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Colors on Canvas
For as long as I can remember, I have stayed inside.
I don’t mind, believe me. I have everything I could ever need. I spend my time cooking for myself and my family, painting, playing every instrument I know, writing, and doing pretty much everything you could possibly think of. I do it in complete darkness, upstairs in a room I can only assume is large and beautiful. The carpet feels quite nice. I am very happy.
I am not blind. I just cannot be exposed to light.
When I was born, I was already infected with too much stimuli. Something was wrong with the sight area of my brain; it was abnormally weak. If I was exposed to any sort of light, the doctors had said, I could die in a matter of seconds. It would be too much for my brain. So, I was kept in this room, completely dark. This doesn’t mean I can’t do anything. I’ve just learned to do things without light.
However, somewhere in the back of my mind, I can see it. Only sometimes. But those times make sense. It’s opposite of the black; glowing, almost. And it makes me regret how I am.
I cling to that one speck of light that I see.
“What do things look like, exactly?” I ask my sister one day. She stays silent for a while, and I suddenly hear a song playing. It seemed melancholy.
“This is called Scarborough Fair,” my sister said, “and if it was something you could see, you would see dark blue.” I pick up my paintbrush and ask my sister to get me some dark blue paint. She does. I direct my brush in a circle on the canvas. I cannot see, but feel, each stroke. She then plays another song, Danny Boy. Supposedly, that is what purple looks like. I stroke my canvas with the purple in fluid, swirly motions. This continues on until my canvas is full of every different emotion and melody in the world.
My sister came into my room today, describing to me the world outside. She told me that she went on a picnic, and the grass was the greenest it had ever been. There were children playing in the park, blowing bubbles and chasing each other around. The world seems to be a wonderful place, according to all of my sister’s descriptions.
“The doctors say they can help you.”
I sit up. I can’t believe these words.
“What?” I ask.
I lie back down. Having sight? Being able to... see things? What will that be like? I wonder how colors look. All of this wonder is rushing to my brain so quickly, I feel faint and barely notice my sister telling me a story.
Something about a sun, and a bakery on the corner, and birds everywhere. I can’t wait to see the world.
It is the day. The doctors come in without knocking, which surprises me. I quickly bury my head in my pillow as they walk in, as to not be exposed to the light. They shuffle in, and I can feel someone sit down on my bed. My sister.
“Where’s the mother?” asks a voice.
“No mother, just me, her, and the father,” responds my sister.
“What happened to the mother?”
“Died during labor.”
“How old is she?”
“Fifteen, sir. Still quite young.”
“And you won’t tell anyone about this operation?”
“An illegal operation can get us all killed. You realize this, don’t you?”
“Yes, sir. I do.”
Illegal operation? What? I open my mouth to protest, closing it quickly as my sister pinches me.
“The council doesn’t take kindly to this kind of thing. You should be very grateful for this,” demands another.
“I am sir. We are. This will save her life.”
I sit up, just to be roughly shoved down once more. My sister tightly grasps my hand, and I hear her voice as it whispers to me again. What it says, I cannot make out, because it slowly fades away as a needle is inserted into me and I drift out of consciousness.
I wake up on the carpet, and nothing makes much sense to me. It’s a new sense. The carpet is... it isn’t black... I can see!
I can see the world around me!
I look upwards. Something... light... objects I have never before seen. Everything is so different than from how I had visualized it. It’s lovely....
Suddenly, the door opens. It’s a living, breathing being. Whatever it it, it is beautiful. The very sight of it comforts me.
“Put this on!” The voice belongs to my sister. This is my sister!
“You’re beautiful,” I say, as she tosses me a normal-looking black thing. A dress. I am sure that is what it is.
“Put this on, quickly,” she replies. I do as I am told and figure out how to throw it on, as quickly as I can. My room is large! I was right! I try to contemplate everything, picking up every object, looking at myself in the mirror. Is that what I look like? It doesn’t reflect who I truly am at all. Or maybe it does, just in a different way.
“Go outside,” my sister says frantically, “Take this canvas. Never let go of it. Promise me that much.” I do as she says, taking a rolled up piece of material.
“Where do I go?” I ask.
