Amanda's Eyes - Chapter 6

Let's shift gears a little and look at events from Amanda's point of view. Let me know if you like the shift in focus. 

 

Six – Life Sucks

 
Amanda Jennings let Miss Harris, the coordinator for the reading program, lead her to the room. That’s right, lead her. She needed the help because she couldn’t see. Until two years ago, when she was fifteen years old, she'd been a normal, fun-loving, and quite pretty teenage girl. Then everything had gone to hell in an instant.
 
It had been her very first date. After begging and pleading with her parents to let her start dating for years, she had finally succeeded. The date was to a party with a seventeen-year-old guy, a senior, who was really hot. Of course, any guy old enough to drive a car would have been hot, but this one had his own car, which made it even better. “Older... own car... hot...” -- all terms she'd used in front of her parents, which meant even more work to convince them to let her go. She said they were going to see a movie.
 
They should never have trusted her.
 
The party was a little wild -- music, dancing, a keg, weed, and spiked punch -- and she and her date both drank a bit. He must have had a little more than he could handle, because driving away from the house, squealing his tires to show off, he ran off the road at the first curve and hit a tree.
 
He was wearing his seat belt and walked away with a few bumps and bruises, but she’d scooted all the way across the seat to cling close to his side and didn’t have her belt on. Her head hit the windshield, her face hit the dashboard, and that was the end; her life was fucked up forever. She’d been in a coma for a week before waking up to find that dying would have been better. At least that was her opinion. Not that of the doctors or her parents, of course.
 
The doctors were able to relieve the pressure in her skull to prevent brain damage. Later, they’d repaired her broken nose and jaw and had capped her broken teeth. Her broken ribs and arm eventually healed. But they had not been able to fix her eyes. The combination of shock and compression had caused retinal damage that left her blind. Her life was over… done… she might as well be dead.
 
She’d spent several weeks in the hospital going through the series of operations. The surgeons had put her face back together with special plastic surgery stitches using tiny suture material that left scars so thin they were virtually invisible and faded into the natural folds of her skin. They’d told her that they had taken special care of her to make sure that such a pretty girl stayed beautiful. She couldn’t understand why they’d bothered; she’d never lead a normal life after this happened, so how her face looked didn’t matter at all. A few nasty scars might have been a good thing; they would have kept people away.
 
Something sure kept Dave away, the guy she’d been with that night. He’d never come to see her, not once -- hadn’t even sent her a card. Her father had tried to explain it, telling her it was probably because his family’s lawyer didn’t want him doing anything that might show he felt he was responsible. Amanda figured the joke was on him. Her parents weren’t going to sue Dave's family; she supposed that showed her how much they thought her eyes were worth, but reality was that they just weren’t the kind of people who immediately jumped into a lawsuit. Dave had finished high school and gone off to college a year ago, never even acknowledging that she still existed.
 
And "existed" was about it. She had missed too much school that year to be able to make up the work, so they’d made her repeat her sophomore year. That hurt too! She'd always gotten good grades before, but there she was, the same classes all over again. Her previous accomplishments meant nothing -- she'd flunked a year of high school despite high marks, and here she was a junior instead of the senior she should be. She'd liked school before losing her sight, but not now, why bother? And she had almost two more years in this hell-hole before she’d at last be free of school. But what did that matter? She had nothing to look forward to after high school was finished.
 
Not only was she a year behind, but she was now a "Special Ed" student… the kind who had to be escorted around the halls by a guide and led to their seats. Why didn’t they complete the insult, strap her in, put a bib on her -- everyone probably expected her to gibber and drool anyway. She was some kind of helpless freak who had to be led around the school on a leash. Shit! She couldn't find her own locker without help, or even go to the bathroom herself because each one was arranged a little differently, and she had to have help navigating in them. What a baby… needs help going potty. Gawd, they might as well put a diaper on her.
 
Her former friends were now a year ahead, and they avoided her as if she had some disease they could catch. She could have assured them that blindness isn’t communicable, but she didn’t really want to socialize anyway. The only thing her current classmates knew about her was that she was an ill-tempered blind girl who had been “held back,” and she was sure they laughed at her when she couldn’t hear them. She was passing her classes, but just barely. Why try? School didn’t really matter anymore. What was she ever going to do with an education? There was no future for the likes of her; all of her dreams and plans had died with her sight in that accident.
 
The school had her going to these stupid sessions where someone would read a book to her. As far as she could tell, they were completely useless. She could “read” the book herself with a book on tape. They said that the more personal reading session would help her understand the book better and would give her a chance to discuss it with a peer in an informal setting, outside the classroom with the distractions of thirty other kids. Amanda didn’t want to discuss the book and certainly didn’t want to be anywhere near another teenager. She just wanted everyone to stay away and leave her alone.
 
