A/N Hello, and welcome to my story! This story contains a blind character, and as I, myself, am blind, I will try to address as many common blindness related experiences as I can. If there is something that you would like me to touch on, please let me know, and if I can, I will put it in the story. As always, I own nothing you recognize. Anything you don't recognize, such as lyrics, poems, or characters, I own, unless stated otherwise. Oh, and for technology's sake, the timeline is a bit off. Enjoy, and don't forget to read and review. Unless you hate it. Then just walk away.
Chapter One: The Cullens
Eleanor Whyte opened the passenger door of the now parked car and stepped out into the slight drizzle. She unfolded a long, red and white cane by pulling a small, elastic loop off one end, and letting it extend. She moved to the back of the car as the driver's door opened and a middle-aged woman stepped out, holding a large umbrella.
The woman stood just above five feet tall. She had strawberry blonde hair that fell to the middle of her back, and forest green eyes. She was a bit on the thin side, and had a slightly palish, almost sickly, complexion.
Eleanor, on the other hand, stood at around five and a half feet, her hair the same shade as the woman's, only hers fell just past her shoulders. Her eyes, too, were the same shade as the woman's. The only difference between the two of them was Eleanor's height, and the slight milky tint to her eyes that was common with those with visual impairments.
"I'll get your bag," the woman said. "Here, can you hold the umbrella?"
Eleanor nodded and took the large umbrella from the woman, holding it over their heads as best she could, as the woman opened the trunk, and pulled out a bright blue rolling bag. She set the bag down, and Eleanor handed her the umbrella before taking her bag.
"Do you want to be guided, or would you rather use your cane?" the woman asked.
"Guided," Eleanor immediately replied, folding her cane into five small segments, and securing it with the small elastic loop on the end. She switched her bag to her right hand, and held onto the folded cane, her hand going in between the two strands of thick elastic that ran from the top of the cane to the knot that held the small loop in place.
"Ready?" the woman asked.
Eleanor nodded and reached out to take her elbow. Together, the two walked up the curb and into the main office of Forks High.
"Good morning," the receptionist greeted politely. "How may I help you?"
"Marie Whyte," the woman said. "I'm here to check my daughter, Eleanor, in and make sure everything is set up for her to begin school here."
"Ah, yes." The receptionist beamed. "I will get the principal. He will explain everything to you. My name is Shelly, by the way. Welcome to Forks."
"Nice to meet you, Shelley," Marie said, shaking Shelly's hand.
Eleanor smiled and let go of her mother's arm, pulled her bag up into a standing position, switched her cane to her left hand, and extended her right to Shelly, who shook it warmly.
"That looked complicated," she said with a laugh.
Eleanor shrugged. "You get used to it," she said. "I've had a roller bag for a few years."
"Ah, I see," Shelly said. "Go ahead and take a seat, and I will call Principal Green out."
"Thank you," Marie said, turning around. "Eleanor, if you turn 180 degrees, there's a chair at 11 o'clock."
Eleanor turned around and went forward, making a slight adjustment to the left, before finding the chair with her knee and sitting down, her mother taking the seat next to her.
"You nervous?" Marie asked.
Eleanor tilted her head, considering the question. "A little," she replied after a few moments.
"You'll be fine," Marie reassured, squeezing Eleanor's hand.
Eleanor turned and smiled at her mother, repeating the gesture.
A man stepped out of a back office and approached the mother and daughter seated in the chairs. He was tall with wiry hair and brown eyes, which could be seen through circular reading glasses.
"You must be Principal Green," Marie said, getting to her feet and extending her hand. "Marie Whyte."
"Pleased to meet you," Principal Green said. "And you must be Eleanor?"
Eleanor nodded and shook hands with the principal.
"Well, let's head back to my office, and we can get everything straightened out, shall we?"
Marie nodded and touched Eleanor's shoulder. Eleanor stood and grabbed her cane and bag in one hand, and Marie's elbow in the other. The two followed Principal Green past the receptionist's desk and through a back door. Turning left, they entered a small office with two chairs facing the desk. Once everyone was seated, Principal Green spoke.
