"I'm just a teenager."
"Here." Isabella said, putting her pen down.
"Here?" I asked, confused.
"This is for you." She stated, waiting for me to respond.
I stared at what she had drawn. It was... exquisite. "I didn't know-" I shut up immediately, knowing how stupid I would sound.
Isabella laughed, "You didn't know what?" She prompted.
I sighed, "I didn't know blind people could be artistic. Go ahead and say it."
"Say what?" Isabella asked, now sounding as if she were confused.
"Say that I'm an asshole." I said, knowing she would. I'd made such a terrible statement. How could she not be at least slightly mad at me?
Isabella just shrugged, "I wasn't going to say that. Do you like it?" She asked, gesturing in front of her towards where the drawing was.
I stared at it, taking in each detail she had drawn. She had drawn a tree with branches extending outwards, stars shining where leaves would be. "How can you draw this?" I asked. The drawing was so simple yet it was beautiful. She had made it in to a beautiful drawing. The lines were... not exactly straight where she had moved her hand, unable to see where the line had been before. That just made the drawing even better though as far as I was concerned.
Isabella reached out, touching the paper. "I use Braille."
"Um, I read in Braille. You do know that blind people can read, right?" She asked, teasingly. "So pictures... can be in Braille as well. I can feel what things look like and well... this is something I've felt before. I drew a tree and replaced the leaves with stars."
"I like it." I said, finding myself unable to explain to her just how beautiful I thought it was.
"Thanks. I don't draw much. I thought this class would be fun though." Isabella said, smiling.
"It's really good." I said, "And it's mine?"
"Yeah. I mean, if you want it."
"Cool. Thank you." I said, taking the piece of paper down. I folded it quickly and placed it in my pocket, not wanting to forget it. I really did think it was... cool. "So this Braille stuff... could you like, show me it sometime?"
"Of course!" Isabella said brightly, sounding excited.
The bell rang, students stood quickly... fighting to be the first out of the room. Isabella began to stand but I placed my hand on her shoulder, keeping her in her seat. "Why aren't we leaving?" She asked. "That was the bell, wasn't it?"
"Yeah but... the halls are going to be crowded." I said, frowning.
"I just-" I cut myself off, unsure as to why it was a big deal. "Nevermind. Let's go."
Isabella stood, awkwardly walking forward. I watched as her hands fell to her sides. Her movements were slow but she could be mistaken for a normal girl, without a vision impairment. I walked behind her, hoping she wouldn't run in to anything. Why did she have to make things harder on herself? I found myself beginning to get annoyed that she was purposefully going without a cane or whatever, which would help her... not smack herself in to objects.
"Isabella, watch-out." I said quickly, causing her to stop immediately.
I sighed heavily, "The door is in front of you. You have to open it instead of walk at it." Why was I being mean to her? I was mean to everyone.
I opened the door, placing my hand on the small of Isabella's back. She moved forward, slowly. She was still smiling though. Did she ever stop smiling? I'd never seen someone so unfortunate look so fortunate.
It got a little trickier once out in the hallway. Three steps out of the classroom and someone had already run in to Isabella, surprised that she hadn't moved out of the way as one usually would. Isabella stumbled as the person mumbled a quick apology which Isabella mirrored.
She still didn't stop. She didn't ask for my help. She didn't hold her hands in front of her face. No, she just kept walking... What was with this girl?
(Switching to Isabella's POV)
Each step made me feel a little more accomplished. I wasn't going to give up on my path to normalcy. I knew that no one had faith in me. Even my parents, who were supposed to support me, found it foolish to go to school without my cane. I was sick of it though. I was sick of having to carry it around just to stop myself from running in to stuff. I was sick of being the blind girl. I was sick of the looks of sympathy that I just knew people were giving me. Just because I couldn't see the looks they gave me, didn't mean I didn't know about them. People loved to make fun of people who were 'different'. They liked to push them around. I could never figure out why but it didn't matter. I wasn't going to let it get me down.
