The Cougar (short story)

The Cougar

He almost dropped the box marked “FRAGILE” as he turned away from the truck that he was carrying toward the front door of the house. He wasn’t sure if his eyes were deceiving him, of if he’d died and went to heaven. He was so distracted that the music in his headphones might as well not have been playing. His breath had literally been taken away.
That might be the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen…., Derrick thought to himself. He was enjoying the rear view when his mom called out to him to come over. He was so dumbstruck he hadn’t noticed that they had started up a conversation.
“Derrick, this is Sienna Madison. She lives a few houses down the street.”
“Nice to meet you Mrs. Madison”, he quipped up with an outstretched hand.
She gave him her hand and he melted at her touch. Her skin was so soft. “Well I actually used to be Mrs. Madison, it’s Miss now. My ex-husband and I got divorced a couple years back. But the pleasure is all mine, Derrick. I just wanted to come over and introduce myself, ya know, get to know the new neighbors.”
Derrick’s mother responded with a slight chuckle, “Ah, well that’s new for us, even though they were a lot of things; the other people in our apartment building were definitely not neighborly.” Derrick nodded his head in agreement, with his eyes fastened on this piece of art that God must have sculpted himself. Thoughts began running through his mind that his girlfriend would probably break up with him for having. He’d dated a few of girls in high school, but he’d never met a woman like this. That was the bait on the hook for Derrick. This was no girl, this was a woman. At the end of the day though, he loved his girlfriend, Ariella. They’d been dating for a year and it felt like he had found the girl for him. Obviously Derrick would check other girls out when he was out with his friends, but that was only looking. And that’s all he was ever inspired to do, was look. This woman was probably what, late thirties, early forties. Besides that didn’t matter, Ariella meant everything to him.
“Well I’ve gotta head home, need to change before I hit the gym.” Sienna smiled as she turned around and headed down to her place down the block.
“The gym has done wonders for you…” absent-mindedly escaped from Derrick’s lips as he stared.
“What was that? Speak up”, said his mom in an annoyed tone.
Derrick pointed at his headphones as he quickly piped up, “Song lyrics, my bad, ignore me”. His mom rolled her eyes as she pointed towards the box he set down on the ground.
“Is that supposed to grow legs and walk to the—“
She was cutoff mid-sentence by a bouncing Sienna jogging back in their direction. “Hey Derrick, are you tech-savvy by any chance?”
He nodded his head nervously.
“Would you mind coming over on Thursday afternoon and helping me set up this new laptop I just got? I have these new applications I’m supposed to install for a project at work and it’s asking me all these things when I click it and I have no idea what I’m….”
“Oh, Derrick’s really handy with computers” added mom as he nonchalantly dried his sweaty palms on the back of his Levi’s. “He’ll get you all set up.”
“That’s perfect, I’ll see you on Thursday afternoon, say 5ish? I’ll let you get settled in after school and all that. My house is 412, just a few houses down that way. I’ll see you then!” Sienna flipped her hair as she turned around walked away. Derrick’s mother gave him a light tap on the back of the head to wake him from his arduous stare.
“Bye…” Derrick choked as he replied as she sauntered down the sidewalk. He turned to his mother with a sour face and said, “Mom, we’ve been going since 10 A.M. and it’s almost four.” And you know that I’m supposed to go to dinner with Ariella tonight for our year’s anniversary.”
His mother briefly gave him a perturbed look. “Derrick you know we have to get this done today because we’re not going to have the truck past today.”
“Moooom, Ariella’s been planning this Sadie-Hawkins anniversary date thing for us for almost a month now. We’re catching up on Entourage at her place, then she’s driving us there, she’s even picking up the bill!
His mom gave him one more look before she dismissed him with the wave of a hand. Derrick headed for his car in the driveway behind the moving truck. His mother stopped him right as the locks shot up.
“Just be back later tonight so we can finish this up, Derrick.” He responded silently with a sarcastic thumbs up. He coasted down the unpopulated roads over to Ariella’s, which was actually a little bit closer of a drive now that they had moved out of the city.
“Hey love!” Ariella excitedly shouted from her doorway as Derrick stood up from the driver’s seat.
Ah, my girl, he thought to himself as he received a huge hug and kiss on the doorstep. Ariella was always excited to see Derrick, thrilled more like it. There were mornings Derrick woke up reading his usual good morning texts and wondering what he did to deserve a girl like her.
“How’s the move going babe?” she asked genuinely intrigued in his response as she always was.
He smiled silently as he gazed into Ariella’s eyes. He loved her so much. They’d been through so much together. Ariella was there for Derrick when his grandmother got sick. She was there when he was hospitalized for a sinus turned bone infection that almost killed him. She unconditionally supported him and always told him he could accomplish anything he put his mind to. She believed in him when he didn’t even believe in himself.
““We’re almost done actually, but today’s been the longest day ever so I got the warden to let me off early and you know the first place I was headed.”
“Wow, well aren’t you the sweetest thing since candy?” Ariella’s expression transitioned from happy and flattered to a concerned pout. “Well you must be tired and sore from moving all day, love! Come over here.” Ariella scooched over on the bed towards Derrick and started rubbing his arms and shoulders.
“I swear you always know exactly what to do”, Derrick uttered softly as he became more comfortable. She kissed his neck a little and sensually glided her fingers over his biceps and forearms. Ariella grinned as she saw the hairs on the back of his neck stiff as ever.
“I hope you’re excited for tonight. I did everything I could to pick the perrrfect restaurant. Then we’ll drive up to Clayton’s Point and look at the stars cause I know you love that.” She smiled her beautiful smile.
“Wow that sounds amazing. Remind me what I did to deserve you again?”
Ariella laughed as she opened her drawer and pulled out some papers and some weed. She laid everything out on the table carefully before quickly flashing a smile at Derrick.
“Wanna smoke a little before Entourage?”
“Sure. When are your parents getting back from vacation again?” he queried as he stared at the ceiling.
“They’re coming back on Tuesday. Tuesday night to be specific”, Ariella responded as she tied off the joint and shook it to make sure it was packed as tightly as possible. “Guess what?”
Derrick continued to stare at the ceiling and after about a minute piped up with, “I’ve got nothing.”
“I love you.”
“I love you too, Ariella.” My girl, he thought to himself with a smile on his face.