"Welcome to Forks High, Eleanor. I have your schedule right here, and some papers for your mother to fill out."
"That's it?" Eleanor asked.
"That's it," Principal Green replied. "I spoke with your teachers beforehand, and they will make sure someone will be able to walk you to your classes. Many students share the same classes as you. I'm sure we can find someone to help you around. You will be very well taken care of, don't you worry."
"Thank you," Eleanor said with a nod.
"Not a problem," Principal Green said. "Forgive me if I sound rude, but how will you remember your schedule?" He pulled out a stack of papers from a folder and handed them to Marie.
"I can read your schedule to you," Marie said, looking at the top sheet.
Eleanor nodded. "I'll record it now and write it down later."
"Let me know when you're ready."
Eleanor reached into her jacket pocket and pulled out her iPhone. She swiped up from the bottom of the screen and her VoiceOver spoke at a low, but fast speed. She unlocked her phone, and navigated to her Voice Memos app, watched all the while by a curious Principal Green. She tapped twice with three fingers, turning off the speech and held the phone out to her mom. She then double tapped the screen with one finger, and the sound to start recording could be heard.
Once the schedule had been read, Eleanor reached up and double tapped the screen with two fingers, ending the recording. She then tapped the screen twice with three fingers, turning on the speech. She navigated to the top of the screen by pressing once on the top of the screen with four fingers. Swiping right, she found the "Clear text" button and double tapped. She swiped left, found the edit box for the recording name, and double tapped with one finger. Using two fingers, she quickly typed out "Class Schedule", before hitting the done button.
"Amazing," Principal Green breathed. "Technology these days."
Marie and Eleanor laughed, exchanging knowing looks, then smiled at Principal Green. Eleanor locked her phone and put it back in her pocket. She took the now folded schedule from Marie and put it into her bag.
"All right," Principal Green said, standing. "Everything settled? I can walk you to your first class if you'd like."
Eleanor nodded and stood, gathering her things.
"I'm going to stay and finish the paperwork, if that's okay with you," Marie said.
"Not a problem," Principal Green said.
Marie stood and enfolded her daughter in a gentle hug and kissed her cheek. "Be good," she said.
Eleanor smiled. "I will," she said. "Don't overexert yourself."
"I won't," Marie said with a chuckle. "Now go, before you become later than you already are."
"Would you like an arm?" Principal Green asked, extending an elbow.
"Thank you," Eleanor said, taking his arm. "You can relax your arm. I just need to feel where your elbow is, so I know where you're leading me."
"Sorry," Principal Green said, as he opened the door and stepped out. "I'm new to this."
"It's okay," Eleanor said. "I'm used to people not knowing what to do. You're not the first, and you won't be the last. It takes time to get used to, but once you know how, you won't easily forget. If we're going through a door like this, bring your arm behind your back. I'll know that means I need to go behind you. That the passage is narrow?"
"Like this?" Principal Green asked, bringing his forearm behind his back at a 45-degree angle.
"Exactly," Eleanor said. "Easy movements."
When they reached Eleanor's first class, Principal Green knocked on the door. When it was opened by another student, he escorted Eleanor inside. She could hear whispers from her new classmates as she was led to the front of the room to meet her teacher.
"There you are," Principal Green said, patting Eleanor's shoulder. "Have a good day. You know where my office is, should you need anything."
Eleanor gave a small smile as the man walked out, feeling as if she were on display for the whole world to see.
"Good morning," the teacher said, turning to Eleanor. "You must be Eleanor Whyte. My name is Mr. Vargas. Welcome to English."
Eleanor did her earlier bag and cane routine, then reached out to shake the teacher's hand, smiling a little.
"Where to put you. Would it be best to have you closer to me?"
"Ashley, could you please switch to the middle row?" Mr. Vargas asked, pointing to an empty seat near the middle of the classroom.
"Sure," Ashley said, standing and collecting her bag. "Eleanor, my seat's over here."
Eleanor unfolded her cane with a snap, put her bag handle in her left hand, and made her way towards Ashley's voice, feeling the stares of her classmates on her. Sure, she was used to this, but that didn't stop it from annoying her. It was as if she was an animal in a zoo, the spectators eagerly awaiting her to perform a death-defying stunt. It got old, fast.
"Thank you, Ashley," Mr. Vargas said, once both Eleanor and Ashley were seated.
Ashley nodded. Everyone stared at her, before returning their gazes to Eleanor.
"You all do realize she is just as human as we are, right?" Ashley asked. "Just because she can't see, doesn't mean she can't feel you staring at her. My great aunt is blind. I'm used to helping her out. She hates it when people stare at her. I guarantee you, so does Eleanor. Show some respect."
Eleanor gave Ashley a grateful smile, as her classmates sheepishly looked away.
"Now then," Mr. Vargas said. "If you are all done staring, can we please continue with the lesson?"
Eleanor removed a black, rectangular object from her bag and set it on the desk, flipping the top cover open revealing a sleek-looking device with many different types of buttons.
"Whoa!" someone next to her said. "What's that?"
Eleanor sighed and gave her usual brief description of what she had, turning it on as she did so. "It's a notetaker," she said. "I can take notes, go online, send emails, record (which I don't do much of on this device), and a lot more. I have my laptop, but most things can be done on here, and it's heavy, unlike this. I normally wear it across my body with the strap, but it's expensive, and I'd rather not risk it getting stolen."
"That's cool," the girl said, watching Eleanor work the machine. "Forks is generally good about not taking other's things, but I can understand your hesitation."
Eleanor nodded. "I tend to get stared at more when I use it while wearing it," Elanor said. "I get stares anyway, but more then. It's annoying."
"I bet," the girl said. "I'm Angela, by the way. What's your next class?"
"Math, I think," Eleanor said, pulling out the schedule and handing it to Angela.
"Oh, I have him," she said. "I can go with you, if you'd like."
"Thanks," Eleanor said, creating a new document and starting to take notes as Mr. Vargas continued with his lecture.
The next three classes passed quickly for Eleanor. Angela didn't have History with her, but said she would meet her outside, so they could walk together to the cafeteria for lunch. In History, Eleanor got acquainted with Mike Newton, who irritated her from the start. He kept asking stupid, pointless questions, and made her very uneasy. By the time class was over, she was ready for lunch.
"Want to sit with us?" Angela asked, as they walked.
"Who is us, exactly?" Eleanor asked.
"Me, Jessica, Tyler, Ben, Mike, and a few others."
"I'm not one for large crowds," Eleanor said, only slightly apologetic. "Could you just show me to an empty table, please?"
"Sure," Angela said, unfazed.
Five minutes later, Eleanor was seated at a table two down from the one where Angela sat. She had met everyone at their table and explained she wasn't much for large, crowded tables, and they seemed to understand. All except Jessica, who seemed to take personal offense to Eleanor's preferred seating. They had been curious, but she said she would answer questions from where she sat, provided they weren't constant. She sat, one earbud in, trying to tune out the rest of the cafeteria, desperately hoping she would not be bothered. She removed her jacket and set it next to her as she ate her chicken sandwich. Someone tapped her shoulder, and she flinched, turning sharply in her seat.
"Whoa, sorry," Jessica muttered. "I didn't mean to scare you. I just tapped you was all."
Eleanor nodded, shaking ever so slightly. "It's fine," she said, voice quivering a little, as she mentally told herself to calm down, but to no avail. "I just scare easily."
"Clearly," Jessica said, looking down at Eleanor. "I just came over to see if you changed your mind about sitting with us. I know you said you don't like crowds, but there's not a lot of us. Maybe eight of us."
"No offense," Eleanor said, "but your table is very loud, and I'd rather not be so close to it. I'm sorry. It's nothing personal, it's just that I prefer quieter settings."
