What do you do, where do you go, when your entire life becomes disillusioned and all your dreams disappear?
They could still hear the audience clapping and cheering loudly, even though they had already exited the stage in their usual fashion of a ballet like dance and synchronized royal wave. Tobias had said from the beginning that making the departure as memorable as the show was very important, it was a way of keeping the audience connected to them. He was so right, thought Olivia, but then again everything he did for the show and for them as a couple, these past 7 years, always was. After the show they went to the café to unwind, like they always did. As she looked at him she thought back to how they met.
Olivia had first met Tobias Kendrick or Toby as she called him, when she was just turning 20 years old. She was walking down the Santa Monica Pier with her friends to celebrate her birthday that would be on the next day. He was busking there, his magic tricks had caught her attention. His stage presence or in this case pier presence had collected a nice sized crowd. She worked her way to the front as if drawn there by his voice. He was saying “and for my next trick, I will need an assistant!!!” He raised his arms and then swooped them down creating a pink haze, he twirled around and stopped suddenly, one hand pointing at her. “The magic dust has chosen!!!” the crowd applauded, he stepped towards her took both her hands in his and looked in her eyes. “And who is this assistant with the beautiful bright eyes? “ he asked loudly. In a small voice she replied “Olivia” “OH LIVE e Ahhh” he cheered to the crowd. She was shy but felt comfortable near him. After helping with his card trick that amazed everyone, she stayed to watch the remainder of his show, thinking she liked the way he pronounced her name, it was as if it had a life of its own. After his performance he approached her “you were a great assistant” “Great assistant, hardly, all I did was pick a card” she smiled. “JUST A CARD” he laughed “you picked more than just a card” he paused “you picked ME” from that moment on, they were together. His dream of making it big and being a headliner in Las Vegas, soon became her dream as well. Whenever she wasn’t at work, they were together. He trained her and she became his fulltime assistance on stage and off stage, his wife.
Life over the years was typical in most ways, happy times and small fights when they were tired from rehearsing as well as their regular boring day jobs. Her as a waitress and him as a janitor in an elementary school. Toby said it was the perfect job for him, there were advantages to working alone most of the time, it freed his mind to constantly work on their show. While sweeping and cleaning he planned the performance in detail, he always carried a pen and note book in his pocket, to write down all of his ideas. They lived a duel life, by day they were average people but by night they became THE KENDRICK’s MASTER’s OF ILLUSION. They were performing in small clubs around the city, at the beginning of every show he would introduce her by saying “O LIVE e Ahhh with eyes so bright, will assist me with the show tonight.” Her name meant peace, but he preferred to say it meant LIVE, because she made him feel alive. Each show included illusions, levitation and mentalist tricks that all the great acts did, one small difference from them, was that Toby still liked to include the audience, during one or two points in the show, he would dial it down and bring a person up on stage to do smaller tricks, card tricks that use his biddle grip, glides and blind shuffle skills. These were the points in the show that had a lighter mood. He liked to throw in a little comedy by saying things like “ocus bocus” then pause with a funny look on his face, “I mean HOCUS POCUS” the audience would laugh as well as Olivia, she never tired of his playful spirit and passion to entertain.
Later that month after more shows and daily grind, Olivia arrived home from work, changed into a loose dress and sat down gently in the chair, careful not to put pressure on her injured leg. It had been just another ordinary day, with one small exception. She had seemed rather clumsy that day, knocking things over that she hadn’t seemed to have noticed were there. This included an extremely hot cup of tea, which toppled down onto her leg scalding her. When Toby arrived home, she explained what happened and that they wouldn’t be able to rehearse. He was sweet about it “that’s okay bright eyes, just rest we need you healed by the weekend for the show” By the time the weekend came, Olivia was well enough to have gotten one physical rehearsal in and the show was one of their best ever. After their traditional intro and exit, they went off to the café to unwind. During the conversation, Tobias’ phone rang. Olivia could only hear his side of the conversation but with each comment, Tobias became more excited, his eyes widened as he looked at her. He hung up, grabbed her hands, almost leaping off his chair. “WE DID IT!!!” “What? who was that?” she asked “That was the owner of the club we just performed at- THE OWNER not the booking agent!! He saw the show and wants us to be regulars!!!! 3 nights a week and 3 shows on the weekends, and the money is almost the same as we make at our jobs.!!!!! ABRACADABRA “
Life took on a whole new joy, months of being regulars at the venue, had sparked an exhilaration in them that they hadn’t felt before. Their show kept evolving which kept the house packed, their reputation was spreading. “I can see Vegas getting closer” Tobias would whisper to her at the end of every show. The Saturday matinee usually included a lot more families, this day was no different. The show was going on normally when suddenly Olivia tripped over a prop. She had been doing this more and more lately at home, tripping over objects she hadn’t seen but should have remembered were there. That night at home. Tobias questioned her about her increasing clumsiness. “I think you better see a doctor, just to be safe. You are probably just worn down, we have been working hard.”
Olivia waited nervously for the doctor, “It’s probably just a vitamin deficiency” she said to herself unconvincingly, her inner voice told her it was more serious than that. After answering all the doctors’ questions and his brief exam, he said “I’d like to refer you to an Ophthalmologist.” He said coldly. Olivia left the office with her appointment card in hand. “Only 2 days until the appointment, why the rush?” this thought scared her. When she got home, Toby greeted her with a smile “Hello bright eyes, what did the doctor say?” sadness crossed her face and Toby became concerned “What is it?....what did he say?” she explained it and expressed her fears. In his usual fashion, Toby tried to cheer her up. “No worries, they are just being cautious, it is probably a simple issue with an abracadabra, hocus pocus easy cure your bright eyes will focus.”
