Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters... damn it!
Kristen Verlaine sat nervously in the doctor's office in the city of Paris. The smell of chloroform lingered in the air, the sound of footsteps echoed down the hallways on the other side of the door. With everyone she heard walking by, her heart sped up, was it the doctor? or just another passer by. She hadn't seen a thing since the fire. Her dark brown eyes were covered in a thick white gauze, held to herface with a bandage that wrapped around her head, concealing the damage.
"What is going to happen?" It was the only thing Kristen could think to ask her mother, as she held onto her hand for dear life. In all her childhood in the countryside of France, she had never experienced such fear in her life, such fear that she would never look out upon the ocean again, never watch another butterfly land so gracefully on a flower, some of the few things that comforted her when she was alone. Kristen was raised as the only child of Tanya and Edward Verlaine, luckily, neither one was killed in the fire that ravaged their house.
It was a warm summer night when the fire had broken loose. Somehow a candle holder was knocked over, and it managed to land in just the right place for the cutrains to catch fire.. The entire house went up in smoke, and poor Kristen was still sleeping.. Herbedroom was nearest to the family room, which was probably where the fire started. Now it was only a matter of time, time to see, or hear, what was to become of her. Her stomach twisted and turned, if her eyes were not so bound she would be crying.
"I don't know" her mother answered, in almost a whisper. It was all Tanya could do to keep from crying. She and Edward had been unharmed by the flame, but by the time they got Kristen out of the house, she was made unconscious by smoke inhalation, and the flesh around her eyes had been burned. The first weeks after the fire, it had been an extremely painful recovery process for her, every time the bandages were changed, every time she tried to open her eyes, the pain, the stinging and the burning that came from any sort of movement directed to that area would be almost too much for her to bare. Now that it was all over, there was only one thing left for her in this tedious process of recovery, and that was her eye site.
Kristen's heart stopped beating as the doctor, M. Perdoux, opened the door and stepped inside the room. This was the moment. When the doctor's in western France couldn't help her, she was rushed into Paris where perhaps the doctor's here could help her, and so far they didn't fail her.
"I hope you are in no pain" M. Perdoux said to Kristen, as he stood before her where she sat on the examining table. She could hardly bring herself to speak, she wanted to cry, she wanted to grab at something, anything, and break it. The frustration and anger and pain that had bottled up inside of her all week knowing that today was the day that the doctor's would remove the bandages for the final time was trying to release itself from her restraint, and it was almost succeeding.
"Just take them off" she said in an extremely suffering voice. She had grown to hate the doctors that had caused her so much physical pain in the last few months. It seemed to her that while she laidthere under their hands that they didn't care that she was screaming and crying, they just continued to touch the burns that had ravaged her eyes. Her words were full of tears, both the doctor, and Tanya had heard it, they knew she was under a great deal of pressure and pain. But that was all they seemed to know. They didn't really know why she was so nervous or afraid, yes, no one wanted to lose their eye site, but Kristen's eyes were her life. She wrote everything, she kept diaries and journals and wrote stories, her worlds of fantasy were sometimes the only thing she could confide in. How could she write anything if she could not see? her childhood was a lonely one, she never really fit in amongst the children in her village, and since her family was too poor to send her to a school, she was even more secluded from the other kids who could attend classes. In fact, the only reason she knew how to write was because her Father was raised with an education, and he taught her the basics of reading and writing.
Her mother often resented that her daughter felt so free to express her emotions among people, especially a doctor, who was only there to help her. Tanya looked up at M. Perdoux, and shook her head,
"Kristen, please, he is only trying to help" She told her daughter. Kristen frowned beneath her bandages,
"When my eyes reveal to me that I can no longer look upon another thing in this world, what goodwill help be to me then" she said coldly, darkly, the low trembling in her voice signifying that she was on the verge of long awaited tears of anger. The doctor shook his head to Tanya,
"It is quite alright, Madame" he said, "Kristen, turn your head to me, whatever happens now, you have to promise me you will not lash out, you have to promise me that whether you can see or not, you will not remove yourself from the bed you sit on, many things will depend on your ability to stay calm" he told her. Her mouth opened slightly, but no words came out. "When I say, Kristen ... are you listening?" he asked her, she only nodded. "When I tell you to, I want you to slowly open your eyes, very slowly, lift your eyelids, and do not touch your eyes.." She nodded once more. This next step would present to her two doorways, she could imagine them both. The doorway into light, and the doorway into darkness. Her heart pounded as the doctor removed the bandages. There was no more pain, her physical condition was that of a recovery, her burns were healed and not infected.
