Story Submitted by Ted:
It was unusual for a woman to ever message me online, and the fact that Marla did made it all the more unexpected. She was about ten years younger than I was (in her mid-twenties) and seemed pretty into the Punk scene. I was (and still am) into the music, so maybe that's why she e-mailed me. We spoke, flirted, and set up a date.
We were at a small cafe, and things were going pretty well, although she seemed impulsive and a little too self-involved for my interest.
Then, at one point, she asked, "What time is it?"
I said, "Eight o'clock."
She said, "Shit," and pulled out two band-aids from her pocket. Then, she asked, "Do you have a pen?"
I did, and I handed it to her, curious about what she was up to. She drew an X on each band-aid, removed the backings, and pasted them, one each, over her eyes.
"Now I can't see anything, and I need your help," she said, "I'm doing this every night around this time for penance. Eight hours a day, night until dawn. You'll have to guide me around, now."
"Why not just take them off your eyes? You'd be able to see."
"But then I wouldn't be doing my penance."
"Penance for what?"
I thought for a few moments before asking, "How did you get here, tonight?"
She said, "I was dropped off by a friend. He's picking me up, so don't worry. I'm not stupid enough to drive home like this."
"But you'd wait in the dark with your eyes covered for him to pick you up? Why don't I wait with you for him?"
"We don't have to end the date," she said, "We can go get coffee, dessert, go see a movie–"
"See a movie?" I asked.
She said, "Yeah. You can tell me what's happening as it happens. I promise this is something I have to do."
I said, "I'm not sure if this is something I can really handle."
She pulled out her phone and said, "I can call my friend and ask him to pick me up now, if you want."
I asked, "Why don't you take the band-aids off of your eyes? I'm sure that there are other ways to be penitent."
She said, "Don't you get it? This is the only way. Am I calling my friend or not?"
I stared into the band-aid-covered eyes of the girl sitting across from me and said, "Call him. I'm sorry."
"I'm sorry, too. I guess I thought you'd be cool with it."
I waited with her outside the place for her friend to pick her up. When he came by, I helped her into the car, we said our goodbyes, and that was the last I saw of her.
Story Submitted by Ted: