Author's Note: Just to let you all know, I am not a very good song writer, so I will be using songs that you may or may not know. Disclaimer will be at the end of the chapters. Some songs I will edit and tweak so that they fit in the story. Happy reading!

Blinded By Life

A week had passed since I had run away. Things seemed to be going a little more smoothly. Rowan had agreed that I didn't need the neighbor lady to come over and check on me and trusted that I would call if I needed anything. I was adjusting to my blindness more and more. I could now walk through the living room, kitchen, bathroom, and my own room without running into anything. Rowan's room I still struggled with because of the constant disorder. I had finally, thankfully, finished the little metal puzzle two days after I had run off and Rowan had set me to work on two new things. First was to learn how to make something other than sandwiches without making a mess or making the whole house smell of burnt rubber, and second, I was to complete a one hundred piece puzzle – he said it would help with both my memory and object and shape recognition.

Today had been his last day of work for the week and tomorrow, Saturday, would be his day off. I had attempted to make grilled cheese for supper, but had completely failed. The roasted bread has been far too burnt to even attempt to eat so we ended up having cereal and milk. Afterwards, I had moved to my seat at the end of the kitchen table and had continued on the puzzle. I had asked Rowan what the picture on the front of the puzzle was and he had said that is was the bright nightlife of Time Square.

The first thing I did to start the puzzle was to separate all the edges from the interior by feeling for the straight edges. Next, I set out all the edge pieces. I picked up one piece and felt around its edges before setting it on the table and testing it with another puzzle piece I held in my hand. It didn't fit on any side. I grabbed a second piece, feeling its edges, and tested it on the same piece I held in my hand. Nope. I heard Rowans footsteps above the low voices on the television.

"So I've been looking into some different school you can go to in this area." he said as he set his laptop on the table .He pulled the chair on the side of the table out and sat down. I heard the mechanical click of his mouse, "I found a few that look promising and their all pretty close by."

"Really?" I asked with only partial interest. One, school was not something to look forward to and be excited about. It is a place where boredom spreads, misery grows, and workloads tower. Two, I was concentrating deeply on the project I was completing, I was not going to let it overcome me and I would finish the evil puzzle.

"Yeah, the closest one, Heritage High, just opened up this year and is supposed to be a really nice public school. It says on their webpage that the staff are very good teachers and they have several school counselors. I don't see anything about visually disabled students, but it seems pretty promising."

I hummed, "I doubt very many schools will have specialized classes for blind kids since there's a school in this area that is specifically for visually impaired people."

"Well, it doesn't hurt to check," he clicked his mouse several more times. "Here's another school; Enloe High is a small school that provides more individual teaching that other school are able to. It also says: The William G. Enloe Gifted and Talented International Baccalaureate Magnet High School serves all students by providing a secure environment which encourages students and staff to take risks and to reach their full potential. That sounds promising, don't you think?"

"Hn," I said as, yet again, the piece I had tried to fit did not work.

"Hmm," his mouse clicked five times, "well, here's another; it's the closest school, probably within walking distance. The Broughton High School community embraces a commitment to teach all students to think critically, appreciate diversity, serve others and be productive, responsible citizens in a global society. That sounds okay, but it's definitely a contender since it's so close. But I can't find anything about disabled students…"

"Ah ha!" I yelled, almost jumping out of my seat simultaneously, "I found the right piece!" I stood up and danced in place, not caring if I couldn't look like more of an idiot; I even threw in the cabbage patch dancee. "Rowan look," I said, ending my dance and finding the first two pieces I had fit together and pointing to them, "I finally found two that go together!"

I could almost feel his smile when he congratulated me.

I sat down and continued working on my puzzle and Rowan clicked his mouse several more times, "Well, I'd better go get ready."

I paused from examining the next puzzle piece, "Why?"

"Why? It's Friday night; my band plays every Friday night." He said, his voice almost shocked that I had asked.

"I didn't know that."

"Last week we canceled, but normally we play at a different place every Friday night. Hopefully sometime we can get recognized by the big times." He stood up and closed the lid on his laptop and headed through the living room .I soon heard the shower turn on. After he had finished his shower and was walking towards him room, he stopped in the hallway, "Hey, what are you doing? Go get ready, you're coming too."

