There was something about being blind that gave Kennedy an advantage that people with sight could not possess: the ability to see into people’s souls. It was a strange phenomenon really, and Kennedy had not been able to figure out what it was until her dying grandmother informed her that it was a gift to compensate for what had been stolen from her. Her sight. Kennedy was not totally blind. She was on the border of being legally blind. She could make out shapes, and shadows and some images but her eye sight could best be compared to a dim light: barely enough light to see what was in front of her but enough to prevent her from being surrounded in total darkness. And thankfully, she had her golden retriever, a guide dog, Hubert to help her along the way.
Sitting at the edge of a park bench located in the Downton area of Bridgewood, a mid-sized city barely noticeable on a map and yet, ironically loaded with stories of the supernatural, the abnormal and the twisted. California had hundreds of cities that made this enormous state what it was, but unlike Los Angeles, or even San Francisco where a nobody could become a somebody virtually overnight; where there was the superficial promise of glitz and glamor mixed in with the fear of the criminal element topped with the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Bridgewood had its own appeal. It is the city where SyFy channel producers probe for stories of the undead and ghastly apparitions; where the die-hard vampire fanatics took up residence and formed their own covens in hopes of a chance encounter with a blood sucker; where the outcasts come to find acceptance and where the spiritually dead seek Purgatory. And Bridgewood was her home.
Like every city, town and locale there of course were schools, hospitals, police and fire departments; bars and local eateries, homes for every income level; shopping centers, malls…etc… Bridgewood did have a couple of junior colleges and one university that had a well-respected nursing program: Bridgewood University. So, the city did have a sense of normalcy. However, the mysterious air of the paranormal cloaked the city like an invisible fog, and as much as Kennedy loved the city, she found herself wondering why her parents had decided to move here 30 years ago.
With Hubert plopped down comfortably at her feet, she took in what little visual she could muster from her surroundings. The sun had begun to set, in a slow descend beneath the horizon leaving a trail of orange and pink and purple as a promise of its return. Children were still laughing and playing even this late in the evening with the crisp Autumn chill penetrating her beige sweater causing her to slightly shudder. She listened to the playful sounds of children running and playing in their attempts to hold on to their remaining moments of childhood freedom. It was nice. Kennedy found herself wishing for a childhood of running, chasing, jumping, without fear of bumping into someone or something or worse. And, now as the approaching holidays made their presence known with the advertisement of Thanksgiving specials and Black Friday Deals, Kennedy remembered that she was now alone in the world. Her parents dead; family distant; no siblings and hardly any friends. Someone might be courteous enough to give her a call on Thanksgiving and Christmas but no invite. Her mother died from cancer and her father of a heart attack, possibly from grief, and all in the same year which was in 2009, five years ago. Moreover, it made no sense to wish for a childhood where at least her parents were alive and well when in the present she was utterly alone. She patted Hubert gently on his side indicating she was ready to go home. He barked in response and as she grabbed a hold of his leash, she reached for her walking stick and bid farewell to the park. She would not be returning.
The walk home was brief and uneventful. Hubert led the way because with the encroaching darkness the shadows bled into one which made the darkness seem- all consuming. She lived in the same two story flat that she grew up in. Fortunately both of her parents had been successful in real estate; and through their success accrued a vast amount of wealth that not only made her childhood comfortable and bearable but now which is what she survived off of. As a matter of fact they were the most successful African Americans in the business when they were alive. She did receive her monthly disability check which is what she used to pay for her basic expenses, but for anything indulgent she used what her parents had left her.
With little difficulty she retrieved her keys from her pocket and struggled just a little with gloved hands to open the door. Hubert barked and then pushed the door open making room for both of them to enter. Closing the door behind her and releasing Hubert’s leash she had a strange sensation that she was being watched but quickly shrugged it off. Hubert jumped onto the wall nearest the kitchen with his nose flicked the lights on. It was bright enough for her to not have to be entirely dependent on the dog. Hubert then ran upstairs and proceeded to do the same thing in every room in the house (including the bathroom) so that she could have some independence. “Good boy!” She praised as Hubert quickly returned panting heavily and nudging her gently for a scratch behind the ears. She continued to pet the dog until he had his fill of affection and then he turned around and strolled to his favorite place by the heater and plopped down on one of the many extra- large pillows she covered the living room floor with. Kennedy dropped her keys on the glass dining room table her parents had bought over a decade ago and removed her black and grey scarf, tossing it next to her keys. Running her fingers through her braided hair, she could not think of what to do next. Television was out of the question, she could barely see what was on the screen and she most definitely not listening to the radio. That made her feel antiquated. She sighed. “I need a life. I need a friend. I need SOMETHING!” Hubert barked as if to remind her that he was her friend, and she shook her head at the dog. “I love you Hubert,” she said feeling suddenly exhausted. “But some days I do not feel human.” Using her cane she took a seat on one of the three funny looking metal bar stools her mother purchased from one of those futuristic furniture stores and slipped her boots off. “I’ll be in the room Hubert,” she said to the dog who again barked in response as if to say “Ok.” Grabbing her cane she slid off of the stool and felt her way down the hall to what used to be her parent’s bedroom and collapsed on the King sized bed that they once used. “I need a change in my life,” she mumbled into the blankets. “A drastic change…” And little did she know that a drastic change was on its way.