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Glimpses of the World
Every morning I awake to the birds chirping. I awake to the mellow aroma of coffee steaming up from my quaint kitchen. I awake with the ambition to plummet myself into the mundane, monotonous routine I go through each day. I awake to the most pleasurable juxtaposition generated by God, except for one infinitesimal, minute flaw that I am willing to overlook. I see the birds’ feet dragging though the air carried by the birds’ wings, but I see not the birds’ beaks emanating the most beautiful harmonies from which we derive pleasure from. I can gaze up at the corner of the sun arising from within its home in the mountains, but I cannot gawk at the marvelous sky painted with colors. I can see the shadows depicted on the sidewalk showing the people sauntering lazily on a warm summer day, but the people’s faces will forever remain concealed from by eyes. I am only able to see out of the corner of my eye, where glimpses of the world make their way into my line of vision.
It wasn’t always that way. In my childhood, every facet of the diamond we call life glistened before my eager eyes. The beauty of the world was engraved in my brain, but being the vivacious, fervent young man I was, I let the appalling horrors of the world slip from my memory, never to be fully captured again. Facing the terrifying age of adolescence, when so much alters in your life, my vision began to deteriorate. Simple choices become frustrating struggles to emerge from within victorious. Simple decisions became hard fought battles. It just wasn’t the same when it was only possible to catch glimpses of the world.
“Hey Alex,” Lou called, interrupting my self engaging monologue taking place in my head, “I hope you don’t mind that I let myself in. I was just taking a morning jog, like I usually do, and I was on my way, and I realized that this old pirate had to drain the old sea monster.”
“Did you flush?” I rolled out of bed, fearful of what might have occurred in my bathroom.
“Yes.” I let out a deep sigh of relief upon hearing this. “And Alex, honestly, you got to clean this place up a little. How long has it been since you’ve had a decent cleaning around here?” Through the small crease of my eye, where I was able to see, I saw Lou’s finger tips move towards the left wall of my room.
“Have you forgotten?” I pointed at my eyes.
“Alex, your vision has nothing to do with the cleanliness of this place. You know what? Get yourself a woman. They’re helpful sometimes you know.”
“And what woman would want to get involved in a relationship with a half blind man?” I said outraged. How dare Lou bring my lack of female interaction into this? “A girl hasn’t looked at me twice since my eyes became like this.” I threw up my hands in annoyance.
“I’ve brought this up before and I’ll bring it up again. You don’t try. You bury yourself in your home, afraid of the world. You don’t have to live in solitude, Alex. Get out into the world. Meet people.” Although I could only see Lou’s left leg, I could tell he was sitting there, troubled by my lack of human interactions.
“I go to church of Sundays.” I said indignantly. “There are people at Church, Lou. And I engage in trivial conversations with those people. And what about you? Are you not a person? Is having a friend living in solitude? I think not.”
“We work together. It’s not the same thing. This Sunday, I’m heading down to New York. There’s this great new restaurant opening up in downtown. Do you want-”
“No.” My tone said it all. I was not interested in Lou’s weekend plans, and further more, I was not interested in making more friends. What was the use? I would never see their diverse faces. I would never be able to remark about their new haircut. What was the use in friends if I could barely see?
“Look Alex, I could help you get around, and Steve could come to. What the hell? We could invite our whole corporation. It would be great. And to top it all of, I hear they have great brisket there. Saucy, but not drenched. Medium well. How does that sound?”
“The brisket or the social aspect? The brisket sounds delicious. Going out with our corporation sounds like my own personal hell.” I sat up, and began taking off my shirt. There really was no need to change. My office was not a far commute; I simply hobble my way over to the computer desk and begin working.
“It might all sound insignificant to you. You probably just think that this is a simple invitation to a meal downtown. But no, this is an invitation for you to get your life going. It’s not too late, Alex. You’re only thirty. Maybe you could just find yourself a blind woman-”
“Enough about women.” I said, pulling my blue collared shirt over my head. “I told you, I’m not interested in saucy brisket and new found acquaintances.”
“You got to stop cutting me short. And please clean up this place.” Lou threw a pair of dirty, khaki pants at my face.
“Watch it. Don’t mess up my hair. I got to look good for my interview today with Mr. Herrings.”
