SmokeLong Quarterly

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How the Broken Lead the Blind Until They Both Become Something Else Entirely

Story by Matt Bell June 15, 2006

The blind woman cannot help spoiling her seeing eye dog and so one day as they step out of her building and onto the sidewalk she realizes the dog has forgotten its training. She ruined her first set of eyes with night reading and a refusal to get glasses and now she has ruined her second with the indiscriminate dispensation of treats. The dog barks loudly, which it’s not supposed to do, then steers her erratically into a collision course with a man coming the other way on the crowded sidewalk. The man excuses himself as he ducks to the left and continues on, but the blind woman knows it is she who should have asked forgiveness. The blind woman wonders if she can return the dog or if it would be like the time she tried to return a sweat-stained dress by claiming it was that way when she bought it. The dog barks again, giving a quick tug at its leash. The woman does not complain at the dog’s bad behavior because she knows she is the one who has caused it. The next time the dog barks the woman decides to bark back. The sound of her voice mimicking the dog’s makes her laugh, even as her face burns because she realizes people are looking at her. She cannot see them, of course, but how could they not be staring? When the dog pulls hard at the leash she does not stop him. Instead, the blind woman starts to run behind the dog, tethered to him by the short red leash. She has not run in years, since even before she lost her vision. People yell at the dog, yell at her. Another man tries to help her stop the dog but together the woman and the dog escape his grasp. They move faster, as fast they can go on the woman’s newfound running legs. The blind woman realizes they will eventually crash, that this exhilarating movement is only temporary. Freed to do anything, the woman decides she and the dog will become the causers of crashes, great accidental artists whose canvas is the street, whose paint is their own bodies, whose masterpieces are being created right now, starting with this thing that happens suddenly, only the first of the many crashes yet to come.

About the Author

Matt Bell is the author of the novel In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods, a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award and the winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award. His next novel, Scrapper, will be published in Fall 2015. He teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.

This story appeared in Issue Thirteen of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Thirteen

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