Side Effects May Vary

Rated 4.33/5 based on 6 reviews
Carol-Anne Lee wants nothing more than to see, and she is willing to do anything to fulfill her dream. When an experimental operation is offered, she accept the risks. But after 42 years, is it worth it to change? More
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Price: Free! USD

Words: 5,800
Language: English
ISBN: 9781476349350
About Melody Hewson

Update: Uprising, book one of The Wolfcaller Chronicles, will be released Monday the 13th of Jan.

I am an author, a teller of stories both long & short, both real & imagined. So for the sheer sake of my own amusement, here’s a bit of information about me, written in the form of a short story. Whatever information you can gleam from these words is what you are worthy of knowing about it's creator.

Hazel green eyes stared out across the lake, studying the serene surface. Not even the ripple of a fish dared disturb the water, & the sun’s reflection painted it a glistening white, allowing the watcher’s imagination to turn the lake into a great pane of delicate glass, lightly frosted with the reflected beams of the sun.
Silently, a small bird, possibly a duck coming to rest after it's yearly migration, swooped down & landed in the middle of the calm lake, resting there several seconds before beginning to preen it’s shimmering feathers. Still, there seemed not even a single ripple to evidence any disturbance from the bird's presence, though likely this was simply an illusion due to the distance.
As if offended by the uninvited guest, a soft wind sprang up, blowing strands of auburn hair across the watcher’s vision & fracturing the fragile glass, transforming it into a myriad of sharp, roiling waves. A soft lapping sound began to fill the prior silence as the waves struck against the muddy shore.
Smiling in amusement, the young woman looked down at her companion, a black & white dog who rested calmly at her feet. “Hey Jackalope.” She said in a high tone that was reserved for speech directed to animals. “Want a cookie?”
The dog looked up at hearing his name, then sprang excitedly to his feet at offering of a treat. Giving several excited yaps, Jackalope spun in a tight circle, then looked to her adoringly, his body quivering with excitement, hind end shaking with the force of his curled tail’s wagging.
Laughing, she pulled a small bag from the pocket of her worn jeans & gave the excited aussie mix one of it’s contents. Not for any special reason, just simply because he was there & was behaving himself. She took great pleasure in spoiling him.
Pleased with his unexpected goodie, the dog swallowed it & wriggled against her legs, hoping for another, but only receiving a few affectionate scratches & a kiss to the muzzle once the bag was put away. After a few minutes he once more settled at her bare feet, occasionally biting at an itch on one of his forelegs. For several long moments, he was watched enviously, his slender, elegant legs & sleek, colorful coat, even his short, folded ears were all things she would have loved to possess herself.
The young woman finally turned her attention back to the lake. The duck was still there, floating serenely. She could almost imagine it was napping, being warmed by the sun to counteract the year-round chill of the spring fed lake. ‘I should buy a duck next time I’m at Wal-Mart.’ She thought to herself fondly. 'It’s been over a year since I’ve had some.’ But then a new idea sprang up, unwanted & unwelcome. The imagined taste of roast duck soured in her mouth as a single word floated up from the dark recesses of repressed memory. ‘Lakeland.’
“Ugh, felk the duck.” She spat in annoyance, replacing the expletive with one of her own creation. “And felk that bastage at the duck lake as well. Felk all those bastages.” While not offended by such language, the use of replacement curses was a habit left over from several years back, when she had worked in an inbound call center. Thus, the commandment given, the unpleasant memories of the city Lakeland & those who she had once interacted with there so many long years ago were once more forgotten.
The thoughts were quickly replaced by much more pleasant ones. “I should work on one of my stories today.” She spoke aloud, another old habit from time beyond her memory. Jackalope, well used to such habits, mostly ignored her speech unless he felt it was directed at him. “Hm, I should work on Taiyra’s story. But I almost feel like writing about Nadirah.” Both names belonged to characters from the game World of Warcraft that had long ago taken life of their own & had several short stories written about their various adventures in the game’s digital world.
As the breeze came again, this time from the opposite direction, the young woman closed her eyes & tilted back her head, enjoying the cool caress of the wind against her face. Despite it being winter, she knew her skin would have it’s customary darkness. She had no use for tanning beds or laying in the sun, her lineage itself provided her with skin that tanned easily but rarely burned. Her sun worshiping mother’s jealousy over it was a source of great amusement.
The sudden slamming of a faraway door & angry shouts finally shattered the peace of the morning. An argument, full of cursing & words of hatred, drifted into the young woman’s ears & she sighed, shaking her head. “Thank Naomha that’s not my family.” She muttered softly while attempting to ignore the fighting from across the street. Naomha, another of her replacements, was the name of her deity, which she regarded with little more reverence than she did anything else.
“Naomha,” she had explained once to an eager listener. “Is not the christian god. She is not all vengeance & wrath & rules. She guides with a gentle hand & suggestions. You’re free to ignore her suggestions & do your own thing without fear of making her upset & being punished, you simply deal with the consequences of your decisions, good or bad. Naomha simply says that life will be easier & more pleasant if you go a certain way or don’t do certain things, but ultimately, it’s up to you. Thankfully, she never says I told you so.”
The young woman sighed sadly & turned away from the lake. The argument across the street sounded like it was just getting started, the pleasant stillness & calm of the lake irrevocably lost. It was time to go home. Rising eagerly to his feet, the Jackalope followed closely beside, pausing only to pee on some interesting patch of grass before returning to his place at her left.
Looking down at the dog, the young woman once more smiled. She owned her own home, she had a well mannered dog, & she lived just a few feet down the road from the lake. The neighborhood itself was often a quiet, peaceful place, surrounded by woods & the various wildlife that inhabited them. Despite the lack of a few minor luxuries & occasional, though brief, pangs of longing for the company of other people, she was happy.
“Life is good.” She said cheerfully to the dog, pulling out the bag of treats from her pocket to reward him once more for nothing. “And today is a good day.”

