Close your eyes. Feel everything around you.
In the dark everything has a place, has texture, has identity. You just have to look harder for it.
Michael stood in the center of his apartment, his eyes closed, just breathing. The furniture still had the store smell of newness and in the background there was the distinct scent of acrylic paint and turpentine that always felt like home to him.
He hoped it would feel like home to Liz too.
He’d spent the last two weeks on the phone with her doctors, her parents, his decorators, and Isabel, his agent. Trying to get the whole thing set up without a hitch.
Now the only thing he was afraid of was that she would hate it.
He’d taken pains to design it. There was a minimal amount of furniture, no knick-knacks or end tables cluttering the flow of space. And what furniture he’d bought, was imbued with color—reds, yellows, blues, greens, purples, and oranges—even the walls, the floors, literally every inch of available space, every stitch of fabric, right down to the ridiculous little pillows on the couch the decorator and Isabel had insisted he buy.
His paintings hung on the walls where there weren’t windows, because the apartment was well-lit as well as it was spacious. He’d separated a small alcove to the right, away from the rest of the place, its bareness of an earthy, raw, warm kind. His unfinished canvases lined the floor, and its windows faced east, capturing the best of the morning light. It was the perfect place to paint in.
Michael was aware that he had gone a little overboard with the technicolor vibrancy of the rest of the apartment. But it had such an atmosphere of warmth, fun literally bounced of the walls in rainbowed waves. He'd wanted Liz to be surrounded by the colors that had fled her world. He knew that somehow she’d feel it without needing to see it. Somehow she’s know that her world wasn’t empty, bare, and blank anymore.
Close your eyes. Take in what surrounds you.
There’s an entire world waiting outside yourself. It’s time to embrace it.
Liz had waited patiently in the lounge before. But she’d always ended up disappointed. But she didn’t think she’d be able to handle the disillusion she’d suffer if Michael never came for her.
It was funny how a stranger could suddenly become so necessary. More than funny, it was frightening. Liz was frightened by how much she depended on him. On this man she knew barely anything about, this man she was moving in with.
She’d never been the kind of girl to act first and think later, but something in Michael had inspired her to take this risk. And now as she sat twining her fingers together with a nervous anxiety, she was beginning to regret her original rashness.
Ever since he’d visited her two weeks ago her life had suddenly stopped feeling so hopeless. She wasn’t even sure how he’d charmed her parents, her doctors, even all her nurses, but he had, and now her life was changing yet again.
The last time her life had changed so drastically, the change had been entirely unwelcome. It had taken so much getting used to, it was still frightening to realize that she’d opened her eyes to darkness every morning. That the smallest things she’d always taken for granted, smiles, winks, grimaces were lost to her.
But if blindness had been a change entirely unwelcome, moving in with Michael, a complete stranger to her no less, was surprisingly, insanely welcome. It was past time her life moved forward.
And quite frankly she was sick of all the waiting.
Close your eyes. Stop for a moment. And listen. You’ll be surprised at all you hear.
It’s the little things you tune out. Did you even know that smiles make a sound?
Michael walked into the lounge at precisely the appointed time. He’d hated the thought of Liz spending time waiting for him. It seemed to him that she’d spent enough time waiting.
It was the work of the moment to assure all the nurses, doctors, and every other person involved that all the paperwork was in order. That Liz was indeed free to go.
Liz knew the moment Michael walked into the lounge. He made the room seem smaller somehow. So much energy bounced off of him, it surprised her to realize that he held himself so still.
“You all set?” he asked her.
“Yes. Is everything ready?” she replied.
“Yep,” Michael replied as he walked up to her. Gently so as not to startle her he took her right arm and laced it through his. “Shall we go?”
“You have me right?” Liz asked, hesitating to take a step into the world of unknowns that awaited her.
“Yes.” Michael’s voice was imbued with confidence. He was sure. He had her. And he would take care of her.
Close your eyes. And build the world around you.
Is the world you created beautiful? Is it dark? Is it everything you want it to be? Because it can be. Use your imagination.
“There are three steps before we reach the door. And then I’ll let you go for a second, while I open it.” Michael was careful to give Liz a play-by-play account of everything he was doing, of everything she should expect before placing one foot forward. He had learned from the extensive reading and talks with her doctors that she would be depending on his words to build her world.
The drive to the apartment had been silent. Michael hadn’t quite known what to say now that he had her all to himself. He imagined that they’d get to know each other pretty well during the next few days.
They reached the door with no incident and Michael fished his keys out of his pocket and fiddled with the lock. Opening the door, he once again took Liz’s arm in his and saying, “We’ll walk straight for about ten steps before turning right and walking another nine steps, and then I’ll let you sit down while I get all your luggage,” as he led Liz into the apartment.
Liz took a seat willingly. As grateful as she was to Michael for everything he had done for her, it frustrated her to no end to realize how dependent she truly was on him. He’d been so wonderful to take her out of the hospital, but she realized that her real prison was the darkness she lived in day in, day out. And that was something no one would ever be able to change.
But Michael had at least brought her to a new place. She paused a moment to take in her surroundings. It was surprising how different Michael’s apartment felt from the hospital. Even the energy in it was different, although she wondered how much of that was just accounting for the fact that Michael lived here, but the smell of disinfectant was glaringly absent, although she could detect the scent of turpentine that seemed to follow Michael around like a cloud, and the air was so much warmer than the crisp sterile hospital air.
She was in a home. Michael’s home. Her home. And that meant everything to Liz. She was glad to have a place somewhere. A place in someone’s life.
Close your eyes.
Is the world any different when you open them?