Author: Georgia Scalise
It’s common knowledge that eyesight is a thing of the ancient past. Ask any kid and they’ll be more than happy to tell you the stories about how millions of years ago, humanity supposedly lived above the surface, basking in sunlight and using their eyes to gather information. No one remembers why we suddenly went underground, why we decided that the world above was no longer necessary.
At first, they struggled, the constant darkness and lack of light causing millions to die off. If only they knew what a strange species they’d one day evolve to be, sickly and more akin to naked mole-rats than the people they used to be. That was the past, of course. Nowadays, the majority of humanity has evolved to not require sight, seeing as there’s barely any light down here and the first humans quickly wasted their resources that created it.
Hearing and touch have replaced sight, and everyone can get by fine that way. Everyone except me. Since my earliest memories, I haven’t been able to hear. I am forced to rely on my already terrible eyesight in perpetual darkness. My only possible source of light is a cornucopia of slugs that live in pools of water. They glow, and I am one of incredibly few that gets to enjoy their beauty. I first found the slimy texture revolting, but eventually, I got used to using them as makeshift markers for myself.
I am at their pond once again today. The marks and guidelines fade quickly, and making them is a daily chore for me. It’s my favorite chore, as I get to visit my favorite place and spend some time away from my family.
In a small, hand-carved bowl, I scoop up the biggest slug in the pond. It seems indifferent to its situation and doesn’t seem to notice or care when I pick it up and softly drag it along a wall. After one line is finished, the slug gets a well-deserved break and I place it back in the bowl.
I repeat this process until I have sufficiently marked the paths I take regularly. Now it is time to return the slug, so I turn around and start on my way back to the pond. Of all the paths I walk in a day this is the one I remember the best. I know it so well that I leave its walls mostly blank, to save the slug some stress. I stare into the bowl, at the piece of light and beauty I am lucky enough to enjoy.
Suddenly I find myself falling. The bowl flies from my hands when my face meets the rough ground, spilling across the stone. I can just barely see the slug in front of me, writhing while half crushed from the force at which it was flung. Without thinking I take it into my hands and run towards the pond, desperate to save it. When I can finally get it back into water, I am faced with reality. My light has faded.