Amanda felt the gentle pull of the leash in her hand, leading her forward for a couple minutes. Then the pulling stopped, and she heard Destiny, her dog, let loose a small bark, notifying her that she should not go forward. Usually, that means that they have reached a curb. Amanda also knew that they were at a curb from years of experience walking around the streets, and from the whooshing of the cars as they rush by her. She knows her elementary school is right across the street.
She doesn’t normally look forward to school. If she could see it, she might be more happy to be there. It’s not fun being the only one in your class. It’s not fun being the only blind kid in your school, either.
Destiny leads her inside. Destiny also knows the way around the school. She’s been Amanda’s companion for years now. Amanda and Destiny walk into the building, heading to the lonely classroom. There is a surprise, though. Both Amanda and Destiny hear talking. And it’s not one voice, like when Ms. Cam sometimes talks to herself while getting the room prepared for Amanda.
Ms. Cam notices Amanda and Destiny, and she hears footsteps walking towards her and her dog. Two pairs of footsteps.
“Good morning Amanda! How’s your morning been so far?” Comes Ms. Cam’s voice. I nod.
“Great.” Amanda doesn’t want to tell Ms. Cam that she noticed the other person in the room, but then she realizes that she had paused her usual chatter and was waiting for her to say something.
“Hey, who do those footsteps belong to?” she asks.
“I’m happy to see you.” Said an unfamiliar voice. It sounded like the girl who was speaking was in college, maybe high school. Her voice was deeper sounding and friendly.
“My name’s Alena. Nice to meet you.” Amanda felt the tiniest swoosh of air as the girl held out her hand. She reaches out her hand and feels the air in front of her. The hand takes hold of hers and shakes it.
“I’m Amanda.” She lowers her hand, another swoosh of air, and Amanda does the same. The girl starts talking again.
“I’m here because I go to school at a college learning how to become a special needs teacher. They sent me here to watch Ms. Cam do her job and for me to help out.” She seems to be done with her little speech.
“Thanks.” Amanda says. “I’m glad you’re here.” And with those words, she started on the day.
Amanda hands Destiny’s leash to Ms. Cam and Alena leads her to her desk. It is the only desk in the room. Amanda could tell it was Alena because her hand was smaller than Ms. Cam’s hand. She sat down and heard a plop as Alena sat in a chair opposite her. Amanda wishes she could see her. She bets she would have a beautiful face, to go along with her beautiful voice.
They work on mental math. Even though Amanda’s in 3rd grade, she still has to be able to work fast when it comes to mental math. Ms. Cam says that Amanda will thank them later, but Amanda doesn’t think so. Alena is a really good and nice teacher.
“Fifty four plus forty six?”
“Thirty two plus fifty three?”
It went on like this for a while, before it was time for lunch. Ms. Cam left the two girls alone to eat and catch up on each other.
“Hey, Amanda?” Asked Alena.
“What do you feel when someone calls you blind?” She couldn’t answer. She didn’t want to. But she knew she had to. Otherwise, Amanda knew, Alena wouldn’t trust her as much as she already did.
“I feel left out of the crowd, when someone calls me blind. I don’t know, it's just that I can’t be normal. I’m the only one in this whole school that’s blind.” Amanda sighs.
“Yeah. Hey, I know you can’t see me, but I am kind of like you, if that makes you feel better. I’ve had a terrible limp since I was in third grade.” Amanda smiles slightly in front of her. That does, in fact, help her feel better.
“You’re pretty cool. You should get an award for the coolest kid in this school. And do you know how I know you’re the coolest?”
“How?” Amanda is very curious about this topic.
“Because I’ve worked with every single student here, or at least met them. That’s how I know you’re the coolest.”
Amanda smiles. If only she could see this amazing student teacher.
Amanda hears Ms. Cam walk back into the room. She feels the whoosh of air as Alena stands. And, if she strains her ears, she can hear a faint plop of her good foot and the quick sound of her bad foot.
Alena opens up a little more every day about her past. Amanda loves listening to the stories she tells.
“... and then, Melany slid across the floor, laughing her face off. I joined in, and we laughed a long time. It was hard to breathe after that.” Amanda giggled with her for a moment or so, until Ms. Cam came in.
“What’s with the long face?” She heard Alena ask. Alena bent over and whispered, “She looks like she’s going to melt!” Amanda giggles at the thought. She hears Ms. Cam answer.
“Just a bad day.” She says, in an sad, low voice. Amanda feels the swoosh of a nod.
“We all have those.” Alena says, and Amanda hears slight sadness in her voice. Footsteps walk over to where Ms. Cam’s desk should be, and a plop of her sitting down. She hears tying.
“Okay, Amanda! You too, Destiny. It’s time to begin!” Alena says, ready for the day to start. She grabs Amanda’s hand, and leads her out of her desk to a corner with books. She hands Amanda a book.
“We’ve never done these before, but I think you can. I think you’re ready.” Says Alena. “We’ve been learning all the letters of braille, remember that?” Amanda nods. She does remember it, with all of the little dots on paper, shaped into patterns. Alena opens the book in her hands with the whoosh of air.