“Oh boy. It’s going to take a whole hell of a lot more than your hair looking nice for you to look good.” Lou chuckled, and even though I couldn’t see it, I could sense his big round belly shaking up and down. “Wait, your interview is today? You need me to drive you there, or do you have a ride?”
“Well you might want to finish up your morning jog. Dianne will be very disappointed in you.” I laughed, “I’ll ask Steve if he could drive me.”
“Oh come on, buddy. You and I both know Dianne will be thrilled that I am helping you get a new job. She keeps on telling me how cheap our boss is, and how if I don’t start making more money, she’ll take the kids and move out.”
“Go finish jogging. My interview isn’t until three, and I got some work I got to get done before then. When you get home, tell Dianne and the kids that they’re welcome to move in here if Big Ole Daddy can’t support the family.” I motioned to the door, and a few moments later, I heard the door open.
“Take care, Alex. And I’m serious about that saucy brisket social event.” Then I heard the door close.
What use was there in making new acquaintances? Lou and his family were my friends. I had my work colleagues. That’s all that was really necessary. Those people accepted me even though I could only see their feet. There was no use in believing that I was really partaking in this world. I was simply a pawn that had already been captured. I wasn’t even being moved on the chess board anymore. That’s how valueless I am.
The rhythmic clicking of the computer keys and the boring monotone of the document I was editing took my mind completely off the conversation with Lou that morning. Soon I found myself absorbed in my work, working at a steady pace very similar to the even beat of a metronome. A document the size of the one I was editing would take an average person around three hours to do, but since I was forced to use the brail system to accomplish all my work, it took me around six hours and before I knew it, it was two. My interview would be in an hour, and I had to get ready.
Just then, the telephone rung. I groped around my cluttered desk, with my hands, searching for the telephone. Finally I felt the smooth, vibrating surface of the phone.
“Hello,” I said picking it up off its base, “Alexander Martin speaking.”
“Alex, I hope you don’t mind.” I heard Lou’s voice say on the other end of the receiver. “Dianne and I are going to the park with the kids in about an hour. Is it okay if I don’t give you a ride to your interview? If you want, I’ll call Steve for you and get you a ride.”
“It’s fine, Lou. I’ll call myself, but thanks anyways.” I was about to hang up the phone, when I heard Lou’s voice again.
“And Alex, don’t forget. This Sunday at six, downtown.”
I guess there was just no way to win a battle against Lou. If he wanted me to go munch on some saucy brisket while engaging in trivial conversation, I guess that’s how I was going to spend my Sunday. I felt around on the dials of the telephone until I was sure I had Steve’s number correct. Then I pressed send.
“Steve McDonald, how my I help you?” Steve’s voice, unlike Lou’s was very hostile which is why I was always reluctant to ask him for favors.
“Hey Steve, it’s Alex. I was wondering if there was any way you could drive me to my interview at three.”
“I’m sorry Alex. There’s no possible way.” Steve said, indicating that there was no farther discussion. Then I heard him slam down the phone.
One by one, my colleagues refused to drive me. I was considering calling Lou and telling him that I needed to drive him, but I felt guilty, because I knew that the kids and he rarely spent any time together.
I got down on my hands and knees and felt around for my walking stick. Then I ran through my hair with a comb quickly, and I walked out the door. I walked into the world. I took my first unaided steps since my accident. Each step was a struggle, but some how I made my way to the sidewalk. Then I began on my perilous journey through the streets of Cherryville.
When I reached 5th Avenue, I heard footsteps behind me. I didn’t think much of them. I just kept on walking, keeping my stick in front of me. If you’re ever seeing a movie, where you can only see part of the scene, and you keep on wondering what’s happening in that area that you can’t see, you would know how I felt then. I saw small glimpses of shadows closing in on me, but I could not see to whom those shadows belonged to.
“Hold still, blind man.” A man with a deep Spanish accent chuckled. It was rather eerie, for I did not even know if I could run. For all I knew, there could be ten men, or twelve or twenty three. They could be simply behind me, or ambushing me. Where was I anyways? I thought I had walked along 5th Avenue, but I must have taken a detour somewhere without realizing it.
I reached my hand out towards the right, and I felt cool, uneven brick hitting against my fingertips. I was in an ally somewhere, and all I could see were the black outlines of the feet of one of the men.
“Watch it, blind man. Any sudden movements will land you with a bullet in your head.” The Spanish accent seemed to be coming from closer by this time.
