An insight to what Lou's home life is really like. Did she lie to Spencer about her feelings towards being blind? Also, we meet Yankee, her faithful guide dog.
I hope you guys all had a great new year. Because in this chapter Lou kinda describes Yankee, I went searching on Google images to try and find a dog that I thought fitted how Yankee looked in my mind, and I found one. So for those of you interested in what he looks like, rather than the vague description given by our blind protagonist, here is a link/address for the picture I found.
I'll be going away on the 14th Jan, so I may or may not be able to update on the 18th. If I can't, then I apologize profusely for leaving you guys hanging and waiting for more (especially as Brendon meets Yankee in the next chapter, and some of you have already commented on how he was so interested in meeting him). It can't be helped, but atleast it will give me time to work on the next chapter. But enough of my rambling; I'm sure you don't come here to listen to me talk, so I'm gonna let you read the new chapter.
I was in a good mood when Chris drove me home later that night, and I knew that he was too, especially from the way that he was acting all smug.
“So,” he started, flicking the indicator lights on and turning a corner. “What did you think?”
I smiled, resting my head against the window lightly. “They’re good guys. I like them.”
“That they are,” my brother confirmed. He was quiet for a few seconds then continued. “So you want me to take you and Yankee back tomorrow?” Laughing, I rolled my eyes. The four of them had asked me to come back tomorrow and hang around for the day before their show that night. Brendon had practically begged me to bring Yankee back, and I had given in after advice from Jon.
“Just say yes Lou, otherwise you’ll never hear the end of it,” He told me. So I had given in, and was promptly embraced by the singer in a bear hug so tight that I was in danger of being strangled to death. Thankfully, Ryan had come to my rescue, stating that Brendon had better loosen his grip on me or I wouldn’t be alive to bring my dog back the next day.
“I think they like you,” Chris said, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel to a tune on the radio. “Especially Spencer.”
“Yeah, I got on well with them,” I said, remembering the hour or so after sound check. We’d swapped funny stories and memories, and made each other laugh. Being with the boys… They’d made me feel like I belonged somewhere, and I know it sounds stupid saying that after knowing them for less than a day, but that’s what I felt. Secretly, I was glad and excited that they had invited me back tomorrow, but was also a little nervous. What if they got bored of the blind girl? I’d never been too worried about my disability before, but now that I was actually making friends – especially around my own age - I began to worry about what they would think of me. Would they get annoyed that I had to have someone by my side pretty much all the time? Get sick of the fact that I needed to be helped around unfamiliar places? Especially a venue like they were at today. I bit my lip, suddenly unsure whether I wanted to go back tomorrow.
“Are you okay?” Chris asked when I was silent.
“Hmm? Oh yeah, I’m fine. Just… thinking, that’s all,” I told him, shifting in my seat.
“We’re nearly home, anyway,” he said, and with that, we fell into silence for the rest of the drive home.
Upon arriving at our home, I was greeted at the door by an overly-excited Yankee. I laughed, pushing him down, and walked inside, hanging my coat up next to the door. Heading into the kitchen, I came across my mother who was finishing up making dinner.
“You want some help?” I asked, making her start at the sound of my voice.
“Lou! You’re back! So how’d it go?” she asked, kissing me on the cheek as I took a place at the counter and began mashing potatoes.
I nodded. “It was good. The band was really nice, and-” I stopped suddenly, turning around and narrowing my eyes at her. “Wait. You knew?”
Mom laughed, her voice ringing out across the room merrily. “Of course I knew. You don’t think I would let my daughter go out on her own without knowing where she was, do you?” Her happy tone blunted the sharp impact her words had on me but I still cringed. I could tell what the hidden meaning was behind her words: I would let any girl out by herself except you. Any girl that doesn’t need the aid of a guide dog and has perfect vision. Anyone but you.
I turned away and began pounding the potatoes with renewed vigor. The poor potatoes didn’t stand a chance against my rage, and had soon given up their shape to form a mashed clump.
It wasn’t fair, I thought, thinking of all the opportunities that I had been forced to ignore and throw away, just because I was blind. My parents would hardly even let me go out by myself with Yankee, insisting on having themselves or Chris come with me. Why the hell, I don’t know, especially when Yankee does a better job at protecting me than they do. Their reason was that they worried about me, and I had often heard tears spilling from my mother’s eyes in their bedroom when they thought I was asleep. But they weren’t tears of worry. I heard them confide all their secret thoughts about me to each other: Her life will be forever ruined, Maybe we should have sent her away when the blindness took over, I can’t stand looking at her like that, those eyes just creep me out with their vacant stare, I don’t know how she can stand it, Feels like my fault, I can’t do this anymore, I can’t fucking do this anymore.
I had cried the first few times I had heard them say that. I think anyone would though. I tried telling myself that despite all this they still loved me. They’re your parents, they have to love you, right?
Our family was fractured. Broken, shattered, almost to the point of not being able to fix it. The only thing that held us together was my older brother. Good old Chris. The perfect child in their eyes. He could do no wrong. Why wasn’t she more like him? They asked themselves. I knew what they meant. Why couldn’t I see?
He didn’t know what they thought of me, and he probably wouldn’t find out either. Whether he was away at college or on this tour as he was now, Chris was hardly at home anymore. And when he wasn’t around, the cracks and fissures in our relationship deepened and widened.
Fights would escalate and tempers would fray, all because I wanted more freedom. Freedom which they wouldn’t give me. I remember one particular fight – the worst – when my dad had shoved me back against the wall so hard I had hit my head and bitten my tongue, filling my mouth with metallic blood. All because I had made Mom cry. We were all shocked at what he had done, but he’d never laid a hand on me again after that. Not even for a hug.
