Blinding Lights

📅 Published on June 2, 2020

“Blinding Lights”

Written by Irving Crane
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available


Rating: 9.33/10. From 6 votes.
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The day was bright; the Las Vegas sun is blistering, making me feel blinded just being outside.

The ring of the gas-station bell goes off as my eyes search feverishly for the coolers, the craving for something cold to drink overriding everything else going on around me. I nearly groan when I spot the drinks, my feet carrying me before I can know what I’m doing, and I sigh when I feel the cool refrigerator air hit my sweaty, hot skin. Probably not the best day to go for a five-mile run.

It’s not until I have a bottle of water in my hand, already opened and the halfway drunk that I register her.

She’s petite, maybe a few inches above five feet, with an athletic, yet curvy, body that makes me nearly choke on the water still in my mouth. Her face is what’s truly stunning though. Heart-shaped, with eyes as blue as the ocean, framed in dark lashes that match the long, straight midnight black hair cascading down her back.

Unfortunately for me though, her eyes show she isn’t as taken with me as I am with her.

“Do you intend to pay for that, or are we going to have a problem?” her voice, feminine yet strong, utters out with obvious annoyance and a slight northern accent I cannot place. I have the grace to be embarrassed, which the girl must realize because her shoulders relax a fraction. “Look, I know it’s hot as balls outside, but you should really pay for something first before you put your mouth all over it.”

I intend to say something prominent or at least redeem myself for my actions, but what comes out of my cursed mouth is, “You must be new here.”

The woman raises her eyebrows at my comment but doesn’t seem surprised by assumption. “What gave it away? My accent?” she says, her mouth quirking up slightly.

Okay, it’s not a smile, but I can work with a smirk.

I’m usually good with women, can make them laugh and I’m never am hurting for dates when I want them, but it seems this woman is different because, instead of saying something cool and charming, I blurt out the truth, “I visit this place a lot. I would have noticed you.”

This time, my words do surprise her and her face flushes. “Going for the kill, huh?” she asks, her voice low and unsure. Shaking her head, she points to the register. “Just the water for today?”

I study her face, seeing the pebbles of sweat falling down her face and remember the owner telling me that the AC broke a few days ago I figured he would have had that fixed by now, but I’m guessing not. Turning around, I grab another bottle of water and head for the register, where the girl has already rung up one of the waters.

“Can you add another one?” She doesn’t look up at me, but her cheeks redden when I approach, which I find oddly hypnotizing and wonder if I’m making her flush such a beautiful color. I turn my head down so she doesn’t see my stupid, boyish grin.

“Anything else?” she asks me and I hesitate. “Oh no,” she mutters, eyeing me warily.

“What?” I ask.

She points at me. “You’re going to ask me out.”

“You should quit this job because it seems you have a knack to become a medium.” I tease and, to my surprise and delight, she laughs. I shrug my shoulders, smiling wide enough that I know my dimple is showing. “I’d love to take you out on a date, but would respect it if you said no. I know asking a beautiful girl out while she’s working isn’t the most tactful move, but I’m smitten, what can I say?”

The girl laughs. “You don’t even know my name!”

I reach over the counter and offer my hand. “My name is Calvin.”

She rolls her eyes but shakes my hand regardless. “Hello Calvin, the Water Snatcher. My name is Denise.”

“See? We know each other’s names. We’re practically friends now.” I offer her the water with a slight bow, enjoying the sound of her unexpected chuckle. “For you, m’lady. I also would request your hand in, um… a date.” I finish my sentence lamely, making her laugh again, but I don’t think she’s laughing with me, but at me. Eh, either way, a laugh is still a victory. Right?

“You’re not going to let this drop, huh?” she sighs, but she’s smiling. “Fine. One date, and that’s only because you bought me a water. But, I have one exception.”

“Anything.” I grin.

Denise smirks. “You don’t pick me up at my place. I get to be the prince and pick you up, Cinderella.”

“Deal,” I say before she can change her mind. She’s sputtering, trying to take back her words as I write my name, number, and house address on a napkin on the counter. “Thank you for your time. Pick me up tomorrow? Say, sixish?”

And then I leave before she can utter another word with a smile on my face.

* * * * * *

Denise texts me a couple of hours later to confirm our date for tomorrow.

