Chapter 1: Jazz Camp
"Stupid, clumsy idiot! Can't you do anything right, Thorne?"
I winced at my father's words but otherwise ignored them as I tried to clean up the milk that I had spilt all over the hard wood floor. Believe me, it's a lot harder than you think when you're blind, like me. Ever since I was born I have been blind, and after 17 years I'm used to it, but times like this I wished that I could see, or use my powers.
Yeah I said powers. I had a variety of powers, but most of them centered around my mind. I had telekinesis, telepathy, mind control, and enhanced senses, though that's mostly because I'm blind. The kind of thing where the loss of one sense will cause the others to enhance to make up for the loss, but mine was a little for extreme than usual. I loved my powers, but my father hated them, and can't stand seeing me use them. That was a lesson I learned early, and painfully.
"Are you listening to me, girl? You ungrateful wretch! After all I've done for you, you can't be the tiniest bit grateful! You're just like your mother!"
I bit my tongue to keep from replying as I finished wiping up the milk and walked to the kitchen to throw out the soaked paper towels. I tossed them in, hearing a splat of wet towels against plastic, indicating I hit my target perfectly. Seriously, for a blind person I was a pretty good shot, thanks to lots of practice.
I turned around to back to the dining table and was met a slap across the face. I stumbled back in surprise of the blow and cursed myself for letting down my guard. I pressed a hand against my stinging cheek and leaned against the counter as I heard my father approach.
"Listen to me when I'm speaking to you! Don't you dare turn your back to me!" I heard the wind whistling as he brought his hand forward to slap me.
The sound of flesh on flesh hurt my ears, and my face burned with pain. Tears leaked out of my eyes and I strangled the scream before it could pass my lips. Screaming only fueled the flames of my father's fury.
"Clean up then go to bed, Thorne. I don't want you see you until morning." He stomped away in the direction on the living room and I stood there for a moment collecting myself.
I took several deep breaths, pushed back the pain then began collecting the dishes. I fumbled around some of the time, but for the most part I found everything easily. The dishes rattled ever so gently when I bumped into the table so things were easy to find. It was wiping the table and that I had trouble with.
Quickly I rubbed the table in a grid pattern with the cloth, then went over it again more carefully, checking every inch with my bare hand until I couldn't feel anything but smooth wood. Then I ran the dishwasher and scrubbed the few dishes that couldn't go in the dishwasher.
When I was done cleaning up the kitchen I went to my room. I counted my steps down the hall subconsciously then turned right and entered the room. I took two steps in then collapsed on the bed with perfect aim. To any person who saw me it would be obvious I knew my room like the back of my hand. The fact that I had never rearranged the furniture in all my 17 of living in this house helped me a lot.
After a couple minutes of lazing on my bed I decided to do something productive and walked across the room to my piano. Now don't go thinking I'm spoiled because I have a piano in my room. The fact is that my father refused to have it anywhere else in the house after my mother died, it just reminded him too much of her. Since I didn't want him to get rid of it we put it in my room, and I learned to play in my spare time.
It took me forever to learn. Since I couldn't read music I bought a bunch of cds and tried to play them by ear, making up my own exercises learning theory by audio books. But it was all worth it. I play mostly jazz tunes and I play fairly well. In fact I was going to go to a Jazz camp here in Regina.
My band teacher had told me about it and helped me persuade my father to let me go. I had raised all the money myself, sent in the application form and it was starting tomorrow. I figured that I would get some last minute practicing done before my audition tomorrow.
I pulled out the stool quietly and sat down. I placed my fingers carefully on the keys then began to play, letting my fingers go where they will. I let out my feelings in the song and had some fun. I played a few songs I knew from cds, a few that I only kind of knew then improvised the rest, just having fun.
After a bout an hour of playing around I decided it was time to get ready for bed. I dressed for bed in my favorite light tank top and baggy sweats. I pulled my long, fine hair into a ponytail then crawled beneath my sheets. I settled down quickly and was asleep in moments. Unaware that my father stood outside my door, shaking with renewed grief as the memory of his beautiful wife was resurrected with his daughter's playing.
The next morning I woke up at my usual time, at nine. I slipped quietly out of bed and put on my housecoat and slippers before opening my door as quietly as I could I tiptoed past my father's room and went into the kitchen. I put a pan on the stove and got the carton of eggs out of the fridge and started making a bunch of scrambled eggs. I also opened a package of bacon and cut up some potatoes for hash browns. I wanted my dad to be in a good mood when I reminded him about what was going on today.