It was my turn at a new beginning, starting with my new school. I was going to make the best of it despite the obstacle I faced.
Frank hadn't said a word but I knew he was still behind me, watching me. I'd been warned about him. Principal Turner told me about his... problems. Seems he was the school 'bad boy', self proclaimed of course. Wasn't that how it always worked?
I was used to people like him. His words didn't bother me. I stumbled slightly as another person ran in to me, causing me to run in to another person. This time I fell, landing on my knees. The floor was far from soft. I felt the ground, attempting to stand. I failed miserably. I felt someone's hand on my arm, attempting to pull me up. I knew it was Frank. I pulled my arm away, receiving a frustrated reply from him. "Let me help you."
"Not yet." I said, wanting to figure it out on my own. I knew I'd fail a few times first. Hell, maybe a hundred times... maybe more. I was used to failure. That's what I was to my parents after all. All of their constant bickering about my blindness drove me crazy... I could do this. Everyone thought I couldn't but I could.
I forced a smile in the direction I assumed Frank was in. I really had no idea. There was so much movement, so many sounds... I didn't even know what direction I had been going in anymore. It took me a second but then I was standing. I stepped forward, hearing someone laugh. "What is she doing?" Was clearly asked from a stranger.
"She's walking idiot. Why don't you do the same?" Frank snapped.
I couldn't hear the reply so I assumed they had decided to move on. It didn't bother me too much. Again, I was used to it. There would always be people that didn't understand and instead of try to... They would make a joke out of me, enjoying the laugh they shared with their friends.
When I had been younger I'd cry. I didn't understand then why people seemed to hate me so much. I still didn't completely understand... the pain hadn't dulled... I had just grown so accustomed to it that I just kind of tuned it out, deciding to freak out over it later... When I was alone. Oh yes, when I was alone I felt quite a bit of pain. It was like everything everyone said came back to haunt me. I couldn't help it. In public I could help it though and I wouldn't let another person see my tears.
That was more painful than the things they said.
I tripped over something that had been on the ground, letting out a startled cry as I braced myself for the hard ground. Instead I felt arms wrap around my waist. "Frank?" I figured but I decided it was best to check.
"Keep walking." Frank whispered in to my ear, his breath tickling me.
I'd never had a boy so close to me. It made me nervous. I stepped forward, each step seeming to take more energy with Frank holding on to me.
The sounds died down slowly and then I felt air, confusing me. "Where are we?" I asked, confused.
"Outside." Frank said, stating it as if it were obvious.
I didn't understand why we were outside though. "Why?" I asked.
"I needed to get away." Frank replied, his hands still on my hips as he guided me with each step. Suddenly his hands left me though and then I heard a door open, "Need help sitting down?" Frank asked, unsure as to what I could and couldn't do without help. I wanted to widen my 'could do' to a lot more things. That was my goal. Could I reach it? I had to. Feeling disabled... was terrible. I hated the misery it brought me.
"Sit where?" I'd heard a door open... to a car?
"In my car." Frank said, yawning loudly.
"I think we should go to class."
"You don't skip often, do you?" Frank asked, sounding amused.
"Never." I replied, blushing. I reached in front of me, feeling the car door. It took me a few seconds before I was lowering myself on to the seat. I knew how to sit in a car but... each car was different. Some were lower than othere, some higher... They were just different.
"So, you say you wanna go back yet here you are... getting in my car, all on your own." Frank teased.
"Where are we going?" I asked, ignoring him. A smile still tugged at my lips though.
"I don't know yet." Frank replied, shutting the door. I heard the noise and jumped, startled. I hated that part of being blind. I never seemed to get used to things slamming shut. Mostly, I never got used to not being able to see them shut. I wasn't able to prepare myself like other people.
I heard Frank open the door to his side of the car and then he got in, closing it quickly. "Are you hungry?"
"I could eat."