Thursday.

Derrick pulled into the driveway, easily locating which one was his because the U-Haul was still sitting in front of the garage door. He walked into the house and dropped his bag off before he started heading out.
“Well what are you all dressed up for?” his mom chirped to him as his hand touched the knob.
“Since when is a button down shirt and jeans getting dressed up?”
“I only see you wearing button down shirts the two times a year I make you go to church and when you go to nice places with Ariella.”
“Mom, quit making a big deal out of nothing, I’m wearing a button down cause I haven’t unpacked the t-shirts I actually like yet. I’m going to help Ms. Madison with her computer now cause it’s almost 5. I’ll be back right after that.”
“Okay, and while you’re at it drop off this chicken parmesan recipe to her, we’ve been exchanging them and I want a good one back from her.”
He took the little slip of paper and headed down the street. A radiant and smiling Sienna opened the door after he rang the doorbell several times. She was wearing a bright pink bathrobe and her hair was wrapped in a towel.
“Ahh, sorry about that Derrick, totally forgot if we said 5 or 6 and I just got back from the gym. Just grab a seat in there and I’ll be back in a flash.”
“Oh, that’s no problem Ms. Madison,” Derrick replied as his eyes scanned the new environment.
“Awesome, I’ll be right back. Help yourself to anything to drink in the fridge. Keep away from the wine though; I don’t want your mom thinking I’m encouraging feeding you drinks underage!”
Derrick laughed as he said, “Don’t you worry about that, I’ll make sure mom knows we’re playing by all the rules. Oh, and here’s a chicken parm recipe she said she was trying to trade you.”
“Oh I’ll have to call her and thank her. And as long as I’m not standing up in the front of your classroom, you can call me Sienna.”
“Okay. Sure thing, Sienna.”
Derrick was fascinated by all the little trinkets, posters and paintings Sienna’s got in her house. When Sienna returned she still looked like a model even in her yoga pants and white t-shirt.
“So where’s your laptop? I don’t wanna stall, installing them for you.” Derrick almost threw up in his mouth at how bad a joke that was.
Sienna laughed heartily and replied, “Oh you’re very punny!” Derrick was relieved she didn’t excommunicate on the spot. “Business can wait, let me kick off the grand tour,” Sienna announced as she closed the door behind her. The house is big and spacious but has just the right amount of furniture it. The red carpet in other people’s places would be a little tacky but it goes perfectly with all the white and gold on the walls. He finds himself at the top of her spiral staircase peeking into the first door on her left revealing her guest bedroom. Right across the hall is a bathroom so nice; Derrick isn’t actually sure what to say while he’s standing in it. He spots a picture of Sienna in a bridal gown next to a tall man with brown hair in a tuxedo.
“You’re ex-husband, I presume?” Derrick timidly asked.
“Ah, you’re a true detective I see. Yup that’s him. The smile on Sienna’s face began to fade. “That’s the one…the same one that lost the best thing he ever had when he cheated me on with that tramp…!”
Sienna looked shocked as she realized she was yelling and a look of surprise had taken over Derrick’s face.
“Wow, I’m so sorry to hear that, you don’t deserve that, you’re too beautiful,” Derrick pursed his lips after he realized what he had said. “Sorry about that I didn’t mean for that to come out how it did.”
“Aww, don’t be sorry Derrick, I’m flattered!” Here, my computer is in my room right over there, why don’t you go have a seat on the bed and I’ll be right in with you.”
And just like that, he’s standing where he thought his shoe soles would never see the light of day: Sienna’s bedroom. She’s got a framed photo of Tony Montana in Scarface sitting at his desk above her bed.
Derrick’s heart takes turns between going at a thousand beats per minute to a frozen state in his chest. All while noticing that her bed is the biggest bed that Derrick has ever laid eyes on.
