by E.V. Jacob on May 24, 2012

A short story from 2006 – don’t judge, you were young and foolish once, too.

Olivia was sitting in the foyer, waiting for her father to come in. He was going to take her to the library today. They’d gotten some new books in Braille – she was eager to have something new to read.

“Are you excited about the new books?” Isabel, her nanny, asked her.

“Oh yes,” Olivia said, “I can’t wait to find out what they are.”

“Dear, are you ready to go?” her father asked as he entered the room.

“Yes, father,” she said, standing and taking her walking stick in her hand. Isabel took her hand and gently guided her down the front steps to the carriage awaiting them outside.

“It’s raining,” she said, taking in the smell of the rain as it came down, and the sound it made when it fell upon the various surfaces. For a moment before she climbed into the car, a few droplets hit her face and made her smile.

“Right then, George, to the library,” her father instructed the driver.

Olivia heard George whip the horses and the carriage began to move. Olivia followed the twists and turns they made in her mind, seeing it all on an imaginary map in her mind. She had gone blind years before, but she could still remember what the various streets and roads had looked like, and how the city had been laid out.

“Now remember, dear, everyone is very quiet in the library. We too will have to keep our voices down,” her father instructed.

Olivia nodded slightly and closed her eyes. It didn’t really matter to her whether her eyes were open or not, but sometimes it made people uncomfortable, so she closed them often.

It took roughly ten minutes for them to arrive at their destination. Isabel gently took Olivia’s hand and led her down the steps of the carriage and into the library. She took in the smells and sounds of the library with a sort of sadness, but she pretended to be perfectly happy; she didn’t want to hurt her father.

There was the occasional cough or the sound of rustling pages as Isabel directed her towards a big arm chair. She sat down and waited for her father to return with the Braille books.

“Alright dear,” he said after a moment, “let’s see, we’ve got Oliver Twist, Vanity Fair, and a book of poems by Emily Dickinson,” he told her, placing the books onto the small table beside her chair.

Olivia reached over and began running her fingers across the book titles, “Oh, a book of poems, can we check them all out, daddy?” she asked.

“Very well then, would you like take them home, or would you prefer to read them here in the library for a while?”

“I think I’d like to stay in the library for a bit, if it’s alright with you,” she said softly.

“Of course, of course,” he said to her, then he turned to Isabel and said, “There are a few books I myself would like to look at; will you sit with Olivia?”

“Certainly, sir,” Isabel said politely.

Olivia listened to the sound of her father’s footsteps as they faded away, and then opened the book of poems. She ran her fingers along the small bumps in the page, and smiled again.

“Is it a good poem?” Isabel asked her.

“Yes,” Olivia told her truthfully. She loved poetry.

Olivia went through a few poems, timing herself at about fourty-five minutes. She heard her father return after a time and obediently closed her book, waiting for Isabel to take her hand and lead her out.

The three walked together back to the car, Olivia clutching the books she’d checked out.

Isabel led Olivia to her room and left to go make tea. Olivia sighed sadly and opened her book.

* * *

“How was she today, darling?” Winifred asked upon arriving home from afternoon tea with a few of her friends.

“Very well, very well,” Theodore said, kissing his wife lightly on the cheek as she approached him.

“Which books did she chose?” Winifred continued, taking her coat off.

“A book of poems by Emily Dickinson and Oliver Twist,” he informed her.

Winifred smiled, “I knew she’d take the poetry book.”

“Yes, you were quite right on that one,” Theodore said calmly.

After thinking for a moment, Winifred said, “You know, I do feel rather badly lying to her like that, I know it makes her happy, but…”

“Love, we’ve been over this,” Theodore said gently, “she shouldn’t be in public. They wouldn’t understand, they’d treat her differently.”

“I know, but still – the poor dear, being lied to like that every day, it must be so horrible.”

“But she doesn’t know, sweetheart, she doesn’t know. She thinks she’s really going to the library, or the park, or the market, but she’s safe from those people who will gawk at her, make comments, whisper behind her back. By keeping her here at the house, we’re protecting her. Would you rather she suffer their ridicule? They wouldn’t understand her, Winifred, this is the only way.”

Winifred nodded, dropping the argument once again. Theodore always managed to talk her out of telling Olivia the truth.

* * *

Isabel came back carrying a tray of tea, Olivia felt for the table and set her book down.

“Isabel?” Olivia asked quietly, taking her tea and holding it in her lap.

“Hmm?” Isabel inquired as she sipped her tea.

“I’d like to go to the park tomorrow, if that’s alright.”

“Of course, I’ll tell your father before I retire tonight.”

“Thank you,” Olivia said.

They continued drinking their tea in contented silence.

* * *

The next day, Olivia rose bright and early, ready for her trip to the park. She could tell it was early from the sunlight streaming in through her windows. Olivia could feel their warmth, the warmth of the morning sun, and the angle – newly risen and golden.

Olivia got dressed on her own, as she did each morning, and sat on her bed, waiting for Isabel to come get her.

“All ready to go?” Isabel asked as she walked in.

Olivia could hear her footsteps on the wooden floor and calculated how far away Isabel was, where she was going, how quickly she was walking.

“Yes, I’m ready,” Olivia informed her, standing up and walking confidently through her room to where she knew Isabel stood. Walking stick in hand, Olivia made her way down the steps with Isabel at her side.

“Ah, there you are, dear,” her father said, taking her hand as she came to the bottom of the stairs.

“So we’re going to the park today, are we?” her mother asked, standing on her other side.

Olivia nodded, “Yes, I would like to sit outside for a bit, perhaps take a walk.”

Her parents guided her out to the carriage and helped her inside. Olivia sat between them, waiting for the carriage to begin moving.

She knew which route they would take; she could almost see it mapped out in her mind as they rode along. They turned right at the end of the drive – Olivia calculated the distance quietly and knew exactly when the left turn would come. A few more minutes and they made another left turn, followed by a right turn, two more lefts, a right, a left, another left, and lastly, a right.

The carriage pulled to a stop and the driver opened the door for them. Olivia allowed her father to help her out, though she could have easily gotten down on her own. Her parents led her into a grassy field and sat down on a bench.

“What would you like to do, dear?” her mother asked.

“I’d like to go for a walk, just a short one.”

Isabel came and took Olivia’s hand and the two of them took the familiar pathway around the park.

Olivia didn’t really want to go to the park. She hadn’t even wanted to go to the library the previous day. However, her parents wanted to badly to protect her and give her a normal life, that she couldn’t stand to break their hearts. That’s why each day, she pretended.

It hadn’t been hard for her to figure out, Olivia knew her own home’s scents and sounds, and she could always tell that when visiting the “library” she was sitting in large chair in her father’s study. The route they’d taken to get to the park – better known as her mother’s garden – had been one of the many elaborate loops the carriage would make in order to trick Olivia into feeling as though they’d traveled somewhere else rather than just gone in a circle.

In truth, this hurt Olivia. Her parents wanted her to be completely oblivious to the truth, and she had never liked the thought of being clueless. She sighed as Isabel took her around the grounds.

Olivia might not be able to see, but her parents were completely blind.

  • Mark

    I remember this story! I still love it. It has such an amazing vibe.

    • Elena Victoria Elizabeth Jacob


      I read it and see all the mistakes of my sixteen-year-old style, but then again, I guess it’s not bad for a teenager, haha.

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