"How about we get some food then?"
"Sure." Food was always nice.
"Do you like pizza?" Frank asked.
"Duh." I said, grinning.
"Let's go to the pizzeria then!" Frank said, throwing on an italian accent. I grinned as I listened to him speak, exaggerating each word.
When the car started I bit my lip, listening to Frank's quiet breathing. "You can put in a CD if you'd like." Frank said, absentmindedly tapping on the steering wheel. I could hear each thud of his finger against the wheel.
"Where are your CD's?"
"In the back, behind your seat." Frank replied, before pausing. "Let me grab them for you." I heard some rustling and Frank somehow managed to pull a CD case from the back of his car while still driving. The thought scared me slightly. I liked the idea of not crashing quite honestly...
I felt the CD case drop on to my lap. "Why don't you pick one?"
"You know I can't see what each CD is called, right?" I reminded him, hoping he didn't expect me to pick a 'favorite' or something, seeing as how I didn't know what was on each CD.
"That's why I didn't tell you to pick out a specific CD." Frank replied, calmly.
I flipped through the CD case slowly, finally stopping and randomly picking out a CD. It took a bit to slide the CD out since it was a tight fit, keeping the disk in place. I felt around Frank's radio, pressing buttons on accident. Once I found the CD player I gently slid the CD in to place.
Seconds later a song began playing. Frank turned it up, informing me. "Escape the Fate, good choice." as if I had actually picked it out knowingly.
I laughed as Frank changed the lyrics, replacing the name of the girl in song... 'Ashley' with my name. He was being goofy and I liked it. Usually people were too nervous to be themselves around me, too afraid they would insult me in some way. Either that or they were purposely insulting me.
"Like the brightest star you shine through. Isabella baby, you make me feel so alive. I've got purpose once again. Isabella baby, you make me feel so aliveeee." Frank sang out, making me laugh harder.
Frank began laughing with me, stopping the car. "We are already here?" I finally asked, surprised.
"Yeah, it wasn't a far drive." Frank replied, still sounding amused.
Finally I bit my lip deciding to confront Frank about something that had been worrying me. "Why are you doing this?" People weren't generally nice to me. I'd been forced upon him. I expected him to be meaner than the others.
"I like pizza and I hate school." Frank said, carelessly.
"No. Why are you bringing me? Do you intend to leave me here or something?" I asked, jumping to the worst conclusion possible. I expected him to set me up for some sort of humiliation.
"Only if you want to stay."
"You don't have to do this, you know. You don't have to be nice to me. I don't need a pity friend." I snapped, finding myself getting angry as I once again jumped to a bad conclusion. I rarely showed anger so it was weird expressing my anger to Frank.
He spoke calmly however, acting as if I weren't acting like a stupid child... as I was. "I don't pity you." Frank responded. "You can't see. So what? Some people can't walk. Others can't hear. Some people have all of their senses and their lives still suck. I pity them. I pity them for not seeing how hard others have it and realizing they shouldn't live in misery just for the hell of it. You don't pity yourself so why the hell would I pity you? Now get out of the damn car so that we can go inside." Frank's voice bordered on stern yet his amusement still showed through. He was still amused with me, with how I was acting... God, I would never understand him.
Still I opened the car door after finding the handle and I stood up once my feet found the ground. I could hear footsteps and then Frank's voice broke through my thoughts, "Come on now. I'm hungry." He wasn't pushing his help on me anymore. He was just... here to hang out with me. I was somewhat stunned. I was hanging out with someone casually, outside of school. I'd never done that before... It was nice.
I walked, following Frank's footsteps cautiously. It was obvious once I stepped inside of the Pizzeria and I realized Frank must have decided to hold the door open because I could no longer hear his footsteps. "I'm still here. Just go on straight ahead. There is a girl there. Tell her we need a table for two." Frank said.
