Do you want to know how it is to be me? I will tell you, though it is a sad story. My name is Christina Withfield. The day my mum gave birth to me was a cold and windy day. The doctor had been stuck in the ditch with his old car. I was born with no one else in the room than my mum and my older sister, which helped our mother through all the pain. After some time, an hour or so, the doctor came at last. The house became a confessional with all the apologizes that the doctor came with. He was so sorry, my mum so tired, and I was blind. Blind. They didn't even realize it before after more than three weeks. My sister Julianne was playing with me, made me say a bunch of fancy noises, when she suddenly became aware of the way my eyes hardly moved. Without telling my mum, she didn't want to make her disappointed, you see, she began to test me. Tried to make me grab for things, tried to draw me different paintings which I didn't laugh at, tried to find out how I managed in the dark, and if I maybe managed better in the sun. I didn't. I was all stuck blind. She found out, after the tests, and she told our mother.
Mother, so old, so poor, so goodhearted, became grey after the admitting from my sister. I was a disappointing. She had no husband, no sons, only a kind daughter, and a blind one. She turned into the woman which people in the village began to speek of. They called her “The widow, the one with the blind girl”. Mother, she had to duck her head, hide her grieving face, her dark blue eyes. Her head became wrapped in a shawl. She looked even older now than before. But I didn't see all this. I was just a baby then. Not that I would have been able to see it even if I were older. No, it has all been told to me afterwards.
I am fifteen now, almost a woman, soon capable of marrying. Becoming a woman, growing out of my former body, is weird. I can't see my curves, only feel them. I realized my breasts were getting rounder, more heavier than they were before when I was about twelve years old. Then my hips and thighs began to increase, my whole body became broader. At first I was scared, but my family assured me it was all normal. I shouldn't worry. And I didn't, but I still found it amusing and exciting. So different I became, my feelings and thoughts started to evolve, to fly. I began wondering about my fate, what was the meaning with all this, with not being able to see?
Sometimes, when I was lying in the dark, the pitch black everlasting dark, I wondered if it would be different after my death. Would I at all realize the change from life to death? My thoughts scared me, stole away my dreams, made me a little nervous, more quiet. This nervousness stucked to me, followed me all my life.
When I asked my elder sister about it she only said that it should feel like that. That it only was a part of growing up, becoming a youth and after that a lady. Then she became quiet. More quiet than I had ever felt her. After a while she touched my forehead and whispered: “Could I just have been like you; not aware of all the cruelty, of all the greyness here.” She told me then, about our house, old and scarred as it was. About the endless wheat-areas which surrounded us. The dirty old road she had to walk every other day, to school or to town. She was going in a mixed and not pretty joyous school with only one teacher and about thirty other students. They were of all ages, both young and elder, mums and grandmothers. But there were no boys, no men, no grandfathers. She had to deal with the Bible, she had to write small essays about our farm, about her life, about me. She told me she hated this place, that she knew there were other places to go. Her dream was to take a whealbarrow, pack a few belongings, take the coins she had managed to work out, and head south. Just walk and walk and walk and walk without any stops or commas. Walk with no other reason than to get away. Experience, meet the other adventurers, live a life of her own. The biggest fear she had, she told me, was to end up like our mother, grey as a mouse, poor in her own house. Her mind only aware of the small incidents that happened in town.
After the chat, which I had listened to as tightly as I had ever listened before, I started to cry. It was a silly thing to do, but I couldn't help it. My own life, how could anyone be jealous of me? When Julianne saw my tears, she put a hand in the back of my neck and told me it was all right. That I shouldn't cry for her. I couldn't bring myself to tell her that it wasn't her I cried for, but myself.
She then told me something new, something she hadn't told anyone before. Not even our mum. It made me smile again, it made her laugh. Her laugh, so full of life and hope, that I realized they weren't so bad, our lives, after all. Julianne had met a boy. A young man with some money and a fine humour. He worked at the miller, only an apprentice though, but all the same a good and promising one. His face, Julianne said, was the face of an angels. Not like the ones in the Bibel, but like the angels in the fairytales. She used to tell me tales when I was younger, of witches and princes and angels. Sometimes she even added a dragon or a horse that could fly. Julianne told me that when the miller's apprentice, his name was John, looked at her, it was like standing in the heat from a bonfire on Midsummer Eve. I knew that feeling, used to love it. It made me healthy, it made me warm and full of emotions. When John touched her, Julianne said, there appeared small flashes of glowing electrisity between them. She also said the glowing electricity sometimes crept inside her and made her both wild and dizzy at the same time. She said it was called love, and that I was sure to experience it one day. That if I didn't it would be hard to keep on living, it would become easier to die, it was, she said, the reason for why our mother looked like she did.
Julianne became married after some time. John loved her too, I heard. The church where they held their marriage, was crowded and I felt like the space inside it was endless. I couldn't reach for the ceiling, though I tried. I got lost when I walked down the aisle, trying to count all the rows at either side of me. My hand was led by our neighbour, a fine woman I had been told. She gestured me around, chatted with some people she knew, while I stood beside her, not knowing what anything looked like. It was my second time in church, the first had been to my baptizing as a baby. The mass was quite dull, a voice sang, speeched, praied. I heard Julianne whisper her “yes”, John almost roared it out. His voice was shaky though, I could sense it from the vibration which he spoke with. There was a feast afterwards. A lot of laughter, delicious food, many people drinking and dancing around me. Julianne came to me, and I touched the face of John. He had some big ears I realized, but his half-shaved beard felt smooth and gentle. He didn't back away from my fingers, but took them instead and gave them a kiss. Julianne laughed a small laughter, beautiful. I smiled too, sensed the feel-good-tension in the room.
After a while, the noices around me grew. I became dizzy, more afraid. I was standing on our lawn, not remembering which of the ways was the way to our house. Guests ran past me, shouting and cheering. I felt that the blindness irritated me, it maked me angry. A figure bumped into me, said sorry, and hurried on. I began to walk in the direction which the figure had comed from. Thought it had to be the direction of the house. No one noticed me, or I believe no one noticed me. I didn't hear anyone calling, so I kept walking. My hands were a little outstretched, so that if I should fall, it would do no damage to my nose. The gown swushed like air between my legs, it was home-made, the fabric some sort of cotton or wool. I had been told it was a light red, like the clouds in the evening and the fur of an albino-rabbit. But it made no difference for me, which colours I weared, as long as the fabric made me feel well. The grass I was walking in, stretched to my knees instead of my ankles now. There was something wrong. My mind panicked sligthly, I spun around in a tiny circle. The air brushed my face, the noises from the party were quite distant. How could I have landed here? Was I far away from our house, or was it just my imagination that played tricks on me? I tried to call, but it felt like I only called to myself. Maybe I even stood there, shouting in the wrong direction? A bird flew past me, making me whimp.
I tripped in my gown and fell to the ground. The long wheat-grass catched me, protected my dress from getting muddy and my knees from bleeding. I lay down, stretched myself like I was going to crawl. I felt lost, all my senses were bewildered now. The scream inside me wouldn't stop, and only I could feel it, tagging on my inside. All the air around me stretched wide, everything felt endless, I had to wait, wait and wait, for someone to come rescuing me. This surely had to be the opposite of what they meant when they talked about shrinking the world. The world had no end, I thought. I knew I had to wait here a long, long time, before they would find me, and lead me, and support me again.