This work of fiction is dedicated to Michelle and her friends.
“Please turn around for me? There, you look stunning.” Rachel rubbed a little bit of eye shadow from under my right eye. “He will love you,” she said pulling back. I put my hands up to my hair one last time to check that it hadn’t flattened, but my black curls were light and my hair smelled good.
I had been getting ready for this date with my work colleague Tony all day, but I still didn’t feel quite ready. I was just nervous and couldn’t believe this was actually happening. My flatmate Rachel had kindly offered to help me doing my hair and make-up and she had also come with good advice on what to wear. I had on a long light purple strapless dress, long silver earrings, a couple of silver bangles and a matching shawl around my shoulders in case it would get chilly. I had on black, high heeled strappy sandals and I had had French manicure and pedicure done at the salon near by the same morning. Bits of my hair had been put up in little clips while the rest hung loose down my back. My make-up was discrete without being casual. Foundation powder, purple and silvery eye shadow and a nice pink lip-gloss which tasted slightly of raspberries. “When are you meeting him?” “At 8, so I still have some time. It’s only a few stops on the tube.” “Fancy a teeny tiny glass of wine before you go out to calm your nerves?” Rachel had already made her way over to the fridge where she took out the bottle of rose. “Go on then, but not too much, or I’ll be too giggly when I finally meet him.” We sat down on the couch with a glass each. It was one of those couches which are too low and impossible to get up from because they are too soft. “I love Ben, but I’m almost jealous of you,” said Rachel sipping her rose. “Nothing beats a first date.” “How long is it now since you got together?” “Two years. He’s banging on about us moving in together as his flatmate is moving out to move in with her boyfriend. I want to, but I really enjoy having my Ben free space at times and well, sharing with you is going really well.” “I’d certainly be sorry if you moved out. I’d have to find another flatmate.” I checked my watch, 7.20. “You say that, but maybe it all goes really well with Tony tonight.” “You meeting Ben later?” “Nah, He’s at Phil’s stag do. I think I’ll be catching up on East Enders and polish off the left overs of the Indian takeaway from yesterday. “Would you mind having a sneaky peak on Tony’s facebook page and give me a slightly better description of him? It’s not like I want to ask my other colleagues.” I asked her. “I kind of know what he looks like, but you know me.” She picked up her blackberry and started typing on it. “All for you my darling,” she said. “What was his name again? No wait, found him. There’s only one Tony in your friend’s list right?” I nodded and drained my wine glass. “Hmmmm, the picture isn’t exactly clear, but from what I can see, he looks pretty good. Caramel skin, nice short hair which is a little red ish brown and really green eyes. Very very good looking.” “Thanks.” I was glad Rachel wasn’t one of those people who replied by asking if his looks really mattered and that wasn’t personality the most important thing? And of course it was so, but everyone wants to date someone they like the look of, even if they can’t see them. I got up. “But I really need to go. I’ll see you later, or at least tomorrow.” “OOOOh, because you might not come back?” “Don’t be silly,” I laughed. “Let’s go for brunch at the caf around the corner tomorrow at 11.” “Ok, deal.” Rachel gave me a quick hug for good luck, before closing the door behind me.
The summer evening was hot and the air smelled of flowers and petrol. I loved warm evenings like this, but I knew the tube was going to be horrible. Good thing I only had a few stops to go. I lived in a very residential area, and my walk down the street was accompanied by children playing and music from an accordion streaming out from one of the windows. I walked at a relaxed pace. Didn’t want to hurry. Wanted to enjoy the cosy atmosphere. A little boy ran in front of me and made me jump. “Sorry,” I said, even though he was the one who ran out in front of me. But the boy had already disappeared before I finished the last syllable.
All too soon, I was out on the main road and the cosy summer night sounds were exchanged with roaring busses and motorbikes. Tony had a motorbike and he had promised me a ride on it one day.