I stopped and looked in his direction.

"It's a quarter 'till eight right now; we need to leave in fifteen minutes to give time to drive and get set up by nine."

I stood up from my chair and walked to my room as Rowan shut himself in his own room.

We had arrived at the club twenty minutes after nine. Rowan parked and came over to lead me by the arm. I was actually glad for his guidance this time; there were so many people I wondered if we would even be able to fit into the building. As Rowan elbowed his way through the crowd and into the main area were the stage, bar, and tables were located, I mindlessly followed. I had only been blind for a couple weeks now, but my senses had already improved to make up for the loss of my main sense, sight. My senses were overwhelmed with all of the commotion and noise. The roaring voices and chatter of eager listeners, the voluptuous bellow of a man's laugh, the constant push and shove of people trying to get past you, and the smell of greasy burgers and tap beer that filled the room. Not to mention, a hard metal rock band was playing, their music blaring through the speakers. I could sense the music's vibrations through the soles of my feet, and if I imagined a bit, I could almost feel the sound waved thumping into me like giant tidal waves.

"Where are we going?" I asked, half yelling to overcome the loudness around us.

"Behind the set; that's where the guys are," he said, turning to face me as he spoke. He wove through the crowds expertly and we were soon in the relatively quieter and less crowded area where the bands set up.

"Hey, guys, sorry we're late; there was major construction on the way here."

"They moved a band up before us to give you time to get here. The crowds weren't happy, but it works," Owen spoke as we came near.

"Are we all set up?" Rowan asked as he let go of my arm and set his guitar case down. I heard the click of the latches being released and then he strapped it on and started tuning it. I heard the current band's song come to a close and the crowds subdued applauding.

"Guys, you're on," a woman spoke from the direction of the stage.

"Alright, let's rock this place!" Cameron yelled enthusiastically.

The previous band stepped off stage and was talking amongst each other. "Hey," Rowan called to them as they passed by us, "You guys really rocked tonight; sorry we messed it up for you."

"Doesn't matter; we had fun," one of their members replied evenly and then continued with his friends to put away their instruments.

A woman spoke into a microphone on the stage. "That was a great performance by Silent Scream. Next, give it up for the amazing sounds of Lonely Child!" The crowd went wild;thee was screaming, hooting, hollering, whistling, and clapping."

"That's our cue," Owen said as he walked towards the stage. Cameron, Steven, and Rowan followed.

"Wait, Rowan, what do I do?" I called before he had gone too far.

I wasn't sure if he had heard me. He did not speak for a moment and all I could hear is the crowds continued cheering, chanting for the popular band.

"Steven, can you take my guitar and get my stuff set up for me? I gotta go with Holden real quick."

Steven must have agreed, because Rowan grabbed my arm and led us back through the crowds to a booth where it was less crowded. I sat down in the seat in swung my legs underneath the table.

"Alright, you can order some food or a drink if you want, but no alcohol. You can just tell them that you're with the band and they'll give it to you for free, okay? I gotta go," he finished quickly, ruffling my hair. The crowd roared as three of the band members entered the stage and were setting up. Soon the yells turned to questioning where the lead guitarist slash vocalist was. Rowan left my side and pretty soon I heard his voice over the monstrous speakers.

"Sorry we got here late, my brother and I ran into some road construction on the way here, but we plan to make it up with a few extra songs."

The crowd roared in response. Once they settled down and the band was setting up and tuning their instruments, on man yelled out. "Where were you last week?"

Rowan's voice again came over the speaker. He was simultaneously tuning his guitar as he spoke. "As most of you know, all the members of Lonely Child grew up as orphans. Last week my brother moved in with me from another orphanage. He was in a car accident and there were some critical injuries." Rowan laughed once; there must have been shocked and surprised faces in the crowd. "He's alright now; he's even listening there in the back. Holden, wave so everyone can see you."

