Welcoming the Darkness

Chapter One

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I woke to the uncomfortable feeling of something jabbing into my side and had to stifle the yawn threatening to break free, lazily raising a hand to cover my mouth in the process. Aimlessly running my right hand along the edge of the bed frame, I hit something unusually warm and furry, causing me to jerk my hand back to my chest in silent alarm. My breathing fastened despite knowing it most likely wasn't anything harmful until my brain registered just what I've touched.

This was one of the problems that came with the lack of sight; you just don't seem to know what's right in front of you sometimes and you get freaked out by the smallest things. It was such a hassle at times.

I exhaled the breath I didn't know I had held in and offered a weak smile to the furry object, reaching out – slowly this time – to run my deft fingers along the silky fur I presumed to be a beautiful golden hue. "I'm sorry, did I wake you?" I murmured, not really expecting an answer, deciding to break the silence before it broke me first. I hated the silence. More so now that I didn't have sight. If I couldn't see it, I needed to hear it, feel it, or taste it. Well, not so much the last one. That was only for foods and drinks. I can't exactly imagine licking my dog for the sake of knowing he was there, that'd just be….odd.

The soft huff of foul breath that flutters across my cheeks from the sitting position I was currently in startled me slightly and I chuckled in response to my monstrous dog of a pet. If he stood, he'd probably match my height…or maybe more. It would definitely be surprising to see such a large dog walking down the street first thing in the morning. He always had a thing for long walks in the morning.

When I first bought him, he was so small and regular in size it amazes me to realise just how much he's grown from back then. I remember holding him in my hands, feeling how smooth his short fur used to feel on my palms. Now, it was long and shaggy, yet held a lustrous glow to it. At least, that's what I could tell from touch alone.

"I'll take that as a yes," I chuckled, ruffling the golden fur and click my tongue as a signal for him to get up and lead me to the kitchen to prepare breakfast for the both of us. But before that, "Tim, can you lead me to the bathroom first?"

The golden Labrador – at least, the person from the pet shop told me it was a golden Labrador when I first bought him, and I'd hate to doubt such a nice man – huffed again before brushing against my side to jump off the bed to drag me by my feet, gripping them softly in his mouth. He licked and nibbled playfully until I swing my own legs off the side of the bed to dangle for a few moments.

Sliding forward, I searched the floor with my toes for the slippers I recalled leaving at the foot of the bed. When I couldn't find them straight away, a whine escaped my throat before I felt Timcanpy drop them at my feet and sit his bottom down. He was most likely staring at me obediently, tail wagging leisurely, waiting for that familiar gesture of the slip of my feet into the slippers and standing.

"Thank you, Tim."

Finally pushing myself off the bed, albeit reluctantly, I remembered to hit the button on the top of the alarm clock before it went off for the morning. I always had a habit of waking up at least fifteen minutes before the alarm sounded and it was only really there in case I ever did sleep in. Now that I had this habit down, I couldn't seem to break it, no matter how hard I tried to sleep in.

Every morning it would be the same, wake at a quarter to five, cook breakfast – as well as lunch and dinner – for the day, take a shower, get dressed, pack everything necessary for the day, clean everything before I head out on a morning walk with Timcanpy, and then get to school before the clock reached eight-ten.

Except….these past few weeks have been slightly different. And it just so happened that today was the first day at my new high school. I had been transferred to anotherschool because of my legal guardian….again. He explained – about a month ago – that he was only a little bit out of it due to the alcohol and just happened to change schools. Yeah, he isn't the best role model for a teenager….or anyone for that matter.

After that incident, he seemed to have run off again with some more of his female….friends, leaving me here in the house he bought with their large expanse of money. Now he's been missing for about….what? Five weeks? The only warning I got about the change of schools was a hastily made audio e-mail received last night along with a thick pile of debts.

Ugh…more debts to pay off….

I didn't mind being transferred between schools anymore, it was actually pretty normal and this time, he said, would apparently be the last time that's happened. The good news about this this school was that they in fact, did take in blind kids into normal classes like everybody else. At least now I wouldn't have to stay home and study while Master made me entertain his 'friends' at the same time. That was beyond tiring and it was really grating on my nerves.

Shaking my head a little to try and free myself of these thoughts, I instinctively bent my knees a bit to grasp at the soft fur of his body I knew to be by my side at all times possible. Wherever I went, Timcanpy was sure to follow to make certain I didn't knock into anything or get lost in my blindness. I always did have an uncanny knack of getting lost no matter what situation I was in.

