“I wish I could turn back the hands of time.” I whispered to myself, “At least he’d still be right here with me.”
“Now that your love is dead, you have to move on Cassieopeia!” Mom’s voice startled me. I didn’t know she heard my soliloquy. Whenever she called me by my full name, I knew she meant business.
“You have your eyes back, so you can see now which means you have a great life ahead of you. Forget about Jason!” She replied again.
But could I forget him?
Jason got separated from his childhood best friend and crush but reconnected with her years later. He vowed to never let go.
But what if letting go was the best way to have her completely?
Cassie couldn’t believe she would ever see again. Content with being blind and having the love of her life with her, she felt perfect.
But one thing led to another, She recovers her sight only to find out Jason, the love of her life is dead!
What should be expected of a broken heart? Should she move on and forget him, or should she find a way to fix this puzzle of life?
At this moment, Confusion, Decisions and Actions seep through.
What exactly happens When Love Dies?
A whole lot I bet!!!
“Ma-ma, ma-ma.” I baby talked. Being an eight month old baby, I was gradually able to bring up coherent words little by little. Mum would say monosyllabic words to me and I would try to pronounce them. She would smile and throw me up into the air and catch me. I used to be frightened when she started it but now, it was so much fun to me and I’d always end up giggling tirelessly.
It was mom’s 30th birthday and the party outside the house made it seem like the birthday of someone who clocked 100 years old. We loved parties in my family and as a baby, I never cared about much, but enjoyed the attention everyone gave me and the tidbits of cake placed in my mouth during such events.
Today, my extended family came. Aunt Rachael, mom’s younger sister and her husband, Uncle Simon brought Anabelle, my cousin who was a year older than me. She always played with me anytime she visited. Aunt Rachael was always drunk in most parties. Mom said she was an alcohol addict. She had been to rehab six times but she got worse by the day.
Everyone was cheerful and smiled at mum and I in the kitchen. Dad came over and I stretched out my hands for him to carry me. He did and I was content.
“Baby, go say hi to the guests outside.” Dad nudged mum with his free hand.
“Oh dear! I can’t believe, I, the celebrant isn’t out yet. I need to go change.” She chuckled as she hurried up the large stairs leading to the various rooms in the mansion.
Yes, mansion! My parents were very wealthy people. Dad’s father was an Ex-senator and he made a lot of money during his time in office. He was kind and liberal. He used his money to help a lot of people. Grandma and him died long before I was born. Apparently, they were already too old.
Mum’s parents on the other hand, were quite vain. They were the stereotypical rich people who were snobby to others especially poor people. Mum grew up to be like them. She carried herself with so much class and sophistication that made people sneer. She had just two friends, and I know that they were only friends because they benefitted from one another. Once, one of them got bankrupt, they threw her out of the circle. When she got back on her feet again, they brought her back into the circle.
I know I’m just a baby but I know so much. Although I was born tabula rasa, sometimes I wonder if God placed an extra brain in my head which made me understand my environment.
Dad took me out to the large area full of people from influential positions. I heard the governor was in our midst as well but I haven’t seen him. Mum came out, dressed in one of the prettiest gowns I’ve ever seen. Her hair was styled to perfection. She walked towards us with confidence and everyone clapped.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s my pleasure to announce to you that this beautiful woman right here is my wife. I’m so lucky to call her my wife because I know I don’t deserve her.” Dad paused to clear his throat. “I love her dearly and I want to make a toast to more wonderful celebrations, more love and more happiness. Happy birthday darling. Cheers!”
Everyone clinked their wine glasses and I watched mum wipe a tear off her face. Dad’s an American-Jamaican. Mom’s parents never wanted her to get married to him at first because he was black. They both shared racial prejudices and imposed this belief on mom. But she fell in love with him, going against her Scottish parents. They eloped and got married. The only reason her parents were able to come to terms with it was because of my birth. My grandparents were madly in love with me at first sight. They decided to give my dad a chance since he gave them something special; me.
I’m Cassiopeia Eleanor Raymond, by the way. A Biracial child, who had the best parents in the world. My dad’s name is Matthew Raymond and mom is Stephanie Raymond (née Bolton). I was born on the fifth of December 1997.
“Dance with me honey.” My mum cooed. Dad was quite hesitant because I was still in his arms.