They were starting a new book in her English class, and she was back in the reading program with it. From what she could tell, the fucking program just provided an easy out for high school seniors desperate to fulfill their community service graduation requirements or give other do-gooders a way to get their rocks off. Rather than provide any real help, all of them just lorded their normality over the handicaps, namely her. This week some new asshole would get a chance to feel all noble and selfless by reading to the poor blind girl. Along with everything else, that pissed her off even more; being the subject of  someone’s “community service” made her feel like more of a freak than ever. If she wasn’t so damn angry about it, she probably would have cried.
 
The teacher introduced Amanda to the new reader. His name was Ken something, and he said hello to her. She held the book out to him, but played a little trick she’d come up with. As soon as she felt the fool touch it, she'd let go and the book would drop to the table. Ha! Even though you can see, you’re still a clumsy loser. Like all of them, this new guy asked a few stupid questions, to which she gave snide answers. She wasn’t going to let anyone get close; all they would do is hurt her. She’d been through this reading shit before. Like the others, in two weeks this one would collect his certificate, wallow in his nobility, and be gone. There was absolutely no reason to even pretend they would ever be friends.
 
She debated telling Miss Harris that if they really wanted to achieve something for both parties, the program should pair up students for at least half the semester, giving them a chance to get to know each other. But who would give a shit about what one of the program’s “special” students thought. Fuck them. Let them run their stupid program their own fucked up way. She didn’t want to get to know anyone anyway.
 
This new asshole tried to make “pleasant” conversation with her. What the hell was he thinking; just get the reading done and go away. There was no relationship here, he’d come to do a chore -- to fulfill an obligation -- and being friendly wasn’t part of the bargain. She was here because she had no choice -- she was forced into it -- and she didn’t have to like it. Beside that, he asked questions that hurt. Yes, I’m seventeen too, I flunked a grade, I’m stupid, you’re so much better than me because you can see. Satisfied?
 
And then Friday, he just went too far, telling her about his weekend plans and asking her what she'd be doing. Shit. Shit. Shit. She didn’t have any weekend plans. She NEVER had weekend plans. What could she do on a weekend? What could she do anytime but sit at home listening to her parents talk, listening to the TV, listening to music, listening to life going on around her and knowing that she couldn’t be a part of it anymore. She might as well be the girl in that stupid book -- dead -- and “watching” everyone’s lives go on without her. Was he going out of his way to make her feel bad? Well, he’d succeeded! She felt like shit, because of her answers to his questions, she felt like shit for screaming at him, she felt like shit for the language she was using, and she felt like shit for being unable to do anything for herself anymore. All things considered, she just felt like shit. She couldn’t believe she was actually starting to cry about it. 
 
Afterward, her mom tried to be cheerful and upbeat as she helped Amanda out to the car, but what good did it do? She kept on telling her, “You can do almost anything you set your mind to.”
 
“Why don’t you just leave me alone, there’s nothing I can do! I can’t even get around this damn school on my own. I have to hold onto a guide and be led around like an animal. They might as well put a leash on me with a sign -- I’M BLIND, WORTHLESS, USELESS.”
 
Her mother kept silent; she didn’t know what to do for a daughter who couldn’t accept what had happened and move on, or at least try to adjust. Her baby needed to learn to make the best of things, but instead she’d just sit and brood over everything she could no longer do. Everyone kept trying to reach her, but Amanda wouldn’t break out of her depression and anger. Kate worried a lot about what life was going to bring her daughter.
 
The conversation over dinner that evening just kept kicking Amanda in the ass.
 
“Oh, I saw the cutest baby at the store today.”
 
“When are we seeing the Johannsons again?”
 
“Did you see how beautiful the fall leaf colors have gotten this week?”
 
“Honey, would you go see if we have any ice cream left?”
 
SEE, SEE, SEE! She wanted to lash out; she wanted scream and hit her parents, beat her fists against them until they understood. But she’d done that too many times before and knew how it would end. They'd just sit there, their voices full of compassion and love, holding her and telling her everything would be all right.
 
But it would never be all right, so she kept her pain to herself, shrinking further and further away from the world, pulling inside of herself until the ordeal of eating with her parents was over. They never even seemed to notice that she didn’t join the conversations.
 
After dinner, Amanda went to her room. Hey, one advantage of being blind was that she didn’t have to do dishes anymore. See, she could look on the bright side! Find the fucking advantages! SEE!
 
She turned the radio on, leaned back in the chair in the corner, and put her feet up. In her room she didn’t have to interact with anyone, she didn’t have to show off, she didn’t need a guide to get around, and she didn’t have to be anything but herself.
 
It was kind of strange. After two years of not seeing, she seldom formed new visual images of things anymore. Sure, she remembered how stuff looked. In fact, when she thought of her own appearance, she pictured the last time she’d seen herself in a mirror. Somehow, never seeing a different image of herself, she kept the last one she knew. It was the same for her parents and everything else. In her mind, she was going to look fifteen for the rest of her life.
 