I grin when I read the text, feeling utterly smitten even though I just met her, but before I can go to my fridge to grab a beer to celebrate, my head begins to throb with what feels like the beginning of a headache. It’s not long before I’m feeling pressure against my eyes as well and I stumble into my kitchen, reaching for a bottle of aspirin instead of that beer I originally wanted. Swallowing the pills down takes longer than expected when the once, almost gentle pressure against my eyes intensifies making it difficult, if not impossible, to open my eyes.

And when I do?

Two beams of light radiate out of my body through my eyes.

Gripping the sink almost to a point of pain, I watch as the light begins to burn brighter, and brighter out of my eyes. And the pain? The pain is almost unbearable and I have to breathe very hard through my nose to keep from passing out from both the nauseous, and agony pressing up against my eyes. When I was a boy, I accidentally stabbed myself in the leg with a knife, but this feels as if thousands of knives are being forcibly pushed against my eyes to get out of my head and no matter how I try to close my eyes, to block out the pain, the throbbing doesn’t dim.

I walk away from the mirror, unable to stomach looking at my eyes beam that eerie light, and trip over something in the living room. My vision is still there, but blurry as hell. The light seems to not be blinding me, yet but has little black dots appearing across my vision, almost as if I’ve been out in the sun too long.

Before the black dots get worse, I grab my phone and dial my sister, putting her on video-call.

“Do you see it?” I nearly whisper when she answers.

“Um, see what, bro?” she questions, sounding worried. “All I see is your goofy-ass face and… why are your eyes so unfocused?” She pauses when I don’t say anything. “Are you okay? Do you need me to come over?”

“So you don’t see it?” I question again.

“See what, Calvin?”

“The light. The light coming out of my eyes.” I nearly whimper with the pang of pain that hits me suddenly.

She doesn’t say anything for a moment and I think she hung-up until she chuckles. “It’s a little too early to prank me in the day, isn’t it?”

I stare at the phone the best I can, confused by her words. I’m looking at myself in the video. I see the light. How can’t I? It’s so bright, yet, she doesn’t seem to see what I see. “I’m not kidding, sis.”

“Then I think you need some rest. When was the last time you had a full eight hours of rest?” When I don’t respond, unable to remember the last time, considering I’m a manager at my current job and have been working non-stop, my sister hums knowingly. “You’re just tired. Get some sleep.”

“But… my eyes are burning. Like… they feel like they are on fire.”

“You’re tired,” she repeats and, although I still feel the pain and still see the light through the black spots in my vision, I nod my head, not knowing what to say or how to convince someone who can’t see something that it’s there. “Get some rest, bro, and call me tomorrow morning.”

She ends the call and I close my eyes, but the light is still there, even behind my eyelids and the pain?

It’s getting worse.

I try to get to my feet, but the pain is too much for me to handle, getting worse by the minute, so I end up knocking out from the pain alone on the ground.


Not alone.

The light stays with me.

Blinding me, slowly, from the inside out.

* * * * * *

I awake to my head pounding.

As if someone was knocking against my skull.

But after a moment, I realize that someone is actually knocking. Getting to my feet, I fight through the fogginess of sleep and remember why I was sleeping on the floor. My eyes open wide when I remember the light, but oddly enough, there’s no light coming from my eyes any longer.

My hand rises to my eyes without me giving it much thought and I realize, with a start, that the light might be gone, but the black spots are still there. Though, the spots aren’t as bad as hours before, so Debby was probably right about me being overworked. Another round of knocks come at the door and I nearly jump with surprise when I see Denise on the other side of the door, frowning as if she’s been waiting long.


The date.

What day is it?

“I’ve been knocking for nearly ten minutes,” Denise says as soon as the door is open. Glancing at me up and down, she frowns, concern showing on her face. “You’re still dressed in the same clothes as yesterday and you’re really pale. Are you feeling okay?”

I go to nod my head but wince when I feel the beginnings of a migraine setting in. “I’m not sick, but I’m not feeling 100% either. I saw—” I stop talking, knowing that admitting to Denise that I saw a bright light coming out from behind my eyes, a light I’m not even sure was real or a result of physical and heat exhaustion from the day before would put the end of us before we even started. “I saw some spots in my vision yesterday. I think I’m suffering from heat exhaustion.”

Denise nods her head, her eyes are sympathetic. “The heat-wave has been pretty bad, especially yesterday. Do you want to reschedule our date?”

Panic runs through me, a panic I don’t fully understand, and my hand reaches out to take hers before she can turn around. “I know we just met, but can we order in and just watch a movie? Just watching a movie and eating.” I add that last part when I see the uneasiness in her eyes. “I just don’t trust myself to drive home if we went out with the way my vision is and I’m worried about passing out again while we’re out.” I rub the back of my head, feeling unsure.

