Sightless by Len Kuntz

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.

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16 Comments

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16 responses to “Sightless by Len Kuntz

  1. “to know that the infant is just as frightened as her”, fantastic! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Joanne Jagoda

    I like where you took the theme.

  3. “something-something six o’clock”

    that line made me shiver!

  4. Jessie Peacock

    Great story. I was unfomfortable for her throughout.

  5. K

    This was a very raw and touching piece. We are so dependent on our sight, the loss of it is truly frightening… and yet, in loosing her sight, your character learned to listen to the world around (and within) her in a new way. There is a deep sadness to the dawning realization of what she finally “sees.” This was a lovely piece!

  6. len kuntz

    thanks for the kindness, you guys. so appreciated.

  7. The sense of urgency in this made my heart beat speed up. I had a visceral reaction for this character. And you “do” sadness better than the lot of us combined.

  8. Jesus! You knocked me out here. I could “feel” her blindness, it was just so visceral, the fingers in the cupcake cream, the nostrils, all she could now hear– Yikes!

  9. Deborah A. Uptojn

    You enabled me to see what kind of husband she had. I think her mother was right!

  10. It was almost humorous, the cupcakes and nostrils, until I realized you pulled the rug out from under me. Wow, Len; you just get better and better.

  11. len kuntz

    thank you all so much. you’re very kind to read and comment.

  12. Loved this. I always enjoy when a story works on both a literal and figurative level.

  13. Sadly, I was definitely there with this woman and so did not want to be! Good job, as always, Len.

  14. yes. this gets me in the gut. plus what ben said. and her reaction — so matter-of-fact. so deadened. peace…

  15. Wonderful. The image, the thought, of being as frightened as the baby will stay with me. Outstanding.

  16. Pingback: Week # 47 – Blind Spot | 52|250 A Year of Flash

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