"I looked heavenward for angels, while beautiful demons showed me the way." - Shannon Nacyl

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Reviews

Review by: Jonathan Antony Strickland on June 03, 2013 :
As ever this was a exceptionally well written story by the author. The amount of detail that went into the story and the understanding of a blind persons world was truly outstanding and moving.

I always like a story that suprises me (a lot of the time when I'm reading stories here on smashwords, I do find that the endings are a bit too predictable), and though at one point as the woman enters the surgery I thought I'd guessed what that ending might be(I was figuring on some new kind of brain transplant. My only conclusion to my thought process on this is that I really should stop reading so much shlock horror and sci-fi tales). And I'm glad to say how wrong I was.

In other words...Good story. Good ending. Good stuff.
(review of free book)

Review by: Carla Warla on March 18, 2012 :
Wow! Very good. Well written. Amazing ending!
(review of free book)

Review by: Mark Stewart on March 12, 2012 :
a good enjoyable read
(review of free book)

Review by: Dylan Robinson on March 11, 2012 :
A wonderfully written story. The author clearly did her research on the topic and was able to go into intricate detail of the thought process of someone who is blind. The ending is very exciting but I believe it falls a bit short. I hope to see a second part to this story or atleast more of it.
(review of free book)

Review by: MB Crandell on March 11, 2012 :
Excellent story! I wasn't expecting the ending at all. This story reminds me of an old Twilight Zone, and just like that writer, this author made sure to keep the suspense building and delivered a whammy of an ending! Definitely a good read. I will be watching for more, and thankyou for sharing.
(review of free book)

Review by: Nathan Johnson on March 11, 2012 :
"Side Effects May Vary is a very good thriller about a woman who hasn't been able to see during her 42 years of life. Ms. Hewson does not dissapoint. It's certainly a book worth recommending.

Nathan Johnson, Author of "The Rebel"
Publisher, Smashwords
(review of free book)

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