Blind Date

Blind Date

“Jake, this was a terrible idea.” 

“It’ll be fine.” 

“A blind restaurant? Really?” She leaned as close to his side of the table as she could. “I heard that even the waiters are blind.” 

“In that case, I would keep your voice down. They have exceptional hearing.” 

“How are they supposed to bring us food!” 

“C’mon, you said you wanted an adventure.” 

“An adventure is a random trip to Paris or a hike through a jungle at night or camping out in the middle of a field. Not dining at a blind restaurant.” 

She settled back in her chair with a sigh. It wasn’t a big deal. She didn’t know the price of the place and honestly felt a little bad for the way she was acting, but it was just the fact that he’d thought this was what she’d meant when she told him about wanting an adventurous date. She heard Jake start giggling. 

“What is it?” 

“Nothing. Nothing… It’s just, you are making such a big deal about this, and I just think it’s hilarious.” 

“It is kinda funny.” 

“No, Sarah. I’m talking about the way you’re acting.” He cleared his throat. He was probably about to say something that he shouldn’t, and then cleared his throat to cover it. That’s the only reason he ever cleared his throat. 

Sarah could hear the gently tapping of his hand trying to find its way around the table. She didn’t bother with trying to find her napkin and silverware yet. They hadn’t even ordered. 

Sarah jerked back and nearly screamed but heard Jake making a shushing noise from across her.  

“Sorry! Sorry, that was me.” 

“What’s with you!” 

“What did I get? Where did I touch you.” 

“You don’t want to know,” she hissed. She could feel her face burning and heard Jake’s soft laughter. 

“I’m so sorry, Sarah.” 

She leaned back in her chair and resisted pushing it out further from the table. It would be really bad if a waiter tripped over it because it wasn’t where it was expected it to be. 

What if she had to go to the bathroom? What would she do if she had to use the bathroom! 

She heard Jake’s soft patting again. 

“Jake, are you feeling around the table again.” 

“Yeah, how else will I get familiar with it?” 

She scowled. “We’ve already had one incident.” 

“Oh, what? Where I touched you? Come on, Sarah! It’s too dark for anyone to even see! They might hear you talking about it, but–” 

“I’m just saying it’s inappropriate.” 

“I just wonder if that’s how blind people feel. You know, since they can’t see and all? Do you think that they don’t consider that other people can see them sometimes, or do they not just care, or… how does that work?” 

“Jake! Don’t say things like that.” 

“Why not? It’s why we’re here, isn’t it? To see what it’s like to be blind?”  

Sarah sighed. There was no arguing against him. She just hoped that there was no one close enough to hear. She heard some tinkling of silverware in the distance and a few voices mixed with laughter, but nothing was coherent. 

“This will broaden our experiences,” Jake whispered. 

“Yes, in case either of us ever happen to go blind, we’ll know exactly how to behave at a restaurant, or at least know that we could work at one.” 

“Hello, how is everything tonight? My name is Hannah, and I’ll be taking care of you tonight. Can I get you something to drink?” 

Sarah immediately felt her face begin to burn. She didn’t know that someone was standing so close! 

“Yes, we’ll have two waters with lemon, thank you.” Jake didn’t miss a beat. 

“Alright, I’ll get those right out then tell you what the special is.” 

Sarah wanted to leave, but how could she leave? She couldn’t even go to the bathroom! At least the waitress couldn’t see her. Ugh! She’s such a terrible person. 

“Way to go, Sarah,” Jake whispered. She knew that he was wearing a Jake Look. 

“Shut up,” she hissed. 

A faint thump was audible on the table. 

“Here are your drinks.” The waitress went over the night’s special, steak with rice pilaf and steamed vegetables. Jake ordered for them both again. When silence returned, and she could only assume the waitress had left, she heard Jake’s fingers tapping on the table. 

“I wonder if the cook is blind, too.” 

“Stop it, Jake.”  She wasn’t in the mood. She heard his snickering and crossed her arms. They were covered in chills, though it didn’t feel cold. Did it? She couldn’t tell. Were there other people who felt cold? 

“Hey, reach up your left – no right – hand.” 

“Why?” She did it anyway and could feel the silk tablecloth. No, it wasn’t silk. It was that really soft material that was waterproof, but it wasn’t as soft as silk. It had a more homey feeling. It was probably white because she couldn’t imagine it any other way. Maybe it was red. 