Denise seems to think over my respect before she inclines her head. “Just a movie, though. No funny business or I’ll destroy your family jewels.”

Despite the lingering pain, I smile. “Deal.”

If I discount the throbbing that still plagues me, and the black dots in my vision that gets better the longer the evening stretches, the night is a success. Denise and I watch a couple of movies, making fun of the actors as we dig into some Chinese take-out, and even play a few rounds of Battleship. I can’t remember laughing as hard as I have tonight, but, all too soon, Denise is grabbing her purse to leave for the night. My stomach is twisting with nerves, not wanting her to leave, and I almost beg her to stay before I realize how stupid a request that’d be.

It’s crazy, I know, but this woman brings me a comfort that I’ve never experienced before and I want to spend as much time with her as possible. Plus, when I’m around her, I can almost discount the “light” I saw and chalk it all up to being exhausted the day before.

“Until next time,” Denise whispers, pressing a soft kiss to my cheek, squeezing my hand with one of hers. “Maybe we can see each other again?” I nod my head, trying to smile past the uneasiness of her leaving. “I’ll call you.”

I press my hand to the door, listening as she gets into her car and drives away from my house until I cannot hear her anymore.

She’s gone.

But the light is back.

But this time, the pain is crippling and I fall to my knees in a scream that must rock the neighborhood. I whimper, as the pain from yesterday worsens. Instead of knives stabbing into my eyes, it feels like they are being stabbed with fire, repeatedly, and mercilessly.

I start talking to myself, begging my eyes to give me some relief.

Begging for mercy and eventfully, I beg for death.

Because nothing, nothing, can compare to the hell I’m in.

And nothing can compare to the absolute terror I feel, that overshadows the pain momentarily when I realize that more black spots are appearing across my vision as if I’m losing my sight. I passed out yesterday from the pain, but this time, sleep eludes me.

* * * * * *

“Hi again, stranger,” Denise sings when I walk into the gas station. “Too excited for our date tonight and just had to come to see me?”

“I’m going through withdrawals,” I force a smile, trying to hide the agonizing pain I’m feeling, glad I remembered to take my sunglasses so she wouldn’t notice that I’ve haven’t been sleeping for the last two days. My life has been a living hell where pain is my new permanent friend. A hell where I have to hear doctor-after-doctor tell me there’s no light coming out of my eyes and my friends and family all whisper their concerns while they—not so secretly—discuss instituting me until I lie and tell it all was just a joke.

A hell where I have to teach myself to walk blindly due to the light damaging my eyes.

“Where are we going tonight?” Denise asks with excitement.

“Um…” I look down, unable to face her direction, even behind sunglasses. And, even if I did, I would not be able to see her anyway. “I thought we could stay in again and watch a movie. Maybe order a pizza?”

“Oh,” I don’t miss the disappointment I hear in her voice. “I thought… we’re been staying in for the two weeks, so maybe we can go out and see a movie? Maybe grab a drink?”

“I’m sorry,” I blow out a breath. “I want to go out and have fun, but I’ve been struggling with sleep lately…”

“I know,” Denise says playfully. “You’ve been falling asleep on me almost every time I come over and we watch a movie.” She pauses and I can almost hear her frown. “I don’t mind staying in, but I feel as if there’s something you’re not telling me.”

I avert my gaze again, even though I cannot see her. There are many things I’m not telling her, the light is the biggest one. But I can’t tell her that it feels as if I’m drowning in the night every time she leaves me. I can’t tell her about the light unseen by others, that feels so hot and bright, yet leaves me blind to everything around me.


Not blind to everything, because there’s her.

With her, I’m not blinded by the light.

With her, with just the feel of her touch, I can finally find peace in sleep.

But if I told her this, she’d run, realizing how obsessed I am with her. She’s like a drug. The only thing that can stop the pain and suffering, both physically and emotionally. She’s mine, but I have to show her this. I will show her this and then she’ll have to stay with me.





“Are… are you okay?” Denise mutters and I realize I’ve been mumbling the word ‘forever’ again and again. Exhaustion has really started to set in and I’m losing it, I know I am, but I cannot stop the madness nonetheless. I turn my gaze on her and something on my face has her stepping away from me.     I can hear the hurried, clunky thumps coming from her boots over the roaring of my rapid heartbeat. Clearing her throat, she says “I have to head back to work. I’ll text you, okay? You… you should go get some sleep, Calvin.”

