Sam, Adrienne and the Big Fish
I’m tired of trying to see the good in people. After pushing past all the bad sometimes there’s nothing left. Of course I can’t actually see anything, my sight having been taken from me when I was six. My Mom forgot to strap me in as usual and was trying to light a Newport as usual when she drove our station wagon hard into the back of a sanitation truck.
I still have my eyes, they’re brown, not cloudy and creepy like some blind people, but they stopped working when I went through the windshield. I cried a lot at first and even broke my arm sliding down the banister at Gram’s house because I wanted to do all the stuff I used to do. I’ve lived with Gram since the accident, at first just while Mom was in rehab, but that didn’t work out and she took off. I’m sixteen now and I haven’t cried in a long time.
In the beginning I got all excited when I smelled Mom’s cigarettes, thinking she had come back for me, but then remembered that Gram smoked the same menthol brand. Gram was good to me and I owe her a lot. She walked me to school until I could take the bus on my own. School was a whole other story. To some kids I was the same old Sam, others were scared and wouldn’t talk to me even though I knew they were close by. Other kids threw kick balls at me and sometimes I knew who it was. It was okay, I didn’t blame them, my being blind was weird for them too, not just for me. The school had a special teacher come in after lunch just for me to learn Braille. I hated it and still don’t like it. Books on tape have pretty much saved my ass. I have so many I lost count. I could listen for hours and not just schoolbooks either but grown up books that I probably shouldn’t have been listening to. Gram didn’t care what they were. She just brought them to my room when the mailman dropped them off. It made me feel smart. I couldn’t play sports but I was learning stuff my classmates might never know.
When I finished grade school and middle school they sent me to the closest High School, which was in a kind of bad area. It smelled different, kind of dirty and sweaty. The kid’s voices sounded deeper and they cussed a lot. One day it was recess and I was outside under an oak tree listening to “The Old Man and the Sea” when someone swiped my tape player. I heard them hyena laughing as they ran off. I could hear the school band practicing for Homecoming Weekend down by the athletic field. Tubas, trombones and the urgent rattle of snare drums floated in the crisp autumn air. Very different from the blinding sun of the Caribbean where the old man had been trying to haul in the big fish, but despite his bleeding hands he wouldn’t give up. Just then I felt the sunlight being blocked and I knew someone was standing over me.
“What were you listening to?”
It was a girl’s voice, low and soft, with kind of an accent.
“The Old Man and the Sea.”
The sun hit my face again and I could feel her move to sit next to me.
“I know that book, it’s very sad. My name’s Adrienne, what’s your name?’
She smelled like ripe pears.
“I’m Sam, pleased to meet you.”
‘I just transferred here from Switzerland. My father is an architect.”
I pictured her on skis with snow sparkling in her long blond hair.
“I bet they have your book in the library.”
“They do but I can’t see it to read it.”
“Well I can, and I could read it to you, if you can tell me about this town and everything.”
My face grew warm and it wasn’t the sun.
“There’s not much to tell really."
“That’s okay I want to hear it anyway.”
Her scent washed over me as she got to her feet. Not pears exactly, but pear blossoms.
“Wait right here Sam, I’m going to the library!”
That’s how I met Adrienne. Sam and Adrienne. We would be together forever. She had all the good I would ever need to find. I knew it. I could see it. We would get married and have kids and a big house and everything. Someday I’ll tell them our story, but now I’ll wait right here for Adrienne to come back and read me the ending. The old man Santiago will get his fish.
I’m sure of it. I really am.