Darkness had fallen when I reached the two-storied Victorian house. A whiff of fried chicken greeted me as I cracked the front door and called out, “Linda, it’s me.” Linda, a thirty-one year old blind woman, who used neither cane nor dog, had purchased my house from me the week before.
“Come in,” she said. She gave a wave for me to come into the kitchen. I entered and watched as she adjusted the stove’s gas burner under a sizzling pan of chicken.
“I love my new kitchen. I’ve learned where most things are,” she said.
“I can see that you have!” I said. I glanced to see flour, salt, and pepper neatly placed by the bowl of chicken.
“The first few days, in new surroundings, are the hardest until I’ve touched everything and gotten my bearings,” she said. She took a long fork and began to turn the sizzling chicken.
I noticed a few food items remained on the counter, left over from her grocery shopping. “Can I put the eggs in the fridge for you?” I asked. “No,” she said. “If you do, I won’t know where to find them, and I’d be certain to break a few.”
Knowing I wasn’t observed, I closed my eyes to experience the darkness for a moment. I reached into my pocket for the key that I had brought, then my fingers groped for the abrupt edge of the counter top. I placed the key down and opened my eyes to see it perched precariously near the edge.
“I remembered to bring the extra key, and I’ve placed it on the counter by the eggs,” I said. I gave the key a quick slide closer to the eggs.
“Thanks so much,” she said. She lifted the fryer lid and stepped back as the steam escaped.
“See you tomorrow,” I said and moved toward the front door.
“Won’t you stay for a piece of chicken? Almost done,” she said. “Just smell that deliciousness.”
“That’s what drew me in. However, no thanks. I’ve gotta run.”
“Another time then perhaps and goodnight,” she called out. “Please don’t forget to turn off all the lights.”
My stomach knotted at the thought of a dark kitchen and a sightless woman alone with a gas fire and hot oil. I called out to her, “When the switches are down all lights upstairs and down turn off, including the kitchen.” I nervously ran my hand down the light panel by the front door. One flick and the kitchen emerged into blackness with the exception of the orange flame that leaped under the searing skillet. I pulled the door closed behind me and rechecked the knob, making sure it locked securely.
I stepped out into the street and looked back at the unlit house. The moonlight had broken through the clouds, and a pale yellow beam of light shone from above and would soon steal, unseen, through the window, giving light to Linda’s kitchen.