The light dimmed momentarily as the refrigerator clicked on, casting a brief, exasperated shadow across the sleeping form of the young man who was sleeping on the small bed beneath it. He stifled a yawn, stirring in the bed before reaching up to the wall and switching the light off. Outside, traffic crept across under the noonday sun.
He stayed in bed for another several hours. He shuffled slowly into the bathroom, relieving himself and then staring into the mirror. A frown crept across his face as his vision blurred. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and picked through the clutter on the counter until he found eye drops. A few drops fell into his red eyes, and he blinked rapidly. He shambled back towards the bed and sat down, looking at the alarm clock. He lay back down and closed his eyes. When he got up twenty minutes later, his vision was clear again.
His cell phone rang while he was in the kitchen, cooking over the stove. He walked across the studio apartment and answered with a slow, quiet hello.
“Steven, it’s your father.”
Steven rubbed his eyes slowly in quiet frustration, before betraying a sigh into the phone: “Hey, Dad.” He walked back into the kitchen.
“Did you get the money your mother and I sent you? You didn’t call. Your mother wanted you to call after you got it.”
“Yeah, I got it. Yesterday. I haven’t cashed the check yet.”
“Ok. Anything new?” His father’s voice rang in his ear, as Steven thought back through his memory, searching for an answer he knew that he didn’t have. He could see his father’s face, sitting in the living room of the family home, the look of hopefulness spread across his face as his mother stood looking on from the kitchen, her face as expectant as his father’s. She was probably holding a magazine or book in her delicate hands, her usual afternoon ritual. He knew what her reaction would be.
“No. Nothing new,” he stammered, as he heard the audible sigh coming from the other end. He could see his mother’s face in the kitchen doorway, her head hung low as she returned outside to the patio. He hurriedly told his father he was about to eat, to general silence. He hung up the phone, returning to the simple meal overcooking itself on the stovetop. As he sat down in the overstuffed chair to eat, his vision blurred over again.
The shadows expanded across the street as cars sped past in the evening, the distant sound of engines coming steadily from the freeway. Steven sat in the chair adjacent to his bed, staring at the television across the small, single room of his apartment. He stared at it, in near disinterest, but slouched down the in chair in near immobility, his eyes blinking slowly, near a dead stare. The early summer sun bore down through the apartment’s one window, sending heat radiating through the small space. It was not yet hot enough to demand fans or air conditioning, but hot enough to draw the small beads of sweat across Steven’s forehead. He turned absentmindedly from the television set and stared out the window. He squinted against the harsh, orange light of the sun as it began to descend across the buildings. His sight went black, a bright afterimage burning through his retinas as he rubbed his eyes before readjusting to the television in front of him. The sound of dull laughter echoed from it, the studio audience reacting to the sudden jape flung from the portly protagonist. Steven sighed, checking the time on his clock. It was only a bit after five.
It was a life completely devoid of purpose. The sullen looks out the window to a larger world that he only dreamed of while laying alone in his bed at night in the tiny apartment only served to further push his mind further down the spiral of despair that seemed to grip him at every passing. He barely ate, slept too long, and routinely did absolutely nothing, leaving his apartment for a small amount of time each week, to cash his check from the government and pay his rent. All through this, he occasionally found that his sight was deteriorating, but he paid it no real mind at all. His father wore glasses, and his father had as well, so Steven expected that someday soon, he would also be forced to wear something to correct his vision. He did not expect that when he woke up one Saturday afternoon that he would be blind.