My stomach started grumbling as I inhaled the sweet smell of Pizza. One foot in front of the other until... The girl Frank had been talking about spoke. I stopped walking immediately. "Hello!" She greeted me happily, "How many?"
"Two please." And then I heard Frank's footsteps.
"Frank?" The girl asked, sounding surprised.
"Hey Amy." Frank said, "Gonna get us a table?" His words sounded somewhat cold.
The girl didn't respond but then Frank's hand was pushing me forward, his hand resting on my back. I walked with him until he cheerily said, "Thank you for the table Amy. We will need a few!"
She still didn't respond.
"Do you guys not get along?" I asked, once I thought she was gone.
Frank laughed, "Amy, why don't you tell my friend here why we don't get along?" So she was still there. Damn.
"We dated." Amy said, voice flat.
"Why aren't you in school?" I asked, extremely confused.
"I'm a college student. No classes today." So Frank dated older women? Though she could only be like... a year older or something and that wasn't really a big deal. We were seniors after all.
"Isabella, do you like Pepperoni pizza?" Frank asked.
"Yeah. It's the only kind I actually eat."
"Great. Nevermind about needing a few minutes. We will take a medium Pepperoni Pizza and... I'd like a mountain dew to drink. What about you Isabella?"
"Water please." I reached out, finding the booth. I stepped forward cautiously, sliding in to the booth. I felt awkward standing. I heard movement and then Frank was sitting as well, or at least I thought he was... I couldn't really tell.
"Will do." Amy said, her footsteps echoing in my mind as she walked away.
"I'm sorry. I didn't know she was still there." I told Frank, slightly embarrassed.
"It doesn't matter to me." Frank replied, carelessly.
Now came another hard part of hanging out with someone. Conversation. I'd only ever had a pet fish and he had never pressured me in to speaking so... I wasn't very skilled with clever banter. What ever would I say?
"Where'd you move from?" Frank asked.
"Arizona. Have you lived in New Jersey your entire life?" I asked.
"Yes I have and... why are you so pale then?" Frank asked, as if doubting my answer.
"I didn't know I was pale." I replied, "And I honestly don't know. I didn't hide from the sun or anything."
"Has no one ever described what you look like to you?" Frank asked, surprised. He found it strange to be unaware of your own looks.
"Nope..." I responded, finding that it would be a strange request. Who just went up to someone and asked, 'Hey, would you mind describing me?'
"Would you like me to?" Frank asked.
"... Sure." I replied, interested in hearing what he had to say.
"Okay, well first off... You have green eyes. They are unfocused but it's not extremely noticable. They are a lighter green... which fuck, you don't know colors... do you?"
I laughed, "No but it's fine."
"You're pale as I said... and um, damn this is harder than I expected." Frank admitted, laughing. "You have long hair... which you could probably feel... god, that's obvious. I suck at this."
I laughed, "It's nice that you're trying though."
"I'm surprised that no one else has ever tried explaining it to you before." Frank admitted, "Like a boyfriend or parent."
I shrugged, "I've never had a boyfriend and my parents aren't very... descriptive." I didn't really feel like describing them so I settled for that definition.
"Weird." Frank said.
"Yeah, parents can be weird." I replied.
"No. It's weird that you've never had a boyfriend." Frank explained.
"It's not really weird at all."
"Why do you say that?" Frank asked.
"Who wants to date a blind girl? Most people confuse disabilities. My blindness becomes retardation or something else completely random like being Deaf. I've even had people say things about me, thinking I couldn't hear them... They didn't realize that I could still hear clearly despite my vision impairment."
"And they have the nerve to call you stupid?" Frank asked, baffled.
I just shrugged, unsure of what to say. Then finally it hit me... "So, what do you look like?"
Frank laughed, "Do you really want me to attempt to describe something to you again? I failed horribly."
"Please?" I asked, amused.
"I have another suggestion." Frank said. I could hear him moving around and then suddenly I felt him slide in to the booth next to me. I moved over a little so that he could sit down.
