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Amanda's Eyes - Chapter 14 - Like a Walk in the Park
Submitted by woody on Sat, 04/03/2010 - 12:01
Fourteen – Like a Walk in the Park
Tuesday was no different than Monday. Sweatshirt, jeans, guide, classes, no one to talk to, no friends, no enemies, no expectations, no fun -- just a boring, uneventful day ending with the “wonderful” after-school reading program. She’d already decided to go with the flow today. No tricks, no teasing, no curses, no attitude; she’d just sit there and listen. At least she’d pretend to listen – maybe she’d try to sleep. No reason for her mouth to get her in more trouble. No reason for much of anything really… boring existence of a dumb, pathetic girl. She wondered again why she’d survived the accident to end up as good as dead anyway.
As usual, Miss Harris guided her into the room and to the chair then left. She was surprised that she didn’t get a lecture on the way. She sat down and held out the book and was surprised when it wasn’t immediately taken.
After what felt like hours, she was still waiting for something to happen when she heard a familiar voice, “Amanda, I’m so sorry. Please at least talk to me.”
Amanda dropped the book.
Instantly, she felt her face reddening and heating. Her stomach tensed, and her fists clenched, and she hissed, “What the hell are you...” then, just as instantly, her head took over and her rage evaporated, giving way to embarrassment. Letting her breath out in a long sigh, she quietly said, “Oh shit, shit, shit, I didn’t mean that … Ken, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I just yelled at you. I’m sorry I ruined our date. I haven’t been able to think about anything else since Saturday night. I know I screwed up. I shouldn’t have acted like that…”
She felt a very warm hand take hers, “Amanda, I’m the one who needs to apologize. To begin with, I should have protected you from Kelly, and after her stupid stunt, I should have been sensitive to the way you were feeling.”
“No, I should have been willing to talk to you, and instead I slammed the door.”
He chuckled slightly, “True, you did slam the door -- literally as well as figuratively. What did you tell your mom? I tried to call you, but she acted like I was Jack the Ripper or something.”
“I didn’t tell her anything. I guess that’s the problem. I just yelled at her, and she assumed you’d done something to hurt me. Oh, God, I’m so sorry, it was all my fault again.”
“Amanda, stop apologizing to me. It seems like both of us screwed up a little on Saturday. I guess I’m glad to know you don’t think it was all me though.” He smiled, and recognizing the inflection in his voice, she smiled too.
“So, what’s next?”
“What do you want to happen next?”
“I don’t know … the only thing I’ve thought of since Saturday night was that I screwed up my chance at ever having fun again. I want a ‘do over.’”
“Me too. Are you willing to do something with me tonight? Do you think your mom would let me drive you home from here? She didn’t seem very happy with me when I called on the phone.”
“She didn’t understand what had happened at all when you called, but I’ve talked to her, and things are different now. I’m sure she’d be fine with it. There’s a phone at Miss Harris’ desk. Can you help me out there? I need to see if I can catch her before she leaves the store.”
When she heard Ken's and Amanda's steps coming toward her -- no arguments and their steps not leaving dents in the floor -- Amy Harris smiled inwardly to herself. She’d been hesitant about Ken’s request, but it seemed like all was well and to be honest, after Monday, she didn’t see much that could make things worse.
“Are you done reading already?”
“We need to use your phone to call my mom. I’d like to ride home with Ken today, and I want to catch Mom at the store before she leaves to drive over here.”
Amanda gave Miss Harris the number for the store, and she punched it into the phone. When it began to ring, she handed it to Amanda who talked to her mom for a minute or two, then happily told Ken and Miss Harris that the arrangements had been made. With that settled, the couple walked out of the office, hand-in-hand.
Neither teenager wanted to go home and it was too early for food. After a short discussion, they decided to go to Rock Springs Park, a small county park nearby, and just walk around a little. It was a classic autumn day, warm sun, fluffy clouds, and a cool, crisp feeling to the air. They strolled along one of the park trails, Amanda holding Ken’s arm in both of her hands. The couple talked about school, work, music, and teenage life in general. She could feel the sun on her face, warming it in the cool air. The birds were squawking, and she could smell the special earthy aroma of the woods in the fall. She used to enjoy hiking in the park and going camping but hadn’t done anything like this in the two years since her accident. Her parents had never even suggested it. As they came to a spot on the trail where they were shuffling through a layer of fallen leaves, she remembered having fun doing this as a kid. She slowly began to understand that her life really didn’t have to be over. She could still do many; maybe even most of the same things she’d done before she lost her sight. The football game, the dance, just walking in the park, holding onto a nice guy; these were all things she’d been convinced she would never experience again but here she was. She kicked up her foot scattering the leaves into the breeze.