I tensed up, not liking the attention of the entire room as I heard people turn to look at me. I plastered on a forced smile and waved my hand in the air. Around me there were welcoming cheers and a few people nearby patted me on the shoulder.

The band started playing. First was Owen on the electric guitar, with a slow sound, picking one string at a time. Then, suddenly, everyone joined in, playing a tight yet heavy intro with Owen still picking his steady component. Rowan began to sing as the drums, bass, and acoustic guitar faded out.

"I'm tired of being what you want me to be
Feeling so faithless, lost under the surface
I don't know what you're expecting of me
Put under the pressure of walking in your shoes."

The rest of the band joined in again at the chorus, creating a well blended sound. I found that I really liked their sound, both together and solo. Rowan had a good voice that was rough yet also smooth. Owen sounded like he had been playing his whole life. Steven's bass was steady and solid. Cameron was loud and expressive.

"I've become so numb I can't feel you there
Become so tired so much more aware
I'm becoming all this all I want to do
Is be more like me and less like you

Can't you see that you're smothering me?
Holding to tightly, afraid to lose control
'Cause everything that you thought I would be
Has fallen apart right in front of you

I've become so numb I can't feel you there
Become so tired so much more aware
I'm becoming all this all I want to do
Is be more like me and less like you

I've become so numb I can't feel you there
I'm tired of being what you want me to be
I've become so numb I can't feel you there
I'm tired of being what you want me to be."

The crowd cheered and applauded loudly. I was nearly overwhelmed by the amount of noise in the place. The band switched songs and begun playing a new tune after the crowd had calmed.

"I tear my heart open, I sew myself shut
And my weakness is that I care too much
And my scars remind us, that the past is real
I tear my heat open, just to feel.

I tried to help you once
Against my own advice
I saw you going down
But you never realized
That you're drowning in the water
So I offered you my hand
Compassions in my nature
Tonight is our last stand"

"Hey, can I get you something to eat?" A loud teenage girl asked from my left.

I turned to look at her, "Uh, sure, what's good?"

"I'll order for him," another teenage sounding girl said, coming and sitting in the booth across from me. I raised an eyebrow at her peculiar behavior as I followed her voice. She picked up a menu from in front of me that I hadn't even know was there. "Hmm, I think he'll try the Double-decker Sloppy Burger. What do you want to drink?"

"A, um, Coke is fine," I said, partially caught off guard by the sudden question pointed my way.

"Alright; I'll get that right out to you," the lady left and I turned to the girl that was still seated across from me.

"So, you're Rowan's brother, right?" She asked over the loud music. I strained to focus solely on her voice.

"Um, yeah," I thought it was strange talking to someone I didn't know and couldn't see their reactions.

"I'm sorry you were in an accident; are you alright?"

I nodded, "Yeah, it didn't slow me down too much. I left the hospital three days after I was admitted, surgery included."

"Wow, you had to have surgery?"

I nodded again, not wanting to explain. I changed the topic, hoping she wouldn't dig deeper, "So, what exactly is a Double-decker Sloppy Burger? It sounds suspicious."

I could hear her smile in her voice, "It's only the best burger they make! It has four sauces – count 'em, four! – Ranch, barbeque, mayonnaise, and spicy Buffalo. It's really messy, but tastes delicious."

I frowned, "I don't like messy foods."

"Don't worry, they give you plenty of napkins."

A few minutes later the waitress sat the steaming plate in front of me along with my soda. The burger certainly smelled good – greasy – and the fries smelled completely fresh. I was nervous to eat the burger. I knew I would have trouble since it was so big and sloppy, and I didn't really want to eat in front of someone, especially a girl. "Is there any silverware?" I asked awkwardly, thinking I might be able to get by with cutting the burger up before eating it.

She scoffed, "No, you can't use silverware with this burger. It's like, wearing winter clothes to the beach in summer. But here are lots of napkins – you'll need them." She set them in front of me somewhere on the table.

I lifted my hand to search for them, eventually finding them near the middle of the table. I sighed and resigned myself to get messy. I picked up the sandwich with both hands, feeling the excess sauce drip onto my fingers, and took a big bite from the center. True to her word, the burger was amazing with all four sauces, and very, very messy. I just hoped nothing dripped onto my clothes.

