Blind Sight: Through The Eyes Of Aniela Dawson
A GREEN GLOW
Aniela lay awake in bed and stared up at the ceiling. The tiara sat on her vanity, but never before had she wanted it less. Ever since she could remember, her mother had favored her over her sister. In her naïve ignorance and sibling rivalry she had thought it a positive until maturity enlightened her to the irreparable rift that had occurred between her and the twins because of it. Theodore did not dislike her the way Tatiana did, but could never truly befriend her. Part of her wanted to be mad at her mother for bringing about the final act that would forever keep them apart, and yet she felt guilty for not seeing it coming.
The alarm went off at 5:15, as it did every day, indiscriminate of weekdays or weekends. Aniela went to the bathroom, washed the sleepy dirt out of her eyes, and removed any signs of the tears that had dried to her cheeks. She would be glad to leave this world to her brother, craving instead a different life, one that did not require her to always be up early, always be presentable, and sacrifice her own desires for obligations. She made her way to breakfast. Regardless of the chaos afternoons and evenings frequently held for her, she could always count on the morning routine.
James sat at the head of the table, sipping his coffee and staring at the newspaper, but closer inspection of his unmoving gaze told her his normal routine ended there. She also now realized he had the paper strategically folded to hide the front page from view. If Alaya had noticed, she was not commenting, nor did she show any curiosity toward the matter. She sipped her tea casually across from him with her perfect make-up and without a hair out of place. She offered no indication that she had flown off the handle the night before. Aniela watched them both, amazed at their ability to compartmentalize. While Alaya’s behavior was not a surprise, she wondered how James could act as though nothing had happened, since he was Tatiana’s advocate in the family.
Her gaze flickered to Theodore. She was still half-afraid to look him in the eye, lest he return an icy glare, but his eyes were not even open. The serving cart rolled around to each of them. Aniela looked disapprovingly at her dry whole-wheat toast and grapefruit half as her plate floated to its place. She reached for the butter, but felt a sharp sting as Alaya slapped her hand.
“Aniela, what have I told you about empty calories?”
When Theodore reached over and buttered his pancakes, apparently unobservant of the impending punishment, he succeeded without retribution. Aniela gave her mother a look of exasperation.
“Your brother has been famished with all the late nights he puts in.”
Aniela knew it would only anger her to argue, so she bit into the toast with a sullen crunch. She eyed Theodore’s pancakes longingly, even if devoid of any syrup. She had the feeling her mother’s gesture was to make up for what she had done to Tatiana than because he was feeling peckish. Both Theodore and Alaya knew it was bad for the country to have disconnect between the queen and the heir apparent, so both made what concessions they had to in order to keep the peace.
Aniela’s morning classes went smoothly, the material either interesting or difficult enough to distract her from the family drama at home. When lunch rolled around, Aniela waited for Viola, a second-generation immigrant from America. Viola, ironically, was a violinist, which was how they met in their freshman year. Aniela considered Viola her best school friend and felt guilty for not making more time for her.
With an energetic wave, Viola ran over, dragging her boyfriend behind. Her short, tight curls matched the red-orange rim of her glasses and complemented the freckles that popped up anywhere the sun had even glanced. Aniela felt a pang of jealousy, for she once had a crush on the young Lord Mackenzie herself, but she never acted on it. She knew she could not blame Viola, since she had never told her about the crush, but she still felt a twinge of envy when she saw them together. Tristan’s black hair and blue almond-shaped eyes were exotic, and though she would never admit it, his ability to make light of any situation was something she needed in her life.
“Are you actually eating the slop they serve in the cafeteria?” Viola’s eyes grew wide as she looked at Aniela’s empty hands. “Your mother is letting you? I know her dietary rules for you,” Viola teased, the one person who ate the way Alaya did by choice.
“I forgot my lunch.” Aniela sighed. The tension between Tatiana and the rest of the family had not faded.
Aniela turned to see Theodore waving her lunchbox.
“Theo, thank you!” She ran over and grabbed it, welcomed by smells far superior to anything found in the cafeteria.
“You owe me. Mother wasn’t going to let you eat anything else.”
“I’ll do your filing for a week.” Aniela offered.
“Done,” Theodore gave her a smile, an increasingly rare sight.
Theodore left and Aniela followed Viola to one of the study rooms in the back of the library.
“Can you believe we’re graduating in November? That’s only a month away!” Viola asked. “I’m glad I don’t have to worry about anything academic after this year. Poor Tristan is going to medical school.” She reached up and touched his cheek affectionately.
Aniela felt the sudden need to change the subject. “Have you started auditions yet?”
Viola had wanted to be a professional violinist since she started playing when she was four.
“I had one for the Nevaeh Philharmonic, but I haven’t heard back yet. The Edaion Symphony doesn’t start auditions until December. What about you, Ana? I’ve never heard you talk about your after graduation plans.”
“That is because I do not have any.” Aniela vigorously stabbed her tasteless salad.
“What?” both of them asked in unison. She had been avoiding mentioning her lack of plans for months now to evade exactly that reaction.
“Well…I have no idea what I want to do,” Aniela admitted. “Currently I am qualified to flip burgers or be a trophy wife brainlessly standing next to a husband who only married me for title and money.” If she was ever desperate enough to ask Theodore for a job, he would find something for her to do.