I tilted my head in an obscure way, hoping to catch a glimpse at who these men were. Then I realized it may be smarter to run, but I wasn’t sure if they really had a gun or not. Out of the very corner of my eye, I thought I may have seen a chubby, tan finger lying on the trigger of a gun. I felt my chest heave in and out. This is why I stay secluded in my house. This is why I don’t walk around alone. This is why I live in solitude. I backed away slowly, not knowing where the brick walk began, keeping my hands in back of me.
“It’s no use. We’re awfully far away from the main street. I didn’t know people used this passageway anymore. I guess you just couldn’t see where you were going.” The man chuckled and shoved the butt of the gun at my head.
I’ve never imagined what death would be like before. In poetry they describe it as a peaceful departure from this world. In books they describe it as a tragic occurrence for everybody. Many authors whip up their own explanations of death, leaving out the part with the searing pain, but I felt it. I felt the bullet rush to my head, breaking through my skin. I felt the insides of my head, shatter as the man released his finger. I felt it all, and I lingered in the pain, for I knew it was the last time I would ever feel pain again. The world slowly faded from what was left of my already damaged vision, and the minimal sounds around me disappeared completely. I was dead.
“Alex.” It was not simply my name being spoken, but it was almost a plea. The voice imploring sounded hazy and far away, but yet somewhat familiar.
“Lou, I’m sorry. Come back tomorrow.” This voice sounded more official, like that of someone who had authority.
“You say that every day. Will he ever wake up?” The beseeching voice spoke again, with a little added whimper.
I moved my hand to my head. My fingers slowly explored the surface of my face, and then began to investigate the back of my head. Then I turned my face towards the two voices I had heard earlier and tried to speak. “Where am I?” I tried to say, but it came out more like a whisper. “Where am I?” I attempted again, trying to annunciate each word.
“I think he spoke!” The hazy voice called out. “What did you say, Alex?”
“I said: Where am I?” This time, I believe that my voice was audible. After who knows how long of flying objects, weird noises and other things playing around in my brain, I felt like it was finally cleared up. It was almost like there was static in my radio system, but with the turn of a knob, it was gone.
“Oh Alex,” the imploring voice that I know recognized to be Lou’s began talking, “I am so sorry. I should have taken you to your interview. This is all my fault. I am so-“
“Nonsense.” I stopped Lou short of his lengthy apology. “Err, how long have I been out?” I was almost afraid to hear the answer. The memories of that fearful walk felt like they had taken place ages ago.
“Uhh.” Lou hesitated. “About a month and a half, but your head made rapid recovery. I’m so sorry that I didn’t take you to your interview. I should have been more considerate.” Lou’s voice trailed off and even though I couldn’t see them, I’m sure his eyes were tearing as well.
“Was I really out for a whole month? Oh man, the job probably got taken. Oh well.” I tried to lighten the mood with a bit of sarcasm. “Now I can return to my lovely job.”
Lou forced a nervous laugh. “One more thing, Alex. I postponed that wonderful idea of having a meal downtown with saucy brisket, so if they let you out by Sunday, you’re coming.”
Now that was the Lou I knew and loved. “Wait, what day of the week is it?” Suddenly I realized that a month and a half had truly gone by. The world just kept on moving on without me, and I had no clue what had happened within that month and I probably never would.
“Monday.” Lou replied, sounding almost nervous.
“He probably will be let out before Sunday,” the doctor said, interrupting our conversation, “But I don’t believe it is wise to have him out of the house. He suffered severe skull damage when the bullet skimmed his head. We are very fortunate that this man shooting him was drunk, or else it could have been much, much worse. Also, I think he has had enough conversation for one day. I’m going to put some more pain meds into your IV. It will sting at first, but then you’ll feel a soothing calmness.”
A few moments later, I felt a sting, almost like a thousand paper cuts, but then I felt the meds wash over me, taking me somewhere peaceful. “Goodbye Lou.” I said, or rather tried to say. My tongue felt like it weighed a million pounds and my voice came out slurred.
“Bye, Alex.” Lou said, interpreting my hard to decipher words. As I felt my body being carried into the world where fantasies are true, I stared at Lou and felt one, salty tear roll down my face. I realized then how lucky I was. Who cares if all I see are glimpses? At least I can them. My life was perfect and I knew it.