The waves crashed onto the shore.
Patrick Jane sat on the golden brown sand, the wind blowing through his hair. The blue sea glittered in front of him.
Not that he knew that, of course. He couldn't see the blueness of the water, or the play of colors by the fading sunlight on the sand, though he could hear the roar of the ocean, and smell the salt in the wind, and the powdery touch of the sand grains beneath his fingers.
Two years ago, the accident that killed his father also took away his sight. Ever since, he had been living with his aunt in Malibu. '1309 Cedars Street' was the address, though, as his aunt told him, there were no cedars there. It had been rather a shock for him to learn that not only did he have an aunt, but apparently, she was stinking rich. Something about an inheritance that was only given to her and not his father. She had nothing good to say about Alex Jane, but she still seemed to be fond of her nephew.
The beach was the best part of this place.
He was somewhat popular at school, because he could still pull off many of his carnival tricks despite his blindness, and girls found him cute. Any lagging on his part regarding his studies was regarded as an effect of his disability and generally forgiven. He lived in a good house, slept in a room that was positively princely compared to the trailer he grew up in, was going to high school and doing moderately well, had made a few friends, and yet-
Yet he visited the beach in the evening alone, day after day, sitting at the same spot, smelling the same scents, and listening to the same waves, as if he believed that if he tried hard enough, he could remember what sight felt like.
It didn't work. It never did.
He heard soft footsteps behind him of someone walking on the sand, about five feet away. He turned around and smiled, ready to greet whoever it was. It always freaked people out when he could tell exactly where they were despite not being able to see them. "Hello."
To his surprise, the other person didn't sound unnerved. "Hello." It was a feminine voice, with a strong Californian accent. She sounded somewhat young, probably the same age as him. He heard her come closer and sit next to him. He could smell her perfume- it had a distinct scent of cinnamon to it. "I don't think I know you."
"Jane." He didn't extend his hand. "Patrick Jane."
"Nice to meet you, Teresa."
They sat in silence for a while, listening to the waves hitting the sand.
"What does it look like?" He asked.
"Well," he made a vague gesture around his eyes. "I can't see, but I know it must be nearly sunset, and I really want to know what it's like today."
"Oh," she said. "I really don't know how to do this."
"Give it your best shot."
She took a deep breath. "Well, it's rather bluish today. The sea is in front of us. It's a bit late, so..." Her voice trailed off. He imagined her shaking her head. "I don't know how to do this."
Silence fell over them again. He heard her shift slightly beside him. "Do you live here?" He asked.
"No." He heard her say. "My family and I are just here on a visit to a rather dreadful grand-uncle. We probably won't see him again for at least a few years, I hope."
Patrick chuckled. "Not very kind of you."
She sighed. "I suppose I ought to be. Kind, I mean. Because the world is not. And every ounce of bitterness comes from pain."
"You're not responsible for the world." He reassured.
"What do you see?" She asked suddenly.
"What do you see?" She repeated. "Do you remember what it was like to see?"
Patrick shook his head tiredly. "I can feel things, but I can't remember what they look like. I remember shapes. But otherwise, for me, there's nothing."
"Black." He said. "It's always dark in my mind."
Silence stretched between then again.
He started. "What?"
"You asked me what it looked like." For some reason, she sounded nervous. "It's not as late as you thought. You just thought that because it's cloudy."
"Oh," he said.
"Have you ever lived in California before?"
"Not before I turned blind."
"It's hot." She proceeded to tell him. "Terribly so. It's like the sun is trying to slowly cook you."
He chuckled. "That I can verify."
"But it's about to rain," she said confidently. "I can always tell when it is about to rain."
"What is rain like here?" He asked. He'd already spent two years here, but he hadn't seen the rain.
"It doesn't rain much here." She continued. "But when it does, it looks beautiful. The bright yellowish-white sky gets washed with light blue. Clouds move slowly across the sky. The temperature rises like crazy at first, but then it cools down." She took a deep breath. "Yellow-white is the color of the sun burning on your eyelids. Blue is the color of the coolness of water."
"The air starts to change, too. In the summer, it's lazy, like specks of dust floating around. Before the rains, it settles down, like a soft and pleasantly cold cocoon around you, almost like a blanket."
He had felt the change in the air, he would swear he had felt it a couple of days ago.
"The day it rains, most of it is warm and clear. As evening falls, though, temperatures start to drop." He heard her give a small laugh. "And then, the sun sets, and darkness falls, and you look up to realize that the clouds have taken over the sky- not white ones, but black clouds, the color of darkness." He sucked in a deep breath. He knew that color, it was all he saw.
"And, if you hadn't been looking up at the sky, you'll be surprised when you hear thunder. It always thunders first," She told him matter-of-factly, "because the storm starts too far away to see the lightning, so at first you can only hear thunder. It's a distant rumble, like the sky is growling." Her voice faded into silence.
"And then you see lightning, extremely distant, and hear thunder again, louder this time, and the sky breaks."
"Breaks apart with rain." She replied. "Everyone calls it a cloudburst, or the burst of monsoon, because it looks as if the sky is bursting, the way a water balloon bursts if it is filled with too much water." She paused for a moment. "And every minute, the storm grows larger and comes closer, until it is right over you and lightning makes the night as bright as the day. And thunder sounds, as loud as a mountain collapsing. It sounds as if a war is going on in the heavens."
"The drums of war." He said.
"And then it rains until the next day, when it stops for a while after which it starts again. And until the season is over, the world is fresh and clean and alive, water swirling over the tress and the roofs of the city, and the parched ground soaking it up, exuding the fragrance of quenched earth, that most exhilarating of smells. The trees are green again, hundreds of shades of it, hundreds of shades of the color of life, the color you might feel when you touch a new leaf. It's as if the world is being reborn."
Teresa started to say something, but she was cut off by the sound of a boy's shouting. "Reese! Reese!" He heard footsteps of someone running towards them, and the boy, whoever he was, came to a standstill next to them. "Reese, c'mon, get up, we're leaving soon. We need to get back home."
"Yeah, fine." She almost sounded a little disappointed at having to leave. "Tommy, this is Patrick. Patrick, this is my brother Tommy."
"Nice to meet you." He smiled where he thought Tommy must be standing. He heard a slight sound as Teresa got up.
"Goodbye." He started to get up himself. No point waiting if it was going to rain soon.
"Hey, Patrick, you need some help?" Tommy asked. "You could fall if you aren't careful."
"I'm fine." He said curtly. It always annoyed him when people thought he needed help.
"Okay, good, that's good." Tommy sounded a bit hurried. "See ya then, Patrick, I gotta go after Reese. She stumbles on the rocks at the end of the beach sometimes, you know. Tricky place."
Patrick frowned. "Stumbles?"
"Yeah, she's kinda stubborn. Walks without her cane everywhere. Not every blind person is Daredevil, huh? I've got to see the stuff she can't. Bye, dude. I have to run."
He heard Tommy's retreating footsteps on the sand, and then he was gone.
Faintly, a distant boom of thunder reached his ears.