Fifteen minutes go by and there’s no sign of Sienna. Derrick peers into the hallway and finds her leaning against the wall right by the photo. Her back is to him but he notices something is wrong.
“Are you okay, Sienna?” he asked in a shy, concerned voice.
Teary-eyed and choked up, she spins around and tries to force a smile. “Don’t worry about me Derrick; I just caught up going down a bad part of memory lane. Let’s go work on installing those applications now!”
Derrick’s natural kind-heartedness made his gut-wrench seeing this beautiful woman cry because some asshole cheated on her. He walked over and tried to console her with a hand on her shoulder. The next thing he knew his hands were wrapped around her torso as she threw herself into a tight hug.
“Did you really mean that, when you said I was beautiful, Derrick?” she asked, trying to keep anymore tears from leaving the flood gates.
“Well of course I did, just look at you. Derrick felt his cheeks getting hot from a mixture of nerves and embarrassment.
“Well, I want you to know that I think you’re pretty good looking yourself, handsome,” she said through a smile that Derrick was growing fonder of by the minute.
“Thanks so much Ms. Madis–, I mean Sienna.”
She led him by the hand into the bedroom and sat on the edge of the bed. She typed in her password and handed it to him. He was sitting right next to her scanning the names of the programs and clicking ‘yes’ and ‘no’ as different prompt boxes came up. Derrick has been avoiding the big mirror on the wall in front of them because he doesn’t want to look like he’s staring at the goddess next to him.
“Wait a second, what’s that?” Sienna says as she points to an unidentified area in the mirror while simultaneously lifting the computer from his lap. Derrick, very confused, Derrick scans mirror for any abnormalities.
“What’s what?” says Derrick and before he can finish furrowing his brow to get a real good look there is a hand with a firm grip on the crotch of his pants.
“This”, Sienna answered in a voice so soft and sultry that it sent a chill from the top of Derrick’s head straight down every ring of his spine.
“Oh…that”, Derrick barely whispered as he was giving all the effort he had to prevent his throat from closing up. “That…I’m sorry about that it’s just…”
“…Whoa, whoa, whoa, sorry? The last thing you should be is sorry. I see the way that you’ve been looking at me Derrick. I wanted this the moment I met you and here I thought I was But yeah, I was actually hoping that I could have some fun with this if you don’t mind.”
“Oh I can’t be doing…this isn’t…I gotta…” Derrick couldn’t put a 5-word sentence together as thoughts raced through his head just as quickly as blood rushed through his body.
I’m dead. I’m dead, right? I got hit by a bus and I was a good enough person that I made the cut for heaven. None of this can be real. Sienna was rubbing the sweet spot now. Her other hand was between his torso and his t-shirt, caressing and lightly scratching straight up and down his chest and stomach. A flash of time goes by and she’s straddling him near the edge of the bed, both hands clutching his chest. A second flash of time leads her to ripping his clothes off while he claws at the zipper on the back of her dress. Her naked body is like a jigsaw puzzle with his. Her hips pressed to his waist, rhythmically gyrating like she was on horseback. Derrick’s hands could not stay still, shifting from her breasts, to her hips to her ass to her shoulders and back with plenty of frequency.
Amidst the rolling around like farm animals she stops him dead in his tracks. As the sweat falls from her face onto his stomach she lightly rests her index fingers on his lips. With the essence of lust sitting in those emerald eyes, she purred, “This is the one other place besides a classroom; you can call me Ms. Madison.”
So much blood has relocated to one central place on Derrick’s body that the situation almost overtook him on the spot. He felt faint and light-headed. After a round of voracious, final strokes Derrick peels his sweat soaked naked body off of the goddess beneath him and turns over onto his back.