"Oh, okay," Jessica said. "We're not bad, you know."
Eleanor nodded. "I know," she said, starting to get irritated. "I just prefer my solitude at times. Is that so hard to understand?"
Jessica didn't respond. She examined Eleanor, looking her up and down, before exclaiming, "Oh my God! Are those bruises?"
"Where?" Eleanor asked, dimly aware that the cafeteria was now much quieter than before.
"On your arms," Jessica said, roughly grabbing Eleanor's arm to examine it more closely.
Eleanor jerked her arm back, shaking with anger. "Hasn't anyone told you not to grab someone?" she snapped, eyes filling with tears.
"Sorry," Jessica said, unapologetically, grabbing her arm with more force this time. "So, how'd you get them? Did you run into a tree? Did you fall? Did someone hit you? Did you do it to yourself? You know, for attention?"
"Let go," Elanor growled.
Jessica smirked, tightening her grip on Eleanor's arm, making her wince in pain. "You look like you got beat up."
Eleanor was violently shaking now. Her breath quickened and her jaw clenched, but she did not respond to Jessica, who was now tapping the purple bruises on Eleanor's arm.
"Hey, what's going on over here?" came a high-pitched, chirpy voice.
"Nothing," Jessica said, abruptly releasing Eleanor's arm. "Hi Alice."
"Jessica," Alice greeted, not looking at her. "Hey, are you okay?"
"She can't see you," Jessica sneered, starting to walk away, as Eleanor pulled her sweater back on, barely managing with how bad she was shaking.
"I know that, Jessica. I'm not stupid." Alice almost sounded irritated. She waited for Jessica to return to her table before speaking again. "Ignore her."
"That Alice, though. She's so weird." Jessica's voice could be heard from where Eleanor sat. "But you should have seen Eleanor's arms. She had bruises on them! I bet she fell. Or did it to herself. The more attention for her, the better, right?"
"Leave her alone, Jessica," Angela said, glaring at her.
"Why should I?" Jessica asked.
"Don't," Alice said softly, as Eleanor opened her mouth to speak. "She's not worth it. Come on. Come sit with my family and me. Our table's far from them, and we are very quiet, unlike them." She glared at Jessica, who looked away.
Eleanor gathered her stuff with shaking hands, trying to suppress tears, and nodded. She reached for her tray, but it wasn't there.
"I have it," Alice said. "Here, it's a little crowded through here. Put your hand on my shoulder."
Eleanor reached out, and Alice took her hand and placed it on to her shoulder. Eleanor was surprised at how short the girl was. Her own mother was barely a few inches taller than her.
"Here we go," Alice said, pausing and stepping aside once they reached the table. "You can sit next to Jasper. I'm on his left. Across the table, directly in front of you is Emmett. To his right, your left, is Rosalie, then Edward. This is Eleanor. Jessica wasn't exactly being the nicest person to her, so I figured I'd bring her over to sit with us, so she didn't have to deal with her anymore. Say hi, guys."
"Hello, Eleanor," Jasper said. His voice helped to calm Eleanor slightly. She noticed he had a Southern drawl which seemed to fit him perfectly. "It's a pleasure to meet you. Don't mind Jessica. She's one of the more annoying ones. Here, darlin', take this." He pressed a napkin into Eleanor's hand.
Eleanor smiled a little and wiped at her eyes. "That's an understatement," she muttered, taking in a shaky breath.
"Hey Eleanor," Emmett said, beaming. "I'm Emmett. Guess you already figured that out, though, huh?"
Eleanor smiled, relaxing a little more.
"Hello Eleanor," Rosalie said shortly. "I'm Rosalie."
Eleanor looked in Rosalie's direction and smiled slightly, raising a hand in greeting.
"Edward?" Alice said in a singsong voice. "Your last."
"Hello Eleanor," Edward said after a few more moments of silence. "My name is Edward. It's nice to meet you."
"So, Eleanor," Emmett said. "What did Jessica do that made our little Alice step in?"
