love letters in braille

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It is a Tuesday afternoon, and the sun is hot and unforgiving in a cloudless Arizona-sky.

The air has been stagnant from the heat for the past couple of days; walking outside feels like attempting to push through a marshmallow, like everything has that particular texture - thick and chewy and molten. The tiniest movement causes break-outs and beads of sweat collecting on foreheads like miniature constellations.

A fly is buzzing around somewhere inside the crammed little corner shop; Jason has yet to spot it. It is a constant sound in his ears, very much akin to the humming of the decades-old refrigerator. Even with the air con turned up to the max and a moth-eaten towl to fan himself with, Jason feels hot and lazy, like the humid air has found a way inside him, too, filling him from nose to mouth, from ear to ear.

It's not hard to tell that his costumers feel the same. There are only four people in today: Stan, the Elementary school's janitor, who is using his newspaper to fan himself rather than reading it; Ellen, the soccer mom, who is busy eating a low-carb salad and rambling into her phone; Stephan, the painter's apprentice, who looks about ready to fall asleep while slurping on a Slushie; and a boy whose name Jason does not know. All of them are hazy from the heat, lizards dozing away their days on stones.

Jason's eyes drift back to the boy, involuntarily. He reckons that he is new to town, because he hasn't seen him around before; he has dark, close-cropped hair, golden-brown skin and a face that looks always half-ready to break out into a smile. He is wearing a bright yellow T-Shirt, sitting in the corner by the open window, sipping on his iced chocolate every now and then.

Aside from Janet, Jason is the only one in today; he reckons it wouldn't make much sense, anyway, to bring in more employees than customers. Janet, as per usual, isn't being much of a help: she's in the back, leaned up against a counter, chewing cinnamon gum and texting her boyfriend.

A single bead of sweat rolls down Jason's temple. A car passes by outside; it is the only sign of life out on the streets. Even the flies are too lazy to move, save for that one annoying specimen that is happily exploring the rack with protein bars right now. The world has been put on pause, muted until this wave of summer heat crashes and breaks its spell.

The clicking of a typewriter fills the heavy silence; it's the boy in the corner, typing away busily. Jason frowns, wondering who the hell even uses a typewriter anymore and what the boy is writing about.

That's when he notices that the boy's eyes aren't fixed on the letters; he is staring into space, almost like he's been hypnotized, hacking away at the machine without having to look. At first Jason assumes that he is so used to his typewriter that he doesn't have to check anymore, but then he notices that his typewriter, too, looks strange - instead of having a normal keyboard, it has one square key reminiscent of the space-key on a laptop in the middle, with three slightly smaller keys on either side of it.

He must be blind.

The realization hits Jason like a train; he immediately feels guilty for staring at someone who won't, can't notice, looking away from him and finding himself feeling stupid and weirdly guilty although he, technically, doesn't have anything to feel guilty for. This boy has had people walk on eggshells around him all his life, probably. I just wonder if-

Determinedly, Jason pushes off the counter, through the swing door and then approaches Janet, who has now added twirling a strand of her hair to her repertoire.

"Janet," he says. She doesn't look up. "That boy in the corner, with the yellow shirt?"

"Mr. Vintage?" she replies, sounding utterly bored. Jason draws his brows in frustration, but attempts to keep his voice light-hearted and friendly; if he pisses her off now, he'll never get the information he needs.

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