“You won’t—tell your—mom about this right?” Sienna difficulty expressed through a series of heavy breaths.
“Don’t worry Ms. Madison, I won’t tell any—” every limb on Derrick’s body tensed up. He was experiencing an unrecognized feeling. His stomach was instantly queasy while the flood gates of guilt and shame flooded his veins. He threw his hands over his eyes and tensing every muscle in his face gave his best effort to try and travel back in time. He tried to undo the past several hours when this witch harlot reeled him in with his favorite Italian dish. He tried to rewind earlier to when he thought he was coming over here to fix a laptop. He fast-forwarded being at Ariella’s house. He brought the tape back to when he almost dropped the box marked “FRAGILE”. He wanted to go back and tell his 4 P.M. self to go hide in the house until his mom was done talking to that lady outside he hadn’t met yet. He tried to do everything he could to transport himself to when the sun was out and give himself a warning.
But it didn’t work. Without any words Derrick erected himself and began a vivacious search for every article of clothing he came there with.
“Is everything alright, Derrick?” said Ms. Madison through that smile that was smiling at him in the mirror while he was lying on her bed still clothed.
“Yeah everything’s fine, I just remembered I need to uh, run home, and uh…be at this thing, it’s for school, totally slipped my mind so I gotta head out.”
“Okay sounds good. I’ll see you soon Derrick.” Ms. Madison let out in her low, sultry voice again. As Derrick turned around and looked at her naked body wrapped up in her blanket under her Scarface painting, it truly made for a sinister scene.
Derrick was in his car doing something that the word ‘speeding’ didn’t do enough justice for.
Just tell her what happened, Derrick. Just sit her down and explain it. You’re gonna go on over there, talk to her real calmly and let her know what happened. You made a mistake. You got caught up in a fantasy that didn’t even feel real while it was happening. You love her, you love her more than anyone else and she deserves to know the truth. You know she’d never do this to you and you know even if you lose her, you don’t deserve to keep her. Not like this, not under these circumstances.
He was an inch away from the doorway two seconds after parking in front of the garage. He called her 4 times and sat and waited until he got a response, he didn’t care if he was out there for a week.
The door opened behind him because his tenth text message saying that he was outside and wanted to talk got Ariella to the door with some urgency.
“Hey babe, what’s up? Come on in” she said sleepily as she rubbed her eyes. “Sorry about the missed calls, I fell asleep with my headphones in and didn’t hear my phone ring. Something woke me up though. I was actually having a great dream, about you of course. We were back at that cabin in the Poconos you rented out for us that one weekend with all your Christmas money. You gave me more than just the heart necklace though, the place was covered in flowers and it was so beautiful.”
Derrick almost didn’t have anything to say to his smiling angel sitting in the doorway. “Let’s go inside babe, it’s cold out here” barely escaped from his brain to her ears.
“Soooo, what’d ya have to tell me crazy? Blowing up my phone like that.” Ariella perked up. Derrick gathered his breath and every ounce of might and strength he could pull out from his heart and soul. He looked at her beaming at him like she always was. He felt like he was in a horror movie.
He took a deep breath and said, “I love you.”
“Is that it, that’s what all the ruckus was about?” She was still beaming, a rather confused look on her face but beaming nonetheless.
Derrick nodded his head.
“You must’ve been born in a sugar factory, you’re so sweet. Wanna finish a joint I started earlier and watch some Entourage?”
Derrick paused as his heart raced and his mouth went completely dry. He twirled his thumbs so quick they were almost blurring. He thought his heart was temporarily hooked up to a subwoofer.
“There’s nothing I’d rather do.”