But when Chris was around… When Chris was around, we acted like everything was fine and perfect. And we were good actors, too; observe the cheery smile I now give my mother, laughing at my father’s stupid jokes as he and Chris enter the kitchen, the way Mom gently scolds Yankee for getting underfoot, the way that we act like a normal, average, perfect family.
But we’re not.
Poor Chris. Poor, kind, caring, adoring Chris. He has no fucking idea that I’m tearing this family apart. No fucking idea. And we’re going to keep it that way, because if he knew, Mom and Dad know that he would instantly be on my side. And they’d hate me for turning their son against them.
But does anyone care what I think or feel?
I don’t think so.
But inside I am slowly dying. Every day I spend in this house with them is killing me. There’s a darkness inside of my body, gradually swallowing me whole, until there will be nothing left of me anymore, and Louise Jones will just be a fragment of memory, not really anything special.
Spencer asked me this afternoon if being blind bothered me. I lied. It does bother me, and I think about it every single fucking day, asking myself the question, “Why me?”
But I guess I’ll never know.
Dinner was a subdued affair.
I remained silent throughout the entire thing, speaking only when I had to, Yankee at my feet under the table protectively. Mom and Dad made small talk with Chris, and as much as I could tell they loved having him around, they were starting to feel strained and tired from acting about our relationship. My brother didn’t seem to notice though. In fact, if you asked me, I would say that he was more excited about having met Panic! At the Disco and being able to work with them than I was, because that was all he talked about. Ryan did this, Jon said that, I helped Brendon with this thing, Spencer told me about so-and-so. Two words came to mind all the while he was talking – man crush. I started to smirk but then realized I was being unfair. Chris was a good guy, who would do anything for anyone, and I could tell being on this tour meant a lot to him. And he deserved every damn minute of it.
When everyone had finished eating, I excused myself from the table, feigning exhaustion and tiredness and bounded up the stairs to my room, my faithful dog at my heels. He promptly jumped onto my bed as I closed the door behind me, settling himself at the foot of it with a long sigh. I gave a small smile. One thing was for sure – whatever mood I was in, I could always count on Yankee to make me feel better.
Yankee was five years old, and I’d only had him for two years. He was a German Shepherd, and I’ve been told that he was the normal black and tan colour. He was very loyal and we bonded quickly. I think he took his job of protecting me extremely seriously, as weird as that may sound, but he loved to have fun and just be a dog sometimes, hence the few holes in Mom’s garden. Yankee was extremely smart and I had learnt to trust him without a doubt after he had saved my ass on many occasions, taking him with me everywhere I went. With the obvious exception of this afternoon, of course.
Thinking of this afternoon again, I echoed Yankee’s sigh before flopping down on my bed next to him with a groan. I didn’t want to think about it anymore, didn’t want to accidentally read too far into an action or comment and turn it into something it’s not. I sighed again, reaching out to scratch Yankee’s ruff, finding his favourite spot to be scratched.
Sometimes, especially when I start thinking about things that I tell myself I won't, I can be my own worst enemy.
My sharp ears picked up the sound of footsteps climbing the stairs. Too heavy to be Mom’s, to light to be Dad’s… Chris. Presently, there was a knock on my door and what I already knew was confirmed when he spoke.
“Can I come in?” My brother asked softly. I kept my gaze firmly riveted on the dog that I couldn’t see in front of me.
“Yeah,” I told him, hearing the quiet noise as the doorknob turned and the door swung open and the gentle click of the lock as he shut it behind him.
“Hey,” Chris said, moving over to sit in my window seat. I loved that spot, although I couldn’t exactly look out the window and observe the scenery, but I liked to sit there with the window slightly open, letting a gentle breeze wash over me and caress me face softly, bringing the sounds and scents of the neighborhood with it. “So, is it just me, or do you and Mom and Dad seem to be fighting about something?”
My head jerked up sharply. “What?! No! Of course we’re not.” I laughed shakily. “Whatever gave you that idea?” I could feel the intensity of the stare he was giving me practically burn a hole through my body.
“You’re not a very good liar, you know,” Chris sighed. “Lou, what’s going on? I know something’s wrong, but you won’t tell me what it is. I want to help, Lou. Is… Is it about tomorrow?”
“What? No, tomorrow’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with tomorrow.” I flinched as he reached over and touched my hand. “I’m fine Chris, believe me. There’s nothing wrong with me and Mom and Dad; we’re okay.” I tensed as I said the last part, knowing that he wouldn’t believe me. I was right.
“I’m not blind, I can see-” Chris tried to cut off his words the moment he’d realized what he’d said. But it was too late. I dropped my unseeing gaze downwards. “I’m sorry Lou, I didn’t mean-” he started to apologize.
“I think it’s best if you just leave me alone right now,” I whispered softly. I could practically feel regret leaking out of the pores of my brother. And something else. Sympathy. But I didn’t want it. Not from Chris, my parents, or the four guys I had met earlier today. I just didn’t want it.
The window seat creaked as my brother’s weight was lifted, and I heard the carpet sigh as his feet found their way over to the closed door. He paused. “I’ll see you tomorrow morning, Lou.” When I didn’t reply, I heard him breathe out deeply and then he was gone.
Sensing my unhappiness, Yankee sat up, whining. “Hey boy,” I murmured quietly. He licked my face, washing away the salty liquid that had begun to slide cautiously down my face. I sniffled, laughing as his rough tongue tickled my cheek before burying my face in my best friend’s fur and crying softly.
If my parents and brother couldn’t deal with the fact that I was blind, then who could?
A harsh reality came with the answer, making my ugly eyes fill with pain and hurt while I cried harder.
No one could.
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