A whack on Naumann’s shoulder alerted him to Patrick’s presence. His friend spoke quickly, his fingers flying through the words. “I can see! I can see!”
Naumann accepted this announcement with the kind of solemnity that befits such an occasion. “Of course you can, doofus. You’ve never been blind!”
“No, no! Not like this!” Patrick’s head shook back and forth with vehemence. “I can see things without looking at them!” His words were all over the place, big, exaggerated.
Naumann had a hard time understanding those words. He stood from his chair and backed up a few steps so he could see Patrick more clearly. The larger man glanced around and was satisfied few, if any, in the library were being distracted by his friend’s exuberance. “Patrick, let’s go outside. Show me something you can see without looking at it.”
“I can do it now. Wait.” He held out his hand, pinky and thumb out, palm down, in the typical motion of patience. Again, his hands flew as he spoke. “The guy behind me. He’s reading, right?” Patrick’s words were more restrained now, more controlled. The man behind him would not have been able to see Patrick’s words from this angle.
“Yeah. Some book. Your point?”
“Wait.” Again, the pinky and the thumb out with the palm down. As the man flipped a page, Patrick smiled and mimed the same motion.
“All right. That’s either luck or some stunt. No way you could have seen him doing that from here.”
“Like I said!” Once again Patrick’s words were big. “I can see – it’s something new, it’s never happened before! I think I’ve figured it out, at least a little. Come outside. Come on!”
Outside the library, Patrick stood on the sidewalk, his back to the street. “OK. How do you know when a car’s coming without looking?”
Naumann rolled his eyes. “The vibrations. We feel the vibrations with our feet, we know that a vehicle’s coming. Any kid knows that.” He was almost embarrassed. He hid his words a little with his body, speaking directly in front of his chest.
“Right. Well, I can see the vibrations.”
“You can see the shaking?”
“No. It’s… it’s hard to describe.” Patrick let the last word hang on his fingers a bit as he pondered. “It’s like someone is talking to me, telling me the car is coming. Except I can’t see the words like I normally can when you speak.”
“So you can see something that you can’t see?”
“Yes.” Patrick nodded.
“Right. When you come up with a word for that, let me know.”
“Excuse me?” A woman waved from just down the sidewalk. “Excuse me? I couldn’t help overhearing – your words were so big, I could see them from way over there.” She pointed to a spot almost a block away.
Naumann rolled his eyes. Now a woman was here, and she was cute, and he’d be pegged for hanging out with an idiot who spoke big.
Patrick turned red. “Oh. Sorry. I didn’t mean to distract you. I was just talking with my friend.”
The woman smiled. “It’s OK. I’m Jessica.” She spelled out her name, causing a brief pause.
Naumann and Patrick returned the greeting by spelling out their names. Jessica nodded and smiled. “Patrick, you said you can see vibrations?” Her eyebrows popped up, indicating a yes-no question.
“He’s nuts,” Naumann interrupted.
The edge of Jessica’s mouth twitched, but Naumann couldn’t tell if it was the beginning of a smile or a grimace. She focused on Patrick, opened her mouth, and then closed it. Patrick looked around as if trying to locate something. Jessica simply nodded again. “What I thought. You need to come with me.”
Patrick cocked his head, his eyebrows lowered.
“You’re a throwback, to a time before the Disaster. It happens sometimes. You’ve got an extra sense. A sense that can be used by many people. A sense that makes you nothing more than a commodity. We need to get you somewhere where you can learn to use your sense, so that others can’t use you unless you choose to be used.”
“Seeing without seeing is something old?”
Jessica nods. “Very old. It used to be called hearing.”
– – – – –
This entry is in response to the prompt A New Way of Seeing.