Music pulsed from the club upstairs, nearly drowning out the softer radio playing in the background of her uncle’s bar. She loved the play on his last name. The sign outside read: It’s always Greener on the inside, but she did not think he should have gone so literal with it. The bar looked like Saint Patrick’s Day on steroids; green was everywhere from the leather lounge chairs and barstools to neon lighting, carpet, and backlighting behind the bottles of alcohol against the wall. Green paint peeled slightly in the corners against a darker green trim and his signature drink was green which had once led to an unpleasant pool of green puke in the ladies room. Peter Green, her father’s brother, could learn to be a little more subtle.
At least the black of the bar uniforms stood out against the monotone décor, making her best friend Nate easy to spot. It helped that he was tall, standing somewhere above six foot with black hair tousled in fake indifference, and he preferred to stay behind the bar, giving his phone number out like Halloween candy. His flirtatious russet-brown eyes had the power to make any woman feel like the center of attention, even though he always knew how many women in the room were not wearing wedding rings. His tanned skin and toned body were hidden under the black and green uniform. His face was plain, but he had a confidence and humor that made him attractive.
Aniela plopped down on a stool to wait for him.
Instead, one of the other bartenders slid up to her.
“Hey sweety, how you doin’?”
“Hello Cameron.” His pick-up lines were as smooth as his acne scarred face.
“I’ll sneak you something alcoholic; we have a new wine in I think you’d like.” She ignored his eyebrows moving vigorously up and down.
“Peter would kill you.” Her uncle allowed her past the bouncer despite being a few months underage, but she knew better than to drink. “I’m just here to see Nate.”
As if perfectly timed, Nate came over. “Sorry, I had a big group come in all at once.”
Cameron huffed and wandered off.
“So I saw the paper this morning, no wonder you wanted to talk.”
Aniela made a nervous face. “How bad was it?” She had not worked up the courage to read the article herself. It was still too fresh in her mind to want to read a third party recap of the night.
“Well according to the paper, your sister went crazy, tried to jump you in a manic rage, was dragged out of the party, and not seen for the rest of the night. It wasn’t very descriptive, but did mention that your parents apparently had no comment. It didn’t cover any of your mom’s speech, other than that it was cut short by,” he made air quotes with his fingers, “the black sheep of the family.”
He paused as she covered her face with her hands, thankful that the peaceful atmosphere of the bar kept other patrons’ emotions from encroaching on her own. The party was supposed to bring good publicity and funding for the orphanage; instead, everyone was reading about a family meltdown.
“I think it will blow over,” he reached over, stroked her arm, and tried to sooth her.
“Nathaniel!” Peter’s voice shouted from the back.
“Sorry, be right back, I’ll have someone get you a bottle of water while I’m gone.”
Talking to him while he was at work was far from ideal, and she knew she was costing him tips. Her head bowed as she looked down at her hands. Her fingers twisted around each other as she fidgeted nervously. One of the peach flavored bottles of carbonated water her uncle kept stocked in the back materialized before her.
“Thank you.” She raised her head to see a new bartender.
She did not pay much attention to him, her thoughts elsewhere. She gave him money and he returned with change before leaving her alone with her thoughts.
When Nate returned, she had to admit, he really did pay attention. He was able to pick up right where they had left off. “So, Tatiana was upset…why, go.”
She told him everything that had happened, starting with dinner and progressing through the rest of the night.
“Holy shit. Sorry,” he apologized to a customer who had been standing near during his little outburst. He lowered his voice. “No wonder she flipped.”
“Even if I do what I think is right and give Tatiana the tiara, thus throwing away my relationship with mother, how do you think the rest of my family will treat me? Tatiana will not be appeased by the gesture. I have no desire to be the outcast of my family; mother is all I have left.”
Nate snorted. “What makes you think they’d blame you for something your mom did?”
They continued to discuss what she could do to resolve the issue, or at least alleviate some of the immediate tension. In the end, if she was destined to disappoint her mother; she wanted to salvage her relationship with Theodore while she still had a chance.
It was getting late and Aniela decided she could not risk being out any later or her mother would inquire about her whereabouts. Alaya did not check on her unless she felt there was a reason, but not only was Aniela in a bar, Alaya liked Peter less than she liked Tatiana.
“If you wait ten more minutes I can drive you home,” Nate offered.
She checked her watch. “Any chance you can get off early to take me home now? I really do not need my mom banning me from coming here. Right now, she thinks it is understood that I am not supposed to come. I can give you…” she rummaged through her purse, “a twenty dollar tip to make up for it.” She pulled the bill out but he gave her his familiar ‘do not insult me, put your money away’ expression and disappeared into the back to ask her uncle’s permission.
Once home, Aniela lay awake in bed, waiting to hear Tatiana come home. When she heard the door slam, she kicked off the covers and grabbed the tiara. Tiptoeing through the halls; every creak of the floorboards seemed magnified. She tapped gently on Tatiana’s door. She was about to try a little louder when the door swung open and a menacing Tatiana glared down at her. Unsure what to say, Aniela held out the tiara.
“Get that away from me or you’ll meet your keeper.”
Aniela jumped as the door slammed in her face.
Next Chapter – Coming Next Week
Blind Sight is an urban fantasy series about a blind girl who develops the ability to draw. You are reading Blind Sight Through the Eyes of Aniela Dawson. This volume is told from the point of view of Odette’s friend who thinks she’s a medium channeling spirits. The companion novel, Blind Sight Through the Eyes of Leocardo Reyes tells the same story, but through a different point of view. Odette’s brother Leo is convinced Odette is having premonitions and cannot be convinced otherwise. Who is right? Whose eyes will you read through?
You can also learn more about our novels on our page, Ermilia Books.