Johnny turned fifty last week, and has added a few pounds to his girth since his marriage to Vidanya three years ago. Always clean and neatly dressed, but he is beginning to pop a few buttons, so he always carries a chain of safety pins in his pocket. At a glance you wouldn’t know that he is bi-polar, legally blind and has never been able to hear or speak. He lived in a world of visual memories frozen in time, serious gaps in common sense, and vibrations without sound. He does know how to write but I’m not sure if his knowledge is from school, before he lost his sight at age 12 from an illness.
He met his wife on the internet, the fifth girl he’d been engaged to since he decided he wanted to start his own family. He’d lived with this mother since birth. His marriage didn’t have a significant impact on his living arrangements other than the sweet soft smell and touch of the woman who now shared his bed, and the squirming and wiggling of his young son as he tossed and turned in his sleep.
He worked in a factory. People there always answered his questions and helped him find things if he asked. Since he couldn’t speak he wrote on a thick pad of paper with a big black marker, one of dozen he purchased each month. I assume he buys them by the case, but maybe he isn’t aware that is possible, and no one has thought to tell him.
His eyesight was getting worse, if that was even possible. For years he had made his way on foot, crossing busy intersections without fear, and without a white cane. He had been told that no one could tell he had any limitations because he had always moved so confidently
He knew the names of all the people he had worked with for the last 20 years, but very little about their lives at home. He was lonely sometimes , like when he was in the middle of a meeting , but wasn’t quite sure why it was taking place. He always enjoyed the food that was brought in, particularly by the ladies in accounting. He was sad though, that he hadn’t had a real conversation with a human being (in the same room at the same time) since he was a teenager. Until he found his wife, that is.
She was from a small village in Russia where winters are bitterly cold and there is no work, no food, and no money. Four years ago her best friend’s new boyfriend took pictures of both of them and said that he loved having photos to show his friends when he travelled. He told Vidania that he had some wealthy friends in the United States who were looking for wives, and he would see if any of them wanted her. She had polio as a child, and as result she had a noticeable limp. If the war hadn’t happened that would have been her only flaw, but now she had a horrible scar on her left cheek from a stray bullet, disfiguring her once perfect profile. Her parents died just before the war, trying to escape, but she had hidden from the guards and made her way back home. She survived by cleaning houses and the occasional respite as a nanny for the one hotel within a hundred miles of her tiny village. She travelled for hours on the bus every day just for a few dollars.
©2010 Sharon J Corrigan