A Collection of Short Stories

This is for the times when I think of an idea, that doesn't quite expand enough to make a full Movella.

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10. Swallowed by the Darkness

My father had always told me that I should help out around the house more. Mother had always said that I shouldn't be trusted with helping with the gardening machinery and forbade me to help in the garden. I was allowed to do the dusting, to hoover the house, clean the bathroom, simple tasks within the home. Mother allowed me to help with clearing weeds, planting and harvesting our vegetables, but I wasn't allowed to use the lawn mower or the strimmer. She told me that they were too dangerous to use when I was under the age of eighteen. I had told her that my friends help out in the garden all the time, and one of my friends earnt money by cutting people's lawns for them. She, however, was firm on the idea that I was not allowed to do it and instead left that job to my brother, who was, in her eyes, old enough to cut the grass. My brother, Peter, was eighteen years old and had just left Sixth Form. He was attending university in September to study International Sport and Leisure. I was the year below and had just finished my first year of Sixth Form. Unlike Peter, I had no interest in sport and wanted to study Zoology at university. I was currently taking Chemistry, Biology, Maths and Animal Studies. I planned to drop Maths when I entered into the second year, although I didn't really want to drop any.

 

"Come on, Lucy, come and see how it's done." My father called from the garden.

I poked my head out the back door, peering at him standing over the lawn mower. "I thought mum said that I couldn't do that until I was eighteen?"

"Don't worry about your mother. You're never going to learn anything if she keeps it from you until too late. Just come and see."

"Just go Lu, I'll help you as well. We'll soon have you operating all of the garden machinery!" Peter said, creeping up behind me and putting his hands on my shoulders to guide me towards where our father was stood with the mower.

"What do I do?" I asked, looking down at the mower.

It was okay, mother was out with her friends at an interior designing conference in London. She was an interior designer herself, helping people to design how their house should look. Father's career matched hers as he designed the exterior of houses. He designed housing layouts and also focused on landscaping the gardens.

Father guided my hand to the chain-pull. "Pull on this to start the engine." He touched his foot to a bright red pedal. "Press on this with your foot when you want the engine to stop. And just push it round the garden, kind of like a trolley, to steer it. You'll be fine." He smiled at me with confidence.

"And don't forget that this red button on top is an emergency button. Press it when you want an emergency stop." Peter added, pointing to the said button.

I nodded and prepared myself with the mower. It wasn't too difficult. Father and Peter back away and stood on the patio, watching me. I pulled the chain on the mower and the engine started up, rattling my bones.

All was going quite well as I completed about half of our large lawn. That was until I went over a glass bottle. There was a strange crunching sound and I noticed father and Peter sit up to pay more attention to what I was doing. I put a thumbs up to them to reassure them. Shards of glass suddenly flew into the air, heading straight towards my face. I screamed, releasing the handles on the mower. I leapt backwards and fell over, rolling on the floor in agony. Peter and our father had rushed over to me, Peter running over to turn off the mower. Father bent over me, calling out for Peter to call 9-9-9. I curled in on myself, covering my face with my hands. My eyes were in agony, sharp pains shooting across my face. Father tried to prise my hands away, but I cried out, not wanting to let go. I heard the sirens approach our house before I passed out from the pain.

 

When I woke in the hospital bed, almost three days after the accident, mother was absolutely furious. She and father were actually having quite a heated argument when I regained consciousness. Mother was shouting that she knew she was right, and I shouldn't have been trusted to help with the garden machinery when I was 'young and inexperienced'. I could feel Peter's hands wrapped round one of mine and I shifted my position on the bed, he noticed and alerted our parents.

"Mum, dad, she just moved!" He cried, the joy was evident in his voice, but I could also hear a hint of sadness.

"What? Baby, can you hear me?" I heard my mother say, she leant over me, her long hair tickling my chest.

"Mum?" I mumbled, my throat hurt and I was in intense pain.

"Yes, sweetie. I'm here." She whispered, kissing my cheek.

I tried to open my eyes, but found that they wouldn't work. I wriggled in panic, raising my hands to my eyes, but Peter stopped me.

"What's wrong with my eyes?" I said, the worry evident in my voice.

"Um..." Peter began awkwardly. "Do you not remember the accident?"

I cast my mind back and recalled the incident with the chair? Did I fall off a chair and smack my head on the unit? No, that was when I was eleven... So what was it? Oh, the lawn mower.

"With the mower?" I asked. My mother squeaked.

"Yeah." Peter said slowly. "Well, we think you went over a glass bottle. Lawn mowers and glass bottles generally don't mix, and, well... the glass kind of flew into your face. Your eyes were damaged by the glass and, well..."

"Stop there! She's only just come round, we don't want to scare her!" My mother cried, shielding me with her body.

I pushed her away impatiently. "I want to know. Tell me."

"You... erm... The doctors pronounced you legally blind in both eyes." Peter stopped and there was silence in the room.

I couldn't really accept it. I wouldn't be able to go to university to study Zoology. Screw wanting to take all four subjects in year thirteen, I couldn't even take one now. I could never find love at first sight, I could never see the joy on my dog's face when I returned. Even if I have children, I could never see them. What sort of life was that? Being guided around, being looked after for the rest of my life. That wasn't a life.

"Lucy, I'm sorry. The doctors said that your eyes were completely destroyed by the glass. They managed to remove most of the glass, but they couldn't do anything about the damage. They tried, they really did." Peter paused, swallowing hard, presumably to swallow tears. "Look, Lu, we'll look after you, really we will. We can get you one of those dogs for the blind, you'll like that won't you? And then we can get someone to teach you braille. I can read to you, your stories that you can't listen to or read yourself."

I sat in silence, not knowing what to say. They were being extremely kind to me, but I had been swallowed by the darkness, and there was nothing that I could do to escape.

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