She stopped them both and turned into Ken to hug him; something he didn’t object to at all. They stood there looking like they were slow dancing again, her head on his shoulder, bodies in loose contact, her arms around his neck. His arms were wrapped around her back and together they were swaying slightly in the cool autumn breeze.
“Ken, you can’t know how good this is making me feel. I’ve got the warm sun on my skin and the breeze in my hair. I can hear the leaves, the birds, and the animals around us. I smell the woods and your aftershave. Holding you like this is giving me a serious case of the ‘warm fuzzies.’ I can close my eyes and feel like that’s all I’m doing. My eyes are just closed. Standing here with you … it doesn’t even matter to me that I can’t see, and the way I’m feeling now, I could stand here forever.”
They continued quietly holding onto each other and swaying slowly for a few more minutes. She gave his neck a quick kiss and asked, “Ken, can you be my eyes and tell me what I’m seeing when I look around?”
He kissed her forehead and when she tilted her face to his, he kissed her eyes, then turned her around so that she had her back to his front. He held her with his arms wrapped around her stomach, just below her breasts, and put his chin on her shoulder. She brought her hands up to hold onto his.
He spoke softly, just for her. “Many of the trees have dropped their leaves already, but there is a big maple tree right next to the path in front of us with leaves so orange-red, it looks like a fire engine. The leaves are still pretty thick on the tree, but every time the wind picks up a little a few drift down to the ground. The trail runs right through a red puddle of fallen leaves under that tree.”
Pulling one hand free for just a moment he reached down then put a leaf in her hand. “This is one of those maple leaves.”
She felt it’s texture then held it to her nose to enjoy the autumn aroma.
He pulled her a little tighter to him and turned them ninety degrees to their right. They were facing into the wind, so she now felt the breeze cooling her face.
“It’s kind of brushy under the trees beside the path, and there are a couple of squirrels chasing each other around through the leaves and up into the trees. Do you hear them chattering at each other? Whoa! They both just ran out to the end of a branch of one tree and jumped to another. Squirrel acrobatics are intense. Imagine being able to climb and jump like that. Let’s turn again.
She listened to the squirrels chittering to each other as they romped through their aerial playground.
“The path behind us is covered with leaves. We were kicking them around while we walked through them. There is an old fallen log beside the trail and you can tell by how shiny and smooth the top is that people have used it as a bench for years. Some of them have carved their initials into it too. It looks like it’s partially hollow, and you can see crumbs of wood spilling out the end, so maybe some animal’s been hiding in there.”
She rubbed her fingers together as she imagined the polished wood of the impromptu bench.
He turned her again so they were facing the other side of the trail. “This direction looks out over a marshy area surrounding a small pond. Listen to the redwing blackbird perching on the cattail about twenty feet out. He’s sure letting us know that we’re the trespassers at HIS pond. There are some geese on the water out toward the middle of the pond, but they all seem to be sleeping. The sun is just about down to the trees on the other side, and the clouds are starting to turn pink. We’d better head back before it gets dark.”
“Won’t make much difference to me.”
“But it will to me, and I need to get us back to the truck while I can still find it.”
As they walked back along the trail toward the parking lot, arm in arm, they continued to talk. When they got to the parking lot, Ken’s thoughts turned to food.
“I’m getting kind of hungry. You want to go get something to eat?”
“Yeah, let’s do it. It’s gotta be something simple though, and finger food is best.”
He laughed, “What, no spaghetti?”
“I love spaghetti, but there’s no way I’m eating it in public.”
“How about Perkins? You can get a sandwich or something like that.”
“Perfect! I haven’t been there in a long time.”
At the restaurant, they got a small, two-person booth and sat across the table from each other, their feet touching under the table. The hostess didn’t seem to notice anything different about Amanda and putting a menu in front of each of them, asked if they knew what they wanted to drink. They both ordered iced tea, and while the waitress was off getting their drinks, Ken read the menu aloud. She settled on fish and chips, an easy finger food, while he ordered a hamburger. When the waitress set their drinks on the table, Amanda started moving her hand around to find it. He immediately reached across the table to take her hand and guided it to the glass.
“You’re welcome, but that was instinct, you’re going to have to let me know what else I can do to help you.”
So, when the food came, Ken took Amanda’s hands and showed her the locations of the napkin, the plate, the fish, the fries, and the tartar sauce. She told him that he could have just described where everything was, and that she would probably have been able to find it all herself, knowing the shapes and textures. He admitted the same but said that taking her hands and showing her was much more fun. To prove his point, he made them both laugh by dipping her finger in the tarter sauce. When he asked a passing waiter for ketchup, she wistfully commented that she used to like ketchup with her fries, but that it was just too messy now. A moment later, he told her to open her mouth, and when she did, he popped a ketchup-covered fry inside.
