Blind Sight: Through The Eyes Of Aniela Dawson
A Unique Tune
Aniela’s fingers plucked at the air while she practiced an imaginary harp. This was not how she wanted to spend her afternoon, but her private teacher had called her in for an extra lesson. While Aniela thought her impending graduation meant she did not have to practice as much, her teacher told her graduation was no excuse for laziness. Unlike many of her orchestra companions, she had no desire to continue after, at least not at the same level. Aniela sighed and dropped her hands; the music inside her head stopped just as abruptly. This was important to her mother, so she stuck with it.
One of the practice room doors opened behind her and she twisted to see if her teacher was ready for her. Instead, a blind girl stepped out of one of the adjoining rooms. Her white and orange stick slid across the floor as she walked. Aniela was fascinated; she had never seen a blind person before. The girl did not hide her eyes behind sunglasses; her loose straight brown hair was pulled back except for the bangs which fell into her eyes. Despite the shame Aniela felt for staring, she could not resist.
Another door opened and a young man barreled into the blind girl, sending both toppling to the floor.
Aniela rushed over. “Are you okay?”
“I’ve been better.” She began feeling around on the ground, and Aniela started to look around, wondering what she was looking for.
Aniela helped the boy gather up his papers. It was mostly sheets of music, but there was a drawing of a baby with foreign hands lunging to grab hold of it. She tried to hand it to him.
“That’s not mine.” He took the sheets of music and left. Aniela stared after him, thinking he was incredibly rude. She looked back down at the drawing, but it could not belong to the blind girl, so she set it on a nearby table and noticed a CD close by.
“Is this your CD?” Aniela asked, since the girl was still feeling around for something.
“Yes, thank you. They burned a CD of the choir music for me to learn.” The girl introduced herself as Odette Reyes, a recent immigrant from Spain and scholarship student. Aniela was fascinated by her European accent and wanted to know more, but her teacher’s foot was already tapping impatiently, her arms folded across her chest and a stern expression on her face.
“Red Rover, Red Rover, let Robert come over.” Aniela’s arms swung back and forth to the rhythm of the song.
Gravel crunched under the boy’s feet as one of the Phoenix orphans broke away from the other team and charged the space between Aniela and the girl next to her. They tightened their grip just before she felt him hit. Their grip held and he joined their ranks.
“Red Rover, Red Rover, let William come over,” the other team captain sang. A boy on Aniela’s team jogged half-heartedly, making little effort to break through and took a spot on the very end.
This was easily her favorite part of the job, letting loose and transforming into that part of her that was still secretly five years old. She fed off their joy and excitement. She did not want to become the type of administrator who was so focused on management and desk jobs that she lost connection with the students and their needs.
Once even the most energetic children slumped to the ground in exhaustion, Aniela had them sit in a circle and talk, trying to show them their opinions mattered. William retreated to the swings. His disapproving stare reminded her of her mother’s. Rather than force him to participate, she let him be and turned her attention back to the children in the circle. She realized she needed a better, possibly more anonymous forum, for while some children were tattletales, others were silent sufferers. It was just one of the many learning curves she faced.
She was tempted to delegate the responsibility to someone else and just play with the kids, but at the same time, she was hesitant to relinquish the one thing in her life she had complete control over. On the way home, her mind pondered a variety of improvements for Phoenix as she stared out the window, but the thoughts did not stay once she was home and heard the angry voice of her mother carrying through the halls.
“I do not know what you plan to do about your daughter.” Alaya’s bitter tone echoed from her husband’s office. It was enough to draw Aniela in and press her ear to the door. She pushed the door open a crack and found Alaya pacing and James sitting in a chair, eyes following her movement. They were too far away for her to pick up what either of them were feeling.
“Our daughter.” James’ voice was firm and the kind of quiet that did not need volume to stand out.
“This cannot go on.” Alaya continued to pace. “Have you read the articles the paper is running? They are claiming the royal family is falling apart! I can just hear the Danes snickering, always looking for something to pick at, and Tatiana has a habit of making herself an easy target.”
“And?” His tone had the potential to be condescending, but Alaya did not seem to take it as such.
“Look, James…” Her tone softened the longer she was near his calming aura. “Tatiana had no right to create such a scene.” Her voice had a fake innocence in it that could only be caught by someone who knew her well, as demonstrated by James’ sarcastic “ha.” Afraid they would catch her eavesdropping, Aniela crept away.
As she passed the parlor, a morose tune poured from behind the closed door. This room was home to two grand pianos and Aniela’s harp. The brooding tune, unfamiliar to Aniela’s ears, felt incensed as the keys were attacked so that the fortes boomed. This bolstered Aniela’s assumption that her sister was working her aggression out on the piano. Tatiana would quit the moment she thought someone was listening, so Aniela had to sneak up as silently as possible, creaking the door open as quietly as she was able.