I worked quickly and efficiently, knowing exactly where things were. Within a few moment the sound of sizzling food filled the kitchen and the aromas were making my mouth water. I set the table for two with freshly squeezed orange juice, milk, scrambled eggs with ham and cheese, bacon, hash browns, and ketchup. Some cinnamon buns that I had quickly whipped together were baking in the oven for dessert. All that was missing was my dad.
I counted to ten slowly and sure enough I could hear my father moving around upstairs, woken up by the lovely aromas. I nervously played with my fingers and turned my head to the hall where he would appear, even though I wouldn't be able to see him. Slowly I heard his heavy footsteps approach, the chair slide back, and my father sit down heavily in his chair.
He grunted in response. I took it as encouragement to speak.
"How did you sleep?"
Another grunt. My dad wasn't exactly an articulate man.
I bit my lip and served myself up, eating slowly while listening to my father gobble down his food. I shifted uncomfortably in my chair and tried to figure out how to start the conversation.
"Whatever it is, spit it out," my father growled.
I blinked in surprise but did as he said. "Do you know what day it is today?"
"Yeah. I start jazz camp today. I have to be at the school at five. Just thought I would remind you."
I sat tensely for a moment, trying to figure out what he was thinking without resorting to my powers. It was impossible. Tentatively I took a peak in his mind and braced myself for what I was going to learn.
Stupid kid thinks I don't know that? What does she think I am? Retarded? Silly twerp should learn some respect, obviously the other lessons haven't been getting through her thick skull. She needs to learn a good lesson.
That was all the warning I got before I was knocked out of my chair by a heavy blow. I hit the wall behind me hard and slipped to floor, the wind knocked out of me. I coughed a few times and rubbed the back of my now painful head.
"Don't you dare disrespect me like that again. I'm not stupid, like you obviously are, so don't treat me that way! Do you understand me?"
I nodded weakly and blinked several times to keep the tears at bay. Slowly I stood up and picked up the chair that had fallen to the ground. I sat down gingerly and ate my breakfast without any enthusiasm. The little appetite I had before had disappeared.
When the timer for the cinnamon buns beeped I mechanically stood up and took them out of the oven and placed them on a plate. I brought it back out to the dining room and let my father eat while I picked at my food.
"Clean up the house well today and I'll drop you off at the school, but you'll have to walk home. I have to go to work around 4, we'll go then."
I stopped myself from saying I had to be there at five and not four, instead I smiled in the direction I heard the floorboards creaking. "Thanks dad."
"Yeah sure whatever."
I listened to his retreating footsteps then began to clean up again. I went over the abusive scene and tried to figure out what I had done wrong. Either way I did it I would have gotten in trouble. If I hadn't warned him he would have blown up about me not giving him enough warning, but when I had warned him he blew about me treating him as if he was stupid.
It wasn't fair.
I wiped away my tears angrily and glared down at the dish I was holding in my hands. I didn't want to be treated this way, but I didn't know what to do about it. I couldn't go to the authorities. I still loved my dad even though he treated me badly, and I knew he would also kill me if he found out that I told them. Perhaps even literally. It just wasn't fair.
Life isn't fair, Thorne. I thought you would have been used to it by now.
'Shut up,' I told myself sternly.
Make me. No wait, you can't. You don't even have the guts to make a better life for yourself. You're a coward.
'No I'm not!'
So why is your father on a daily basis hurting you? Or did you really fall down the stairs like you always say?'
I gritted my teeth. I hated it when I argued with myself. It was as if I had a duo personality. One side of me was courageous, bold, and yearning to be free. The other side was fearful, timid, and eager to please. I never knew what side to go with.
'I said shut up!'
No I won't shut up. You know I'm right. Perhaps if you had a little more courage and guts your mother wouldn't have left, your friends ditch you, your bother might not have ran away. Everyone you ever cared about left you, and now you're afraid to fight back. You're pathetic. Nothing to lose, and yet you still do nothing.
I kicked the stool with frustration and forced myself not to think about the painful memories I had just dredged up. I didn't want to think about those awful years anymore. It was history, it was over and done with. Nothing I ever did would bring them back so I wouldn't think about them.
I threw myself into my work like mad woman. The only time I stopped was to make a small lunch for my father and myself, then I went back with just as much ferocity. By three o'clock that afternoon the house was clean and I'm sure people have said it sparkled, whatever that was.