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The Mouse (Flash Fiction)

They called her The Mouse. Her features were, well, mousy. They shouldn’t be described as rodent-like; this was definitely an attractive woman. But the Mouse was known as the Mouse by everyone in her life. When she was a younger girl in primary school, her classmates called her Minnie, and Jerry. After she went on to Dartmouth, she would hear colleagues on her floor whispering, “Have you talked to The Mouse yet?” Or she would hear, “That girl is pretty cute, but she’s so quiet. I’ve never seen her say anything?” “Oh, you’re talking about the Mouse.” But then she got to her job at Franklin, Franklin and Greenblatt. The water cooler conversation consisted of, “Just ran into Mouse in the coffee room, yeesh that was weird.” She’d had enough. Her entire life, despite the acute variations to the name, people saw her as a mouse. There was a fire inside of the Mouse. A fire the world never anticipates to be inside of a mouse, but oh it was there. The Mouse wanted to be a lion. She wanted to roar. She wanted to trample through the jungle and let everyone know of her presence. But that was not what her mother taught her. She was always instructed that behavior wasn’t ladylike. “Don’t speak unless spoken too. Don’t voice your opinion out of turn. Don’t be a nuisance, and never cause a scene!” The Mouse woke up from a dream one day and thought perhaps she had taken her mother’s words too close to heart. Perhaps today will be the day she roars and tramples. She won’t let people cut in front of her in line. No one will talk about her while she’s a few measly feet away and she won’t speak up. “DON’T, CALL ME, MOUSE!” Everyone in the office froze dead in their tracks. Any passerby temporarily observing the scene might’ve thought some of those people were dead. Jaws were agape, and files were spilled all over desks and cubicle floors. She laughed a tiny, mousy laugh. “My name is Linda.”

Don’t lose to fear/anxiety

            Meeting new people. Talking to girls. Trying to achieve your goals and dreams. Doing something that you’ve never done before. These are all things that make people nervous. And when I say make people nervous, I mean scare the living shit out of them. It doesn’t matter who you are. It doesn’t matter how comfortable you are in social situations. It doesn’t matter how many girls you’ve met or been with or anything in between. At one point in time you were “nervous” about doing any of these things. And if you naturally aren’t scared shitless of these seemingly innocent yet terrifying things, well then we don’t like you (but we probably do because of your fearless, sparkling personality).

            Rejection. Regret. Disappointment. These are those bastard concepts that stop anyone from doing anything ever. Maybe you’ve categorized yourself into a certain “tier”. That you’re as good as you’re going to get in whatever facet of life it may be. That girl is way out of your league thanks to whatever societal conventions that have led you to feel such a way. You gave up on that sport you love as a kid because you’ve accepted that you can’t be good enough to play professionally. You don’t want to go abroad to that foreign country because you’re used to being at home.

            Well let me tell you something. Familiarity leads to complacency, and complacency makes you soft. 