She felt Jake’s fingers tap against her wrist then feel down to her palm and wrap around her fingers. His fingertips were calloused from all the building he did at work, and his palms were smooth but hard. She remembered when sometimes his calluses would get rough and would stick to clothing. But tonight his hand felt smooth, smooth enough to be something cold, even though his hand was warmer than hers. 

“Your hand feels really soft.” 

“Thanks,” she replied. 

“So you still think this is a bad idea?” He squeezed her hand. 

“No. I don’t… I just think it would be hard to live like this. If something like this ever were to happen to one of us, God forbid.”  

“Yeah. We should be more thankful. It takes someone stronger than us to be able to do all the things that we do without being able to see.” 

“You’d do a better job at it than me.” 

He laughed. “No I wouldn’t. But you’re right, I couldn’t imagine. What would I do if I couldn’t see your face? How would I know what you looked like when we grew old together? Eh, it wouldn’t matter. I’d still know that you’d be as ugly as the day I married you.” 

“Oh, thanks.” 

“I’m just kidding.” He was giggling again. “And you know I’m kidding. You still remember how I acted when I first laid eyes on you. You used to talk about it all the time.” 

“Yeah.” A warm fuzzy feeling tickled her insides, and she smiled. Jake was running his smooth, hard fingertips over her knuckles. She could hear his soft humming. Her other hand felt warm and damp, but she resisted rubbing it over her dress. She thought for a while, then did it anyway. It didn’t matter. No one could see her acting nervous or leaving wet marks on her dress. It was made of silk, much softer and lighter than the tablecloth material. It was dark purple and looked almost exactly the same as the dress she’d worn when Jake had proposed, except these sleeves were long and not cut off at the shoulder, and her other dress had been a dark red.  

“Do you remember the dress I wore when you proposed.” 

“Yep. The red one.” 

“The one I’m wearing right now looks a lot like that one.” 

“Yeah, except the sleeves are longer.” 

She smiled. Jake was a good husband. 

“Do you still have that dress?” 

“No! That’s been eight years ago, Jake.” 

“Oh, has it been that long? Well, we need to get you another one like that. And peach heels, too.” 

“Nude heels.” 

“Whatever. That dress was shorter, too.” 

“No it wasn’t.” 

“Yes it was. I think I would remember. Well, maybe not. I don’t really have a good view of you right now.” They both giggled. “Besides, I like it when you show a little skin.” He squeezed her hand, and she felt her cheeks getting hot again. 

“Jake, stop it.” 

He laughed softly, and she smiled. 

“Maybe it’s where I’ve lost weight.” 

“You have not lost any weight.” 

“What is that supposed to mean?” 

“Well, all you fix are those weird green noodles, and that one bread stuff–” 

“It is zucchini spaghetti, and it is not all I fix. We just have a bunch of zucchini because one year you were like oh Sarah let’s get a garden and–” 

“Sarah! Sarah, sheesh.” She heard his sigh. “C’mon, honey. It’s been ten years–” 


“Well, I’ve known you for ten. You think you’d know my sense of humor by now.” 

“Yeah, like taking me out to a blind restaurant.” 

She heard Jake snicker, and she started giggling. 

“Stop laughing, stop laughing, Jake.” 

“You’re laughing–” 

“Yeah, I’m laughing at you though.” 

“Oh, okay.” 

Sarah slowly lifted her other arm and moved it onto the table. There probably wasn’t any silverware or plates. They would bring those out with the food. A safe decision. 

Jake was humming again and rubbing his thumb over her knuckles. She listened and realized it was “Here Comes the Bride.” What a weirdo. Sarah grinned and squeezed his hand. He started giggling again. 

“What? Don’t like my kind of music?” 

“Thanks for taking me out.” 

“Yeah, I’ve never been on a blind date before. Wait till I tell Jim and Barry that I went on a blind date. With my wife.” 

“I bet you will.” 

“I will. Watch me.” 

Photo by Juliette F 


The Real Enemy

The Real Enemy

Rolan tightened his lips and resisted the urge to wipe the sweat out of his eyes. He’d been waiting a lifetime for this moment, his stomach was turning and twisting and aching with emotions that confused him.  

Maxime had missed on purpose.  

Rolan had watched him flick his wrist at the last moment making the bullet miss by nearly a foot.  

The young man forced down the bile taste in his mouth and licked his lips. His arm was trembling, but he wasn’t about to put down the gun. It was a trick. 

Wasn’t it?  

Why wouldn’t Maxime White kill him if he had the chance? But the old man just stood there. Eyes widened, looking at Rolan’s eyes. Searching.

