Synopsis: WHN for The Stillness Within. Was it really that easy to understand and accept?
Word Count: 905
Last night I embraced a future; a future different from any I had ever imagined. I had actually decided that I would leave my home, the only home I’d ever known, to begin anew. All because of the darkness that greeted me when I regained consciousness after that dang cat caused the nitro we were storing to explode. That moment destroyed any hope I had of remaining here on the Ponderosa. Yet, in my darkest hour of self-pity, Miss Dobbs gave me a purpose, a reason to live, to see how my life could influence and be used as an example for others.
Through her stubborn determination, Ellen Dobbs taught me how to see beyond the limitations of my sightless eyes. She restored my hope that there was a life for me beyond the walls of my bedroom. This woman showed me the real meaning of courage, and it had nothing to do with my fists pummeling someone senseless.
But this morning, my new future shattered as I woke and raised my hand to my face; my eyes hurt. Sitting up, I vaguely recognized a different shade of grey and then darkness. I closed my eyes and moved; slowly I dared open them again. Standing, my room looked the same as I remembered. Had this all been a dream? No, the emotions were too raw. Cautiously I walked across the floor to the mirror on the wall; I just had to know – was I really seeing?
With my hands flat on the mirror, my eyes focused on the image staring back at me. The words, ‘a beautiful sight’, echoing in my mind had nothing to do with being vain. I could see.
My life had changed again. The first person I thought of was Pa – he had to know. “Pa! PA!” He and Hoss rushed to my doorway. Turning, I counted six steps, as Ellen had taught, and looked into Pa’s eyes. “Pa, I can see.”
Pa had aged; his face showed the stress of these last few months. Disbelief and hope washed over him as he reached out and wrapped me in his arms. Moments later, he questioned me.
“As good as before,” I tearfully answered.
And then I thought of Ellen.
Maybe I am vain. I can’t imagine how Miss Dobbs must have felt when I ran to the porch, calling for her, declaring ‘no more counting steps or being useless’.
I hadn’t known, but now I do. Ellen will never get the chance to experience the joy I woke to this morning.
Sitting in the rocking chair with my eyes closed, surrounding me was the noise of a working ranch; sounds I was oblivious to before Miss Dobbs arrival. Counting my blessings, the images and the colors were still there when I opened my eyes to look out over the yard.
The tracks from the buggy are still fresh on the ground. Pa left a few hours ago to take Miss Dobbs to town so she could catch the stage tomorrow morning to return to her home. Her services and skills were no longer required on the Ponderosa; and there are plenty of people at the Institute for the Blind who were in desperate need of her tallent.
When Pa returns, I’m sure Doc Martin will be following along, regardless the hour. And I know I should be the good boy and submit to Paul’s poking and prodding; Lord knows how much trouble I was to him and my family. They know and I know, too.
Hoss hasn’t said much; he’s been content to sit on the deck over there whittling away. Our relationship had deteriorated, ever since that morning I woke to find everything black. Gripping the arm rests tighter, who’m I kidding. I’m sure he remembers every darkened day I experienced and every darkened word I spoke. I hated everyone I cared about and tried my best to push them away. They didn’t know what it was like. I didn’t want their pity.
“Seems to me ya gone and forgot.”
“Excuse me?” the bitterness in my voice just slipped out.
“Stop stewin’ on what’s botherin’ ya. Just spit it out.” He didn’t look up while whittling a piece of wood. “Trouble shared is trouble halved.”
That’s Hoss. I hope he understands. “I wasn’t much of a brother to you or a role model for Jamie, wasn’t much of a son either.”
“Ya had cause.”
“No I didn’t.”
I saw him look sideways, the corner of his mouth turned a grin. “But Miss Dobbs, she helped ya get past that anger.”
“And what did I do, once I could see? I insulted and belittled her!” My chest heaved at the memories from this morning.
“Ya didn’t know, Joe. Ya reacted from yer excitement to have your old life returned to ya.” Hoss spoke patiently. “And she said she didn’t hold it against ya. She’s happy for ya.”
And she was. I could see it in her face. Though her eyes had betrayed her, they didn’t betray me. She was happy for me.
I have my sight back, but I’ll always remember what she taught me; don’t give up, keep fighting the good fight. I snickered at that thought. Gently I pushed back and forth; the rhythm of the rocker and the memory of Miss Dobbs gave me comfort.
“Yer at peace again.” Another sliver of wood flew through the air from Hoss’ knife. “Ya ain’t fighting yourself no more.”
Getting back to where we were before, was it really that simple? All I had to do is stop fighting myself, and everyone who loves me.
“No, I have more important things to do.”
No Beta, just me and my muse.
Story idea based on the episode: The Stillness Within written by: Suzanne Clauser, Fred Hamilton, Authur Weingarten