"Blindness" - Elizabeth Arant

They had fights about the lamp. Once he even put his clothes on, and she realized how awful that was, to be alone and naked and in bed while someone else is there with you in their clothes. It felt like saying something you couldn’t take back. In the end, though, he went to the kitchen for a drink of water and then came back and laughed about it. This was how he always ended the fights he started: suddenly, and with relief, like waking from a bad dream.

Then he would explain: he hated the dark, he said, because it made him feel powerless. Without his glasses, he could barely read the news. He could barely see the letters on a street sign less than half a block away. He could barely tell her earlobe from her collarbone.

She sighed; she relented.

It was alright, actually. She imagined his blindness as a veil, an airbrush, a drug. She imagined herself as a warm, shapeless glow, then as a shadow, ubiquitous and slippery. She thought of Cupid and Psyche, sightless and doomed, and it was really very romantic. She found that she could look him straight in the eyes, for seconds at a time, not wondering whether he saw her or nothing. It felt like when she used to open her eyes during the family prayer; that warm, secret knowledge, that power.

One night she wrote “I love you” down the side of her stomach with a ballpoint pen. He kissed her hips and nothing changed. The next night she wrote “I’m pregnant” just under her bellybutton; then “I’m seeing someone else” across her collarbone. “Marry me” on the top of her knee. He touched them and sometimes he kissed them, sometimes he tasted them, but without his glasses he could barely read the news. As time passed, her messages became cryptic and concise: “maybe,” and “careful,” and “stay.” He kissed them, and knew nothing.

Elizabeth Arant lives in Madison, Wisconsin, where she spends her time writing short stories, practicing the mandolin, and attempting variously successful cooking experiments. She has been published in ArtScene, the Iowa Source, the Yahara Journal, and Cricket Magazine.