The next two days seemed like an eternity. Finally at the Ophthalmologist office, she felt relief and fear. Relief to get answers but afraid of what those answers would be. Toby held her hand to comfort her. After a short exam, the Doctor said “it’s a good thing you came in. I would like to run a few more test. For this test, I will put special eye drops to dilate your pupils, allowing me to clearly see the retina at the back of your eye. The drops make you temporarily sensitive to light and cause your vision to be blurry, so I am glad your husband is with you to get you home safely. After the drops, the doctor said “I would like to get a better look, I am going to do a Retinal Photograph, which is just a special camera used to take photographs of your retina” . After looking at the screen, the doctor turned to them, “ I’m afraid my suspicions were correct. Olivia,,,,, you have Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) “ Both Toby and Olivia were quiet dread, then Toby asked “What is it? can it be cured?” The doctor began his explanation, it is a rare genetic disorder that involves a breakdown and loss of cells in the retina—which is the light sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye. Is there a history of it in your family Olivia?” she didn’t hear his question she was lost in thought. He repeated himself. Olivia looked at him through her still blurry eyes and quietly muttered “I don’t know, I’m adopted” Toby’s voice cracked, “ok doc, what do we do, how do we fix this” the doctor paused then said “I’m sorry, there are some treatments to slow the progression, but there is no cure. ”What are you saying” Toby stammered, the doctor looked away and then softly said “I’m sorry Olivia, but you are going blind”. The bus ride home was quiet, numb with shock of the news. Tobias took the window seat, while Olivia sat beside him with her extra dark sunglasses on that the doctor had given her to wear. They were far from stylish, but they would do until she could buy nicer ones.
That evening was filled with a mixture of silence and tears. So many thoughts going through her mind, she had never wondered about her biological family, she loved the one she grew up in. Now she questioned herself about them. Thinking of a past she knew nothing about, knowing that the same people who gave her life, are the reason her future was just ripped away from her. All her dreams, all THEIR DREAMS, everything they had worked so hard for, will soon be gone, like a disappearing act. She would never see Vegas.
Over the next few months she became increasingly irritable, refusing to rehearse, not wanting to perform but doing so because of their contract. Daily they fought about finding a replacement for her. She insisted yet Toby refused. “I DON’T WANT to go on stage without you, it would feel like I was having an affair.” He would yell, “We will just perform until you can’t do it anymore, then QUIT.” “NOOOOOO” she would scream back at him “ YES!!! I WILL GET A REGULAR JOB, then we will learn to adapt to our new life.” Daily routines were less about rehearsing and more about emotional outbursts of frustration, fear and feelings of failure. Toby dragged her to the clinics that were to help her adjust to what being blind will be like. Learning to use a cane, cook, memorizing the apartment layout, neighbour sounds and smells for location and read braille all before she was blind. All the time Toby was by her side, except during counselling sessions, they were private and Toby had sessions of his own as well. She often wondered what he said in them but never asked. Home was no longer the safe haven filled with hopes and dreams, it was more like a courtroom awaiting a sentence. She wondered if Toby still loved her or did he resent her, and he no longer called her bright eyes.
She didn’t sleep well these days. She would sneak out of the bedroom after Toby fell asleep. She would sit quietly sobbing, her thoughts always went first to anger, HOW COULD THIS HAPPEN, WHY, Why me? Then her mood would change to guilt, she was once the girl who made him feel alive, now she was ruining his life, killing his dreams. She felt like a monster. A selfish monster who was torn between letting him live and losing him. How could she let her eyes destroy his vision, but how could she live without him. Life wasn’t fair.
The next day was quieter than usual, Toby seemed to be in an angry mood as he looked through the help wanted ads, knowing time was running out. Olivia sat down at the table with him accidentally knocking over his orange juice. “DAMMIT OLIVIA! BE CAREFUL!!” he bellowed. Shocked at his outburst she jumped up to get paper towels. He tried to save the newspaper but it was drenched, “How the hell am I supposed to find a job if you wreck the paper?” As she turned to wipe up the juice, Toby collapsed into the chair sobbing. “I can’t,” he cried “yes you can, we will get another paper” he put his face down into his arms and barely audible “no,,,,, I can’t go back to the old days and I can’t have the future we planned” She went up beside him and he hugged her, pressing his face into her stomach, sobbing. “I’m sorry, I just don’t know what to do, I am useless, I have no magic to help you and I’m not strong enough to quit for you.” he continued to cry in defeat. He was no longer denying the seriousness of the situation. He had finally broke. As she held him she knew what she had to do.
After a second day of running strange errands Olivia had sent him on, that took up most of each day, he entered a quiet apartment. Putting the bags on the table he noticed a note.
“Tobias, Love of my life, light of my eyes. I am moving back in with my parents. Do not come for me. You will be to busy auditioning assistants, the list of them is on the fridge. If I am still your life, then you will see Vegas for both of us. This will be your magic for me. Let my departure be as memorable as our life was, always connected. LOVE LIV
………Later that year, the usher came out through the doors from the auditorium in Vegas. “That was weird” he said to his fellow usher” “what?” “I just seated a blind woman, for the illusion show, why would a blind woman want to come to this?” Inside the auditorium, in the back row, sat the blind woman, a smile appeared on her face as she heard his voice “Ladies and gentlemen, my assistant Tara and I welcome you to MAGIC FOR O LIV E AH.