First chapter of my novel- Come to Your Senses

Coming To My Senses

 

            People take a lot of things for granted. Namely, they take advantage of the things that help them get around every day. Fuck that. Cut that shit out right now. I absolutely despise the fact that people do this. Allow me to explain what’s lit this passionate fire under my ass. I suffered from a very rare disease. It’s estimated only 5% of people ever born have ever had it. I manage to beat those odds but none of the lottery tickets I’ve ever bought have ever turned to shit. Whatever, like I said, fuck that. My tale will begin exactly where it should, my 17th birthday.

 

October 1, 1997

 

            We’re all cramped into my tiny little apartment in our Flatbush project building which isn’t usually my go-to good mood inspiration but as of 4 PM that fateful Saturday evening I was one of the happiest people in history. It was my 17th birthday party and I was having the first birthday party I ever had. My dad was never really into birthday parties, he never had any growing up. My mom was always so disappointed when she couldn’t throw me one because we didn’t have the money. In elementary school the kids in my class that had enough money through birthday parties and usually the whole class was invited. So I’d been to plenty of birthday parties, but never one with my name on the cake. I always wanted my name on the cake. I was seventeen, but I was second grader giddy. My mom’s gliding around the kitchen, baking a cake and putting out snacks.

            “Mom pleaaaase can you do it now?” I said holding my new shirt and jeans out towards her. I was bugging her to iron my clothes.

            “Boy, why you bein so damn lazy and don’t wanna iron ya clothes yaself?” said my father with his eyes glued to the TV watching some Chuck Norris movie.

            I rolled my eyes knowing he couldn’t see me. “It’s because mom is way better at it than I am. Besides she has some special tricks that work way better than what I do.”

            “Just give me a second, sweetheart,” she said from the kitchen mixing something up in a bowl. “I have to settle a couple more things.”

            I walked over to the bathroom and started to take a piss. I started getting dizzy. I began to limply reach out at the towel rack behind the door. I uselessly flailed my arms as my temples filled with pain. I crashed to the bathroom floor with a loud thud. It felt like my head was being pressed together by those machines that crush cars at the scrapyard. I was writhing and yelling in so loudly from the pain I felt like I couldn’t hear anything around me. My mom followed by my father came bounding into the bathroom. I read my mom’s lips yelling “What’s wrong? What’s wrong!?” because I couldn’t hear over my own screaming. The last thing I remember is my father picking me up over his shoulder and galloping towards the door. I was tall at 6’2” but my dad was 6’4 and ran track in high school so he was an athletic guy. As we turned the corner into the hallway, I saw the curious brown faces poking their heads out of their doorways. The next thing I knew I woke up in the hospital with bandages around my eyes and the steady ‘beep beep’ of the heart rate monitor. My eyelids were so heavy from the drugs that I thought wouldn’t be able to open them.

            “Baby, baby are you awake?” my mother choked out, I could tell she’d been quietly crying not too far from my bed. “Devin, Devin say something if you can hear me.”

            “I can hear you just fine, mom. What’s going o—”

My sentence was interrupted by the door swinging open and the doctor and my father fumbling over each other’s sentences. “Is he alrig—“

“Has he woken up yet? He must not open his eyes, he must not open them!” the doctor exclaimed in one breath.

“Wait guys, I feel fine. My head feels like it’s a million pounds but really I’m alright,” the scenes from the bathroom came back to me and I even surprised myself with those words. “Why shouldn’t I open my eyes? Nothing happened to them I just got really dizzy and passed out. What’s the deal with these bandages?”

As I reached my hands towards them I felt both my wrists freeze in mid-air against my will. “Don’t you ever listen to anyting anybody eva tell yuh?” my father said as he slowly placed my hands down at my sides.

“OK…well then can I get an explanation about anything that’s going on? Why’d I have that freak out headache in the bathroom, why’d I pass out in front of the toilet and why am I not allowed to take these bandages off of my eyes!?”

