’s a mix of green, brown, black, and tan. I’ve got black dress shoes and my tie is green with little flowers on it.”
“Sounds pretty conservative … Mom, do you think Ken’s outfit will look okay next to my dress?”
Kate watched the interaction in shock. This was something she’d never seen from her daughter, even before the accident. She couldn’t believe this was the same girl she’d dealt with for the last two years. Could the football game date last night have had this much of an effect on Amanda? Where had that sullen, nearly intractable girl gone?
“I think it will look just fine. You two hang out here in the living room while I get dinner on the table. Dave should be home in a few minutes.”
“Where’s your dad?”
“He had to work at the store until closing tonight.”
Sure enough, Dave walked in the door as they were talking about him. After he washed up, the family and their guest sat at the dining room table for their meal.
Taking a cue from Amanda, Ken carefully put his napkin on his lap. He didn’t want to spill on himself either. He noticed that Kate served Amanda a plate with everything already cut up into bite-sized pieces and separated into different sections of the plate. “As usual, Honey, vegetable upper left, meat upper right, fried potatoes lower right, and a roll lower left.” Evidently they divided the plate into quadrants allowing her to know where to find the various foods. She used a fork and her fingers to locate the food and lift it to her mouth. He’d never even considered the difficulties of eating when you couldn’t see the plate or even if the food was on the fork, and he was no longer surprised that she’d wanted to skip the restaurant. The meal which featured roast beef was excellent and Ken ate his share with pleasure.
After dinner, Amanda and Kate went back to Amanda’s bedroom to finish her preparations for the dance while Ken and Dave worked on clearing the table.
“You know, Ken, I’ve been thinking about your comments on the computer competitions, and I find that I have to agree with you. You should be recognized for representing your school. I guess I’m a little behind the times and I need to get up to date.”
Ken was surprised and pleased at this turnaround. He began to think he could like her dad, even if he’d shown some jock attitude before.
“Thanks, I appreciate that you took the time to think about it.”
When they had moved the dishes to the sink and the leftovers were put away, they sat down in the living room to wait for the women.
A few minutes later, Kate came down the hallway and asked the men, “Are you ready?” Then she called back, “Come on out, Amanda.”
Ken’s breath caught in his throat as Amanda came into view. Even after Friday night, he couldn’t believe he was seeing the same girl he’d met in that little room two weeks ago. Her dress was a blend of iridescent blue and green, drifting and bouncing, reflecting the light as she walked. Her brown hair fell down past her shoulders, bouncing and flowing with her as she moved. While she did not have large breasts, she was definitely a woman and showed respectable and attractive cleavage at the neckline of her dress. She wore cream-colored stockings that shimmered along with her dress as she walked down the hallway. Her makeup was tastefully applied and enhanced her facial features without hiding her or trying to change her. He was pleased to see that her low-heeled shoes left her a little shorter than him.
He took her hand in his as she approached and touched her shoulder as he whispered, “You’re so beautiful tonight you take my breath away.”
She just smiled.
“You two move over in front of the fireplace, we need to take some pictures.”
Ken paused and crinkled his face for a moment, thinking intently, “Oh … wait…” then rushed out the front door. He was back a minute later with a box in his hand. “I forgot to bring this in.”
Her dad said drolly, “We thought maybe you had a sudden attack of cold feet,” bringing a laugh to all.
He took the corsage out of the box, and picking up Amanda’s arm, he slid the wristband portion onto her. “This has some roses and some other flowers the florist promised me look lovely together. She wasn’t exaggerating when she said they’d smell as pretty as they looked either.”
She carefully felt the cool, delicate flowers with her fingertips, then held the arrangement up to her face and took a deep breath to check the fragrance. She smiled broadly, then lifting her hands to Ken’s face, leaned toward him and kissed him quickly on the cheek. “Thanks. Tonight is already feeling like a dream.”
Then. grinning, she rubbed her palm over his cheek and giggled, “Hey. I can feel that you shaved again, or maybe you just don’t need to.”
“I did, whether I needed to or not.”
