Chapter Eight - "Falls"
from THE TRANSCRIBER*
I wonder what blindness is like. When I close my eyes, I still see. And I know my sister doesn't just see black like
everyone thinks. She doesn't see anything. That's hard for me to explain, because it's hard for me to understand.
When Emily traded me in for her friends, I was bored. I started trying to be blind. First, I walked around with
a T-shirt tied over my eyes, but then that got too hot, so I just walked around with my eyes squeezed shut. I
slammed into walls, and once I even walked off the top of the stairs, because I hadn't seen them. I landed with
my left foot doubled back under me, and I limped around for a few days. But eventually, I began to understand how
Emily could sometimes walk around without touching the walls. Each area of the house had its own echoes. I could
hear the closed-in sound of the hallway and the way the echoes opened into the kitchen and the living room. I could
hear the reverberation as I approached the kitchen, because there was no carpet to muffle its sound. I could hear
the smallness of my room against the bigness of Emily's–she got more space, because her Brailler and books
took up so much room.
I began to walk around with my eyes closed all the time, and at night, I refused to turn on the lights.
"See, Emily?" I'd tell her inside my head. "I'm better at being blind than you." And I was
better, I thought, except for that fall down the stairs…
One day, I led Emily to the edge of a little wall which was too high, and I told her to step down. She tripped
and fell on her hands and knees on the concrete. As blood poured from the wounds, she gave me a look of genuine
surprise before she started to cry. Then I understood that Emily had not seen that drop, that she would always
be blind, and even though I could walk and write like a blind person, I could see when I wanted to see. When I
had fallen off the stairs at home, I had chosen to fall. I knew then what Dad meant about unfair advantages,
not that I could see and she couldn't, but that I was using my sight to trick her.
I was twelve when I led Emily to fall, and after that, I never hurt her unfairly again. True, I did punch
out at her on occasion if she hit me first, but most of my punishing instinct was satisfied by teasing her.
All I needed to do was point out that her stomach was too big, or she was stupid, because she got one B on
her report card, and she would immediately become indignant and weepy. She'd yell back that I was even stupider,
just because she got more A's than I did or because they let her into the high school band as an eighth-grader.
My favorite retort was "shut up," even though I knew it didn't say much.