For the blind
22 They came to Bethsaida, and some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. 23 He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”
24 He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.”
25 Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.
Cassandra. Something about her. Taps on my window same time every day. Want some bread, Henry? Made it fresh! What does an old man like me need with all that bread? Soft giggles like rain drops. Can’t help but to smile, open the door and let her in. Sweet Cassandra.
Can’t eat all of it. Never could. But love the smell. Fresh baked bread. Heaven. She comes in, holding it. Knows right where to go, right into the kitchen. Heels click-clacking. Giggling. I made this just for you. Yes, I did. You just sit right there and let me cut you a slice. Voice like church bells chiming high and low. Sweet melody. Her voice is sweeter than the bread.
Stays one hour. Every day, she stays one hour. I breathe her in. Her church bell voice. Her clean, fresh scent. Fresh lavender soap floating all around. Spirit like satin. Smooth. Clean. Strong. Beautiful. She breathes like a blossoming flower. Gentle puffs after each laugh, each giggle. Henry, you are just too much! Let me get you another slice. Makes me think of my boyhood: Playing in the rain, watching blue sky break through gray clouds.
She started all this. Knocking every day for almost one year. Every day, knocking. Hello? Anyone home? Didn’t answer for a good while. Just listened to the door. Waited for her steps to fade, her voice to stop. Don’t know why. Just stupid, I guess. Didn’t want to be bothered. Too many strange people around. City’s got all sorts of clowns, schemers, thieves, do-gooders. Figured she was a do-gooder or a church goer looking for someone to feel sorry for. But she kept on knocking. Hello? Anyone home? So I answered one day. Don’t know why, but I answered her one day. Something in her voice that day. Something made me open that door, smell that bread, hear those chimes, sniff that lavender, feel that satin. And Cassandra came in.
Glad I did it. One year and we’re friends now. Told her everything about me. But she already knew – I could feel it. Cassandra sees me; faces me when I talk. Faces me like I wasn’t blind, like I was worth talking to, like what I had to say she heard before but didn’t mind hearing it again. Regular people don’t do that with blind people. Regular people don’t even face them when their talking, don’t even look them in the eye – as if blind people can’t tell. But Cassandra faces me when I talk. She looks me in the eye. She knows I can tell.
Never had to explain much to her. Never. Cassandra already saw it. She saw that I was born this way, that I read books with my fingers and my mind, that I saw my first cloud through a story, that I saw colors when my mother described a rainbow, that I saw my mother’s face with my fingers: Velvet eyelashes, pencil nose, pudding cheeks, tough and thin rubber lips. Little Henry, you’ve been playing in the rain again? Little Henry? Mother’s voice was stern voice like steel grinding on steel. Go dry your hands on that towel, Little Henry. Her calloused hand on my shoulder. Hand was calloused, blistered, tired. I saw her die; felt the room fill with her breath after it left her body. Couldn’t see it, but I saw it. Never told Cassandra that. Didn’t need to because she knows. Bet Cassandra can see what I see or imagine it, at least. She can imagine my darkness. Not blackness but darkness. That’s what I see. No colors, no nothing. Well, almost nothing. No such thing as nothing, my mother said. There’s always something there, Little Henry. Even where there’s nothing, there’s something. Mother was right. Darkness is something. It’s always there, living, responding to things like a stubbed toe, a cold shower, a bright, bright light, Cassandra. The darkness I see responds sometimes, like a thick dark curtain gently swaying from time to time.
Something tapping on the front window. Cassandra, tapping with her car keys.
“Come on in…you know the drill.”
“Henry, how are you?”
In the kitchen. No heels. Soft shoes. Sneakers. Cassandra moving slower than normal. Plate in front of me. Touch the bread. Its warm and fresh.
“Henry, we have to talk.”
Knife scraping against the bread. Cassandra buttering it too fast like she’s not thinking.
“Henry, it’s about my job.”
She’s looking at me, looking right in my eyes.
“Cassandra, what’s wrong?”
