Girl in the Dark: A Memoir of a Life Without Light
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Even impossible lives endure.
Once, Anna Lyndsey had an ordinary life. She was young and ambitious and worked hard, she had just bought an apartment, she was falling in love. Then what began as a mild intolerance to certain kinds of artificial light developed into a severe sensitivity to all light. Now, at the worst times, Anna must spend months on end in a blacked-out room, where she loses herself in audiobooks and elaborate word games in an attempt to ward off despair. During periods of relative remission, she can venture out cautiously at dawn or dusk into a world that overwhelms her starved senses with its beauty.
Eventually, Anna’s unthinkable fate becomes a transcendent love story, offering an extraordinary perspective from which we can see light and the world anew.
hastily. “It doesn’t have to be absolutely every day.” “Hmmm. I don’t think I’d be any good.” “That doesn’t matter, at all. Anyway, you don’t know that, until you try it.” And, eventually, he agrees. I lean down and put my arms round him, resting my face against his hair. “Thank you, my darling,” I say. “I’m sorry everything is so bonkers, and that this is yet another bonkers thing.” THE COURSE TAKES place in a large high-ceilinged room, on the third floor of the Royal College of Music’s
and some posh jam as a present for Pete, who is a connoisseur of conserves. My mother sits on the tall chair in the kitchen, chopping up beetroot, while I make cups of tea. She holds forth on: 1. Something outrageous that the government is doing (her indignation is fresh, as she bought a paper to read on the train). 2. Problems she is having with the venue for the music course that she runs twice a year. Many of her punters are past their first youth, but the well-known boarding school she
of my mind, the curve of my wit; that I have substance, though I move wraithlike among shadows, that the years before the darkness laid down rich sediment which has not been washed away. But there are not enough people. In fairness, I have not made it easy, for them or for myself. Moving to Itchingford from London when I did, I placed geographical, economic and psychological barriers between us, as well as the more subtle ones of divergence of experience, of loss of common ground. To visit me
pulse of the universe, and felt its beat. June 2006 In the weeks that follow the spare-room revelation, darkness rushes towards me, as the shadow of the moon rushed over the sea. Outside the house I no longer leave, summer opens its jaws wider each day, revealing more of its teeth. With each rotation of the earth, the sun bounces up earlier in the morning, arcs higher, lingers longer around the shrinking pool of night. I have to keep the curtains closed, at first only halfway, then fully; at
made in hope during an upward trajectory become, by the date they should come to fruition, mere absurdities; it is hard to believe that they once seemed within my grasp. Three times I arrange to go to Stonehenge at dawn, a most suitable trip for a light-sensitive person, when one can pay to be let in and walk among the stones. There is always high demand, and booking is required several months ahead, plus the completion of an application form requiring details of “musical instruments” and “any