A/N: This is another story I wrote for Power of the Pen. The prompt was "Anything but that! Write about the worst punishment you could receive."

There is nothing. There is nothing but a deep, black abyss stretching out forever before me. It is dark, empty, lonely, barren. I feel isolated, gone from the world. The hustle and the bustle of normal people going about their everyday lives roars in my ears. I just want it all to go away. I want it all to stop. I can't stand hearing; hearing it all, and not being able to see

If there is one thing that this has taught me, it is that the world won't stop for you. You are just a fly on the universe's windshield. The world that everybody else lives in won't stop spinning just because yours is falling apart before your very eyes.

No pun intended.

I had thought my life was perfect. I had thought I was going to marry a man who loved me, and grow old on the front porch of a house with a white picket fence, watching our grandchildren play.

I am only eighteen, and that dream, that image of the future that I had harbored since my childhood, has already been corrupted.

I grew up living a sheltered life. I grew up in a safe neighborhood, with parents that adored me and a little brother that idolized me. My parents tried their best to shield me from the cruelness of the world, however. They would keep the nastiness of a paper cut from me if they could.

They thought they were doing the right thing. Their intentions were as pure as they come. And yet, in the end, it only served to hurt me. Because of my sheltered upbringing, I had to learn the hard way, the very hard way, about the cruelness of life, of fate, of destiny. Or whatever you wanted to call it.

I always had such a love for art. It was my passion, how I expressed myself. It was my vice. I loved nothing more than art, except, perhaps, Caleb. My little brother is one of the best things that ever happened to me.

And then came the incident.

I should have been there. I should have been with him! I should have been there to protect him…

They all say it is not my fault. They all say there was nothing I could have done to prevent it.

If that were true then why do I feel so damn guilty?

He was only thirteen when it happened. Caleb and some friends were at the skate park downtown. I had been told, no, ordered, to go with him, to supervise.

I hadn't. I had wanted to go to the movies with a group of friends. And so I had.

It was because of me that he was shot.

Caleb was the only one of his group of friends to be shot that night. A round had gone through his left shoulder, directly above his heart. His friends had ran the second they heard the gunshots of the gang war… and he had been pushed down and left in the dust.

Some friends they were.

When he stood back up he was shot. An ambulance arrived on scene a few minutes later, only to find Caleb without a pulse. They started CPR, and managed to get his heard beating again. They had to resuscitate him two times on the way to the hospital.

When I arrived at the hospital, he was in a coma. The doctors said he had a thirty percent chance of survival. Only thirty. That meant he had a seventy percent chance of death. There was a seventy percent chance I would never be able to speak to my brother again.

I was devastated. The guilt was overwhelming. If he were to die, how would I live with myself?

And so I prayed. I prayed to whatever deity would listen that he would survive this. I would do anything to keep him alive… anything was better than losing him.

You could take my TV. Or my iPod. You could… you could take away my eyesight and I would not mind! Anything, as long as it meant my baby brother would be okay, I thought towards the sky. I knew I deserved punishment. But any punishment was better than losing him.

Anything.

It was a day later than we got the call. Caleb had woken up. He was breathing on his own again.

He was going to recover.

I felt like the luckiest person ever. I thanked whoever it was who had taken pity on me and my family, and spared my innocent little brother.

I should have known better than to hope I would not have to hold up my side of this deal.

A week later I was in a car accident. I survived, but my eyesight did not. Everyone in my family was convinced that our family was cursed… except me. Only I knew that my sight was the price I had to pay to save my little brother.

Because even a life without sight, without art, without light is better than a life without my precious baby brother.

A/N: Please tell me what you think!