As is tradition in events like this, Kate and Dave took pictures -- lots of pictures. There were pictures of Amanda, pictures of Amanda and Ken, even a few pictures of Ken by himself. Ken helped out by taking pictures of Amanda between her mom and dad. The picture taking continued outside as the couple tried to leave, with additional pictures captured of Ken and Amanda by his truck and Ken helping Amanda into his truck. Finally, the doors were closed, the engine was running, and with a wave, the pair drove off to the dance.
Amanda felt like a princess riding in her carriage to a ball as they drove to Ken’s school. She could feel, both within herself and from Ken and her parents, that she looked lovely tonight. This was going to be a night to remember.
As they walked from the truck toward the gym where the dance was being held, her old feelings of uncertainty began to surface again. Ken must have felt it because he stopped walking.
“You’re starting to feel worried again aren’t you?”
She replied in a quiet voice, “I guess so.”
“Don’t be concerned about not belonging here or seeming out of place. You’re so beautiful tonight, I feel like I’m holding hands with a dream. When we walk into that gym, every guy in the place is going to be wishing he was me, and every girl will be green with envy. You have absolutely nothing to worry about except maybe nasty thoughts from the girls you outshine, and they sure won’t be pointing it out by complaining. I’m more proud than you can imagine having you here with me and I know we’ll have a fun time at the dance.”
Her smile returned, and after she took his arm in both of her hands and straightened her posture, they made their entrance. The music hadn’t started yet, so the gym was awash with voices, mostly students talking to each other. She heard guys bragging about their dates. She heard girls discussing dresses, makeup, and their dates. There were some quiet murmurs that had to be couples whispering to each other. She was trying to make sense of the many conversations around her when Ken got her attention again to tell her about the decorations, the layout, and the reactions they were getting. Heads were definitely turning he said. He laughed as he told her that Todd was almost drooling and staring as they passed him and Kelly. She had poked him to get him to look back toward her and was not looking at all pleased.
They met his friends Jon and Sandy again, and she began to feel at ease. She already knew this pair, and she couldn’t help but like them. Jon commented on how great she looked. Sandy laughingly complained, and Amanda heard her lightly slap her boyfriend’s cheek, but then Sandy agreed about how Amanda looked and complimented her on her hair and dress. The quartet found some chairs near the wall, and hanging their jackets on the backs, they sat down to wait for the music and dancing to start.
The DJ started with some old standard fast songs, and while Jon and Sandy got up to dance, Ken and Amanda stayed in their chairs holding hands and talking. Finally a slow song came on.
“Will you dance with me?”
“Do you really think I can?”
“I KNOW you can. This is a slow song. Just hold on and follow my lead. We’ll do fine.”
He led her out to the floor, and she stepped into his arms. Holding each other as they were, there was no way she could go astray. She felt safe and secure in Ken’s arms, and a minute or two into the dance, she leaned her head on his shoulder, noticing him hold her just a little tighter as she did. She could feel the bass notes vibrating her body slightly as she swayed with the music. With her arms up around his shoulders, she could smell his cologne mixed with the fresh perfume of the flowers on her wrist. Eyes closed, she reveled in the pleasure of dancing close and the warm feel of her body against Ken’s. The song was followed by another one with a rhythm that was a little faster but still allowed them to dance close. She thought about dances before the accident that she’d enjoyed with girlfriends and sometimes with a boy. It had been a couple of years, but the joy in movement was coming back quickly.
The next song was a fast one, and they went back to their chairs.
“Thank you, Amanda. I really enjoyed those dances …. You feel … well, you feel very good to dance close to.”
She smiled, “You don’t feel too bad yourself. I liked it too.”
“You want to try a fast dance?”
“I don’t know how we can do that. I’ll bump into someone, or move away from you, or look dorky.”
He laughed, “You couldn’t look dorky, that’s impossible, and I’ll keep track and stay close. Hey, gives me a good excuse to touch you now and then.” She could tell he was grinning as he spoke.
“You’re just looking for an excuse to touch me.”