Exhausted by all the hard work I took a change of clothes and had a nice, long, hot shower. I washed away all the traces of tears, dirt, and chemical smells from the cleaners. I massaged my scalp with my favorite citrus shampoo, and scrubbed myself all over until I was sure there was so dirt anywhere. Then with a sight I turn off the water and started rigorously rubbing myself dry.
I dressed in my favorite pair of jeans. They were comfortable, and people complimented me on them before so I imagined that they looked good on me as well. A light, small yoga shirt I used as my top and I wrapped a sweater around my waist. Then I carefully began to apply a bit of make up.
Before my friends had ditched me they had taught me how to apply my make up blind. It was really hard, but I got by easily enough. It was just knowing how to cover up the bruises that was really hard. I carefully felt them then guessed about how it looked. I put on some cover up and brushed my hair in front of my face a bit so it covered the worst of it. Then knowing it was about time to go I went downstairs to find my dad.
He wasn't home. With a deep sense of dread I went out to the driveway and using my telekinesis realized that my father had left without me. I stood fuming in the driveway before heading back inside to get my walking stick and lock up. Then with a sigh I started on my way to Campbell Collegiate.
Campbell wasn't too far away from my house, and I knew the way by heart. It was just frustrating because it took me so long to get there. When I was ten I had nearly gotten ran over by a truck and ever since I had detested walking without someone to help me. But since I didn't have anyone close enough to help I had learned to deal with it, but I would never like it.
The loud roaring of cars whizzing past made me flinch slightly, but I kept walking. I carefully counted my steps down the sidewalk, turning when necessary and avoiding what sounded like a mother with a baby in a stroller. I imagined what the seen might look like and smiled slightly as I continued on my way.
Finally after what seemed like forever I was walking up the cement pathway to the front doors of Campbell Collegiate. After feeling around I found the handle on the metal and glass doors and I walked into the pleasantly cool building.
I paused in the entrance for a moment, using my powers slightly to get my bears. I could feel the thoughts of a bunch of people down the hall in front of me and to the left. I figured they were in a room or down hall. I could feel a bunch of open space in front of me, and the air moving to my right and left, but they didn't sound the same. I figure there was a hall to my right and a large room to my left. The gym perhaps.
I started walking forward slowly, still getting my bearings. Someone had placed a table just past the doors to another large room, with large sheets of papers next to it. I could still smell the lingering scent of permanent markers and imagined there was some sort of instructions written on them. Yeah, that was going to be really helpful for me.
"Hey, can I help you?" A feminine voice asked me, down and to my left. I turned my head instinctively towards the woman and smiled.
"Yeah, I'm Thorne Jacobs. I'm here for the Jazz camp."
"Oh, of course. I'm Ms. Andrews, one of the coordinators. You're here a bit early."
I nodded, slightly embarrassed. "I'm sorry if I caused any inconvenience. It just takes me a while to walk here and I wanted to have lots of time in case a I made a wrong turn."
"You walked here?" I could here the heavy surprise in her voice and forced myself not to be irritated. For some reason people find it hard to believe blind people can walk anywhere. Let me tell you folks, it's not that hard.
"Yeah. I did."
"Well, don't worry about it. You're not the first to arrive in any case."
I nodded. "So what do I have to do?"
"Well, here's a booklet of some theory stuff we need you to fill out so we can place you in your methods class. You can ask Mr. Linton to help you with that that after you're done your audition. I'll show you where he is."
I listened carefully to her footsteps and followed her down the hall, then down another to our left. I could feel the doorways as we walked past then suddenly the floor disappeared beneath my stick. Darn it, stairs. I felt my way carefully down the stairs, counting them for next time.
"Here you go. Chane, this is Viviane. I was wondering if you could help her fill out the theory book and do her audition as well."
"Sure, not a problem." His voice was cheerful and friendly and seemingly young. I guessed he was around his thirties. It sounded oddly distorted though, as if he wasn't on the same level as us. Were there stairs? "Come on down Viviane and we'll get started."
Carefully I felt my way around and down the steps, Chane giving me occasional directions to help. I was glad that he didn't hover over me, I hated it when people did that. I was perfectly capable of doing things by myself, just sometimes I needed a tiny bit of extra help. Finally I was sitting down on the piano bench and turned to look in Chane's general direction.
"Now what?" I asked.
"Well, lets get this audition out of the way first, shall we? Do you have a song that you can play for me?"
I nodded. "Sure." I placed my fingers carefully on the piano, set up a beat in my head and started playing my favorite swing tune. I closed my eyes and allowed myself to have some fun while I played, improvising a bit in the middle and moving to the beat. After a few moments I ended the song and turned to hear his reaction.
