gratitude

The apartment is quiet, the lights are off in most of the rooms except on where, upon entering, we see the soft glow of a dim light on the bedside table and the equally soft glow of the computer screen. That glow however is partly blocked by the young man sitting in front of that very computer. He has no music playing, no games, no videos. All that can be heard from his room is the gentle but almost rhythmic click of his fingers on the keyboard as he types away.

For a moment, he stops typing, looking at his screen and he cants his head at it, as if it would make more sense, as if he would see clearer into what he’s writing. He then turns his head towards the paper and fountain pen sitting just inches away from him to his left and he has to resist the temptation. He badly wants to write this letter by hand but knows that it may be misread if he does.

This computer, this laptop sitting in his small office is brand new. He cares little for the likes of this technology but he knows it is the best of ways he has to keep in touch with one of the only souls who has never looked at him as if he had been terribly disfigured at birth. At least, someone else beyond the man he had loved and had lost.

“Dear such and such, I am so grateful that you’ve sent me this book, blah blah..” He skims over what he’s written already, trying to see how much sense it makes. It has been years since he has last seen the woman who has somehow managed to track him down to send him the book now sitting on his bedside table. A book he will cherish and read several times over, he knows.

A book he had discussed with the woman for hours on end, going on about how he had loved it as a child but how his copy had been stolen from him.

He shakes his head and sighs, looking the email over again. He knows the note written with the email within is a note that was dictated to whoever wrote it. The old friend he is now writing to was born legally blind. It didn’t stop her from reaching out for her dreams and making them realities. He has several of her books in his collections.

Armin knows that by writing this email instead of writing by hand as he does wish he could do, she will hear the words themselves spoken by the program in her computer. That is what he assumes at least. He’s read about how those with poor or no vision could get certain applications in their computers and it essentially read for them what was on their screen.

By writing a letter, by hand, he has no proof that the letter will reach its destination nor that it will be read as it should be. It is the one though that keeps him from using his fountain pen. He misses writing by hand, knows he should be doing it more often.

‘Dear Maude,

You cannot begin to imagine how much of a surprise it was to come home from work to find this package waiting for me. This book, my oldest favourite, my only true favourite. I’m not quite sure how you’ve managed to find me here in this city but I am more than a little glad you did. You always were quite resourceful.

I never meant to stop visiting you and spending time with you. When I met Andoni, whom you’ve also met a few times, my life took a turn I had never expected and I was swept off my feet almost literally. When I lost him, things just went downhill and I think I pulled away from everyone and for that I am terribly apologetic.

I cannot express how grateful, how happy, I honestly have no words to express how seeing this book makes me feel. I cannot thank you enough.

If you are willing enough to let me know if you still live where you last did or if you’ve moved and where to, I would be happy to see about making time to see you over an upcoming weekend if that is all right with you.

I have missed you dearly, old friend and I am looking forward to a chance at spending time with you again.

Yours, Armin.’

He reads it over slowly, speaking the words out loud and he nods. This is good enough. He hovers his mouse over the word ‘Send’ and he clicks it. He watches the email slip away to nowhere, heading off along the waves of technology and to its addressee.

Turning the computer off, not much liking to leave it on since at this point he really only used it to run searches on certain subjects and send the rare email out, he stretches as he moves away from his chair and slowly half-hobbles out of his office and into his bedroom where the book sits, as if waiting for him.

He settles into the comfortable chair he keeps in the corner of his room, next to the window and he carefully pulls the book to his lap. The cover is old, faded. Some of the pages have slightly curled corners. The book is older than him, he knows to cherish it.

When morning light begins to come into his window, through the blinds he had but partly closed, he blinks himself to awareness and winces slightly as he stretches. He looks down at the book in his lap and a soft laugh escapes him. He fell asleep reading the book. He shifts to look at the alarm clock. It’s still early and he knows his weekend is not over yet.

Closing the book, he slowly slips from his chair and sets the book down almost reverently. He rubs the back of his neck gently as he makes his way towards his bathroom. A hot, steaming bath to help work out the kinks he feels will be just what he needs, he knows. He draws the water as steamy as he can handle it and undresses.

Looking at his reflection in the mirror, he shakes his head lightly. The motion isn’t so much in disgust at what he sees as it is a sort of weariness. He knows the world will never look at him as if he was like every other being on the planet and he knows to accept it to the best of his abilities, it simply is not always easy.

With another soft sigh, he slips into the water and closes his eyes. He reminds himself that Eoghan will be by later, in a few hours more than likely, for their weekly exercises so that he can still strengthen his mind. His fingers briefly brush over the bracelet about his wrist. He still keeps it on, never takes it off except for small bits of time here and there so he can work on making sure the barrier in his mind is strong. He is getting better, he knows.

“Dear Maude..” he murmurs the words lightly, a soft chuckle escaping him. The woman had almost been a mother to him. She had been kinder to him than his own mother had been, in any case. He didn’t know whether it was because she couldn’t see him that she didn’t judge him. He had let her touch the leg, she had asked and he had had no issues letting her have that much.

His lips quirk into a slight smile as he relaxes into the heat of the tub, feeling kinked muscles begin to loosen slowly.

“Teach me to fall asleep in that chair. At least the book didn’t tumble.” He was thankful for that, he doesn’t know how he would have reacted to finding the book on the ground, more than likely in poorer shape than it was now. Oh no, he had to cherish it to the very end.

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