I could tell my mother could hear the urgent panic in my voice because she started rubbing my head like she always does whenever she wants me to calm down. The problem was I couldn’t see her. I had no idea what she was doing, if she was standing or sitting up. If there were any other people in the hospital room besides the people’s whose voices I identified. This darkness started to worry me as thoughts raced through my head.

“Listen, Devin, we don’t want you to be alarmed. You’ve been unconscious for the past three days and we’ve been doing everything in our power to figure out what caused that migraine. We did some poking around based on what your parents told us they saw and what we could study from your vitals and brain activity while you were out.”

Doctors, man. They always know exactly what to say. They always know exactly how to give you enough information to scare the shit out of you. But simultaneously, they know exactly which details to leave out in the initial announcement so you don’t wrap a cord around your neck.

“So where does this leave me? You’re saying I got a migraine and now I’m…”

“Yes, we’re afraid so. If you can believe it though, there is good news. It’s not permanent.”

Now I was just damn confused. Such a freak-out over some temporary blindness? Party or no party, my birthday has definitely been better but going blind for the rest of my life at seventeen would have made shit a lot worse. “There isn’t a ‘but,’ and some more bad news, is there?”

“Yes I’m afraid so,” he responded quizzically. I’d seen enough ER, House and movies to know how this went. My grandmother always told me a saying they would say back in Jamaica, Always be tankful for ya life, for as long as you still have that, you can still have health. I guess if there was ever a time for me to remember that quote; it was waking up in a hospital bed. But hey, at least I woke up, right? 

            The doctor began to speak again, shaking off my comment, “We think an extremely rare disease may have developed within you, Devin.” My mom was over on the side staring at me wiping tears away from her eyes trying to be brave for her son. “There have been rare cases recorded of a disease called SDD, or Sensory Defunct Disorder. What we have so far is that every case has begun with a blindingly painful migraine, a few notches away from being classified as a seizure. The patients usually wake up and one of their senses has gone defunct. In this case—“

            “I’m blind…” I was fucking blind. On my seventeenth fucking birthday, I had a migraine/seizure fusion and I went blind. 5% of all the fucking people every born ever. We still lived in the fucking projects.

            “So how long is ‘temporary’?” I asked literally choked with fear of the answer.

            “Well, we’re unsure; I believe the longest recorded time was 4 months. But the shortest was clocked in at 7 days.”

            Aren’t doctors just the best? “Well, is that what I’m looking at? Hopefully a 4 month maximum sentence of being blind?”

            “Yeah, and potentially the loss of one or more senses besides your sight. Deafness and loss of taste and touch have also been recorded,” the doctor gulped as he got out that last word.

            I stared at him. Or at least I tried as hard as I fucking could seeing as how I could only guess where the motherfucker was standing based on his voice. In that moment the hate swirled inside me. I was awake, speaking, interacting with people around me and I was lost in an abyss of darkness. My eyelids were open under that bandage the entire conversation. It scared the shit out of me that lifting the bandages up wouldn’t make everything bright again. But wait, fuck that. I could become even more handicapped at the drop of a fucking hat.

            “The last piece of good news I can give you is that none of the symptoms overlap. So if you did become temporarily deaf your blindness would have already ceased.”

            How’d I never hear about this before? My friends and I watched documentaries on this freaky shit all the time. It was beyond me that I’d never heard of this in my life. What I couldn’t figure out was how a poor black kid from Brooklyn from the projects who avoided drugs and gang life up until his senior year of high school develops SDD. The strangest and most reality shaking disease I didn’t think someone could even make up.

            Well, I recorded every moment of my experience with SDD. I started a couple weeks in to my blindness with audio recordings, for the smart asses wondering how I got those times down. Eventually I transcribed them, obviously not when I was deaf either, wise ass. Sorry I’m a little sensitive about that; I’ve gotten so many dumbass questions/remarks on the very same subject. But I digress.

