Chapter 1

"Painting is a blind man's profession. He paints not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen." –Pablo Picasso


Wet. That's what it felt like when the paint splattered onto her. Nina resisted the urge to curse, knowing that would get her nowhere. It must've been the blue paint, the one she had literally just bought. Sometimes she really wished something would go her way. She sighed, figuring it wasn't worth it trying to pick up the paint now. She knew it was blue paint, it sounded like the blue paint, and the blue one had a certain unique texture that Nina could differentiate from the others.

"What was that?" Madison called from the kitchen. Those two rooms were too close.

"Nothing," Nina called back irritably, knowing her sister would have a fit if she saw the mess. Nina presumed it was a mess.

"It had to be something," The soft voice of her sister got louder, so Nina knew Madison must've been standing in the doorway now. "What on God's green earth happened here?!"

"It spilled from my hands I guess." Nina shrugged, just feeling the scowl on her sister's face.

"You're cleaning this up Nina Elizabeth. I'm not covering for you this time." Madison ordered firmly.

"You don't have to use my middle name; it's not that kind of situation." Nina grinned lightly. Madison let go a soft chuckle.

"Sure, Nina Elizabeth." She stressed the words in order to annoy the younger girl. Nina shook her head lightly and chuckled back.

"I'll clean it later, I promise." Nina rose cautiously from the stool she had been situated on. She almost would have fallen when she slipped on a paintbrush, but a strong hand gripped her forearm. "Thanks," Nina murmured, frustrated with herself for needing help.

"No problem. I'm always willing to help out pretty young ladies such as yourself." A new voice answered cheekily. Nina grinned from ear to ear, knowing it wasn't a new voice at all. It was her father.

"I'm not willing to accept help from cocky know-it-alls such as yourself." Nina mocked kindly. She gently pried her arm from her father's grip and headed out.

"Where are you going?" He called, and she could feel him smiling.

"Out," Nina answered without even turning around to her sister and father. "I won't go far and I won't be too terribly long."

"You better not be, you have ten minutes. That storm is due to hit soon." Her father instructed sternly yet kindly. She nodded her compliance and headed out the front door, hearing the door click behind her. The fall breeze hit her almost immediately, and she smelled a waft of fall leaves and pumpkins in the air, no doubt from the porches of her neighbors. It was her favorite time of year.

Nina walked until her hand fell onto the notches in a familiar tree trunk, one that told her she had entered the woods. It wasn't some adventurous or even dangerous woods; it wasn't even a real woods. It was really just a mini-wood that separated their house from the neighbors behind them. Nina loved it though, and she was grateful they had at least that for privacy. She trekked further into the wood, feeling the trunks as she went. Her father and her had scratched notches into the trees when she was younger, allowing her to follow the path alone. There was a particularly tall and sturdy tree she had discovered in the center of the woods, and her father had been kind enough to build her a rather impressive tree-house in it. There was a ladder of course, considering Nina wasn't that skilled when it came to climbing things.

There is where Nina sat, in her tall tree-house taking in the breeze and feeling of autumn. She let a contented sigh escape her lips, and she lay back letting her arms serve as her pillows. She let her mind wander freely.

She wondered what pumpkins looked like. She knew they were orange, and she had felt one, but what shade of orange? What did the vine on top look like? It was a strange thing to think about, and Nina barely ever allowed herself to think about it.

She was blind. She always had been since she was seven years old and always would be. There was nothing Nina could do about it; and wallowing in self-pity wasn't exactly going to get her anywhere. She managed herself in a way that made her feel normal, considering she was excellent at telling what people and objects looked like. She could feel a person's face and such, ask them eye and hair color and that sort of thing, and then she had a fairly accurate picture of what they looked like. She was an artist, and she was a good one at that. She had been told so by her family, which could have very well been a lie to make her feel better, but she had also won countless art contests that were prestigious and didn't take pity on the blind. Many judges and contestants alike had warned her to forget it because she could never win. She was blind.

That was when Nina decided she was going to live her life proving wrong everyone that doubted her.

Nina fluttered her eyes closed and reluctantly allowed herself to think of the exam she had to complete in her English class soon. Being a senior in high school wasn't all that amazing like the movies made it seem. She thought about a particular part of her exam, and it was an essay on a book they had read. The book was The Hobbit, and one she hadn't really enjoyed too much. Her father had flipped out when he had heard she was reading the "classic" in school, but Nina wasn't really feeling it. It didn't seem like the most wonderful book, and frankly it depressed her. The King and his nephews—the nephews being the two happiest characters in the book—die in the final battle. That was hardly a good ending in Nina's opinion. Her essay of course had the weirdest prompt she could have imagined. Was Thorin Oakenshield a hero or a villain? How was Nina supposed to know? She didn't particularly care either way.

It was another gust of wind, one that was harder this time, that woke Nina from her half thinking half nap state, and compelled her to return home. She tentatively climbed down the rickety ladder from her tree-house and landed with a thud on the hard forest floor. Well, she overshot that landing.

"Ouch, I hate pinecones." Nina grumbled to herself as she felt the hard cone in her hand she had landed on. Another gust of wind had Nina worrying a little more and she found herself rushing a bit more toward home. Virginia and their hurricanes.

She figured it had to be the remnants of some hurricane that had most likely hit North Carolina or something, but she wasn't exactly sure how strong this one would be, so she was cautious and hurrying nonetheless. The wind picked up considerably, and Nina thought she could hear faint cries of her name from somewhere ahead. Nina scrambled more desperately as the wind knocked her balance frequently.

"Dad!" She screeched as fear started growing in her. She was caught in a hurricane.

"Nina!" She heard his normally cheeky voice scream in reply from somewhere. "Hold on!" She knew it was him now. Nina was utterly terrified now that she could hear just how terrified her father was. Where was he? Nina broke into a full run at this point, begging God she was running the right way. The rain then started to pick up, cold water droplets smacking her face and joining the wind in its efforts to push her back. She felt cold soon enough, wrapping her arms around herself and trying to fight the wind.

The cracking of trees was deafening and the wind by now was the only other sound she could hear. If Nina's father was calling her, she couldn't hear him at all. A tree cracked extra-violently, and Nina presumed it was falling. She gasped in terror, considering it could fall anywhere and she couldn't tell where. She was experiencing fear, and she couldn't think at all. She let go a horrible scream when the trunk of a large tree collapsed right behind her, knocking her forward onto the ground. Soon Nina was drenched in the heavy rain. She whimpered, lying face down in the ground just waiting for the hell she was experiencing to end.