This part of the author's note is what I consider to be the most important part – if you read nothing else of it, read this. This story is dedicated to Ben Underwood – a real life teenager who used echolocation to find his way around the world. This amazing teenager died of cancer early last year, on January 19th. The twins in this story use echolocation – and while neither of the writers are blind, research was done to attempt factual accuracy during this story.
On to the other half of this author's note:
Hello! There are two writers to this story, which means double the fun for the readers. We're a brother and sister – no, we're not twins – the sister being me, Signed Sealed Written. My brother will have an author's note in the next chapter. After this incredibly long author's note, we do hope that you enjoy the story.
Through Our Eyes
"And so the clock chimes midnight." Cielo Taos proclaimed, twirling the giant feather between her index and forefinger. The edges of it tickled her pale hand. "I guess we won't be seeing Mom tonight." The raven haired girl paused for just a moment, head tilted to one side. "Well, you know what I mean."
"Mom doesn't usually come home until very late, Cielo." The voice of reason came from the boy lying on the floor directly beside the couch. "Why should tonight be any different?"
Cielo sat up on the couch, leaning over the edge to hover directly over her brother. She tapped the fingers of her right hand on the couch's arm. "Maybe because we turned eleven as soon as that clock announced the midnight hour and rang in July Fourth. She's never not been home for one of our birthdays, Rayo. I hate night shifts."
The newly eleven year old boy spoke on a sigh. "She does it for us, you know. Come on, let's not ruin tradition just 'cause Mom's not here."
Cielo ran her fingers through her short black hair. "Okay, fine. Let me go get your present." There was only a hint of ornery-ness left in her voice then as she placed the feather down on the couch cushion, hearing it fall softly. A smile tugged at the corners of her lips when she thought of the present, wrapped in the newspaper that nobody ever read.
When she stood, she didn't take a step before clucking her tongue several times and placing an annoyed hand on her hip. "Scoot, Rayo, before you get stepped on."
Rayo's mouth turned upwards in a smile as his twin playfully nudged him in the side with a sock covered toe before making her way towards her bedroom, fingers lightly tracing the wall. When he was sure that she was locating his present and not in hearing vicinity, Rayo Taos reached underneath the couch he was lying beside. His fingers closed around a small box and he pulled it out. With his fingers still closed around it he scooted his hand underneath his back – a pointless but mischievous game.
"I can hear you, Cielo." He called out to the space behind his head. The sound rebounded, echoing. He could nearly hear the sarcastic roll of her eyes. "You're being as loud as an ear infection, and just as annoying." He rolled and sat up before pushing himself to standing.
"I'm not trying to hide, I'm putting on my shoes!" Cielo laughed. "Come on,lazy, before the fireworks end!"
For the twins, it was an old story born from sheer necessity and a certain amount of defeat. As it was said, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. And so, when they hit seven years old, they became tired of cowering from the explosions that hurt their ears.
The two of them had quickly learned what lying on the lawn in all that noise was. It was like jumping into ice water naked or holding your nose when you ate. It was like closing your eyes while attempting to walk through an unfamiliar house.
Rayo slipped on his shoes, glad that the warmer weather meant the absence of jackets. "Do you have them?" The small box was still grasped in his hand.
"Yeah." She answered, and pressed a set of tiny earplugs into his palm, taking the other one for herself. Neither put them in yet. "We'd be up a creek if I didn't."
It didn't take long for either of them to reach the door, though the explosions overhead were hindering. It was at times like these that being blind put pause to their actions and a hesitance in their steps. Not being able to hear due to noise took away their pseudo-sight.
Cielo's hand closed around the cool metal of the doorknob and twisted, but she did not pull it open yet. She turned her head in the direction of her twin, a questioning look in sightless pale blue eyes.
"Ear plugs in one, two, three-"
Both of them put the earplugs in place the instant before Cielo pulled open the heavy wooden door and the thunderous sound of fireworks filled the air. The earplugs didn't block out the noise of the booms. They only dulled the sound or extra sensitive ears.