Did he think that Rolan couldn’t do it? Did he know about Rolan? That he had never wanted to kill?   

Rolan gritted his teeth. It didn’t make sense!  

Maxime had the chance to kill him! Had Rolan right where he wanted him! Hadn’t he?  

Rolan’s finger on the trigger was tightened like a welded bolt, but the young man couldn’t move it. It only needed a little pressure and a millimeter of movement. Maybe less.  

Maxime’s eyes moved from the gun back to Rolan’s face. He lips moved, and the words he muttered seemed to form Rolan’s name. Rolan’s full name.  

The young detective narrowed his eyes… eyes that were unmatched colors – blue and brown. 

Just like Maxime’s.  

Rolan squeezed his eyes shut then forced them open with a determined grimace. The old man wasn’t going to escape. He would never run off again.  

Rolan had never wanted anything more than to face his uncle, the man who had killed his father – his own brother – then watch the life drain from those eyes.  

But Maxime stood there. He didn’t seem to want to move. He just stared at Rolan. Waiting. Waiting for it all to fall down on him and crush him.  

Why had Maxime spared him twice? Why had the league sought him out to train him? They were the ones who told about his identity. His relation to Maxime. Who were the strangers that had saved his life? Why did he only have a few vague memories of his father?  

The bricks fell one by one causing Rolan’s heart to pound so hard and so wildly that it seemed to stop all at once as his blood drained to his feet, and everything went black. 

Photo by GR Stocks


Star Girl

Star Girl

They call her star girl. I call her Emmeryn. She’s my little sister, and a connector between this world and another. A magic world. 

“Have you ever met Titania, Edward?” 

“Have I ever… who?” 

Emmeryn giggled.  

“She wants me to come live with her,” she whispered. 

“Titania? As in Shakespeare’s Titania?” 

“Shakespeare was like me. They told me so.” 

Before I could ask her who, she ran away. Skipping. Tiny sparkles of light falling out of her dark hair. It reminded me of constellations. 

I took Emmeryn to the park. It’s usually very quiet despite only being a few miles outside of London. That’s good, because my sister is odd.  

I used to try and stop her from gazing at nothing with round eyes and hands carefully folding to capture the empty air in a gentle cage. But it was no use. Then she would whisper something, and her hair would start to leak stars. 

The old lady and I watched. 

“How can you be so ordinary when your sister is such a little star girl?” 

She meant no harm. I smiled as she laughed. The old lady then told me about her deceased husband, about him being buried at the church three miles down the road, about her children who are always busy.  

And I would listen, keeping one eye on the dancing Emmeryn. 

“Aren’t they pretty?” She would ask on the way home. 


“The ariels.” 


Then she would laugh and twirl. 

I would have figured that a child with such a spirit, with enough passion that light escapes her eyes and her hair, would be very strong, but Emmeryn has always been weak. Her body always feels feverish like the fire inside was burning everything else up. When she turned seven, she began sleeping two days at a time. 

“Like your mother,” the doctor said, touching the forehead of the child. Then he looked at his hand, twinkling with stardust. “And I thought she was young when they took her.” 

“But Emmeryn is only seven.” 

“I know… Ah, so strange. It won’t be long before she sheds this mortal shell.” 

“You mean she dies.” 

He took my shoulder and looked back and forth between my eyes, like he was searching for the reason why I was normal, why was human. 

“Do things really die? Or do they become something different?” he asked. 

“They die.”  

I sat down and watched my sister. I could feel the doctor watching the back of my head for a little while, then the air changed. It blew in and around the little room, stirring up the stars in Emmeryn’s hair. I resisted the urge to turn around until the wind stopped. When I did, the doctor was gone. 

A star creature, a human with a touch of fae. Not a sorcerer who could mix science and magic, or a mage who could harness the magic of other creatures. But a star person, someone who created magic inside of them, a fairy kind of magic, beloved by all the fae, hunted by magic-seekers, short-lived because their human body could not hold up to the strain of their magic spirit. 

When Emmeryn died, she would turn to star dust. Her spirit would be carried to another world, and I would never see her again. Because I did not even possess the Sight. 

But, it would almost come as a relief. I’ve looked after Emmeryn since she was born. I never knew my father, and I never knew hers. And our mother – or the woman who claimed to be my mother as well – disappeared when Emmeryn was born. Turned to dust. And I, a ten-year-old kid, spent my life from that time forward looking after Emmeryn. When Emmeryn was gone, I would have my own life. 

