In Sight

2020 Short Story & Essay Contest: Honorable Mention, Adult Essay Contest

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She spins and twirls and practices balancing on her tippy toes while we wait for her name to be called. The sleeves of her fuchsia shirt launch floating circles into the air as she moves her arms through the otherwise still and monochromatic space. When we finally hear her name, she stops mid-rotation. The pink circles fall to the floor before evaporating.

“Are you ready to see your new glasses?” the optometrist asks before presenting her with a tiny pair of hot pink wire-rimmed frames with thick lenses.

Without speaking a word, my daughter climbs up on the chair and sits patiently as her new glasses are adjusted until they rest perfectly above the cluster of freckles that dot the bridge of her nose. The woman shows her how to take them on and off and they even spend a few minutes practicing how to place them in their case at night. I watch my newly bespectacled little girl leap off the chair, sticking the landing with the intensity of a gold medal gymnast. But rather than returning to the business of circle making, my preschooler quietly takes in her surroundings. She looks up at the lights. Down at the patterns in the carpet. Over at the rows of shelves lining the walls. Soon her face is pressed up against the shop’s window. 

“Mommy, leaves,” she points to a full oak tree in the distance. “I think I see leaves.”

My heart soars high and sinks low realizing what has been gained and what has been missed. Until this moment, my daughter has only has seen green masses like the one topping the forest she drew at school this morning. Today, for the first time in her 4-year-old life, she can see that there are pieces that make up the whole.

On the drive home, she spends the entire ride staring out the window. I want to ask her a million questions. Instead I honor her silence and her exploration. 

“What are those?” she asks as we are about to turn the corner to our street, the first words she utters during the drive. “Those things on that house.”

I try to pull over but the car behind us is too close. So we go around the block and park in front of the two-story whitewashed brick colonial in question.

“Those boxy things next to the widows,” I scan the house trying to figure out what she means but I still can’t figure out what she wants to know. “On the sides of the windows. The big rectangles with lines.”

“Shutters,” I call out like a game show contestant racing against the clock. “Those things on the side of the windows are called shutters.”

“Shutters,” my delighted daughter starts to sing. 

“Shutters, shutters, shutters,” she belts out from her car seat. 

“Shutters,” I join in.

My daughter and I sing the rest of the afternoon. We laugh. I cry. And I think about the gift of rose framed glasses.