Tatiana sat with her back to the door. Her face was hidden from view, but her body swayed, engrossed in what she was playing, moving with the flow of music. Aniela found herself envious of Tatiana’s ability to instantaneously compose, even if she never spent the time writing it down. Aniela practiced for hours with private teachers to get where she was on the harp and still did not rival her sister’s natural skill. Aniela listened in silence, knowing this brief glimpse into her sister’s world would not last, that one sound would break the spell.
The argument between her parents must have ended abruptly, for all of a sudden the gentle sounds of a second style entered the mix. Aniela had been so focused on Tatiana that she had not noticed her father enter the room until he started playing, but she was sure he had not been there before. At first Tatiana continued what she had been playing while James played something different. It was softer, mellower, but fit in the key of Tatiana’s piece. After a while, listening to them was more like listening to a conversation. Neither of them stopped playing or paused, but their volume fluctuated, and the keys bounced around. Aniela closed the door and listened outside until the music stopped. Quickly, she made her way to the dining room. Theodore was the first one at dinner but Aniela was close behind, both a few minutes early.
When Tatiana had missed dinner the night after the ball, for the briefest of moments, Aniela wondered if Alaya had killed her in her sleep, but decided that was pushing it too far, even for her. A family member could have small pox or malaria and still Alaya would demand their presence at dinner, but it seemed Tatiana had become unpleasant enough to Alaya to get out of them. Not to Aniela’s surprise, she had overheard Alaya telling the cook to cut out Tatiana’s proportion, not that it mattered. There were frequently leftovers, and Tatiana was not above cooking.
Just as the cart rolled back into the kitchen, Tatiana surprised everyone by walking in and standing by her chair. There were mixed expressions, but none more dramatic than Alaya’s. She stood rapidly, sending her chair crashing into the wall behind her.
“You are no longer welcome at family dinner!”
Chaos ensued; plates clattered as fists hit the table. Chairs scraped against the floor and raised voices added to the bedlam. Aniela was unable to follow individual parts of the conversation as Theodore, Alaya, and Tatiana tried to talk over one another. An overwhelming mix of emotions caused Aniela’s stomach to churn, unable to separate her own emotions from those of her family members. Tatiana pointed at Aniela and screamed something that caused Aniela to sink into her chair. How was she to blame for any of this? James, still seated, slammed a hand down on the table. The room fell silent in an instant, and everyone turned to look at him. He smoothed the napkin in his lap and waited for all of them, including Tatiana, to sit. It was the most dramatic outburst Aniela had ever seen from him.
The cart returned once everyone was seated and Tatiana’s plate floated to the table but landed off center. The cook was able to set paths for inanimate objects, but was not able to modify the path once set. Awkwardly, everyone continued to stare at James as if waiting for something else to happen while Tatiana adjusted her plate.
“Family dinner stays.” James chewed and swallowed before anyone dared to move. He was a man of few words, but when he announced something, it was final.
Dinner was far from normal at first, but settled into a semi-normal state as Theodore and Aniela monopolized the conversation, turning it away from the ball and the fighting and toward the recent immigrants, school, and politics, though the latter Aniela quickly lost interest in and let Theodore and Alaya converse instead. Ironically, it kept the bickering to a minimum.
After dinner, Nate honked his horn when he arrived and Aniela went to meet him. “Where to?”
“Anywhere but here.” She just wanted to get away.
After three attempts to close the car door she asked, “Why do you refuse to let me buy you a new car for your birthday?” It had been a much disputed subject between them from the moment he got his license.
“There’s nothing wrong with Josephine, she’s just a little worn down. How would you like to be replaced if you broke your ankle?”
“Darling,” she said, trying to keep her voice from sounding too condescending. “This is not equivalent to breaking my ankle; this is equivalent to massive reconstructive surgery gone wrong.”
“Oooh, I see,” he said in a manner that suggested she had just walked into a trap. “So if you get hit by a truck and have to be scraped off the side of the road, it’s okay for your friends to leave you?”
“Morbid much?” Suddenly Aniela did not want to continue the conversation. She buckled the seatbelt, also sometimes an adventure, waiting for it to click before sitting back and letting Nate pull out of the driveway.
“Hey Nate, have you ever heard anyone mention keepers?”
“Keepers. Tatiana said something about meeting my keeper.”
Nate shrugged. “You mean like meet your maker?”
“I guess…” She was sure that was not what Tatiana meant, but if Nate had not heard anything, she would simply have to look into it more later.
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?
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