by James Guthrie
I was twenty feet from my bedroom when the fridge stopped buzzing.
In my panic, I recalled a video I’d seen of a visually impaired fellow who could navigate by making clicking noises at things, like a bat. To demonstrate, he stood in front of a bush. He clicked at it, with his tongue.
“It’s a bush,” he said.
I clicked a couple times, I’m embarrassed to say. All I heard was tongue.
Turning the lights on was out of the question. Scratched cornea, they said. Faulty contacts had done it. Even the dimmest light felt like a knife.
I was about to hazard a step into the noiseless, darkened room, when I had a troubling thought.
One time, when we were kids, my brother and I played Blind Man’s Bluff. There happened to be, on this occasion, a large hole dug in the backyard. I made my brother swear he wouldn’t run me into the hole. He didn’t. He ran me into the side wall of the garage. Then I rolled into the hole.
As a peace offering, he taught me a gentler game. You lie flat on your back with your eyes closed, your arms straight in front of you. As slowly as possible, bring your arms down to your sides. If done properly, your brain will misinterpret the distance your arms have travelled. For a second it will think the floor has vanished. Depending on your personality, you are either floating, or you are falling.
The troubling thought was of that feeling when you miss a step on the stairs, that feeling when you’re just about to fall asleep and suddenly you’re falling down an everlastingly deep hole. Because when the floor vanished, I never once floated. I always fell.