"Feel for yourself."
"I- are you sure?" I asked, not wanting to make him uncomfortable.
"If you want. I figured it'd help more if you felt. I mean, you could probably feel the shape of my face and body and... feel my skin and... it just seems easier than me describing colors that you can't even see."
I nodded, reaching my hand out.
Frank's hand touched mine. I breathed in sharply as he moved my hand to his face. I could feel the warmth of his skin... His skin was soft and smooth. I couldn't feel any large bumps so he had a fairly clear complexion. I moved my fingers over his nose, feeling the shape. As I moved higher I heard his chuckle, "Watch the eyes. I don't handle fingers in them very well." And with that I felt his hand moving my hand further up, past his eyes. My hand was moved to his hair, which was silky soft and short. I ran my fingers through his hair when someone cleared their throat, startling me. "Enjoy." I heard Amy's voice croak out and then the smell of Pizza assaulted my stomach, reminding me of how hungry I was.
"Shall we eat?" Frank asked, jokingly adding. "I promise I'll let you continue to touch me after."
I laughed, "The food smells great." I didn't want to knock over an entire pizza so I gave in and asked Frank for help. "Mind putting a few pieces on to my plate?" Of course I could do it myself but it was precautionary. I was already nervous, the feeling of Frank's skin tainting my fingers. I didn't want to make a fool of myself at the moment. More than ever I just wanted to fit in.
"Sure." Frank said. I felt his arm brush past mine as he grabbed a few slices of Pizza. Then Frank grabbed my wrist gently, placing my fingertips on the edge of my plate. "Sorry." He immediately said. "I keep forgetting that you're perfectly capable of doing this shit on your own... I'm just not used to-" He stopped mid-sentence.
"Not used to being around a blind person?" I asked.
"Don't worry about it." I said, smiling. "You don't make me feel completely useless." I admitted, smiling.
"That's a good thing, right?" Frank asked, the smiling noticable in his tone.
"For me... yeah." I took a bite of pizza, sighing in delight. "This is delicious." I was used to my parents cooking... Usually just my mom. She was always on some sort of health kick. It was terrible. This slice of pizza was saving my taste buds from dying forever, poisoned by a million vegetables that I couldn't even pronounce.
"I agree. This is one of my favorite places to eat but I haven't eaten here in awhile since I broke up with Amy..." Frank said.
"Was it a bad break up?"
"I guess." I could feel the movement of Frank shrugging. "We slept together then I broke up with her. I wasn't really interested in a girlfriend."
"You just wanted sex?"
"Yeah. Girls don't take that too well." Frank replied, nonchalantly.
"So, you aren't dating anyone right now?" I asked, curiously.
"No way." Frank responded immediately. "The last thing I want right now is to get sucked in to a relationship again. I'm so sick of the drama girls love to wrap around themselves. It's not worth the sex."
I laughed before awkwardly asking, "Is sex fun?"
Frank noticeably paused, "Shit. You've never..." He trailed off before responding to my question, "Sex is awesome."
"As awesome as this pizza?" I asked, jokingly.
Frank laughed, "Depends on who you're having sex with. Sex with amy lacked in comparison."
"That's mean." I said, but I couldn't help but laugh.
"You'll get used to it." Frank replied, taking another bite of pizza.
"After spending time with me every day... yeah." Frank said, "I don't change much. Plus I could say much worse about her but I won't. Not yet. You aren't ready for that yet." He said, laughing. "I'll wait until you're used to the things I casually say first."
"Will we be doing ... this... often?" I asked, trying not to get my hopes up. I felt slightly pathetic but this was so nice. Talking to someone I wasn't related to was such a breath of fresh air. As we spoke I even found it easy to forget about how different we were. I didn't focus so much on what I wasn't seeing.
"Yeah, I think so." Frank said, without hesitation.
"I'm full." I said, suddenly realizing that I had been continuously eating as Frank continued to put Pizza on my plate... despite the fact that I could've just stopped at two pieces.
