Blind Youth

by Sue Simpson

Chain Border

Jamie saw things.

Other people may say that Jamie 'thought' things, but he was insistent about the fact that he saw them. He couldn't predict natural disasters or foretell the winner of the next Grand National, but he saw things that other people didn't see.

Jamie saw the goodness in people.

In class if someone did something wrong then Jamie saw why they had done what they did. He could see inside other people's souls. If the act had been done maliciously or as an act of cruelty or aggression, temper or just plain badness then Jamie would be taken deeper into their subconscious until he could plainly see something good about them. He had no control over this. It was not a Pollyanna thing whereby he wanted to find something to be glad about. He just saw. Against his will, against his better judgement and often against his wishes. He saw.

At home Jamie's 'gift' often caused tension. Sam, Jamie's twin brother, wasn't gifted in the way that Jamie was. Sam was resentful of this and often did unkind things to Jamie out of jealousy. But Jamie understood. Understanding was his cross to bear and it was a cross made of leaden steel.

Sam had his own special gift; he always saw the bad in others. He wasn't a likeable child. Perhaps his accursed insight was the reason why he was so unpleasant. If someone said something nice to Sam, he always saw what they were really thinking. And it hurt to know that people could be so unkind. It blackened his heart with the taint of humanity's soot.

Considering the fact that they were twins the lads were very different both in character and looks. Jamie was blonde, Sam was dark. Jamie had blue eyes Sam's were brown. Jamie was tall and lean while his brother was short and squat. Two opposing clichés who were poles apart.

You would be forgiven for thinking that Sam's gift was far worse than Jamie's, but in fact they were both equally difficult. Neither of the children had balance and each of them only saw their own side of human nature. Sam became hard and bitter while Jamie had a vulnerability that left him open to being hurt over and over again.

The boys learned not to wear their difference to everyone else on their sleeves. They became secretive about their power and although what they saw remained, they became wise and found that they didn't have to act on it.

Neither of the boys had any friends. Although they hid as best they could what was unusual about them, somehow the other kids knew. They sensed as only children can that these two brothers were different to everyone else in the school. The boys were thrown together. They didn't like each other. Jamie saw the good in Sam, but try as he might Sam could find no badness in Jamie. This angered him as nothing had ever angered him before. He would have his revenge.

The boys were twelve when it happened. It was Sam's idea, but Jamie saw the good in it. Sam had intended that only Jamie should do it, Sam wanted to hurt Jamie. Jamie knew of course what Sam was up to, but he realised that it was something they both must do. The younger child by two minutes was scared and didn't want to go through with it, but Jamie desperately wanted to help his brother.

It happened in the tree house. Jamie had to tie Sam up with rope and gag him to stop him screaming for help. It was much easier than he thought it would be to take his brothers eyes, and only slightly more difficult to take his own. Jamie screamed for both of them until help arrived.

The bandages were removed from the boy's eyes three weeks after the terrible accident. Interminable unwinding of soiled bandages sealed the tension after the weeks of being bandaged. Their mother seemed to think that with the healing of the wounds would come the marvellous gift of sight. Both boys would later be fitted with wonderful modern prosthesis that apparently, if the doctors could be believed, were no different to real eyes. Apart from the obvious difference that they didn't work of course. But that's what Jamie wanted. Blessed blindness so that he wouldn't have to see.

The darkness after the bandages were removed was complete, a sheet of pure blackness without even shadow or shade. Sam screamed and had to be sedated; it was all so bad. Jamie was happy…

Until his mother walked into the room and against the sheet of blackness that was once his sight, he could see her good intentions.

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