“Let me hold her, you pretty couple can enjoy yourselves.” Aunt Rachael came over and took me out of dad’s grasp. Dad and mum smiled at me one last time before going to the dance floor where others had already gathered.
“Ah! Dear Cassie, let’s take a walk, shall we?” Aunt Rachael whispered in my ear. She nibbled on my earlobe for a while and I giggled in delight.
She walked about fifty steps and stopped at our large garden. She took a seat on the long metal chair at the centre of the garden. The pleasant smell of the flowers wafted around us and I watched her close her eyes for a brief moment, inhaling the scent.
Suddenly tears flowed down her eyes and I looked up to see her crying silently.
“Simon is leaving me and he’s taking Anabelle with him. He wants a divorce because he’s tired of my drunk lifestyle.” She said to the herself.
“I’ve tried to change but nothing I do can ever help me leave alcohol. I don’t want them both to leave me.” She cried harder.
“Ma-ma!” I said, patting her with my little chubby fingers.
“Aww! You just called me ‘Mama’?” She hicupped and the smell of beer or something stronger breezed out of her mouth. How come my parents didn’t realize she was drunk before giving me over to her?
I started crying, already sensing danger.
“Stop crying Cassie. I’m your mother... Wait a minute,” She slurred, and thought deep. “I can be your real mother. Since Simon wants to take Anabelle from me, then I can have you. All I have to do is run away with you. I won’t be alone anymore. I’m sure my sister, Stephanie and the rest won’t notice our absence.” She whispered excitedly.
Immediately, she stood up and began to run towards the gate. Her legs were unbelievably fast and I got scared. This made me cry the more.
“Where are you running off to?” Gemma, our house help yelled. Her heavy British accent brought my Aunt to a pause.
“Um... Eh... I... ” Aunt Rachael stuttered. This was unlike her. Her expression made Gemma suspicious.
“Speak up young lady!” Gemma shouted. Gemma, 35 years old, had been working as a Cook Assistant since she was nineteen in mum’s family house. She was a British immigrant who got married to Arthur Clarke, a police officer. When she gave birth to her son, Jason, three years ago, she stopped working for mum but mom rehired her when I was born and she often came to take care of me when mom and dad had somewhere to go. She garnered respect from mum and Aunt Rachael so she was used to speaking to them in a way that was above house help limits.
Knowing she had been caught and there wasn’t a tangible excuse for her actions, Aunt Rachael turned to her left, to the road so she could cross to the other side.
It was quite dark already and difficult for her to see. She didn’t even notice that a trailer carrying imported goods was heading towards us. There was no light emanating from the vehicle to indicate it’s presence.
It hit her with full force and she lost complete balance, flinging me into the air. Unlike this time, I knew I wasn’t up in the air for fun. The sound of Gemma’s voice resonated and it frightened me the more. I screamed in the highest baby voice I could muster.
I hit my head ferociously on the ground and felt my life shred to a million pieces.
“Oh my God! Cassiopeia... Oh no!” my mum, Stephanie, screamed bloody murder.
Being a little baby, I was surprised I was still conscious to feel my body. You know babies are fragile but somehow, I was different.
I turned to look at my aunt. She was lying so still and peaceful, blood oozed out of her head and ears and her eyes were wide open.
Pain seized me completely, especially my eyes. That was the last thing I remembered before darkness consumed me.
Boom-boom, boom-boom, boom-boom
Someone’s heartbeat sounded clearly in my ears. Was it mine? I was hungry and decided to do what all babies do to get attention for food.
“Thank God she’s awake. Matt please call the doctor.” Mum spoke and I could hear the relief in her words. Dad stood up to call the doctor.
I was placed in a box, what do adults call it again, in-cu-ba-tor? I wasn’t quite sure. A thick woolly material was tied around my eyes. Dad arrived a few minutes later and judging by the footsteps, someone else followed closely behind him. It was the doctor. He came to me and inspected me. My body still ached and I cried at his touch
“Mr and Mrs Raymond, your daughter is fine and healthy. She is hungry so I suggest you feed her.” He replied after much inspection. He brought me out of the box thingy and mum grabbed me like I had been stolen from her for years. She breastfed me and I suckled hungrily.
“But what about the wool around her eyes?” Dad asked.
“Eh, that’s the tough part. I’m sorry to say this but your daughter is blind.”
“WHAT!” mom and dad shouted at the same time.