"Well, what do you think?" she asked expectantly.

"It's very good!" I replied after I had swallowed. I took another bite, and another. Soon I had finished the whole burger. "Wow, that was amazing," I commented. My stomach was so full from the huge sandwich in addition to my bowl of cereal earlier that night that I thought it was visibly bulging.

"It looks like it; you're a mess!" She said, laughing.

Embarrassed, I picked up a small stack of napkin and wiped my saucy mouth, cheeks, chin, and hands. Once my hands were clean, I slowly ran them over the front of my clothes. "Do I have any on my shirt?" I asked, not finding anything myself, but wanting reassurance.

She laughed once, thinking it was strange that I couldn't look myself, "No, your clothes are clean."

She was silent a little while and I could feel her eyes inspecting me. "So, what part of you, exactly, got hurt in the accident? What did the doctors have to do surgery on?"

I took a sip of my soda as I contemplated a good answer. I carefully set the drink back down and looked in the girl's direction. I couldn't think of anything to tell her, and figured that since Rowan's friends had been okay with my disability, that this girl would too. "The doctors did surgery on my eyes; in the crash, the glass shattered and pieces were lodged into them. They couldn't fix them though, and now I'm blind."

"Oh my gosh," she breathed out, "Really, you're blind?"

I nodded, still looking in her direction.

"How many fingers am I holding up?"

I shook my head, "I don't know."

"Wow…well, I've gotta go; it was…cool meeting you."

I nodded and she left. I sat there in silence as Rowan spoke into the microphone, scratching my head and wondering if it was coincidence that the girl had left right after I told her about my disability. The waitress came buy soon after to clean up the table.

"Okay, now were going to slow it down a bit for our last song of the night." Rowan said, somewhat out of breath. They started playing a slow tune with the electric guitar and acoustic. Soon the bass and drums joined in.

"I walk a lonely road
The only one that I have ever known
Don't know where it goes
But it's home to me and I walk alone

I walk this empty street
On the Boulevard of broken dreams
Where the city sleeps
And I'm the only one and I walk alone

I walk alone
I walk alone
I walk alone
I walk a

My shadow's the only one that walks beside me
My shallow hearts the only thing that's beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me
'Til then I walk alone

Ah-Ah Ah-Ah Ah-Ah Ahhh-Ah
Ah-Ah Ah-Ah Ah-Ah

I'm walking down the line
That divides me somewhere in my mind
On the border line of the edge
And where I walk alone

Read between the lines of what's
Messed up and everything's all right
Check my vital signs to know I'm still alive
And I walk alone

I walk alone
I walk alone
I walk alone
I walk a

My shadow's the only one that walks beside me
My shallow hearts the only thing that's beating
Sometimes I wish someone out there would find me
'Til then I'll walk alone..."

The crowd applauded their loudest yet. Rowan thanked them and the announcer spoke again as I heard the group exit the stage, "Thank you, Lonely Child, for that amazing performance. Well, that's it for tonight's live bands; feel free to stick around and have a few drinks."

I stayed seated. Lots of the people that filled the room headed towards the exit and the noise level was steadily decreasing.

"Hey, you ready to go?" Rowan asked as he came near.

I stood. "You guys sounded great tonight," I told him as he wrapped his elbow around mine.

"Thanks," he said, walking slowly and following behind the majority of the people.

"You sound tired," I commented, noticing his slightly scratchy voice and rough breathing pattern.

He laughed once, "Yeah, singing and playing five song's in a row is hard work. You have to really get into it so you can get the crowd worked up."

We eventually got outside and walked to the car. We got in and buckled up as Rowan pulled out of the parking lot.

"Where are we going now?" I asked, remembering that we had entered the parking lot turning right, and were turning right out of the parking lot, heading away from home.

"We always meet up and eat somewhere after a gig. Are you hungry?"

My stomach still felt overloaded and I groaned at the thought of more food.

Disclaimer: Song lyrics in this chapter are taken from Numb by Linkin Park and from Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day. Just in case you haven't already figured it out.