“Mmmm, tastes great. You can do that anytime you want.”
“Happy to be of service, but you need to lick the left corner of your mouth, Looks like I missed slightly.”
She just giggled as she licked all around her lips. It was so strange. In a couple of hours, she’d gone from feeling like she had no reason to be alive to playing in the park and laughing about being a messy eater. What was the change? Was it just having a friend? Why was she willing to do things with Ken that she wouldn’t even do with her parents? It wasn’t as if he was a life-long friend. She’d only met him a couple of weeks ago, and she hadn’t even liked him for most of that time.
She must have gotten a contemplative look on her face because Ken suddenly got quiet and asked, “What’s wrong Amanda?”
“I don’t know if anything’s wrong. I’m enjoying this afternoon, and I’m not really sure why. We’re doing stuff I didn’t think I’d ever do again, and I’m not embarrassed or even hesitant. I should be afraid to be in a restaurant with you because I don’t have any table manners anymore, but instead, we’re joking about it. There is too much happening, too fast, and just now it caught up with me and made me think.”
“I’m glad you’re here with me, and if you spill a little sauce or get some crumbs on your shirt, I’ll help you with them. I won’t think you’re weird. It’s all just part of the Amanda package, and I like the package. All of it.”
She reached across the table toward him and felt him take her hand in both of his. “Thanks for rescuing me from the reading program.”
“That’s unfinished business. Are we going to finish the book together?”
“I’d like that. You can even read it ‘with feeling’ if you want to.”
“Let’s talk to Miss Harris tomorrow. Maybe she’ll let us find a more comfortable place to do the reading, too.”
They chatted about other school and home life as they finished their meal. Ken fed Amanda several more fries and improved his aim enough to not smear her face with ketchup again. At one point though, he deliberately used a fry to paint a red spot on the tip of her nose, and they both broke out in giggles.
After using her napkin, she told him to close his eyes, open his mouth, and lean forward. To be fair, he did, and felt her hand locate his cheek, then his nose, then his mouth, then his chin, and then quickly pull open the neck of his shirt so her other hand could drop in a piece of ice from her drink. This time they both laughed as Ken dug the ice out and promised future revenge.
At the end of the meal, when Amanda stood up to leave, she felt him brush his hand across her chest, including a quick encounter with the tip of a breast.
“Hey, watch where you’re putting those hands.”
“Just making sure there aren’t any crumbs on my date.”
“So this is a date?”
“Yup, became a date when we decided on a walk in the park. Status confirmed when we went to dinner together. Unfortunately, it’s a school night, and I need to get home, so I guess we have to get you home too.”
With that, he kissed her and led her out to the truck.
At her house, she waited in the truck for him to come around, help her out and walk her to the door. This time, instead of going in right away, they stood on the porch beside the door, holding each other for a few more minutes. It felt good to have his arms around her and to lean against him.
“You want to do something this weekend?”
“Are you really asking me out again?”
“Yes, I am! You might as well get used to it. I plan to do it a lot. I have to work on Friday night, but I’ve got Saturday free. Let’s at least plan on getting together for dinner. We can work out the rest during the week.”
“Sounds good to me.”
With that, she felt him place a gentle kiss on her forehead. Not at all satisfied with that location, she lifted her face toward his and felt another kiss on her lips. His lips were warm and comfortable and made her want to stay connected like this forever. He gave her light, quick kisses all over her lips and one on her nose, then nibbled at her lips with his as he wrapped his arms around her. When she felt his tongue sneak out and begin touching her lips, she automatically opened them slightly to allow it to enter. The tip of his tongue flitted around the insides of her lips and her teeth, giving her the feeling that he was taking a multitude of tiny tastes of her.
At the same time, he began running a hand up and down her back, caressing her and pulling her closer to him. She felt a shiver down her whole body from her forehead to her toes. She couldn’t help but mold her body to his for more of the pleasurable contact.
His hand moved to her rear, pulling them even tighter together, causing a flutter in her belly and her heart to pound against the wall of her chest. Startled by the sudden intensity of the feelings, she pushed Ken away enough to regain control of her emotions, and after a deep breath whispered, “I need to go in.”
He sighed, “I suppose … I need to go home too … I’ll meet you at the reading room tomorrow afternoon.”
As she began to open the door, he pulled her back for one more very gentle kiss and for a moment they were each other’s worlds, bodies close, lips together, both with closed eyes.