"Wow. That was beautiful. Who taught you to play?"
I shifted uncomfortably on the hard wooden bench, it creaked slightly so I stopped. "My mother taught me a bit before she died. Since then I learned by myself. I listened to cds and played along with them, made up my own exercises, just mostly played for fun until my band teacher caught me and made me play in the jazz band." I smiled at the memory. "I had a lot of fun playing for the bands so my teacher suggested I come here."
"That's so cool. I heard you improvising a bit in the middle there. Do you do that a lot?"
I nodded. "Yeah, when you don't have any music to read off of you tend to make up a lot of things by yourself."
"Uh-huh. I really loved your sense of swing in that tune, it was fantastic. You play very well."
I smiled in his general direction. "Thank you."
"Ok, so now that we're done that lets get down to this theory. How has your theory gone?"
I shrugged. "It's not too hot. I listed to some audio books about it, but you know. I had trouble understanding a lot of it because I couldn't see any of it."
I could hear him nod his head in understanding. "Perfectly understandable. But we'll try this anyway. So, can you name these notes?"
I had to admit that Chane was pretty good at explaining things for me. He described things so well that I didn't have a lot of difficulty telling him what I knew. I could name some scales, say what key things were in, and do a whole bunch of things I didn't think I would be able to do very well. He also clarified a few things that I didn't get. By the time I was done I had almost filled in the entire booklet, and had laughed so hard I had a stitch in my side.
"Ok, I think we're done. Why don't you go and see if there are people waiting outside for their audition and send someone in?"
"Sure thing." I stood up and made my way up the stairs with a lot more confidence then I had coming in. I was pretty good at memorizing things that I had once. It came in handy so many times. I opened the door and heard the sound of breathing.
"Whoever's next can go in," I said with a small smile and went back up the stairs and made my way to the main hallway. I needed to find Ms. Andrews and give her my booklet. I leaned against a nearby wall and listened carefully for her voice and her footsteps.
I didn't catch anything right away and I frowned in concentration. I could hear a bunch of girls giggling over a guy sitting across from them, the sound of pencils scribbling furiously on paper, and lots of other voices laughing and joking around, but none of them were Ms. Andrew's.
"Hi, can I help you with anything?"
I breathed a sigh of relief and moved in to where I hear Ms. Andrews voice, aware of all the voices around me so I wouldn't run into anyone.
Whoa, is that chick hot or what? And what with the stick?
Oh come on, I know this! What can't I get it? Oh, is that girl blind? That's gotta suck. I have no idea what I would do if I were blind.
I shook my head and shoved the thoughts out of my head with a growled and a maneuvered carefully around the instruments, suitcases and ad people scattered all over the place.
"Excuse me, Ms. Andrews?"
"Oh, hey Thorne. How was your audition?"
"It was great. Chane and I filled out the booklet together and I just wanted to give it to you." I passed her the papers and she took them easily.
"So what do I do now?"
"In about half and hour we're going to have a meeting in the auditorium. For the time being you can just hang out and meet some people. If you'll excuse me I need to go and help some people out."
I nodded and listened to her footsteps fade away and thought about what I should do. I made my way over to a wall where no one was sitting and leaned against the wall trying to get my bearings.
There was just so much noise. People were loudly laughing and talking and running around, making everything so much more confusing. Finally getting fed up a of listening I tried another tactic, smelling.
I felt my nostril flare as I took a deep breath in and tried sorting out all the smells. There was the smell of hot, sweaty bodies that was to be expected on a hot day. I could faintly smell some food that must be coming from another hallway, and I could sometimes distinguish certain people. Some guys in the room were wearing Axe, there was no mistaking that smell. From some ladies I could smell perfume and everyone had their own distinctive odours.
I smiled as things began to fall in their places in my mind. I turned to my powers to figure out the rest. A common mistake people make is that they think of telekinesis as just moving things around, but I could just sense them and not move them an inch. Right now I could sense where every single object in the room was, and I memorized the placing of the permanent objects so I wouldn't run into them.
I could feel the wooden boxes on the walls that I imagined held the photos of past grads, the display cases and how for they extended. I felt the door leading to a small courtyard in right next to the hall, the pieces or art or something on display throughout the school, the jutting walls that people leaned against as they chatted with friends. Slowly I relaxed as I got my bearings.
I think I'm going to like it here. I thought decisively. I might even like it better than home!