“I’m sorry, what?” she asks, as he covers his face with his hand and laughs.
“I’m blind,” he repeats, laughter turning to a friendly smile. “Not noticeable at first, is it? I’ve been blind since birth, but I’ve learned to cope using my other senses.”
“Wow, I didn’t know!” her voice reveals amazement. “And you came here all by yourself! How did you manage?”
“I just pay attention to the sounds. You see, I followed you from the entrance. You took three strides, turned right and then four strides to my table.”
She stands there for a moment, admiring this handsome young man, who, despite his blindness is confidence personified.
“Those are nice shoes you’re wearing, by the way. Not the pointy heeled types, but with soles comfortable for walking.”
“Thank you. I’m Josh,” he smiles.
“Maya,” she replies, “Pleased to meet you Josh.”
“Pleasure’s all mine, Maya… Oh, looks like someone is calling you.”
She turns back to see someone waving at her.
“Oh, I’m sorry Josh, I have to go,” she gets up reluctantly.
“No problem Maya. Err..” he hesitates before continuing, “If you have other plans or don’t feel like it, please feel free to say so, but I was wondering if you would like to go out with me – perhaps for coffee or something?”
Her heart almost skips a beat. “Why, sure Josh. I’d love to,” she replies, trying not to sound too eager. “You know what? I get off in half an hour. Why don’t we go for a walk by the seaside park?”
“Sure! It’s a beautiful afternoon.”
“Okay, I’ll be back in half an hour. Enjoy your meal!”
Completing her errands, she rushes to washroom, washes and powders her face and switches to her comfortable red blouse and dark blue jeans. She thinks about tying her hair into a pony tail, and then decides against it. Free hair is better, she tells herself.
She applies a shade of lipstick, a slight touch up and looks at herself, pleased. She then chides herself for sounding so desperate.
She wonders about his age. How old is he? Twenty, Twenty two? Surely he can’t be much older than herself.
Meanwhile, Josh eats his meal in silence. Every few minutes, he looks up and around anxiously, tuning his ears to see if he can hear Maya’s voice.
“Everything okay?” another waitress comes by and asks, pouring him a refill.
“Yes, everything is perfect. Thank you.” He replies.
He finishes his meal, pays with his credit card, holding the bill with his left hand, signs it and hands it back with a signature that demonstrates his beautiful handwriting and confidence.
He hears her footsteps approaching, feels a bit nervous but tries not to show it.
Girls being attracted to his good looks were not new to him, but once they knew that he was blind, they usually turned away. Some were sympathetic, but sympathy was the last thing he wanted. But there is something about Maya.
She reaches his table, her heart fluttering in excitement. He smiles. She extends her hand towards him and they lock hands.
“Ready?” she asks as they walk out, crossing the street. He doesn’t need her help crossing the street, but he doesn’t mind.
“So Josh, what do you do when you’re not sizing people up and paying attention to girls’ shoes?” she asks.
“That’s what I do,” he replies with a smile. “Sizing people up, I mean. I’m a graduate student majoring in psychology.”
Despite his confident demeanour, she now detects a bit of shyness from him, and can tell that he feels a bit uneasy now.
“What do you see?” he asks her as they sit on a bench by a pond.
“It’s beautiful out here, isn’t it? Tell me everything you see.”
She looks all around.
“Red, yellow and white roses, orchids, rhododendrons, raspberries, blackberries, pine trees, fir trees, crystal clear waters of the pond, reflection of trees in the pond, little ducks idly resting, birds flying around, two squirrels running between trees looking for leftovers, a little boy feeding a duck. What about you?” She stops and asks him.
“Rustling of leaves, chirping of birds, sound of ducks fluttering their wings and quacking, stones splashing in the pond and the ripples they create, distant roar of waves hitting the shore, a little boy calling for the duck so he can feed it, a little girl screaming in excitement as she is pushed up in the swing by her father, a little baby cooing..” he pauses.
“Dampness of the soil from the morning rain,” she adds.
“Warmth of the afternoon sun,” he continues.
“Feel of the falling soft cherry petals.”
“Feel of the gentle breeze from the sea.”
“Aroma of a barbecue from a nearby picnic.”
“Fragrance of roses in full bloom.”
“Intoxicating scent of a beautiful woman sitting next to me.”
She bursts out in laughter.
“Tell me about yourself,” he says.
“Well..,” she begins to say something and stops. “Why don’t you tell me what you can find out about me, Mr Psychologist?”
“Okay,” he replies, relishing the challenge. “You’re a very pretty girl.”
“Come on,” she blushes.
“No, I’m serious. You’re single, in your early twenties; you’re about five feet seven inches tall; you have long hair and a sweet voice.”
“You’re into sports. Good grip. My guess is you play tennis.”
“Lucky guess!” she replies with a laugh.
“You’re an artist.”
“Correct. At least I’m aspiring to be. I’ll be graduating in visual arts next year,” she then adds “You missed one little thing.”
“What?” he asks.
“I’m deaf," she replies.