(500 words) As a man who’d been almost stone-deaf since birth, meeting women was something out of Christian Brown’s comfort zone. They may have smiled, but from their eyes, and replies, he knew he was less than intelligible. Now he was shown to a seat in the Koh-I-Noor restaurant. He took a deep breath and looked around at the mainly empty seats, then at his watch. 7.55 p.m. His councillor and psychologist, Susan, had arranged a blind date for him with a lady called Stephanie. She’d told him nothing about her, just that she was attractive, divorced and in her early forties.
(1200 words) I could hear she was quite young, nervous at meeting me, wanting to make a good impression on her first day, but afraid of my disability. “Andy’ll show you the ropes,” said Sheila, my boss’s secretary. “Andy, this is Sonya.” “Hello Sonya,“ I said, and smiled. “Hello, Andy,” said a girl’s voice. I continued, “Well, this is where it all happens.” I ran an audio and video library for a big HR department. “I do the audio, and you’ll be my eyes for the video!” She laughed self-consciously. Once alone together, I said, “Look, I know you probably don’t want to talk about me being blind, but let’s get it out of the way.”
(500 words) Hard as winter ice, soft as summer grass. Her mind and fingers played with the forgotten contents of a bottom drawer. She fluttered her fingers over a mixture of bric-a-brac and clothing, plucking out something silky. She held it to her face and inhaled the faded scent of roses. A blouse! Yes, one she’d worn when she was young, twenty years earlier. She held it to her cheek, sensing the vibrations. Red or purple. Yes, of course, the blouse she’d worn to her grandmother’s eightieth birthday party!
(600 words) Eyes open but unseeing, I blinked furiously. Blackness. What was the time? Had I overslept? I touched an eyeball. It felt sensitive, normal, as it did when putting contact lenses in. Then panic rose up from the pit of my stomach. “Louise, Louise, I can’t see!” I almost screamed. Silence. I shouted again to my wife, sleeping in the next room due to a bad back. Where was she? I got out of bed and felt my way along the wall to the door. It felt like a mile. Outside the bedroom, I crashed into an occasional table I’d forgotten about in my panic, hearing a vase of flowers smash onto the wooden tiles. Fuck!