Chapter 1- Layla
I opened my eyes and I felt that I was awake, it wasn’t because I saw the bookshelf that was in front of my bed or the light that was trying warm me on the chilly september air. I just knew that.
I felt Gilbert move at my feet and he was awake too. He wasn’t just a guide dog, he is my best friend ever since I lost my sight, not that I had a lot of them before that either. The only people that I have close are mom, dad, Marc- my older brother, I could consider Daren a friend, but he is payed to spend time with me as a bodyguard so I don’t think that it counts. But yeah, I have only one friend.
I made my way to the chair that had my clothes prepared for today. It was a dress. Mom knew that I couldn’t really work very good with complicated clothing articles so I asked her to keep it to skirts for the summer time. Even thought it was the middle of September, it was starting to get colder and colder each day, soon I’ll have to deal with the pants. I loved the cold, but this period is the hardest for me. The ground is more dangerous and I need to have someone with me at all cost, aside from Gilbert who is the greatest guide dog in the world.
I didn’t really need the walking stick around the house, I remember every corner by heart, it is a benefit that dad instructed all of the staff not to change the place of even a cup without telling me first.
There are exactly twenty three steps from my room to the kitchen, it comes to my advantage since my room is at the ground floor. As I passed the door I was greeted with the delicious smell of the waffles that probably were waiting for me, it was mixed with the strong smell of coffee, with means that either dad or Marc are there. Weird, it was Monday, family breakfasts are only on weekends they should be at the office by this time.
“Good morning.” said mom and dad in the same time.
“Morning Lil’ La.” ok, that was my brother, all of the family is in the kitchen on Monday, something is off.
“Good morning Layla.” answered Daren.
If Daren is there too then something is definitely wrong.
“What is going on?”
“Why do you think there is something wrong?” asked my brother.
“It’s Monday and you and dad are still home.”
Before they could start to give me an explanation, I sat at the table and reached for my cup of tea, which thankfully was still warm.
“Honey…” my mother started. “We...Umm, actually.” my mother was the most confident woman that I have ever met she never stuttered. I lifted my head up from the steaming cup. I didn’t knew who I was looking at, but my ear was turned to my mother.
“You are starting to scare me. What is wrong?” I rarely get angry, maybe because all the anger that I ever had burned the day that I lost my sight, after that I had the worst half of year in my life, most of it I don’t even remember it, gladly.
This kind of moments make me want to see the most, nothing tells a better story about how someone feels than their facial expressions.
“ Honey lately we have been getting lots of pictures and stuff.” this time my mothers voice was steadier.
“About you. The pictures are all of you and now he sent you a letter.” continued Marc.
“Good thing that I can’t read them.” I tried to lift the mood up, but by the answer of my mother seems like I failed.
“The letter is in Braille. I tried to read it, but I could only understand some parts.”
I lifted my palm upwards so someone could put the letter in it. I felt the thick material of the paper. I placed it on the table and stared to read it:
“My dearest Layla,
This is my first real attempt to reach you, I am sure that your parents hid all my gifts from me, but that is ok. I have a lifetime to spoil you and nothing will get between us.
I was watching you last night, how beautifully you played the piano, the content look on your face made me fall even more in love with you, the way your locks fell on your back, the light made your auburn hair look like an autumn leaf. I imagine that it feels like silk, I wonder that when I’ll touch will it feel the same? And if you’ll let me, I’ll braid it for you. When we will live together, you will play for us every night.
Can’t wait for that time.
Until next time, my love.”
I felt my skin prickle and all hairs on the back of my neck stand. No one said anything. I wanted to read it again, but someone snatched it away from me. Instead I felt my fathers hand on top of mine, rubbing soothing circles on it and I knew that it was to calm himself more than me, I can’t say that it didn’t help me too.
“What gifts?” I asked.
“Dresses, piano albums, flowers, books and all of them had a picture of you. Usually it was two or three times a week, never at a specific time. We didn’t want to tell you so you wouldn’t have to worry about it, but it seems like he got bolder.” Said Marc with a dejected voice.
“ So I got myself a stalker?” I couldn’t comprehend it, who would want to stalk me, I rarely even left the house.
“We will strengthen the security, no one will get to you.” Dad promised.
“ But I think that we need to take every security measure possible.” Said Daren.
“What do you mean?” I heard myself asking with a small voice.
“You need to learn how to defend yourself.”
“Why? I have you to protect me and dad said that he will get more security. Wouldn’t it be a greater risk to go to the gym? What if something happens while going or coming back? It’s like we are giving him more leverage.” I was left breathless, panting is if I ran a marathon, my heart was beating so fast, as if it wanted to burst out of my chest.
“Maybe Daren is right.” said Marc.
“There are to many risks.” mom contradicted.
“What happens if by some magical way he gets to her when no one is around.”
“That wont happen.”
Their voices started to fade away, I gripped the table counter with my free hand so I could steady myself..
“Stop talking like I’m not here. I’m blind, not deaf.” How I wanted to see the look on their faces, it felt really good to snap. Once in a while.
“We are very sorry honey. What do you want to do?”
“I...I think that I should take self defence classes” I couldn’t believe that I even said that, I’m terrified.
What if he gets to me when I’m alone?
What if I wont be able to feel it? Usually I can feel when someone watches me , why didn’t I feel it before?
What if I was watched from cameras?
My thoughts were interrupted by a hand that was put on my shoulder. I lifted mine so I could see who it is. The hand was calloused and warm. It wasn’t Marcs, his fingers were longer and softer, this hand is heavy.
It is Darens hand.
“I know that all of you can protect me, but I want to stand even a chance against him if he ever corners me.”
“Then we will do it. But we can’t risk for you to go at a gym as long as this creep is around. So how about we will do the lessons in our gym, you will be more familiar with the surroundings and we will be safer, I’m sure that Marc wont cry about having to share it with you.” said mom with her lawyer voice, I loved it when she started to talk like she did in the court, I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.
“The only problem remains who will instruct Layla.” said dad.
“As much as I want to do it, the way that I train wont fit you. But I have a friend that has special self defence program at his gym, maybe he can help. If that is ok with you.”
“That will be great, thank you very much Daren.” I put my hand on top of his, squeezing it tightly, bracing myself for what will come.