"Emmett," Alice said, a warning note in her voice.
"It's okay," Eleanor said softly. "She asked me something I didn't want to answer, then kept pressing the issue. She also grabbed me, despite me telling her not to."
"Like Jazz said, the most annoying one," Emmett said. "I'm sorry she did that. Did she hurt you?"
Silence fell, each occupant lost in their own thoughts, as Eleanor slowly calmed down. The peaceful silence was broken by a teacher approaching the table, looking around frantically.
Eleanor looked up. "Yes?"
"I was asked to deliver a message to you. Your mother was brought to the hospital in an ambulance about thirty minutes ago. She called and said she would like to see you."
"Thank you," Eleanor muttered, quickly gathering her stuff as the teacher walked away. For the second time that day, her breathing picked up, and she began to shake. No. This wasn't supposed to be happening. Marie wasn't supposed to overdo it. She should've been resting. Was she okay? Was she hurt? If so, how bad?
"Dammit," Eleanor muttered, panicking. "Dammit. Dammit. Dammit. Dammit. Dammit. Dammit. Dammit."
"Eleanor." Jasper's voice spoke firmly and calmly next to her. "Eleanor, look at me." Eleanor looked at Jasper, as did everyone else at the table. "May I put my hand on your shoulder?"
Eleanor looked at Jasper, breathing unevenly, thoughts unfocused. What did he ask? Oh, right, if he could put his hand on her shoulder. Right. That was the question. But why? Right. Panic attack. Her mom did that with her, only she took her hand. Dimly aware of what she was doing, she nodded.
Jasper reached up, and slowly gently placed his hand on Eleanor's shoulder. He put a little pressure, so she could feel it. "Focus, Eleanor," he said. "Focus on my hand. Focus on my voice. Can you hear me?" At Eleanor's nod, he continued. "Focus on your breathing. I want you to breathe with me, okay? In, one, two, three, four. Out, one, two, three, four. In, one, two, three, four. Out, one, two, three, four. Keep going. In, one, two, three, four. Out, one, two, three, four. Good. Your mother needs you right now. I don't know the situation, and it isn't my place to, but I do know that she is in good hands. Our father, Carlisle, is a doctor at the hospital here. He is the best doctor there is. There is a good chance he is the one taking care of your mother. One of us can take you to see her if you'd like."
"I'll do it," Alice said, kneeling next to Jasper and looking at Eleanor. "We can go in my car. Everything will be fine. Carlisle is a great doctor. If he isn't taking care of your mom, I will make sure he does. She will be fine, Eleanor."
Eleanor was slowly starting to calm. The hand on her shoulder was soothing. It helped her to ground herself and to focus. The breathing exercise helped to clear her mind. Both Alice and Jasper had soft, calming voices that helped her to calm down even faster. She took in a shaky breath and nodded.
"Better?" Jasper asked, not wanting to remove his hand until he was certain she was okay.
"I think so," Eleanor said.
"Good," Jasper said, slowly removing his hand from Eleanor's shoulder. He reached over and grabbed an unopened water from his tray and pressed it into Eleanor's hand. "Drink this, or Carlisle would have my head if he knew you didn't drink water after a panic attack."
Eleanor laughed shakily and put the bottle in the side pocket of her bag. From across the table, Emmett, Rosalie, and Edward were regarding Jasper with surprised looks. He merely raised an eyebrow and grinned.
"How do you know how to help someone having a panic attack?" Eleanor asked, shakily getting to her feet.
"That's for another time," Jasper said. "Go visit your mother, kid. You'll be in good hands with Alice."
Alice took Eleanor's bag from her hand. "Give me this," she said. "You can take my arm." At Eleanor's questioning look, she said, "I saw you walk with Principal Green when I looked out the window in my classroom. Now, let's go. And don't worry, Jazz. I'll make sure she drinks the water."
With Eleanor holding Alice's elbow, the pair walked slowly out of the cafeteria. The stares of the Cullens, as well as a few of the other students, followed them, but neither seemed to care.