Before I can beg her not to move away from me, she’s hurrying across the store.

Shaking my head, I head to my car, slowly since I cannot see and have to use muscle memory to keep from running into the displays, and do exactly what I told myself I’d stop doing two days ago.

Doing what I know is wrong, but I cannot stop myself from doing it anyway.

I sit in my car and stay in the parking lot, trying to be as near to her as possible. When I’m this far away from her, the pain is still bad, but not as unbearable as it is when I’m across town from her.

All too soon, the healing effect she has on me leaves and all I’m left with is the pain.

My eyes are burning from the inside out as if someone is sticking a torch through my eyes and into my head. As I curl in my reclined car-seat, rocketing slightly to myself back-and-forth, I feel utterly cold and empty as I ride out the worse pain imaginable. My mind goes toward the only relief I know I can get. Her. She’s my salvation. She’s the answer to every prayer I’ve prayed the last week. She’s everything.

A knock comes at my window sometime later and I know, from the dispelling pain, it’s her.

I stare up into her face, even though I can’t see it physically, and I reach out the window, to touch her face lightly as my mind screams at me tiredly that this is wrong, but I ignore it as I enjoy the brief moment of absolute relief. Closing my eyes, I say, “My Salvation,” my words sound drunk from lack of sleep, but I keep going, “I knew you’ll come for me.”

She’s gone before I can open my eyes back up again.

Then, the pain rises in me again.

* * * * * *

I call Denise for what feels like the millionth time today, after being driven to both her job and apartment without finding her, but I am sent to voicemail again. I take a deep breath and smile through the pain, the light no longer scaring me, but encouraging me to claim Denise as my own.

“Denise… I’m sorry for calling again, but when I’m like this…” I pause, my voice trembling with need, possessiveness, and longing, “you’re the one I trust. You’re the only one who will believe me. The only one that can make the light go away. You’re perfect. Mine.” My words end in a sob and even through my sleep-deprived brain I can hear how insane and mental I am, slurring my words like I’m on drugs. But I know she doesn’t mind. I know she loves me. I know we’re meant to be together and, if anything, this maddening situation has opened my eyes to what’s right in front of me. “I love you. I need you. Please, call me back.”

Almost as soon as I hang the phone up, I get a call. “Denise?” I answer, hands shaking when I hear breathing on the other end, but no voice. I instantly know it’s her. “Baby… I’ve been tryna call you all day.”

“You’re scaring me,” Denise says, her voice shaking hard. “You left me over 50 voicemails, all of which I’ve stopped listening to after hearing the first three, and I know you’re following me. My neighbors told me about a white car that’s always parked outside our apartment complex and a man who’s always hanging outside my door. What the fuck, Calvin? How long have you’ve been following me?”

“I’m sorry,” I say, sighing into the phone, so tired, the pain barely registers in my brain. But the darkness? That never goes away, even when I hang outside her place all day. I contemplate whether the blindness is permanent, but push the thought aside quickly, not wanting to even think it. “I’m so sorry,        Denise.”

“Why are you doing this to me? I thought—” she chokes on a sob. “I thought we had something, but now… now you’re scaring me and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what to do.”

I hear the confusion in her tone and feel bad at the pain I’m causing her. “I’m sorry,” I whisper, meaning the words. “I’m just… so fucked up in the head. I can’t sleep and I’m…” I pause but knowing that she only heard the first few voicemails, that didn’t go into details about the light right away, decide not to mention the light. Maybe if I didn’t, she’ll give me another chance and save me. “It feels as if I’m slowly losing my mind with the lack of sleep. When you’re with me, I don’t have a hard time sleeping, so that’s why I wait outside your home. If I’m outside your door, I can almost get to sleep, knowing you’re there in case something happens to me.”

Denise is silent for a long time, but when she speaks, I hear the concern. “You still can’t sleep at night?’ Her voice is small but reminds me of when we first started dating and she stayed over multiple times to make sure I slept. She was always worried about my insomnia, and I should have told her before about the pain and the light, but I’ll make things right now. So we can get back to the way things used to be. “Have you been to the doctors?”

I sigh. “They gave me pills, but I can’t seem to make the… anxiety go away and just sleep.”

“That’s why you’ waited outside my door?” Denise asks. “You already were on no sleep and just wanted some peace.”

