Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t. When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider.
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Farsighted: Chapter 1
Our hero is about to embark on a journey. Life as he knows it is quiet, boring, and predictable, but it’s also comforting and familiar. That will soon change.
Today is the last day of summer, but I’m not doing anything even remotely close to fun. I’m just lying here in Mom’s garden, running my hands over the spiky blades of grass—back and forth, back and forth until my fingertips go numb. Until everything goes numb. I sigh, but no one’s around to hear.
“Alex,” Dad yells from the kitchen window. “Dinner.”
Already? How long have I been out here? I spring up from the ground and the grass springs up with me, one blade at a time – boing, boink, boint. The sounds would be imperceptible to any normal person, but they roar inside my ears. I picture an army of earthworms raising the blades as spears in their turf wars and smile to myself.
Dad opens the back door and calls out to me again. “C’mon, Alex. What’s taking you so long?”
Grabbing my cane, I shuffle over to the house, brushing past him as I squeeze inside. The kitchen reeks of fast food restaurants and movie theaters—butter and grease. That means it’s breakfast for dinner. We do this every Sunday night, because Mom goes out to garden club and Dad doesn’t know how to cook anything else. Plus it’s cheap.
Breathing heavily, Dad plunks some food onto both our plates and collapses into his chair. He groans and asks me to pass the butter, or rather the “bud-dah.” He grew up in Boston and every once in a while the accent works itself into his speech.
I slide the tub to dad; he reaches out and stops it before it can glide clear off the table.
“What’s this?” Dad asks.
“Uh, the butter. Obviously.”
Dad’s voice raises an octave. “I know it’s the butter, so don’t get smart. Why’d you give it to me?”
“Uh, because you asked me to.”
“No, I didn’t.” He exhales as if the wind has been knocked out of him by an ill-timed punch to the stomach. “Guess you must’ve read my mind.” He chuckles to himself and slides the cool metal knife into the butter and scrapes it across his toast.
Dad and I don’t usually talk to each other unless Mom is around, asking about our days, chatting on, working hard to create those warm and fuzzy family moments we don’t seem to create naturally. And even though Mom has reassured me a million times, I know that Dad resents me for being born blind.
I can tell he would have much rather had a son like Brady—the same guy who insists on making my high school experience as difficult as possible. Nothing’s worse than knowing that your own father thinks you’re a loser.
Dad and I finish our meal in silence and my mind wanders.
He rises suddenly from his chair, breaking apart my thoughts. “Let’s get this table cleared before your mother comes home,” he says, without pronouncing the r in cleared.
I stand too and pick up my plate and glass. Guess I’ll pass on that fifth biscuit.
“Your mother has a surprise for you.”
I smile for my dad’s benefit. My parents are horrible at keeping secrets. Last night, I overheard them talking in their room. Mom was bragging about how she found some “cute” new shades on Wal-Mart’s clearance rack.
About ten minutes later, the tires of Mom’s van crunch on the gravel in our driveway with lots of little pings and a big cuh-clunk. As usual, she steers directly into the pothole we don’t have the money to repair. Sometimes I wonder if she does it on purpose.
The door creaks open, inviting a comforting floral fragrance into the house. Mom always smells like flowers—today it’s tulips and jasmine. She steps lightly across the floor and places a wet kiss on my cheek. When she turns to greet Dad, I wipe at the left-over moistness with my shirt sleeve. I’m getting too old for this kind of thing—been too old for a while now actually, but this doesn’t seem to matter to her.
“How was your day, my little sapling?” she asks. I really wish she would stop calling me her “little sapling.”
“Hi, Mom.” I hug her, because it makes her happy.
“Are you excited for tomorrow?”
I snap my fingers, which is how I say “yes” without actually saying it, kind of how most people nod their heads. I’m excited to learn, to have something to do other than lie in the grass, to possibly make a friend. More than likely though, things won’t change. I’ll still be an outcast. I’ll still be all by myself, but at least I’ll know where I stand. No more wondering.
“A sophomore already! I hope I can keep up enough to help you with your homework,” Dad says, acting like a completely different person than he was just a few minutes ago. He has this way of being nicer to me whenever Mom is around. I know it’s for show, and it pisses me off.
Ignoring him, I turn toward Mom. “So, Dad told me you’ve got a surprise for me?” I’d rather get this over with quickly before they try too hard to build up the suspense.
“Oh, yes,” she chirps, fluttering over to the other side of the living room, pulling out the drawer of the small table in the corner, and rustling the unpaid bills inside. She comes back over to me and places a small bag in my lap.
“Wait,” Dad says as my hand is about to reach inside the bag. “Before you open that, I just want to say that I know we haven’t been able to give you as many back-to-school supplies as you need this year. Your backpack is starting to tear and your boots are scuffed…”
I had no idea my boots were scuffed, but now that he’s pointed it out, it’s all I can think about.
