Twenty/Twenty

I read once about a blind woman called Tacie, who had never experienced sight. From birth, she had to learn to sense the contents of her environment, saturated in a dusky ambiguity, trusting her unconversant brain to fill the vast, dark spaces with detail and texture — pure creation.

Without sight, she was naturally sensitive to what most people cannot see with all five senses intact. As a little girl, she began to notice that everyone emanated an energy, and every energy had a pattern that would repeat itself between similar people. As she got to know a person, the pattern would shift and change, becoming more complex, new rivets and designs taking shape.

The first friend she ever made was called Imogene, who was all heart and legs, and always wore a ribbon in her hair. Imogene was bossy and spunky and every first grade teacher’s nightmare. She would sit on the bench with Tacie at recess and play with her long, unkempt hair. Every Tuesday afternoon when school let out, long after Tacie really needed the guidance, Imogene would loyally walk, arm in arm, the five blocks to the dime store, where they could buy peppermints for a penny a piece.

Imogene’s pattern was bright, warmth itself and wispy, like the feeling of steam from a cup of tea. Even after Imogene moved away, she would send her peppermints in the mail as a sentiment of their not-forgotten friendship. Tacie never saw a pattern quite like Imogene’s.

The post man with the low, gruff voice, whose name was Alan, had a deep, prickly pattern which she associated with the goose bumps that always formed on her arms when he delivered the mail. He was curt and cranky and reminded her of the sound a bear might make if you happened upon its place of hibernation. She used to hide underneath the glass coffee table when her father opened the door to him.

Her mother had a similar pattern to Alan, the post man. It was marked with thin, repetitive lines, crisscrossing a solid, impenetrable depth, like a place you could get lost in. Her mother had an austere, steely voice that had softened only twice in all the time Tacie had known her. Once, late at night when Tacie had gotten up from her bed to listen to the sounds of her parent’s broken conversation, heard above the crackling fire. The other was the last time Tacie spoke to her mom.

Tacie’s father had a blurry, layered pattern surrounding him, which constantly moved and expanded as he talked. It looked a lot like jazz music felt, sincere and passionate with an undertone of whispered sadness.

To be continued…

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