“Yes,” I say, my voice nearly choking out because she understands now how much I need her.

“You could have just told me, Calvin. But now… now everything is a mess and I’m scared of you.”

“Can we talk?” I say into the phone, seeing my chance. “Face-to-face, I mean. I’ll tell you everything. About why I can’t sleep and how sorry I am that I scared you. I hurt you and I… I want to make up for it, even if it’s just buying you take-out and apologizing to your face.” She doesn’t say anything and a wave of desperation hits me. “Please,” I beg. “You can leave at any time, but I need to make amends. I need to explain myself, even if it doesn’t excuse my behavior.”

I hear Denise let out a breath. “Okay. But I’m not staying the night, Calvin. I’ll give you ten minutes. After that… you’re going to have to let me go.” Before I can answer, she hangs up.

I swallow hard, thinking over her threat to end things, but vow to myself to not let that happen.

Denise is mine.

She’s my darkness to combat the light.

She’ll save me.

I know she will.

* * * * * *

“I can see again,” I mutter to myself as I stare at my hands for what feels like the first time. Ever since Denise and I patched things up, my sight has been coming back slowly, but surely. When the doorbell rings, I grin, excited for the packages that were said to arrive today. Using my walking-stick, black-spots still in my vision which make it a bit difficult to maneuver around, I answer the door.

The delivery man sees my walking-stick and politely asks to bring in the ten or so packages for me, for which I’m grateful.

“Are you just moving in?” he jokes as he puts down the last package.

“My girlfriend is moving in,” I admit, unable to hide the huge-ass grin on my face. “Just getting her a few things. She wants to redecorate a room to be ‘her space’.”

The delivery man snorts. “Sounds like my woman. Well, good luck, man.”

“Thanks,” handing him a generous tip for being so cool and helping me with the packages, I wave goodbye before locking the door and heading downstairs where Denise is waiting for me.

When I enter the basement, I make sure to take my time down the stairs, not wanting to fall. I see Denise, sitting in the chair, and I smile at her. “I bought you some things for the basement. To make it more of your own.” When she doesn’t speak, her head tilted down, worry sets in. “Is the rope too tight?” No answer. “Do you want me to change the channel?”

She does look at me then with tears in her eyes. “I want to go home.”

I check her ropes, making sure they are secure but not hurting her before I grin and kiss her nose. “Soon. When I gain my vision back fully, I’ll release you. I can’t look after you properly yet. Give me some time.”

“I want to go home,” Denise whispers, a small tear falling down her beautiful face slowly and I kiss it away. “Why are you doing this?”

“Because… I can’t see when you’re gone,” I whisper in despair, my eyes, which are still throbbing with the probability that she’ll leave and bring back the never-ending pain, beg for her to stay with me. Love me. But all I see is disgust. “You love me. You make the pain go away.”

“I do not love you,” she whispers back.

I smile sadly. “I know you think that now, but you’ll adjust. I can make a nice life for us here. We’ll be happy. In love. I’ll provide anything you want, make this basement your home, and you’ll continue to fight the light for me.” I place a sweet kiss to her cheek and smile when she shivers. She’s starting to love me. I can feel it. “It’s a perfect life. Just you and me. Forever.”

“If you love me like you say you do, let me go.” Her words are a plea, but they hold no hope. She’s starting to realize our fate is sealed. It has been since we met and the light nearly destroyed us, but ultimately brought us together. I know her eyes are dim now, not filled with the joy I once fell into, but my new eyes, eyes that are seeing for the first time, are almost whole after Denise moved into my home three days ago. “Just… let me go, Calvin.”

And I have more than enough joy to share until she gets used to living together.

I kiss her forehead as I answer her. “I can’t ever let you go.” She whimpers as I kiss her again, closing my eyes as I smile for the first time in weeks, pain-free.

Rating: 9.33/10. From 6 votes.
Please wait...

🎧 Available Audio Adaptations: None Available

Written by Irving Crane
Edited by Craig Groshek
Thumbnail Art by Craig Groshek
Narrated by N/A

🔔 More stories from author: Irving Crane

Publisher's Notes: N/A

Author's Notes: N/A

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Copyright Statement: Unless explicitly stated, all stories published on are the property of (and under copyright to) their respective authors, and may not be narrated or performed, adapted to film, television or audio mediums, republished in a print or electronic book, reposted on any other website, blog, or online platform, or otherwise monetized without the express written consent of its author(s).

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