“And all of this is my fault,” Dad continues as I wonder how badly my boots are scuffed. Where? On the heel? On the toe?
Mom clicks her tongue and rubs Dad’s shoulder sympathetically, dragging her fingernails across his thick shirt. The scratching sound draws my attention back to his melodramatic speech.
“I want to make you a promise, as soon as I get a job we’re going to buy all of those things for you. Okay?”
“It’s okay, Dad. I don’t need anything.” Except for you to be nice to me even when Mom isn’t around, and, oh yeah, a friend or two.
“That’s my brave little oak tree,” Mom says, giving me another hug. I swear, sometimes I think she’s from another planet, or at least another time period. But still, she loves me, even if she’s constantly saying stupid things like that.
When they seem to have nothing more to say, my left hand reaches into the bag and brings a pair of sunglasses up into the palm. I run my right hand over them, trying to make out their shape. They’ve got hard plastic frames and cushiony rubber ends for where they sit on top of the ears. They’re broad in front; the rim goes in a straight line all the way across about a half an inch above the nosepiece. These aren’t the normal bookworm glasses. They’re cool guy glasses.
“We thought you deserved a new pair of cool guy glasses since you’re practically sixteen,” Mom says.
Ugh, I hate when she uses the same words as me. I make a mental note never to say, or think, the words “cool guy glasses” again.
“And they’re even your favorite color!” Mom shouts, unable to contain herself.
Then they’re green. I “see” color through my nose and like green best because so many of the best-smelling things are that hue, like grass and leaves and vegetables and limes. But with green glasses, I’m afraid I’m going to stick out like a sore thumb—a sore green thumb. I smile and reach out my arms. Both my parents come in for a hug. I whisper a quick prayer for tomorrow and head to bed.
The next morning, my alarm starts yelling at six o’clock. Is it excited or trying to give me a warning? Well, time to get this over with, time to see if this year will be any different from all the crappy ones before. I reach over and flip the off-switch and stumble about in a sleepy haze, getting ready for the first day of the new school year.
On the way to the bathroom, I stub my toe on some bulky object that’s just sitting in the middle of the hallway, not even pushed up against the wall. I kick it to the side—clunk, straight into the wall—and continue to the bathroom. I shouldn’t need my cane to get around my own house. That had to be something of Dad’s. What, is he actually trying to kill me now?
I turn the shower knob and wait for the water to get warm. It’s taking forever since I’m the first one up today. Aggravated by the wait, I go back into the hall to find that object again. Stooping down, I attempt to work out the shape. Rectangular, with a handle, made of leather or something leather-like, with little metal clasps. A briefcase, I guess. But Dad’s a contractor, why would he need a briefcase? Why now? I flip the clasp, eager to find out what’s inside. But the case doesn’t open. Brushing my fingers across the top again, I find a twisty-turny thing on either side. A combination lock. If it’s so important, why’s it laying here in the middle of the hall like a discarded sock?
A wall of steam pushes into my back, returning my attention to the running shower. I return the case to its original position in the middle of the hall and go to wash up for school. Afterward, I towel off and put on my favorite shirt, which is soft and made of flannel. I wear my favorite pants too—they’re baggy with big pockets on the sides. As I’m pulling them on, I feel a tickle at my ankles where the hem now rests two full inches above where it should be. I groan, realizing I must’ve grown over the summer. How much taller can I get? I’m really tall now, at least a couple of inches over six feet, but we just don’t have the money to keep buying me new clothes every time I grow another inch.
To add the finishing touch to my first-day-of-school look, I slip my new cool guy glasses—er, sunglasses—on over my nose. The lenses are extra thick. Probably, if I wanted, I could sleep in class and no teacher would ever notice. But I’m not like that; I like to learn.
“Honey?” Mom calls from the end of the hallway. “Are you ready?”
“Yeah, I’m coming,” I yell back. “Just a sec.” I fiddle with my boots, trying to stuff my pants into them, so no one at school sees they’re too short. I’m sure this makes me look even more like a teenage Paul Bunyan than usual, but I don’t care. The boots are comfortable and help to support my ankles. Anyway I could probably wear nothing but expensive designer clothes and still be considered a freak.
Before standing, I run my hands over my feet. The right boot has a long narrow indentation across the toe. They are scuffed. Great. With a drawn-out sigh, I pick up my backpack and walk over to the kitchen where Mom is waiting. She has way too much energy for this early in the day.
“Yogurt with berries fresh from the garden,” she says, placing a glass in my hand. “You can eat in the car.”
“Thanks, Mom.” I jab a heaping spoonful into my mouth and finish it in five huge bites, then grab my cane from the hook near the front door, loop the cord around my wrist, and follow Mom out to the driveway where the rattly old family van is parked. As she shifts the car into drive, sadness washes over me. I’m almost sixteen, but I’ll never be able to drive. I’ll always be forced to rely on my parents for everything, my entire life.