Did that make me a bad person? 

I ran my fingers through Emmeryn’s hair then stared at the tiny stars. They faded into my skin. 

I whispered her name several times, then brushed her hair. Then watched these stars disappear. It was no use. She was somewhere else. I laid my head down and closed my eyes. 

When I woke up, she was gone. 

Photo by Annie Spratt




The first thing I want to do is call my sister. But I don’t. I just stare at the picture.  

My stomach rises up to my throat, then it drops down to my feet and drags everything else along with it. But I don’t feel like crying. The pain isn’t anything new. I’m just a little bit more aware of it than I had been a few moments before.  

Sometimes I think I have days when I don’t think about him.   

But I don’t think that’s true.  

We were supposed to get married, this little voice in my head whispers. It was supposed to be us.  

But it’s not.  

Those words reverberate through my mind.  

It’s not. It’s not. It’s not.  

So, it was her birthday today. They traveled. They drank. They kissed. They took this adorable little picture that all of their friends liked and commented on and sang the praises of young love, happiness, and a new life.  

I’ve never met her. I bet she’s bubbly and kind and always smiles, just like in her pictures. I bet me and her would become good friends.  

Him? I can’t stand him. We always argue and can’t find a thing in common and never hang out anymore because we’re not really friends because I care way too much about everything in his life, and it’s annoying to both of us, and he doesn’t get it and I get so angry at him because he doesn’t understand.  

I take in a deep breath, and I like the picture. I comment some basic little congratulatory phrase that she probably won’t even read.  

My insides have settled back into their places. They should. It’s been a couple of years. I’m not going to tell anyone about this. No one knows my secrets but my siblings, but they’re not going to find out about this either.  

“Ya know, pain is really good for your writing,” Jay once told me. I can remember his lips smacking from that gum.   

“But I don’t even want to like him.” I argued. “I want someone else. Someone better. I can’t even figure out why I would like him.”  

“I’m telling you, it’s for your writing. You’d always wanted a good writing career. You know how David only wrote Psalms when he was in trouble? People don’t really write when everything’s good. And even then, it’s not like it’s good.”  

I hadn’t known how to explain myself. It wasn’t like that. I thought I always wrote the same. Good days. Bad days. All those little days in between that I can’t even remember. My art wasn’t affected by my emotions because I portrayed the world onto my art. Not myself.  

Is that bad?  

“I’m not the same as David,” I finally said.  

“But it’s the Bible,” he whined. “Go ahead and try to write a poem or something.” Jay grinned at me. I could see the massive wad of gum squashed between his teeth. “I bet it will be your best one. Everyone will love it, and you’ll feel better. Just like David.”  

That was the last time I’d talked to my little brother about this. Part of me wanted to think that he’d understand one day, but the other part of me hoped that he never did.  

Besides, he’s just a kid.  

Macy’s more understanding, her and her stitched up little heart. Social media was probably just a scrapbook of bad memories for her.

We used to listen to each other complain, and then I realized it was complaining. Useless, miserable, futile complaining. It did more harm than good. And it was annoying, like we were trying to comfort each other while also competing for who was most miserable.  

I still listen to her, but I resolved that I would never complain to her again. I’d never complain to anyone again. Putting sadness out there only makes it grow.   

I was going to keep mine inside, to swallow it and make it disappear.  

But, it’s been years.  

I know about how he used to like me. I know about how he tried to pressure me into confessing it because he was too scared to say anything first. I know about how he used to talk about me, how he always set girls up with the people that I might have dated so I’d never end up with them, how he tried to try to date other people to get over me because he was convinced he wasn’t good enough. His friends told me, and I had laughed and pretended not to believe them, even as they pushed me to talk to him.  

I wanted him to say something first, to like me so much that he had to confront me, maybe not even say anything but just kiss me. I wanted him to fight for me. I wanted a reason to like him.  

I remember his stares.  

I always thought we were soulmates, that somehow we would end up together.  

I’m looking at other pictures, at other happy couples, at beautiful single people, and I don’t really care. I’ve never really cared about being with anyone but him.  

We’ve never even dated. Never even held hands. We’ve never done anything but stare at each other from across the room.   

He looked so happy in that picture.  

I wonder if he’s really happy, if he really feels the way that he talks, the way that he looks in this picture where he’s staring at her.  

Because he still stares at me. 

Published in The Iris Review, Spring 2018
Photo: Photo by Amanda Dalbjörn