Cockeyed

Cockeyed by Ryan Knighton Read Free Book Online

Book: Cockeyed by Ryan Knighton Read Free Book Online
Authors: Ryan Knighton
and resumed not looking at me. My only option was a confession. At least I could fill in the missing cause with apology. So I did. I apologized for driving drunk. I swore I would never do it again. My tone had all the sincerity I could find but still rang empty to me. Just a prop to stand in for whatever the truth really was.
    When he finished his cigarette, Dad flicked the butt out the window and said it would be a long time before he trusted me
again. I had to earn it back. How or if I could do that wasn’t clear to him. He turned the emergency lights off, and we pulled away. We never spoke about the accident again.
    Within a week or two the calm returned between us, but something was missing. Dad could feel it, too. The first casualty of distrust, I learned, is familiarity. My father saw me as a slightly different person now. Part of me was a stranger to him. Since my time at Great West Pool, that seed of estrangement had grown in me, too. More than ever, I didn’t know how to account for the gap between my intentions and my mistakes.
    So many tales of blindness return to the subject of guilt. I think of Oedipus unable to look at what he’d done, or what some would say he was fated to do. But it was an accident, and I’m confident that’s why he took his eyes. Fate is blameless and much easier to look upon than anything one can regret. To believe fate made him do it would’ve saved Oedipus a lot of grief. When it came to my car accident, to know blindness made me do it would’ve saved both my father and me a lot of grief, too.
    In a way, both Oedipus and I destroyed our fathers while travelling the road home. The car accident was my fault, no doubt, but when my family and I learned later that I was going blind, my failing eyesight confused the ownership of all that blame. It wasn’t my fault anymore. The guilt became my father’s, instead.
    Like other diseases, I suspect, one peculiar misfortune of my own is its lack of boundaries. Blindness doesn’t keep its consequences within my skin. It crashes into the lives of others,
family, friends, and strangers, and transforms those lives as well. My father was my first victim. From me he still takes upon himself a regret for what I did that night in his car. It’s guilt for his assumption that I’d lied about what I could and couldn’t see, and for chastising his blind son. I wasn’t drunk, I was blind, and he hadn’t trusted me. I know he’s never forgiven himself. I don’t know how to relieve him of the guilt, either. In that lies the real accident and the real heartbreak. I just can’t keep blindness to myself.
    The afternoon we drove home from the eye doctor’s office, having just learned that I was going blind, my father and I passed the ditch. I looked at the spot, not having thought about it for some time. I felt a unique relief. Something strange in my past, something I couldn’t account for, finally belonged to me, and made sense, even. It’s true good drivers notice everything. I know my father looked at that ditch, too, and recognized, for the first time, what had really happened. My stories were becoming true. We didn’t talk about the ditch and the accident, though. We let it pass. Only a few blocks remained before we’d be home. Ma was there preparing my eighteenth birthday dinner. She would be the next person I couldn’t keep my blindness from.
    My diagnosis still hadn’t sunk in, not really, yet I felt unbearably anxious. I didn’t want to tell my mother that we’d learned I’d be blind within a matter of years. It would kill her. I had no choice, though, no way out. My diagnosis was going to hurt her, and I didn’t know how to do that.
    When we arrived home, Dad and I took our shoes off at the front door. His hand motioned for me to go downstairs to
my room. I headed down but stopped at the bottom of the stairwell to listen. My mother was up in the

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