He had pulled back the planks until the hole he had peeled out was large enough for him to fit through. He tried to think about what he was about to do. He tried to think of all of the terrible things that might happen, but all he could actually think about was how warm the water might be in the pool of spring water. He poked his hand out into the light of the jungle. It was still raining lightly in the jungle. Being sure to hold on tight with his dry left hand, he poked his head out into the jungle.
He had found wonderland.
He looked down and saw that the earth wasn’t too far away. He brought his head back in and maneuvered his body so that his legs now hung down into the jungle. His hands were leaning back on the basement floor, but not for long. He pushed off. . .
His legs landed on damp grass with a dull juicy thump just before the rest of his body fell back and met the ground.
And at the exact time he entered the jungle and felt the ground knock the air from his chest, his vision was knocked from his eyes as well. He felt the wet, pulpy mud and grass patches smooch his neck and moisten his jean pants. He felt the cool mist that had fallen on his forehead and eye lashes mix with the sweet hot air that had taken the form of sweat on his skin. He heard the chirps, growls, and calls of animals unknown to him. Some sounds were far, but some sounds were close. Very close.
But a shape or color or light, he could not see.
He laid there for a time. Minutes. Maybe hours. Maybe even weeks. It was hard to tell through the panic of not being able to see just how fast or slow time was passing. He now thought to the moment when he had almost thought about what could go wrong just before he jumped from the basement into the jungle he had discovered. Why did he only try? Why didn’t he actually imagine the worst? Was his loss of sight permanent? Was that the cost of living in paradise? His eyes?
He sat up slowly. His head jerked and turned in the direction of every new sound. Soon, he couldn’t keep up with the foreign noises. He couldn’t keep up with the unknown. For another questionable amount of time, he sat still. He focused on breathing. He focused on what he knew, which in this jungle, was only himself.
Finally, he drew his knees in and stood up. He threw his hands up and waved them in the air like a beginner surfer. The patchy ground felt like rolling waves to the newest member of the blind.
Three. Four. Five.
Three. Four. Five.
Giving up on walking, he crawled until he felt the mossy trunk of a tree. He stood up, holding onto the tree like a giant crutch. Just breathe, he thought. He felt a tickling on his arm. Legs. He felt many, many legs. He guessed that it was a centipede, but the legs seemed to never end so if it was a centipede, it was the largest centipede he had ever come across in his life. He threw his hand back and easily lost balance. He fell to the ground again; this time was more violent. His lower back bruised from the fall, and his hands were cut raw with sharp roots that breathed out of the ground and other piercing rocks and twigs.
He slowly crawled towards the tree again. This time he did not stand. He only turned so that his back was against the tree. The air was heavy with humidity, and it was crushing his overworking lungs. With his eyes unable to take anything in, the sensations of the jungle were too much. He closed his eyes.
He thought of the darkness of the basement. The spiderwebs, the 4 a.m. darkness, the smell of a gas leak…He wanted nothing more. He wanted a world of familiars. He wanted a world of routine. He wanted protocol.
He tried to block out the noises. The deep growling. The high ka-ka!ing. The busy buzz of what sounded like bees the size of tractors. He tried to focus on the quieter sounds. The streams of water. The whispering jungle breeze. The rustling of leaves.
“Are you alright?” he heard a female’s voice ask.
“Yes. Hello. Are you hurt?”
“I…I don’t know. I can’t see.”
“That’s normal. That means you must have just arrived. It’s going to be okay. Your vision will come back in a few days. From my experience, it takes some longer than others, but it always comes back.”
“I’m almost positive. Don’t worry.”
“Can you see?”
“I can…but trust me, I was more blind than you when I first arrived.”
“How long did it take for you to regain your sight?”
“…A long time. It came and went. My name’s Tuora. I’m here to help... if you’re okay with that.”
“I could definitely use some help. My name’s Hudson.”