Lauren Beebe
Blindness

I am in the bedroom. I am curled, blind—a soft and terrible mystery inside my mother's stomach. I am sitting on the bed with her, not knowing that I am hearing the sound of her heart pounding. It hurts me to hear it so loud, but I will never know. Her fingers turn his pages. Her eyes sting and she tries to cry because she knows she should cry now. I do not know to cry. I am blind. I have always been blind.

    She carries me from the room, dresses herself, and me, with different colors, but I am always visible. Grandmother doesn't look at me. Her eyes plead with the floor, willing me to shrink away, to disappear, to leave her daughter virginal and pure and untainted by life. Mother floats through the house, enormous and invisible like a guest everyone wishes would leave. Her brother comes home late. My uncle. Chris. He leaves at night and comes home early in the morning, his undershirt softly crunching with dried sweat. His parents hide upstairs in heavenly removal, aging angels in the worrying cosmos, blissfully stuffing needles and empty bottles under the bed so they may as well not exist. He breathes so loud when he stumbles through the door, but they are quiet. Chris' words are loud in his journal, and soon my mother will hear his voice in her head. My grandparents' quietness swallows their children up where they cannot be heard. All I can hear is silence and her heart—the sound keeping us alive.

    Chris comes home every afternoon from AA meetings, dying steadily as they gently remodel his soul. My body grows bigger inside my mother while his body shrinks, turning cold and grey. The black circles on his face frighten her. I feel her fear and know nothing, nothing. They stand in the kitchen together late at night, searching the scratches in the linoleum for a cure.

    He wishes he could tell her. He wants to tell her what he writes in his journal. How it feels so good to be in the middle of the street, but the truck doesn't see him. Get out of the middle of the street you fool can't you see—no for I'm blind. Blinded by the glare of the center line, it feels so good to be blind—open your eyes you fool the truck is coming! The words gather at the edge of his tongue like fledgling birds, afraid to jump off, so he shakes his head a little and mutters to my mother that she's a whore.

    Now we lie on the bed together. I float on her sobs like a rough sea. Mother, get up! Chris is alone in the kitchen in the night, feeling the lump in the pocket of his jacket. She cries and curls into me, holding me. Please get up! I am wrapped in the darkness of your body and we are here together and Chris is in the kitchen taking his life.

 

    I cannot know this. I am blind. Her parents upstairs are asleep. We lay together in a blind house. Tomorrow they will open their eyes and find him, but I will never see it— not any of it. Their frozen faces look at my mother, teaching her silence, but I carry the noise in her with me.