“Well, according to the tests we ran and X-ray we carried out, your daughter is blind because there was a damage to her optic nerves. The retina had been detached and can’t receive or pass visual information from the brain.” He explained.
“Shit, why the hell did this happen to my only child?” Mom couldn’t help but curse, something she seldom did. She cried uncontrollably and dad had to move over to hug and comfort her.
“But doctor, will she ever see again?” asked Dad.
“It’s hard to tell right now. With the force of the trailer, she hit the ground and it detached the retina from its spot. She might see again but that would be when she’s quite older.”
“Oh Matt, how do you expect me to live like this? My sister died and my daughter got blind all in one day. This is so depressing!” my mum wailed.
“What do you suggest we do about Cassie’s case, doctor?” Dad seemed to be the only one of the duo who was still about to think about the future.
“Since she will be blind for a remarkable number of years or even forever, I suggest you help train her in a blind school. Get a professional who is willing to tutor her and above all, do not treat her like she’s blind. Love is one thing children in her condition need.” The doctor suggested and my dad listened with rapt attention.
“We will try our best possible doctor. But we have no idea of a qualified doctor for her. Can you point out one or two skilled doctors?” Dad asked again.
“Of course, I do. I know some qualified ophthalmologists.” He pulled out his phone from his pocket and some seconds later, gave dad some numbers.
“Thank you doctor, I totally appreciate.”
“You’re welcome Sir. We’ll just keep her here for a day or two more so we can watch her for a bit. She will be discharged soon.”
That was five years ago.
I grew up to be totally stubborn. Mum and dad encouraged me to speak with different doctors and therapists but none worked. I was quite adamant and never wanted to learn.
I was supposed to be in school at my age but as a result of my level of stubbornness I was rejected by three different schools.
We left our house in Malibu and moved to Manhattan two weeks after I was discharged. Mom said she wanted a fresh start. Uncle Simon and Anabelle moved with us but still lived a few distances away from our house.
Anabelle spent most weekdays with us because her dad was a workaholic. Being one of the most famous lawyers in the USA, he was always busy. He often came to pick her up in the weekend. Anabelle was the only one I felt free to talk to and we were inseparable.
But being blind was terrible!
I couldn’t see anything. I made use of my nose and ears and other sense organs to see. I couldn’t watch any cartoons and when Anabelle turned on Barney or Dora the Explorer for both of us to watch, I never understood it. I always asked her a lot of questions but she was kind enough to answer each and every one of them.
“Hey Cassie, Gemma’s son is coming to play with us today.” Anabelle said one afternoon after lunch. We were watching the new barbie cartoon mom bought for us.
“Oh, okay.” I replied, uninterested.
The doorbell rang and mom came out of the kitchen to answer it. When she opened the door, I heard footsteps coming over and mom and Gemma greeted each other.
“Thanks for coming Gemma. Matt and I need to attend an auction and I can’t go with the kids. I can see you brought Jason along with. Hello little fellow, how are you?” Mum gestured to him, I guess.
“I’m good thanks. My mum says I’m not a little boy anymore. When I grow up, I’m gonna take care of her, Dad and my princess.” A little boy spoke of himself. I could tell he was older than me because he sounded quite mature.
“Don’t mind him dear, he is always looking for someone to care for. He’s got such a big heart.” Gemma said.
“Aunt Gemma, Aunt Gemma.” Anabelle and I sprinted off to say hi to her. Although I could move freely around the house, I ran carefully so as not to bump into anything.
“Hi pretty girls. I’m gonna be staying with you for the rest of the day. Is that cool with you?” Gemma asked.
“Yes!” We chorused.
“Alright then, go take your seats. Jason join them. I need to go freshen up.” Mom instructed.
We all went back to our seats to see the movie. Barbie’s sweet voice lured me and I basked in the sweetness of it.
“Hello.” The little boy said to me.
“Umph.” Apart from my cousin, I wasn’t interested in making friends with anyone else.
“I’m Jason.” He spoke again
“I know.” Perhaps replying nonchalantly will make him get the message.
“What’s yours?” Really? Couldn’t he see that I wasn’t interested in a conversation right now?
I chose not to respond.
“You’re Cassiopeia right? Mom says it’s the name of one of the stars in the sky.”
No response. I just stuck my gaze to the direction of the sound of the TV.
“Mum says you’re blind. If you truly are, then how are you able to watch TV?”
That got me and I turned to him with venom.