We drive the twelve minutes to school, while Mom talks non-stop about new beginnings and the “carefree happiness of youth.” When the van stops, I take a deep breath, and wrap my fingers around the door handle, ready to find out what’s in store for me this year at Grandon High.
“Hey, Alex?” Mom stops me just as I’m about to step out onto the curb. I pause and wait. “Have a good day at school.”
“Dad’ll pick you up and bring you to the shop in the afternoon, okay?”
“Okay. Bye, Mom.” The longer we draw this scene out, the higher the chances of her kissing me on the head or calling me her “little sapling.” I just can’t risk starting out the year on such an embarrassing note.
I get out of the car and head straight inside the building. A bunch of kids are hanging around outside, chatting away about their summers, getting back into the swing of things. They don’t notice me as I slink by and make my way to my first hour, English—I memorized the location of all of my classes during the summer, so I wouldn’t embarrass myself by getting lost or arriving after the bell rings.
Entering the classroom, I drop my backpack on the floor, and prop my cane between the seat and the desk; that way it’s near at hand and easy to get later. Nobody else is here yet, not even the teacher. Bored already, I decide to go get a drink of water from the fountain. As I’m rounding the corner of the familiar hall, the air gets heavy like it does after a rainstorm. The aroma of wet grass and asphalt overpowers my senses. This definitely seems out of place for a high school hallway.
“Hey, Alex, how was it today?” Dad asks in a much better mood than usual.
I turn around in shock. What is my Dad doing here? Mom just dropped me off. Dad should be in bed still, not here at school embarrassing me.
“Dad?” I ask tentatively. “Dad, what are you doing here?”
“I’m not your daddy, you no-eyed freak!” comes the voice of Brady Evans, the running-back of the school’s Junior Varsity football team—my biggest enemy.
The air becomes lighter all of a sudden, as if a vacuum cleaner has sucked up all the humidity. The fragrance of sweat and Axe deodorant spray fills my nostrils. I’m totally confused now.
“No, it’s your daddy. Loser…” Laughter comes from at least six different people, most of them girls.
“Sorry,” I mumble and head back to English class, forgetting to get my drink of water. Brady and his entourage follow me in, making jokes at my expense.
I put my head down on my desk, wishing I was a chameleon, so I could become one with the desk and fade out of view—being a reptile couldn’t be that much worse than having to endure high school.
“Mr. Kosmitoras, could you please come here?” the teacher calls, butchering the pronunciation of my name.
“Um, it’s Caas-me-toe-rh-aas actually,” I respond, getting up and walking over to the teacher’s desk at the front of the room. Brady and his friends are still laughing. I hope they’ve moved onto a new topic.
“Here are your textbooks for the year. We’re starting out with this basic reader,” she says, plopping a thick book into my hands. “Then we’ll be moving on to The Odyssey and finally Romeo and Juliet.” She places these into my outstretched palms as well.
“Thanks,” I mutter and head back to my seat. I begin skimming the basic reader, flipping through several pages at once, randomly trailing my finger over little snippets of text. Since no school around here caters specifically to visually impaired kids, my teachers special-order textbooks in braille for me. That’s all I need to get by, really. With very few exceptions, I can do anything other kids my age do. I’ve been this way my whole life; I know how to make it work.
Bit by bit, the other students trickle into the class. Someone who smells like cherry candy sits down across the room. Then, a series of loud thuds comes from that direction—she must’ve dropped her books.
“Simmi! Simmi, Jeez! Don’t make so much noise!” says some boy, who sounds a bit like Brady, but I don’t think is Brady. I don’t know anybody named Simmi, so this girl must be a new student. Why’s this boy being so mean to her already? Hope rises within me. Maybe she’ll be an outcast too; the two of us could team up.
The bell rings, taking away the cherries. I don’t pay any attention to the teacher as she introduces herself to the class. Instead, I think about the strange things that have been happening today. What was in that briefcase in the hall this morning, and why couldn’t I open it? Why did I think Brady Evans was my dad? Why do we have to read Romeo and Juliet this year in English class? We’re less than five minutes into first period, and my hopes for the new year are pretty much dashed.
Blog Tour Notes
THE BOOK: Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t. When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider. Get your copy today by visiting Amazon.com’s Kindle store or the eBook retailer of your choice. The paperback edition will be available on November 24 (for the author’s birthday).
THE GIVEAWAYS: Win 1 of 10 autographed copies of Farsighted before its paperback release by entering the giveaway on GoodReads. Perhaps you’d like an autographed postcard from the author; you can request one on her site.
THE AUTHOR: Emlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit www.emlynchand.com for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky!
MORE FUN: There's more fun below. Watch the live action Farsighted book trailer and take the quiz to find out which character is most like you!