She always sat in the back and figured maybe he did too.
She sat there because it reduced the anxiety felt when others were behind and unseen. It was the most effective way she’d found to concentrate on the instructor. Concentrating on the instruction itself was another story. She dreamed of taking notes on the information given, going to her room to study and passing every exam with flying colors.
She had that dream because it had been handed down to her as it been handed down to them. Semester after semester she failed and it was years before she realized she was living a nightmare.
Lost in a whirlwind of administration, financial aid and guidance she found herself faced with several good meaning counselors, all who repeated a chorus line of, “You’re not applying yourself”, aka the foreshadowing exit melody of college-drop outs.
Their chorus was cathartic because she and self were foreign applications she’d never filled out or submitted for approval. Still she refused to fall in line with the others. Until him.
There she was listening to the instructor as he steadily moved closer to tell her about how the instructor’s military stories reminded him of his own in the Navy. She wanted to smack him in the head with her water bottle but instead nodded at his attempt to be friendly.
She forgot about him over the summer and was surprised to find him enrolled in the same health class as her in the fall. They even ended up in the same group for in-class practice sessions and it was there she realized how out of his element he was, how like her he wasn’t applying himself or maybe more accurately simply couldn’t.
Their group was preparing for hands on practice with a hospital patient but before she arrived he began explaining that he was taking the class because his wife graduated in the same field and he wanted to work with her. He then began looking back and forth at nothing in particular, seemingly frantic without provocation yet visibly calming himself with active leg movements offset by an invisible increased heart rate and blood pressure that gave way to sweating in the cooled room. He said he’d seen some things in the Navy that led him to be discharged with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and that his wife helped him with it when he returned to the states.
For the first time since meeting him she spoke more than two words but prefaced them by purposely first placing her hand on his shoulder. Immediately she felt pain and faught not to yank her hand back. He stopped looking around at that point and looked directly in her eyes which she found unnerving so removed her hand and looked away.
He showed her something she always knew but could never explain and she dropped out of college before completing that class.
She’d been initiated to a life of blindness held together by a cane that touched everyone’s dreams but her own where each crosswalk chirp was a countdown held by a passionately driven pedestrian that wished to leave her right of way for the vehicle promised at her birth, the one with doors, windows and locks, that which didn’t leave her blindly exposed to absorbing foreign air, earth, fire and water.
Her wish was granted when she graduated herself and dropped every enrollment approved by foreign applications submitted on her behalf and without her consent.
No longer blinded by the fifth element of pain she was able to take the wheel and drive forward into the visions that freed her from the limitations of the crosswalk.