Eight grimaced, looking back at her with a subtle nod and Coty felt her heart sink into her stomach. It was the final blow to her happiness, the joy of her eyes was vanishing by the second, and she could not have a meltdown because a stranger would witness it all.
The door clicked, and they both turned just before it slipped open and Eveline, her teenage sister stepped forward. “Cot?”
“Hey, Evie.” Coty felt tears prickle again. She was surprised she still had any left, but apparently, she did. “Hey.”
Eveline, just as the pictures already proved, was a beautiful young girl. Her long ash blonde hair—thank the heavens for google teaching her colours—was wavy and short, ending just above her shoulders. Tall for a teenager but she had a slight stature, partially hidden under a large shirt paired with high-tops. The shirt read, “The Art of Sarcasm”, a true testament to the girl’s fiery nature.
“Coty?” Eveline repeated, a long smile stretching over her face before she crashed into Coty. They laughed, wrapping their arms around each other and jumping in excitement on the spot. “Oh thank God, mom and dad were so worried, and then they got me worried. We were waiting for you to Skype with us all through last night and tell us about the surgery, or whatever it is you did. Oh my God, the eyes. How did it go?”
Coty laughed, tugging on the strands of Eveline’s hair. The rush of emotions making it easier for her to forget the horrible predicament she found herself in. “I can see you. If that’s what you are asking.”
Eveline blinked, finally looking into her eyes. She reached up, to trace the bottom of Coty’s eyelids with unabashed awe. “Yo…you can see me. All of it? Colours and shapes and me. Clearly.”
“Yeah.” Eveline grabbed her hand and yanked her into the house, leading a laughing Coty into the house, buzzing with life. Coty heard the different voices bouncing off the walls as they blaze through the hallway decorated with pictures and paintings. Eveline’s sugar rushed run had her stumbling to keep up.
The room fell quiet when they ran in, panting and giggling between themselves. Coty’s hair fluttered around her face. She brushed it off with a wide grin, watching her family while they fixed their wide-eyed gaze on her. She could not identify all of them, but she knew her parents from the pictures, they sat on the sofa surrounded by food and glib children.
The characters in the cartoon playing on television rolled on while everyone else seemed frozen. The first reaction came from her parents. They shot to their feet from the couch, nearly knocking some of the bowls of popcorn over. Sidestepping the smaller children, watching them with interest, they stalked closer to Coty, smiles dancing across their lips as they approached.
Her father was the same dark chocolate complexion as Maggie and Eight, but his hair was longer than Eight’s, a full afro. He was tall, he dwarfed her mother, who was more slight and slim in stature. She was not too familiar with her mother’s hair colour, as her range of wisdom was only from blonde to dark brown. They wore matching outfits, jeans and loose shirts with white sneakers.
“Oh, Coty.” Her mother wailed joyfully. Pulling her into a hug. She made an awkward move to lift her and Coty squealed in fear. Kicking her legs until her feet found solid ground again. “Sweetheart. We tried calling, but you did not pick up. Your eyes. You…you can see.”
She nodded, lowering her head down to her mother’s and resting her forehead against hers. From looking in the mirror, Coty knew that the contacts she had on were blue. Her mother’s eyes were the same.
“Hey.” Her mother laughed with tears in her eyes, pulling away to look up at her father and draw him closer. He wrapped his arms around them, and together they stood there, marvelling in the joy of her gaining her sight.
Introductions had been a tiring experience, even with all the excitement that she had to see her family. It took a while to put names on the faces on the photographs because she had only identified them with voices for years, but after she arrived, they made sure to catch her up. Her aunt, Mandy, had brought out some photo albums for her. She spent most of the morning trying to get Coty familiar with the family members who did not live in the house with them.
She had a lot of uncles and aunts from her mother’s side, but very few from her dad. Eight kept himself occupied by commenting on every photograph he saw, especially the ones with her as a child.
Not to overwhelm her, her parents hurried her off to her room so she could rest from her journey and catch her breath. Coty took the chance to spend a few minutes by herself, seated at the centre of her bed, looking down at her nails in thought.
She turned to the window were Eight stood, watching. She shook her head, looking back down at her hands, refusing to speak to him. All he had said during her ride home had barely settled in, she was not ready to hear more.
She hugged her knees to her chest, propping her chin on them as she stared at the door. “One week. I had been building up so much excitement for this. My life never felt empty without my sight but I wanted to be able to see with something other than my other senses. See the colour of the sky, the height of the buildings, faces and expressions without directly speaking to the person. I thought this would keep me excited for weeks. A day and I am already exhausted of my sight.”
Eight settled in front of her, sinking to his knees and lifting his eyes to meet her own. “I am sorry. I have been through the same disappointment as you just a bit differently. When I heard about the project, you could not even imagine my excitement. I wanted to have a hand to bringing this into the world. Only to find out at the last minute that I am part of a deeper plan of selfish men, once again, trying to gain power in one twisted way after another.”
She looked at him, reaching forward to touch him and to her surprise, her fingers didn’t run through him, and he didn’t glitch. She suspected he was working on improving the hologram he had stashed in her eyes. She took a small second to appreciate his skill in dealing with technology before she realised that bound her to his cause without her permission, and she still knew nothing about him.
“Eight.” She mused, drawing her hands back around her legs as she watched him. “Your name is not really Eight. Is it?”
“No. Of course, it is not, but I can’t tell you my real name.”
She laughed, unamused by his secretiveness. “I woke up to you, a stranger, in my bed. Not more than a few hours ago. I had to take a shower with my eyes closed just in case so you couldn’t see me naked. I have listened to your stories of despair the whole ride home, and I have heard your lewd comments about most of the women in my life. I think I deserve something back, something more than you in my eye.”
“Not telling you my name is helping you because…”
“Hey, you okay?” Tania burst into the room, and Coty jumped, tearing her eyes away from the floor and looking towards the door. “I could hear you muttering to yourself through the door. Hope you are not going stir crazy in here.”
“No. No. not at all.” Coty threw a nervous glance to Eight, who stood by the door, looking at her with a bright smile. The bastard. For a man whose life was in danger, he seemed to cherish getting her uncomfortable with his presence.
Coty unfolded her legs and slid off her bed, walking around to grab some of the clothes still spread over her bed.
“I took a moment from unpacking to catch my breath. You know, before I go back out there.”
“I can imagine.” Tiana laughed, picking up some clothes and shoving them into the closet. “Hey, I am happy for you. The sight and all. Unfortunately, I can’t pull faces behind your back but I am glad that you can see me.”
“And me.” Eight cooed and Coty bit her tongue to hold back her reply.
Tiana arranged the shoes and stashed the travel bag away before toeing off her shoes and climbing up on the bed. “Well let me enjoy your company before you go back out there and are overwhelmed by everyone else. I have so much to tell you. Come on.”
“If she starts talking boyfriends, I would walk off your balcony.”
As if you can, Coty thought with a roll of her eyes. She silently wondered if he could hear her thoughts as well.
“Yah.” She breathed, snapping back to reality and crawling on her knees towards her sister. “Sorry. You were saying?”
She tried to forget, at that moment, how disheartening her miracle had turned out to be. She would not think about the man “leaning” against her closet doors as she spoke to her sister or the problems he came with. She wouldn’t think about any conspiracy in those moments. What she wanted was to have a moment to enjoy the fact that she could see.
Later, she would focus on the implications.