“Hey, I’m a guy, do you expect me to pass up a chance to touch a beautiful girl? Besides,” he said as he held up their loosely locked hands, “I’m touching you right now, I like it, and I want to keep doing it all night.”
“Okay, let’s give it a try.”
As the next dance started, Ken again led Amanda to the dance floor. “I’ll keep an eye on you -- as if that’s a hard thing to do -- and touch you now and then to let you know where I am. Just go with the music and enjoy.”
At first she felt self-conscious, but as she began dancing, she found that not seeing what was around her was almost liberating. She focused her thoughts on the music and her dancing, paying no attention to what others were doing. Her partner’s frequent touches had an almost sexual feel to them as he lightly touched her hand or arm or shoulder or side. A couple of times he even touched her on the cheek, and there was no “almost” to the sensual glow she got when he touched her there.
When the song came to an end, she stood still, panting slightly from the exertion. She felt herself enveloped in Ken’s arms and put hers around him.
“That was incredible! Your dancing was so free and natural, it was like you were by yourself, and the way your dress and earrings reflect the lights as you move, makes you look like a goddess.”
Hand in hand, they walked back to their chairs to take a rest. Ken helped her to her seat, and Sandy leaned over to tell her how lovely she’d looked as she danced.
As the dance went on, they got braver and even swapped partners with Jon and Sandy a couple of times. She found it as easy to dance with Jon as she had with Ken and was becoming more and more free with her movements.
Both were feeling thirsty, so they walked over to the refreshment table for a glass of punch and a cookie. On the way Ken stopped her to introduce her to Jay and Stephen, his partners on the computer competition team.
“These are the two smartest guys I know, but there doesn’t seem to be anything I can do to get either of them to ask a date to a dance.”
They also ran into a girl who gave Ken a quick hug and greeted him warmly.
“Marsha and I have been next door neighbors and best friends since we were born.
“I’m glad to get a chance to meet you Amanda. It’s so good of you to come to this dance with Ken after Kelly dumped him last week. I hope we can get to know each other better but right now, I need to dance with my boyfriend who is probably off talking video games with his buddies and forgetting I’m even here.”
Ken picked up two cups of punch and two oatmeal cookies for something to nibble on.
After eating her cookie, Amanda asked, “Any crumbs?”
“No, no crumbs on you but the guy who can see has them all over his tie.”
They both laughed and arm in arm went back to the dance floor.
She was dancing with Ken during a really energetic fast number when she felt her elbow hit someone. Ken immediately grabbed her hand, and she turned to apologize when she heard him say, “Sorry Kelly.”
She could feel venom in the voice that growled back, “Watch it! … Oh, look, it’s that pathetic little blind girl that’s been following Ken around. He ought to keep it on a leash so it doesn’t run into and damage us NORMAL people.”
The comment was vicious. She froze, standing rigidly straight as she felt like all the blood was draining out of her body; then she snapped. Breaking free of Ken’s hand, she walked quickly -- almost ran -- across the dance floor, no real destination, just trying to get away. She bounced off a couple of dancers, and finally hitting a wall, she collapsed to the floor, bent over, her face in her hands, crying. The night had been going so well until she screwed up and had to be reminded that she was NOT a normal person. She was limited. She was a cripple. She was a freak. How had she ever thought she could get away with pretending she was normal? She was stupid, stupid, STUPID for ever agreeing to be here.
Ken, Sandy, and Jon surrounded her, and Ken, kneeling down and hugging her, asked, “Are you okay?”
No, she wasn’t okay! She was embarrassed and hurt and ashamed and angry, and she just wanted to be anywhere but here. Without thinking at all, she lashed out at the group around her.
“Get me the fuck out of here! Take me home, NOW!”
Ken tried to be supportive as he took her hands to pull her up. He held her to himself, but she just remained stiff, withdrawn, and crying, taking no comfort in his touch. At this moment, he could happily have twisted Kelly’s head off and used it for a bowling ball. Looking across the gym, he could see the smirk on her face as she turned and kissed Todd.