“Look here mister smarty pants, did your mum ever tell you to shut up? I need to watch this movie in peace.” I turned my attention back to the TV.
He laughed and laughed and laughed.
“What’s so funny pickle-face?” I couldn’t help myself but ask. I most certainly didn’t know if he had a pickle-face or not.
“You... You’re pretty when you’re mad.” He replied in between fits of laughter.
My cheeks turned pink, or so I thought.
“I just want to be your friend that’s all.” He finally stopped laughing.
He didn’t say anything again and for the next five minutes, I felt guilty. Mom and dad didn’t train me to be rude. I decided to make amends.
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t supposed to be rude.” I made sure to sound remorseful.
“I’m not angry at all. I guess you’re not used to having friends.” he replied and I could tell he wasn’t mad at me.
“Well you can be my second best friend if you want. Anabelle has taken over the first place.” I suggested.
“Alright. I heard second best friends are the best anyway.” He replied.
“Where do you hear all these from?” I asked.
“Um, my parents teach me a lot of things and I read as well.”
“You read?” It sounded foreign to me
“Yeah. I read books. Children books though. I don’t read like mum. She says she wants to learn a whole lot of things in order for her to be a nurse. You should see the stacks of books she has in our house. She says words like ste-tho-scope. I’m not sure I’m correct.”
Now it was my turn to laugh.
But I sobered up immediately.
“I can’t read.” I whispered, not sure if he heard.
“Well, reading is fun. It helps my imagination. I want to be as rich as your dad when I grow up. Mom says I can be even richer, if I keep reading.” It felt like he was smiling, so I smiled in return.
“You sure are a good second best friend.” I smiled the more.
“Hey, you both are too loud. I need to learn this Barbie song.” Anabelle’s voice startled me and I jerked.
“C’mon let’s go to my room. I don’t like Barbie anyway.” I stood up and gestured for him to follow.
When we got to my room, we played with my teacups and dollhouse. I had so much fun. He taught me the English alphabets and numerals. By the time it was evening, I was able to recite A-Z and 1-50.
He told me his hair was blond and I had no idea what he meant. I never knew colours because I couldn’t see. He mentioned some colours to me and objects that had them. Blue for the sky, pink for the walls in my room, white for the tiles in my bathroom and black for my hair. I felt educated already.
“I think I’m going to tell my mum that I want to go to school. I want to be like you.” I spoke up after he finished teaching me.
“That would be neat!” He answered.
“What school do you...” I didn’t finish what I was going to say before the door flung open and someone stepped in.
“Alright kids, it’s time for Jason to go home. He needs to go to school tomorrow.” It was mum. I was glad she was back. I needed to tell her and dad that I was willing to learn.
“I will see you soon princess.” Jason whispered for me to hear only. Princess? Well, whatever he meant, I was still happy he called me that.
He left with mum and she shut the door behind her.
When I told mum and dad that I was willing to learn, mum screamed and dad pulled me into his arms. I never expected their reactions. Mum asked me why I changed and I told her about the things Jason taught me. I recited the alphabets and numerals. Saying they were impressed was an understatement. Mom took me to bed that night, read me a bedtime story and stayed with me in my room all night. I was so happy. It felt good knowing they were both happy and I decided to make them happier.
The next day, I was taken to a school which was described by mum as a school for blind children. The teacher, Mrs Aubrey Gustin, was very nice and friendly. She gave me extra sweets whenever I answered a question.
School was indeed fun!
Jason came over to my house every Saturday and we played all day. Anabelle joined us most times but left soon after to watch Disney cartoons. Mum said she was a movie freak. Whatever that means!
Whenever I was alone with Jason, he would calling me ‘Princess’ but switch to ‘Cassiopeia’ whenever someone was around. I felt like a princess anytime he said so.
“One day, I’m gonna marry you, princess, and then we’ll both live in a mansion like this.” He confessed.
It’s been a month since he’s been coming.
“Really? Why?” I asked
“Because you’re my princess.” He replied.
“When you tell me to marry you, I will say yes because you’re my Prince Charming.” I grinned, showing my teeth. Some of my teeth had fallen out and the tooth Fairy gave me some money which I used to buy more sweets at school.
“I promise, I’ll be here for you princess.” He promised again.
“Pinkie Promise?” I brought out my pinkie.
“Pinkie Promise.” He held mine with his.
I was excited he would be my friend forever.
But he stopped coming over to play with me two weeks later.