Every now and then she took inventory, felt her face, her hair, her eyes, her shoulders and her arms. She felt her tits … yup, they were still there and still pretty small, no more than little lumps with pointy little nipples on the ends. She knew her waist felt a little narrower than it was a couple of years ago. She hadn’t measured; maybe it was just because her hips had grown wider. If nothing else, she’d had to change jeans sizes when her old ones became uncomfortable. Her legs were pretty thin, and she thought her knees were a bit too bony. She liked her feet, tickling her soles lightly gave her a tingly feeling all over her body.
 
There was one thing Amanda could and did do on the weekends. She did it week days too when she could. She didn’t have to see to do it, and she didn’t need any help. It was something she could do by herself, and for a just a little while it made her feel good, maybe even normal, maybe even the way she’d felt before the accident. She closed her eyes and rubbed herself, and being blind didn’t affect the feelings at all. Hell, call it what it is, she masturbated … it’s not a crime.
 
Of course, she needed a little privacy, usually in her room -- often in bed -- sometimes in the bathroom. Unfortunately her parents, seeming to think she needed them around all the time, often didn’t leave her alone long enough. This time she was in her room in that big, comfy chair in the corner and knew she wouldn’t be bothered this soon after dinner. Sometimes she hummed a nameless tune while she did it. Maybe she even smiled. It was entrancing, almost like a drug, and she loved it. She lost track of time, not caring about anything else, forgetting her troubles, forgetting that she was ruined.
 
Mmmmmmm……Just lean back and let go, eyes shut, a little touch, a sigh, no hurry, keep it going, enjoy the feelings. Amanda lost herself in those feelings, and for a while she was just a girl enjoying her pleasure, real pleasure -- no pain, no limitations, no cares -- for a while she wasn't a freak.
 
She hardly ever had fantasies of being with someone else. She neither needed nor wanted anyone else; this contentment of her own making was good enough. Why dream of things that can’t ever happen? Her dreams and hopes all fell apart two years ago, and dreaming was worse than pointless, it killed the bliss. She’d learned to be satisfied with what she herself could control.
 
What a wonderful weekend it was going to be. He had to remind her. Yeah, wonderful…
 
Shit.
 
Monday, the asshole seemed a little subdued. He didn’t try anything cute, and she left it alone. She was more than happy to get the hour finished and go home to her "wonderful" life.

Sitting in her room Monday night, she thought about her reader. Thinking was another thing she could do without help and without seeing. What did the asshole look like? Was he cute? What did cute mean anyway? Was his hair blond or dark like hers? He sounded like he was cute, but she knew that didn’t mean anything. She'd picked on him about his smell, but he really didn't smell bad. It was rather nice, actually. It was just something else to needle him about. Was he fat? He said he liked computers, so he was probably a pudgy, greasy-looking nerd with a face full of zits and skin so white it was almost transparent. He had a nice voice though, didn’t sound pudgy; actually he sounded kind of like a hunk. He probably was a hunk, since he had a cheerleader for a girlfriend. 

That’s right, he has a girlfriend. She could imagine the two of them making out in his car. They would be kissing and holding each other. Sucking tongues. She’d have big tits, and he’d pull her sweater up to get to them. He’d push his hand down inside her panties and she’d open his pants and ……SHIT….. she’d never even made out! Seventeen fucking years old, and she’d never made out, and now she never would!
 
The enormity of what she’d lost closed in around her, and she flopped down on her bed crying, eventually falling asleep.

 

 

You Asked...

...about the change in viewpoint. I can't really answer -- it seems to me it depends on whether the insights we get will have a meaningful impact when we move ahead again.

We're getting new and different information -- for one thing, that her getting set back a year is a significant part of her feeling let down by the school system; for another, the fight she's putting up between pessimism/sour grapes (Ken must be fat and ugly) and seemingly unattainable optimistic dreams (he's a hunk). We'll presumably get more useful thoughts from her POV when we get to Ken's breakup and inviting Amanda out.

But whether it turns out that it's ultimately worth interrupting the story continuity isn't really possible to answer until it's over. (I do think we can assume, given how quickly we got through these two weeks, that getting bogged down won't be a problem.)

Eric

Trying not to get bogged down

But I kind of like looking from Amanda's POV. We do need to understand where she is coming from in this thing. Thanks for reading and the commenting.

Self-esteem again

easy to destroy, very difficult to re-build.

I liked the sudden change so that we saw life from Amanda's POV. These are the sort of feelings that everyone goes through in teenage years (unless you're extremely fortunate) but much heightened in Amanda's case.

All credit to Ken for sticking with it. I liked the way that he tried to work out how a blind person might take in a movie.

Reminds me of some friends of mine - husband sighted; wife blind but highly intelligent and a gifted musician; daughter beautiful but unspoint 4 year old.

I've not yet known them for long to ask how the parents met.

This is extremely well researched and written.

Susie

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