Daniel felt his way through the house in horror. The doctors specifically told him he had only another month before everything went from fuzzy to black. His toes searched from the grassy bedroom carpet to the soft, submitting hall hardwood floor. Closing his eyes, he tried drawing from memory where he’d last placed his cell phone, hoping he’d trick himself into believing he could still see if he slit his eyes open for a split second.
Everything became new in his world, foreign. Every surface was hot or cold and always dangerous, sending Daniel’s arms into jelly. Sliding across the kitchen tile he reached for the sink and feathered his fingers over the counter. As he realized he’d reached too far, Daniel could feel a broken tile sliver into his foot. “God! Damn it!” His footing lost, he hurtled, chin fist, into his oven. His neck snapped in sync to his arms catching the counter. In terror, his ears snapped to hear his cell hit the ground with a crunch and a spring.
Spitting blood from a bit lip, he whispered, “Fuck.” He froze at the silence pooling around him and was suddenly very afraid that the ringing in his ears was an on-coming predecessor to deafness. “Fuck,” he cried as his chest heaved and caverned. Daniel reached behind him to find the refrigerator and leaned back. He laid his head back and opened his eyes as wide as he could until the corners felt like they might tear. Still, Daniel saw nothing. Head to foot he shook. He could feel the blood clotting to his chin and tears suffocating his pores. With unknowing hands, he tried smearing everything off his face onto his bare chest.
Slowing down, Daniel started searching the floor with his hands. For the first time, he understood how sensitive the pads of his fingers were. First he followed the toe kick the whole way around the kitchen, pacing himself as not to catch any splinters from the dry wood. Then he felt for the rugs, not understanding their length or grasping if he’d made it around all four sides, circling each rug four or five times. Daniel found his cell phone a hand’s width or so from the garbage bin—traumatized by soggy week-old coffee grounds and the sour smell of residual flakes of sour, dried out, canned tuna.
Time ran at a snails pace for the young man. Daniel studied the keypad for an eternal five minutes until he could muster up the courage to try 9-1-1. The dispatcher was cold, requiring cold facts, barely reassuring him he would be alright. In the back of his mind, Daniel tried to remember everything he could. Had he had any lights on when his sight gave way in the shower? Did he know how he would know if he was getting too close the blade on his razor? What did the view outside his window hold? He could hear an engine and couldn’t figure out if it was a car or something else. Things were slipping.
Daniel slipped into a tent of trepidation. This trembling was not new. His fear was not little. Daniel’s fear was the crooked man who lived in the crooked house who walked with the crooked stick down the crooked path. Daniel’s fear was an old familiar nursery rhyme that woke him, crying to his mother in the night.
The EMT’s took fifteen minutes to find the apartment, and another twenty minutes to get the twenty-something male talked down, dried off, and dressed.