“Okay. You can feel whenever you’re ready.” Alena tells her. Amanda tentatively reaches out her hand, and when she feels the dots, she laughs with delight. Alena laughs next to her. She can even hear Ms. Cam in the back chuckling as well along with them. She begins to read. The dots on her hand make a T.
“T…. H….. E.” Amanda says, delighted. “The! It’s the!” She hears Alena laugh. Alena would look so pretty laughing, she thinks.
“You’re right! Good job Amanda!” She says. “Ms. Cam, did you hear that?” Amanda hears Ms. Cam laughing louder now. She hears footsteps come closer. A swoosh of air right next to her.
“Yes, Alena! I did hear that!” Amanda hears Ms. Cam’s smiling voice, right next to her now. Ms. Cam hugs Amanda. She gets caught by surprise. After the moment of shock passes, Amanda hugs her back. She feels a large smile on her face.
“Okay, okay, next!” Alena says, sounding excited. Amanda feels the paper in front of her.
“S… Oh no wait, that’s L… I… T, T… E?” Amanda says excitedly. “Lit… Little.. Little! The little!”
“Yes!” Ms. Cam cheers, her sadness gone and replaced with Amanda and Alena’s joy. Destiny even senses something is going on, because she barks from her bed on the other side of the room. Amanda goes on to read “The little frog jumped on lily pads.” Amanda’s heart flutters with happiness.
“The little frog jumped on lily pads!” She sings, over and over.
When Amanda gets home that night, Destiny leading her, she tells her mom all about it, who hugs her and surprises her with new books.
“You’re getting so good.” Her mom says, hugging her next to her. Amanda takes in the smell of her soft jacket.
“Thanks, Mommy!” She says, hugging her back. Destiny jumps in on their moment, surprising Amanda, who lets out a laugh.
Amanda walks to her classroom, Destiny leading the way. Destiny pulls her to the left, and Amanda turns willingly. She feels the warm air of the classroom as she walks into it. Ms. Cam greets her.
“Good morning, Amanda!” She says, taking her hand. Amanda tries to give Ms. Cam the leash, but she gently pushes the leash away.
“Not today, Amanda. We’re going to have Destiny lead you outside!” Amanda smiles. She loves going outside. The last time they did this was on her birthday. They played games all day, not learning a single thing. Amanda just wishes she could see the grass and the sun. She’s been told the grass was green, but she doesn’t know what that means. She doesn’t know what green looks like. And suddenly, Destiny leads her outside, and she feels the sun on her face.
“Thanks Ms. Cam!” Amanda says. “Thanks, Destiny.” She has a thought. “Destiny, run!” Destiny takes off, pulling Amanda with her. Amanda and Destiny run up a hill, stopping at the top. The sun really beats down on Amanda’s face, and she loves it. She just wishes she could see it.
After a full day of games, Amanda can feel the sun starting to set as the weather gets colder.
“Amanda.” Alena says, sitting next to her on the top of the hill. Ms. Cam had gone back into the building to work on lesson plans. “I had a lot of fun with you today.” Her voice is so soft, Amanda thinks. She imagines the soft features of her face, and the slight limp. The name Alena makes colors swirl across Amanda’s vision, though she can’t see anything else. Just those colors. Alena. Amanda can feel tears falling down her cheeks.
“I had fun, too Alena.” She says, her voice cracking.
“Amanda, what’s wrong?” Alena says, as Amanda feels her arms wrap around her body in a hug.
“I just wish I could see you. Your voice is so pretty, and I imagine what your face would look like all the time. And the sun. It’s so warm, and the people say the sunset is so pretty. They talk about it being purple and pink and yellow, but…” Amanda sniffles, “I don’t know what that means.”
“It’s okay, Amanda. You see things in your own special way.” Alena says. “You know, you can’t judge someone because of how they look, and that’s amazing. That means that you can only surround yourself with the best people. Those people can help you see, too.”
“But they talk about pretty colors, like green and yellow and blue. I want to be able to see those.”
“It just makes it more fun to imagine what they look like, doesn’t it?” Alena says. Her soft voice brings swirls of colors, colors that Amanda had never seen before. Suddenly, a light shines in the corner of her eye. She turns her head to it. Bright colors, so bright. A circular looking object, so light it makes Amanda squint, is half covered by something… the ground. Amanda’s heart races. Fluffy things above… those must be clouds. They range in shades of colors, surprising Amanda with it’s beauty. Everything is a blur. The colors must be pink and purple and yellow, Amanda thinks. Then, all goes to black again. Amanda blinks, looking away from the heat from what must be the sun.
“Amanda, are you alright?” Alena asks her.
“I think I just saw the sunset.” Amanda says.
“That’s amazing!” Alena exclaims, excited. “You saw the clouds, and the sun, and the ground?”
“Everything.” Amanda says.
Still, to this day, whenever Alena’s charming voice rings through her head, Amanda sees the swirls of pink and purple and yellow.
You see things in your own special way, Alena says in Amanda’s head. Even more swooshes of color. Pink, Amanda’s figured out. And then yellow, like the sun. So bright, like the ball of bright that Amanda had seen only once, a long, long time ago.