“It’s okay Amanda. Kelly was a cruel selfish bitch to say that to you, but there’s no real harm done. Let’s calm down and enjoy the rest of the dance.”
Sandy quickly suggested a trip to the restroom to fix makeup.
Amanda was having none of it, “Fucking shut up and get me out of here.”
Although it seemed like she could barely stand his touch, Ken took her hand and led her toward the door of the gym. Jon met them at the door with their jackets, and after again telling Amanda how sorry he was about Kelly’s outburst, he went back to Sandy.
He tried to talk to her on the way to the truck, but she wouldn’t respond. After what seemed like a mile walk in silence, they were finally in the truck and pulling away.
Ken felt like he had to somehow get her to see that Kelly’s insult at the dance meant nothing.
“You sure over-reacted to Kelly’s stupid comment.”
“What do you mean over-reacted? You don’t know what its like to hear comments like that every fucking day. I really thought tonight was going to be different, but instead, it was more of the same old shit I always get.”
“Tonight WAS different! We were having a good time -- at least I was -- and it sure looked to me, Jon, and Sandy like you were too. It was just a dumb insult by someone who really doesn’t matter. You didn’t have to act like it was the end of the world.”
“You asshole… you really can’t imagine what it’s like. I’ve heard those same damn insults too many times to ignore them, and believe me, it NEVER gets old and you NEVER get used to it. You can’t possibly understand what it’s like to be different, to know that people are laughing and pointing at you because you don’t fit in. To make it worse, I can’t even see them doing it. I was probably the joke of the evening. ‘Hey, look at the silly blind girl pretending to dance.’ I knew this was a mistake right from the start, and I should never have agreed to come. Just get me home and leave me alone.”
“Amanda, your dancing was really beautiful and I enjoyed the night.”
“I didn’t! Now shut the fuck up and drive.”
Ken didn’t know what to say. He’d enjoyed his dance date with Amanda more than he’d ever dreamed possible. She was very pretty, dancing with her felt wonderful, and she was fun to be with, but the evening had been ruined by one malicious comment by his former girlfriend who was probably jealous that Ken had found someone prettier than her so quickly.
“Damn it, Amanda! My stupid ex-girlfriend was a rude and cruel bitch to you tonight, and you let her ruin your evening because of it. I’m sorry for that, I really am. And I’m sorry for myself too, because I was having one of the best nights of my life. You can’t let her do that to you … to us.”
Silence was the only answer he got from her.
When they arrived at her house, he went around to her side to help her to the door. “Amanda…”
“Didn’t I tell you to shut your fucking mouth?” She didn’t say anything more to him. When they got to the door she opened it, stepped inside, and slammed the door shut in his face.
Ken stood there for a short time hoping the door would open again and he’d get a chance to talk to Amanda or to her parents, but no luck. After a minute or two, he began to feel stupid standing at the door, so sighing, he turned to go home.
Her parents were watching TV in the living room when Amanda stormed through, starting to cry again.
“Honey, you’re home early, anything wrong?”
“Shut up and leave me alone.”
They looked at each other helplessly. They’d had such high hopes for this weekend but it looked like it had all fallen apart. Ken had seemed like such a nice boy, what had he done to their daughter?
When she got to her room, Amanda flopped face down onto her bed and cried into her pillow. She’d so wanted to enjoy the evening, but it had turned out to be the disaster she should have expected. As she thought again about the dance, the possibilities, and the ending, she muttered, “Fuck it,” into the pillow. Hitting the bed with her fists, she knocked the forgotten flower corsage off her wrist and toward her face. When she noticed the sweet scent near her nose, she picked it up and threw it across the room. Tears flowed freely.
Ken drove himself home, and in his room, he took off his suit and lay on his back in bed. He tried to think of what he could have done to save the evening but couldn’t come up with anything. He couldn’t get Amanda out of his mind and eventually found himself running his fingers over his own face, trying to understand what she “saw” when she did it. He was surprised to find trails of moisture running down from the corners of his eyes.