Monday, September 5, 2016

When She Fell

by Bruce Carroll

I will never forget where I was the moment Akiko fell in love. She was in the school library with Tommy. The two of them always went there after lunch, before their next class. Tommy would read to her.

Akiko had been rescued from a fire, which had left her blind. That had only been a few months ago. She was learning Braille, but still had a way to go before anyone could call her “fluent.” The fire had not only left her blind: it had left her illiterate.

Tommy had been reading Karen Vance Hammond’s Shoe Marks. Akiko’s friend Sarah had told her Tommy liked her. Akiko had been skeptical, but Sarah pointed out how much time Tommy spent with her. That day, as Tommy read, Akiko had reached out and found his shoulder. She rested her hand there as he read.

When the bell rang for the next class, they both stood. Akiko thanked Tommy for reading to her yet again. That was when Tommy suggested they go out. He had tried to sound casual, but Akiko clearly heard the nervous quaver in his voice. She smiled and told him she would like that. She resisted the urge to jump up and down excitedly and squeal.

And where was I when this all happened? Why is it so indelibly burned into my memory? I was at the Graham Public Library, right across the street from the Lutheran church, seated at a little round wooden table typing away on my laptop. A wall of books silently watched as I created; books with titles like “Get a Literary Agent,” “In the Shadow of Edgar Allen Poe,” and “Teenagers 101.”

For me, it was the first time I had experienced the joy of having one of my characters fall in love.

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