It begins like a migraine, with a trail of effervescent spots throbbing black across her corneas. Her left hand tingles, goes numb. A branch cracks inside her skull.
And then she’s blind.
At first she thinks it’s a power outage. She crumbles to the bathroom floor and waits for the lights to come back on, but they don’t.
So, she moves forward in life. She makes the kind of moves a newly sightless person would–ramming into coffee tables and chairs. She accidentally sticks her fingers into other people’s cupcake cream, into other people’s nostrils, into light sockets.
Her husband cackles. He says she’s turned into a funny woman, that he might be able to stand her this way. Instead of beatings, he can play pranks now, rearrange the furniture, tell Helen Keller jokes. It’s not a fair exchange, but the heart always saves itself somehow.
Being blind teaches the woman-the wife-someone’s daughter how to listen better.
Now she doesn’t even have to use a monitor to hear the baby breathing all the way down a hall, to know that the infant is just as frightened as her.
She can hear her husband crushing peanut shells and whispering “something-something six o’clock” into his cellphone.
She hears a plane above their roof. Hears a bird pecking in the feeder at the sink window. Hears a dog’s distant yelping. Hears her mother’s voice telling her, at age ten, to be careful who you trust, that boys don’t always have the best intentions.