The air around her seemed to tingle at her flesh as the bandages were removed, a sensation she only rarely felt. Her mother held back a gasp as the bandages were fully removed. The burns were limited, she was lucky. She was only scarred around the eyes, no where else, she was very lucky. Kristen frowned,
"What does it look like?" she asked nervously, her eyes still closed, the doctor not having yet allowed her to open them yet. She could only imagine it, the skin was gone, the bone of her very face sticking out, but she could almost feel the doctor's smile being faced to her,
"My child, you are one of the luckiest burn victim's I know" he said honestly to her. "You are hardly scarred" He took her hand and placed her index finger to the side of her left temple, "You are scarred here, but it can be well hidden by the lightest application of make-up, and here" he touched with her finger along the underside of her left eyebrow. "An lastly here" he put her finger to the skin just beneath thearea of her right eye, the side closest to her nose. "There is some redness but it will heal in time. You are still beautiful, Kristen" he told her, but his words did little to comfort her. As if the way her face looked really mattered to her. She could see herself feeling the hundreds of pages she had written on, no longer being able to read them and not daring to allow anyone to read them to her for fear they would criticize her work and her secrets. The moment had come, why had she even bothered to ask what it looked like? When she could have found out by nowif her eyes were working or not.
"Slowly, very slowly" the doctor instructed her, now sitting before her on the chair that normally sat at his desk. Her mother sat forward from where she was sitting already, anticipating, waiting impatiently to see whether her daughter would have her site or not. Kristen indeed began to open her eyelids, but what came next, would be the lowest blow that had ever been thrown at her in her entire life. "Can you see?" he asked her, "Anything? can you see light? outlines? anything?" His confidence was beginning to weaken when she did not speak. Now it was evident, her predictions were confirmed, she would never see, again. If she could have looked at the floor, she would.
Her head fell,"No" she replied, as if it were the last note of a song of death, the sound leaving all who heard it with a chill, and the feeling of death's consumption. She grasped the sheets around her so tightly that her knuckles turned painfully white, "I can't see" She said, it was all sinking in too fast, "I can't see anything" her breath picked up, she was hyperventilating, and she was trembling. She fell into a pit of fear, the darkness that she would see forever being all too clear to her now. "I CAN'T SEE!" she shrieked out, in terror, in such utter horror. She held her hands out, in hopes of feeling something. Her mother went to her immediately and gathered her closely,
"Shhhh, darling, it's going to be all right" she tried to comfort her daughter,
"NO IT WON'T! I CAN'T SEE!" She yelled once more, and began crying uncontrollably. Her sobs could be heard throughout the entire building. It was a dark doom, like someone so close to her had died and left her there in emptiness. These were the things that Mr. Perdoux, as a doctor, hated the most. When patients were brought down by the sad results of accidents and injuries. Kristen held to her mother, crying, clutching her back and sobbing. Everything beautiful in this world was gone from her. What was there for her now? nothing.
"What is going to happen?" she asked her mother, between her painful sobs. The doctor watched, and looked to Tanya,
"Perhaps she should not return to western France, not yet anyway. There are schools here in France that are able to help the blind."
"Help the blind to what?" Kristen lifted her head in rage, looking out into the blackness that consumed her eyes, "Be happy without their eyes?" she screamed.
"Braille" the doctor said to Tanya. AfterKristen had fallen asleep in the room provided by M. Perdoux's health care, Tanya had returned to him to find out what could be done. She knew her daughter loved to write.
"Braille?" she asked. M. Perdoux nodded,
"It's an alphabet for the blind, it's relatively new. It's a system ofbumps on a page, and the blind are able to read with their hands. There are also type writers for this system.. It won't be long before she can write again, Madam Verlaine, but she has to stay here in Paris, it is the only place in the country that can offer her a place to live while she learns it."
"I am very glad you know of such education, but how am I to pay for this? We are a poor family, Monsieur, it was a miracle that we could even afford to pay for the treatment for her burns." The doctor smiled,
"I have an old friend, who would perhaps not hate to take her in for a year or two, or possibly three, while she learns to read and write."
"You want me and Edward to just leave her here while she learns, and move away?" she asked bewildered. The doctor nodded,
"My friend can take in one person, but I doubt she has room for three. She will be well looked after, Madame Verlaine, and I think that perhaps a certain level of independence would be in her best interest. She is what...18, 19? years old? She will be living on her own someday soon anyway, she must learn how to get by without her parents." Kristen's mother listened with understanding.
"Who is this friend of yours, and where will my daughter be staying for this amount of time?" she asked, a bit concerned. She was afraid that the doctor would recommend some man or woman living in the slums of Paris.
"Her name is Antoinette Giry" said the doctor, "She is the ballet mistressof the well known "Opera Populaire'', that you've no doubt heard of before. There are many dancers that require their owndormitories there, she no doubt has a few rooms that are not being used right now. I know she will take Kristen in, she is such a kindhearted woman, andwith a daughter of her own, about Kristen's age, perhaps they will become friends. It would be good for her. And from what Antoinette tells me, there are always rehearsals during daytime hours, perhaps music would help Kristen get through the first period of her blindness, music can be a great comfort to those in pain."
Ok, I would like to thank my reviewer for pointing out the spelling errors, the only reason I didn't spell check or proof read was because I was too worried with getting the story published onto this thing even think about going over it again :p. I'm sorry if the mistakes were inconvenient. I will post more chapters definitely, although I must warn my audience that I will be out of town for a few weeks, it is summer after all, many of our families drag us out of our little holes which we hide in to become consumed by our computers, to go on these little "vacations". I will set you up with as much of the story as possible... after that you will just have to wait for my return (Please review, please don't read and leave :-) )