October 11, 1997

            I was out of the hospital prescribed to a circus of medicines and doing all kinds of treatments at the clinic four afternoons a week. I don’t know if I was adjusting to the loss of my sight or I just gained a microcosm of acceptance each day that passed. I felt extremely confused and vulnerable. My father never said much but he’d been particularly quiet the week that I had been home. My mother was there on me at every turn that I needed her. Of course if she was a little bit out of proximity my dad was there to get me anything I needed. He was a stoic and a quiet man, and I swore he was the only person I couldn’t sense was in the room with me. But when I needed something I couldn’t arrange for myself he would get it for me.

            “Hey dad,” I said to a room I hadn’t fully surveyed.

            “Yah son,” he responded. Of course he was there.

            “Everything’s gonna be alright, right?”

            “Yeah son, everything is gonna be fine. We’re gonna get you through this.”

            Right then I did something that I haven’t done in a really long time. I opened my arms just to the room. The expression on my face was probably helpless, but I committed. The next thing I knew I was in an embrace with a man I had a tremendous amount of respect for. I don’t know why it took my sight going to want to hug my dad. But it happened, and I’m glad it did.

I didn’t know how I was going to do school, or ever operate like a normal human being again. I didn’t know how, but sometime being in my dad’s arms instilled the confidence that I would be.

November 7, 1997

            So remember when doc gave me the hope that I may be blind for just a week. No fucking dice on that either. My pride is starting to get to me and I feel the urge to be more independent. The problem is when I spill the cereal all over the table instead of into the bowl it has the opposite effect. My spirit feels crushed and I feel like I’m losing to this disease. The real problem is that I can’t figure out why this happened to me. My mom took us to church on Sundays. Dad didn’t go but he always stared me right into putting on my Sunday clothes whenever I tried to protest. He just sat and watched TV because Sunday was his day off. He had diabetes, but hey at least the guy could see. The internal search for some shred of moral justice as to why this happened to me made me feel like my head was being held underwater.

            My mom came in the room and took a seat over by my father. “Devin, we wanted to talk to you about school.”

            “Well, what about it mom? We haven’t given it nearly as much they time as they said to see if it’s going to wear off.”

            “I know that honey, but that isn’t what I was talking about. Your education is important and you’ve got one more year to apply and get accepted to college. We were thinking about enrolling you in a school for the blind.”

            Any good feelings I had from talking to my father earlier fleeted out of my body. All of my best friends were at Packer High, and I wasn’t ready to give them up for jack shit. Especially some school I’d hopefully only need to go to for a short time.

            “Mom, we need to think about this. The last thing I want to do is transfer schools. I just need to figure out how to handle this situation at a normal people school.”

            “Devin, don’t say that, you are a normal person. Just because there’s something different about you than a lot of people now doesn’t make you any less of the beautiful son that we raised.”

            “Normal, huh,” I said as I let out the saddest chuckle I think I’ve uttered. This woman wanted me to believe that I was normal. I loved my mom, and I’ve always known her to tell the truth but at that moment in time I felt like she was feeding me a lie so bad it felt like a searing scar on my body. I just needed to know that I wasn’t going have to leave my friends, and that I was still going to college and that everything was going to be okay. I didn’t need her to lie to me, my mother of all people. I got up and turned so abruptly that I tripped over the coffee table and slammed my elbow hard on the ground.

            “Stop!” I screamed as I heard my parents rushing towards me from up off the couch. “Just stop!” The tears were in my eyes now. “If you think that you can just ship me off to some school for the blind because you think I’m a freak now you’re wrong! Dead wrong” I shrieked as I was bawling now. Partly because of how hard I hit my elbow complemented by surging raw emotion that caused my entire body to shake.

            “I’m sorry baby, I’m sorry, we love you! We don’t have to talk about this now!”

            Usually if my dad caught me letting out any feminine emotions it’d be a quick smack to the back of the head followed by a sharp, “Stop cryin like a dam baby.” It didn’t come this time. This time I could just sense him hovering over me watching as my mother held me in her arms rocking back of forth singing a Spanish lullaby I haven’t heard since I was in the crib. I begin to calm down and wonder what my father is thinking as he watches my pitiful display.

 

Chapters

–          Blindness (part II)

–          Deafness

–          Maybe small loss of taste section

–          Section at full recovery at 33 years old, when finally writes book