I’d known Tony for five months, since I started working on the news desk for the website Reporting International. He was 8 years my senior and a crime correspondent. The first thing which had made me notice him was actually his writing. For some bizarre reason, his articles had stood out to me. His analysis deep and to the point, yet creative and as a news writer, he was impeccable. Of course that alone hadn’t made me fall for him. I had met him two weeks after I had started working there. He had been reporting on a case in Brazil when I had started and it had developed into something a lot bigger than anyone first thought, so he had remained there longer than what was intended. I still remember it as clearly now as when it had happened. I was finally going for a late lunch after a terribly busy afternoon, and not really being overly familiar with the building back then, I did the classic blindy thing, and turned down the wrong corridor. “You ok?” The voice had made me jump. A man had been standing in front of me. A man with a deep melodic voice who smelled of coco butter and soap. “I guess so. I’m going to the canteen.” “Oh, you must be the new girl at the news desk,” he said. “My name is Tony.” I put out my hand, and he shook it. His grip firm and his hand warm and dry with a nice shape. “Yes, I’m Jenna,” I said and felt my cheeks go red. “I’m off to have a bite to eat,” he said. “Me too actually,” I replied. “Right, wanna come with?” I put my cane under my right arm and took hold of his left. “Hopefully there’s still some food left for us,” he laughed as we were walking.
Throughout the lunch, Tony had me fascinated. By the things he said of course. How he had experience with interviewing people on death row in the states and how he uncovered corruption in the police. But almost more than what he said, it was all the other things which had me transfixed. I loved the swift, gentle way he moved between the counter and table to get things, the humility in his voice when he spoke of the impressive life he had led and his smile. Of course, I couldn’t see the smile, but his smile was of that kind you rarely see in people. The kind which penetrates their entire way of being. His smile was in his voice, his movements and even in his silences. But on a selfish note, the very best thing about Tony was that he seemed totally unfaced about the fact that I was blind. I’d always fancied having a sighted boyfriend for many reasons. Apart from it being more practical, I found that the majority of blind boys had no idea how to manage basic things like properly looking after themselves. I myself was also a very visual person and knowing I would never be able to see, I had, and perhaps this was totally naive and stupid, this idea that if I got someone who could see, I could in some way experience sight through his eyes. With sighted boys, there was usually another problem though. They weren’t used to my blindness, and consequently spent a lot of time asking me about things I didn’t always feel like talking about. A massive turn off in a flirting situation at any rate. I also found that a lot of them were over protective and wouldn’t let me do the things I wanted to do.
Tony wasn’t the first sighted man I’d ever met who was this cool. But he was the first one who was that cool and at the same time had so many qualities I was attracted too. It didn’t take us long to become friends, but we didn’t get the chance to spend quality time that often. I discovered through facebook notes that not only was he a great reporter, but an excellent writer of fiction. He had a way of making every subject exciting and every one of his written words spoke to something deep inside me.
I was headed for the world of falling in love something I hadn’t done since, I couldn’t even remember. Maybe when I was 17? I’d had crushes of course, but that intense falling in love experience I thought only teenagers got, had been absent. It felt good, but it also pissed me off, because it made me feel emotionally vulnerable. Besides why the hell would someone like Tony fall for me? But then, why the hell not? I was as good looking and intelligent as the next girl. I was quite worried that Tony was friendly with me just because he wanted to be friends and every time he said something slightly flirty, bought me a coffee or lunch at work or gave a compliment, I kept wondering why. In the end, I decided that what he did, were perfectly friendly gestures and I had resigned myself to thinking that when last week, on my way to meet a friend in a Tapas bar, he had asked me out.
“So where are we off to young madam?” Kevin, my favourite person at my local tube station ran over to meet me as soon as I reached the barriers. “Looking great today,” he said. I told him the name of the station and even though I know my way around my local tube station, I let him take me down so we could chat. “You’re not off to see a young gent are you?” he said. “Don’t feel bad old Sir,” I replied. “You know you’ll always be my one and only old gent however many younger gents I see.” He started laughing. His laugh was loud, booming and very infectious. “Now, don’t you let him hurt you, or he’ll have to answer to me,” he said as the train pulled up. I waved as I entered and slid down onto an empty seat. The train was as hot and sticky as I’d feared, but at least it wasn’t crowded. Ten to eight. I was on time, maybe I’d even arrive a fashionably two minutes late. I rubbed my lips together and behind one hand, scratched my nails over my front teeth just to make sure there was no lip gloss on them and put some hand cream on my hands. Then I took a couple of deep breaths as the train announced that I had arrived at my stop.
Please stay tuned for part 2.