"Ready to go?" Frank asked.
"Are we going back to school?"
Frank laughed, "School is over."
"How long have we been here?" I asked, surprised.
"For a few hours." Frank replied.
"Do I need to get you home?" Frank asked.
"No, it's fine. My parents probably won't notice my absence for awhile." I replied, enjoying my time with Frank.
"I figured they would pay more attention to where you were and when... because of..." He trailed off again, swearing quietly. "I feel like I'm insulting you so I'm sorry. I just figured your parents picked you up from school or something."
"I actually take the bus and my parents are so wrapped up in unpacking that they won't notice that I should be home." I lied. My parents actually just wouldn't care. Their blind daughter disappearing would probably be a relief. I was nothing more than a burden to them.
"Well, cool. Wanna go to my place then?" Frank asked.
Upon walking in to Frank's house I didn't hear anything so I decided to ask, "Where are your parents?"
"It's just me and my mom." Frank said, "And Mom's at work."
I didn't really have anything to say to that. I found myself liking the feel of Frank's skin as he once again grabbed my hand, leading me somewhere. I paused as a door opened and then walked in to a room that smelled strongly of Frank. It was a defined smell, definitely different from the rest of his house. "Are we in your room?" I asked, knowing that we were.
"Yeah, make yourself comfortable." Frank said, letting go of my hand.
I heard footsteps and then some music came on, playing quiet. I walked forward, stopping as my legs hit a bed. I reached out and felt it before sitting down. Seconds later I felt Frank sit next to me. "So I believe you were interrupted earlier. Would you like to continue?"
I knew what he meant but I decided to play dumb anyway, "What?" He didn't need to know that I'd been looking forward to feeling the rest of him...
Frank didn't respond, instead he brought my hand back up to his face. My hand rested against his cheek before I began trailing my fingers along his jawline. I found his lips, pausing as I felt something I didn't recognize. "What is this?"
"My lip is pierced." Frank replied. "That's my lip ring." He reached up, gently moving my finger along the lip ring before letting go again.
"Any other piercings?" I asked, moving my fingers along his lips. They were soft.
"Nah. Not right now." Frank replied.
"What about..." I trailed off, wondering if he was even old enough to have a tattoo.
"I have a couple of tattoo's." Frank answered, as if reading my mind.
I felt him move causing my hand to slip from his lips. Then he grabbed my hand again, moving it downwards. He rested my hand upon his hardened chest and my breath caught. "I told you that you could feel all of me." Frank teased, laughing.
I shifted, bringing my other hand to his chest as well. I liked the feel of his soft warm skin underneath my hands and I slowly traced words over his chest with my fingers, laughing. "There is something I didn't tell you earlier when I was describing you." Frank whispered. His tone had changed... it was heavier.
"What's that?" I asked, letting my hands fall from his chest as I focused on what he said.
"You're beautiful." Frank informed me, causing my cheeks to heat up.
I thought of something, suddenly becoming uncomfortable. "You know that complimenting me won't get me to sleep with you, right?"
Frank laughed, "I had no intention of having sex with you."
I breathed out, "Good... then thank you." Now I felt stupid. Why would he even want to sleep with me? He was probably just being nice.
"Don't act so disappointed." Frank joked, running his fingers along my cheek before brushing my hair behind my ear.
"I just don't want to lead you on." I told him, feeling bad for saying anything at all.
Frank leaned back. I felt the bed move and then he yawned. "School makes me tired."
I laughed, "You didn't even stay all day."
"So? I'm still sleepy. Let's take a nap." He proposed.
"And here I thought you were a bad boy. I don't think bad boys take naps in the middle of the day." I teased.
"You thought I was a bad boy?" Frank asked, sounding amused.
"Aren't you supposedly?" I asked.
"I guess some people might think so."
"Well, what do you think?"
"I'm just a teenager." I liked that answer.