I shuffle forward, left hand gliding along the wall while the other was gently brushing the fur on his head until it hits the door frame of the bathroom. Entering, I quickly told Tim to stay while I took my time to wash my face and brush my teeth afterwards.

Some five minutes later and my mouth no longer tasted like I had eaten mounds of cotton balls while I walked out with a small face washer, patting my face with it. As I attempted to dry my face without the help of Timcanpy by my side, I almost smashed into a wall of some sort, stepping on the Labrador's scattered toys around the room and stumbling my way towards the safety of the wall.

Right before I made it to the wall to my right, Tim barked at me in warning from behind, causing me to halt in my steps. Shifting to the side, I turn my head around to give him a thankful smile in the direction I had heard the sound come from, drawing my hand out in front. It was met with the surface of something cold and smooth. It was the metal shelf.

"Ah, right…thanks, Tim. Wouldn't want to hit into that….."

Running my hand along the somewhat dusty shelf on my way to the kitchen, I mentally reminded myself to clean it after school finished just as Tim's fur brushed against the side of my leg before trotting ahead of me. His stomach, as well as my own, both growled at the thought of food and almost had me laughing sheepishly at the synchronized sounds.

Shooing Timcanpy out of the kitchen once I made it to the counter, he whined from being chased out in his state of hunger while I just gave him a reassuring pat that his food would be ready soon enough and that he wasn't going to starve today. Our breakfast, today, consisted of a pile of French toast covered in maple syrup with butter and bacon. Timcanpy had the same, but instead of maple syrup, he had more bacon.

After making some food for lunch and dinner that took up the majority of space in my backpack, I went to go take a shower and get dressed for school. The school uniform was pretty simple, according to Master; long, plain grey pants, white dress shirt – I liked to wear the long-sleeved version – and a black jumper with the school emblem on the left side of the chest. Other than that, I snatched the red ribbon from the side of my bed post to tie around my collar in a loose bow. It was only thing I had left of Mana….other than memories.

"….Mana…."

I didn't realise the name passed my lips until Tim whined from his place next to me, nudging my legs with his head, telling me to hurry up. Reaching down, I patted his head softly, thanking him for the push and headed for the door with him by my side.

Rolling up the sleeves of the dress shirt, I proceeded with cleaning the dishes and kitchen utensils before walking out of the room and grabbing my backpack, hiking it up onto one of my shoulders as well as the house keys. Quickly remembering Timcanpy's leash and collar, I twisted my body around to pluck it up from the metal shelf and fastening it on his neck to fit snuggly. Not too tight or too loose.

"Ready for your morning walk, Tim?" I asked quietly. The only response I got was another whine and a tug on the leash in my hand.

I laughed at his thin patience before unlocking the front door and heading out, hastily closing and locking it behind me before Timcanpy dragged me across the lawn and down the footpath before I got the chance.

"Alright, alright….! Calm down already…! I'm going, I'm going…!" I huffed, amazed at his enthusiasm at being let out. I mean, I let him out every day anyway. Every. Day.

Sighing, I unclipped the leash from his collar as he pulled away and bounded down the footpath, frightening a few of the pedestrians in his way, leaving me to apologize for his behaviour. I sat down at the usual bench, waiting for his return after his exhausting work-out so I could take him back home and head to school.

I wonder if I could take him to school with me….

The thought passed my mind more than once that morning and I was seriously debating whether to take him with me or not. It would be a great help when getting around and he'd definitely love to be out of that empty house for once. I was just wary as to whether the school wouldn't allow it and make me kick him out as soon as he stepped foot into the building.

They probably wouldn't though….seeing as how he is my 'guide dog'.

The thought stayed fresh in my mind as I let the warm rays from the sun fall on my face, heating up my skin. I closed my eyes in contentment as I let my head fall back on the bench. People were probably looking at me funny due to my hair and the scar on my face, but I couldn't see them so it didn't matter to me what they thought.

At least there was one good thing about not being able to see their expressions.

Maybe I'll take him….. Maybe….

A small smile creeped onto my face and I let out another sigh, this time one in tranquility. Today was such a nice day, I only wished I could see it with my own eyes… Perhaps today was going to be a good one. I sure hoped so.

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