The explosions were their equivalent to a blindfold on a seeing person. They used the time between explosions to find their way to the spot on the grass, pausing when an explosion "blinded" them.
Cluck. Cluck. The constant noise filled the space between booms, definitive, assured. They worked in tandem with each other – rotating the noises that allowed them to find their way as far back as they could remember.
The sounds they made – the clucking of their tongues – enabled them to navigate. To anyone who met them, they were the self proclaimed Bat Kids – using echolocation, sound bouncing off of objects, to get around. To them, it was as natural as breathing.
Cielo plopped down first, the course, wilting grass tickling her neck, arms, and legs. She felt and heard Rayo lie down next to her.
They'd met other siblings – twins, even – in their Long Island town who were not as close as they were. Everything they did was synchronized – same classes at school, same activities afterwards – but both knew the true reason. Their bond was special because of their world – they were the only ones who lived in it. Not even their mother, Heather Taos, could truly know what they went through. She could try, but she'd never lived in a world set against you since your birth.
"They're nearly musical, aren't they?"
They startled, air leaving their lungs in one woosh. The noise overhead hadn't allowed them to hear the approach of the unfamiliar, gravelly voice. Cielo's mind categorized it as 'metal on metal', and Rayo's head thought of it as 'tinny'.
It all chalked up to one thing: stranger.
The twins sat up in the same instant. Grass clung to Cielo's hair and dampness from the earth caused Rayo's shirt to cling to him like a second skin.
"Who are you?" Cielo said in the same instant that Rayo asked "Excuse me?" The first was spoken with an accusation; the second was merely a wondering question.
"I'm a friend." There tinny, metal on metal, gravelly voice proclaimed.
"Oh, of course. I'm sorry, but I think I learned that line in Stranger Danger." Cielo was already rising to her feet, with Rayo close behind her. Their thoughts were in sync – 'back away'. The edge of the house key dug into Rayo's palm, and he could hear his heart pounding in his chest, was sure that the stranger could hear it as well.
"Cielo." He whispered, but she wasn't listening – backing up, but not letting down.
"I mean, I could have been more creative. Are you ugly? You sound ugly." Cielo goaded, backing up. In a voice that she knew only Ray could hear, she asked, "House key?"
"Got it." He replied, realizing suddenly that she was distracting the stranger.
"I'm sorry, demigods, but you're not going home tonight."
"Oh, I get it! You're insane." Her voice shook now, still attempting to distract him. "He's insane, Rayo. This is no way to treat twins on July 4th." She was still walking backwards when she said in a whisper, "The door?"
"Almost there." Adrenaline and fear made him shaky. He felt cold, but the air was warm and his face felt flushed. His spine was shivery. Her heart was beating too fast. Rayo thought he could hear it beating – or maybe that was his own heart, bounding in his chest like an echo of himself.
He took another step backwards, clucking his tongue.
And collided with something solid, cold, and metallic.
His heart stopped then, and he heard something – no, someone – laugh.
"Cielo?" He croaked. "Run."
Author's Note (Two):
We like reviews almost as much as we like cookies.
Also, please no spoilers for the fifth book in your review – if you want to discuss the fifth book with my brother, since he's the only one who finished it yet, send me a PM or email clearly labeled "To Brother" or something of that affect.
And! Also, if you'd like to guess at their godly parent – feel free! We won't tell who's right, but we will mention the fact that someone got it right, if someone does.
You may recognize Cielo and Rayo from another, earlier story of ours called In Our Blood. This is NOT a sequel to that story. It is that story, rewritten. That story features the twins, but the plot point of them being blind was left out due to both of us not planning ahead. Long story, but this fanfiction includes the twins, who are blind. If you read that story, which was only a few chapters, don't worry about it – you may recognize a few familiar things and the general outcome/plot (which was not revealed yet) is the same. If you didn't read the story – don't worry about it either.