“Anywhere,” she says.
“Should I come back here later? Are you coming with me?”
“No, and no, I’m sorry.” My sister grabs my shoulders and looks at me, pulling me closer to her in a hug. I am familiar with that, and I am comforted.
“I love you,” she whispers, “Be safe.”
I am shoved away by my sister, and I run. Out of the doors and into the world, I run.
I was promised a world with color, a world full of happiness and picnics and blessings, but that isn’t what I see. I see no park with green grass, as I was promised. From what I have heard about the color, the world is gray. There are no children running around joyfully, no musicians on the street. There is nothing. Nothing but gray. It is so immensely sad.
Where is the blue sky I was promised? This void does not seem magical or joyful. It is dark. So dark, and so... tragic. Nothing is very different from the nothing I am used to, except for the formless shapes all around me. People, walking on the streets, hunched over, miserable.
I was hoping for beauty, for I world I would want to live within. No, this place is not the one I thought it would be.
Two people round the corner. They are holding something long and shiny... guns. I am not a fan of guns. They come closer to me, and I try to run away. A gruff hand grabs my shoulder, and a deep voice calls out, “You there! Do you know of a blind girl in this household?”
I nod my head, opening my mouth to respond, but I am interrupted by the other man. “Let’s go in,” he says. “She is the biggest threat of the year.”
Why are they trying to find me? I want to tell them that I am right here, the blind girl that they are searching for, but they storm off without another word to me. They run into the building that I came out of... my home.
I hear my sister’s voice.
She declares that she is me.
I’ve been out of my house for two months now. I have learned that the world is not full of happiness, as I have been masked to believe. I lie on the ground during the nighttime, next to the woman with two little girls who snuggle up next to her, trying to savage from her all of the comfort they can muster. During the daytime, people trudge along the streets in gray business suits that match the world. Men with guns hold the weapons to the heads of many, killing them for the slightest step outside of their line. Innocents should not deserve to die. The only reason to remain alive is to hide in the shadows, as I have done. What a cruel place.
There is a hole in the world that should have been filled with Scarborough Fair and Danny Boy.
I crawl onto the concrete tonight, looking at the smog above me. I wish I could see stars. I know I will never be able to. Suddenly, it dawns on me.
They were attempting to kill me. Why? Because I had not been exposed to this dim, dark world they have created for me. I knew not the gray, but the color! Light! my sister told me stories, ones that had helped me create my own world inside of my mind.
Did they see me as a threat? Or did they see my world as something that could end their own?
Yes, they attempted to kill me. My sister allowed me to see so she could save me. Oh, but why would she do such a thing? I am so angry at her for ruining everything! I can no longer live in a land of my creation and of her stories. And my only support since I was young, my dear sister, is no longer. Oh, why? Tears are streaming down my face as I lie next to the mother and her children, all asleep. I am hungry and afraid. Why does this have to-
But wait. My sister is cunning. Before I know it, I am remembering the rolled-up canvas that my sister shoved into my hand on that day. Looking down, I realize that it is still firmly gripped in my hand. I unroll it hastily, smoothing out it’s wrinkles. Gasping, I lay the canvas out in front of me.
Oh, it’s all I used to see. All. I. Used. To. See. Swirls of Scarborough Fair contrast with the gray above me. Danny Boy laid out like a song of color, all creating a symphony. Violet, turquoise, bright orange, olive green, everything that I used to imagine pops out at me now in a symphony of wonder and truth, a power of goodness strung together with the colors that form perfect patterns, beyond what promises me it is, and all I know is that it is absolutely, completely and fully beautiful.
I hear a sob from over my shoulder, and turn around to see one of the little girls has awoken and is looking at the canvas with a twinkle in her eye. “Its... wow.” She looks at me with the same sparkle, wonder upon her face. “Are you magical?” I am empowered by her words. Taking her hand and wrapping her in my arms, I say to her, “No. But I am here to make everything better.” Because it is not I that has never been exposed to light, but them. And I have the ability to show them the colors that have never before grazed their hearts.
Because sometimes, in the back of my mind, I can see it. It is glowing, almost. Opposite of the black. And I cling to that one speck of light that I can see, because I know that there is still hope.