“Oh, Henry. Everything’s turning upside down!”
“My job. Money. Everything. You remember my little job down at the plant?”
“Well, they’re closing down. We got the notice last week.”
“Closing down? The whole plant?”
“They’re closing it down here. They’re just going to keep their main one open in the next state. They say it’s about lost sales.”
“I’m sorry, Cassandra. You’ll get something else. Don’t worry.”
“Henry, it’s not that easy. I’m not a spring chicken, you know! And I don’t have any other skills besides what I’ve been doing for the last twenty years. I have no choice but to accept their offer.”
“Yes. They want to transfer me to the headquarters. It means I leave everybody behind…even you.”
No rain in her voice. Not this time.
“I…I’m happy for you. You’ve got to keep working.”
“Henry, is that how you really feel?”
“No, not really. Well, the truth is I don’t want you to go.”
Rain is back. She’s smiling a little.
“No, I don’t.”
She holds my hand. My darkness moves.
“I don’t want to either, Henry, but what can I do? I have to work to make a living.”
Cassandra lets go, sighs long and heavy, sniffles. Then she stands up, takes the plate to the sink, turns around, comes near me, touches my shoulder. Soft hand. Filed nails. Holds it for a minute, a whole minute.
“Henry, I-I have to go. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Jesus, please don’t let her leave me.”
“I…I love her.”
“Give me the courage to find work.”
“I can work.”
“If I can work, maybe she won’t leave.”
“I’ll marry her.”
“I want to love.”
“I want to learn how to love.”
“God, have pity on me.”
In the living room, sitting on the couch. Slumbering a little. Eyes closed, drifting in and out of sleep.
Cassandra taps on the window. Too early. She never comes this early.
“Come on in!”
Key in the lock. Front door opens, closes. Lavender. No bread.
“Henry? What are you still doing in your pajamas?”
“I – I don’t know. I got up too early. Just feel slower than normal this morning.”
“Well, get up. Come on, Henry. Henry?”
Something’s different. Can’t feel the darkness yet. My eyes? They’re open. I blink to make sure. Something intense, powerful, big, filling everything, filling the room, filling my vision, bursting out. What is that?
“Henry? What is it? What’s wrong?”
“I don’t know.”
Not wrong, just different. See something splitting the intensity. Tall like a tree. Moving. Limbs. Fuzzy lines on top. Coming closer.
It touches my arm.
Blink. Just keep blinking. Where’s the darkness? What is this? What is happening?
“Henry? Can you…see me?”
I touch the top of the tree. Smooth. Soft. Round. A nose. An eyebrow. Touch the fuzzy lines. Hair.
She holds my hand. Sits down next to me. Looks at me. Looks into my eyes. Her eyesare better than I imagined. Clear eyes like the sky I saw in my mind. Small nose. Lips full and regular. Mouth moves. Cheeks like my mother’s rainbows. What’s that? What’s that on her cheeks? Dimples?
“Yes, it’s me, Henry. You can see? I can’t believe it!”
“I – I can’t either. I must be dreaming.”
Squeezes my hand. Comes closer. Lips against my cheek. Lips soft like warm rain.
“If you felt that, you’re not dreaming.”
Giggles. Sweet giggles. Cassandra. My Cassandra. Beautiful as any imagined sun.
“I was praying last night, Cassandra, and-“
“You were praying?”
“Just asking God for help for you. For us.”
“I love you.”
“Henry, I love you, too.”
“Is this really happening, Cassandra?”
“Well, God performs miracles every day. He did when I met you, Henry.”
Months later, Cassandra and I are married, in love, and home. Doctor couldn’t believe it. Medical miracle, he said. I had to learn how to balance in the light, how to live with the sun and sleep with moon. Working at Cassandra’s new job now. Go to church now. Tell people what happened to me everywhere I go. I tell them that I found love, that I can see the blue sky for what it is, that I was blind, but now I see.
Copyright 2020. Michelle St. Claire. All Rights Reserved.