Alex Roberts rounded the corner, colliding straight into the most notorious clique at his school. Knocked onto the pavement, his hands searched the concrete where his eyes could not.
“Sorry,” He apologised profusely.
The girls whispered maliciously, snickering at his feeble figure clawing the ground. Alex’s face turned the deep red of grave embarrassment. He knew how he must look, a stumbling fool, disabled, crooked and as out of place on the pavement as a polar bear in the desert. Wanting to lessen this image, he paused and waited for them to leave. As the whispers faded he began searching again, when suddenly a hand clasped around his and handed him the cold metal that was his cane.
“Kate!” came a shout, “come on, get over here!”
He continued listening as she walked away;
“Seriously Kate, why’d you have to touch him? He’s weird.”
“He’s not weird, just…blind.”
Not wanting to hear anymore, Alex picked himself up from the concrete and shuffled away.
He was thinking about this, three days later as he sat on his usual park bench, tracing small protrusions with his fingers.
“Was it difficult?”, came a voice.
“Was what difficult?” He already knew who she was. Kate.
“Learning that language. You know that b….” She paused, drawing in a horrified breath.
Alex sighed, “Blind, that blind people use. That's what you wanted to say wasn’t it? It’s okay, I know what I am and a word cannot change that. You’ve said it before anyway.”
“Of course, I'm sorry. It's just…well.”
He sighed again and touched the space next to him. She sat.
“And yes, it was difficult. But it was so important for me to learn Braille. I needed it, I couldn't live without words.”
“Do you like it? I mean, reading without your eyes?”
“I think I do. In a way, it’s sort of like I’m feeling the story, connected with the characters beyond sight. Truly in touch with it, if you must.”
He could feel her smile. “Hey, I like that!” She laughed.
“You know, I’m sorry about the other day. Those girls..”
“Don't worry about it, I'm used to it. People, they’re afraid. Not of me, my difference. I’m blind! That's what people see. No one wants to relate to that, to me, because that would mean they’re different too. I don’t hate them for it. Why would I? It's such a waste of love.”
“Seriously Alex, what have you said now?” He thought, inwardly cringing at his choice of words.
“It's funny,” Kate whispered, “you’re b…”
He grimaced. Again, she couldn't say the word.
She continued carefully, “ You have no sight, and yet you see so much more than anyone else.”
She touched his hand lightly. Then it was gone, she was gone.
Alex let a smile play on his face. Because for once since five years ago, for once since the accident that had so violently taken his eyes, he didn't feel quite so blind.