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Look Me in the Eye (Part One)
As my mother tells the story, I was born smiling with my eyes closed. I was unpleasantly brought into the world because the doctor felt it was necessary to spank my baby bottom. I was cleaned up and brought to my tired mother, who was eager to finally get her hands on this baby she’s been waiting 8 months and 3 weeks for. Once I was in her arms, I stopped crying and a grin was placed on my face. But my eyes were still closed.
My mother has the most beautiful eyes, according to everyone I know. I wouldn’t know, of course.
When relatives came to visit my mother and I in the hospital, they waited for me to open my eyes, to see if I had inherited them. When the day ended, the doctors were concerned. They waited the rest of the evening, and when morning came, they pried my eyes open. This scared me, so I stared at them, eyes wide open. A nurse screamed; my mother gasped. One doctor picked me up in awe.
My irises are pitch-black. My pupils are white, just like my eyeballs. The size and shape of my eyes aren’t irregular; the colors were all that made people look away from me.
I didn’t know how I saw was different from how everyone else saw until I was three. Being the first and only child of my mother, I was gifted for my age. We would sit on the couch for hours talking; not about the meaning of life or square roots (although I knew the square root for most numbers by memory), but about what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go, and things in that nature.
My mother told me I could do anything and go anywhere. One day she showed me my first picture. I saw a black background with outlines of wavy circles all over, and my baby face was outlines with white. This was normal for me.
“See the colorful background? You were in front of a rainbow of flowers,” my mother whispered into my ear. I knew colors. I knew the names and pretended to understand, but I didn’t. My mother called black red, orange, yellow, green, and more. She never mentioned the white outlines of the ‘colors’ she showed me.
“The flowers are beautiful. So are you,” Momma said. I looked at the photo for a moment, perplexed. All I saw was the wavy circles.
“Beautiful? They are just black, squirmy circles,” I told her. Momma looked at me, her white thin eyebrow raised.
“Circles? Black? No, honey. Those are flowers, you know that. They’re red, yellow, pink and blue. Can’t you see?” She pointed at the circles.
“Momma, stop calling them those colors. Colors don’t exist. There’s only black and white,” I explained. I knew what black and white were called because when Momma described that white was like the ceiling, I recognized it. A lot of things were white. She told me her hair was black, but it was outlined with white. When I told her this, she called me silly and ignored the comment.
Momma was quiet for a long time before we asked, “What color are my eyes?”
“They are just like mine, Momma. Black and white,” I told her as I gestured to my own eyes.
“They’re blue, honey. My eyes are blue.”
“Okay, Momma,” I sighed. When it came to these colors, I let my momma have her way.
Momma got up and went into the kitchen. I heard her get on the phone and talk in a hushed voice. I quietly crawled on the white carpet and sat at the doorway, listening to Momma talk.
“Is there a doctor in town that could help her? Yes. No, she said only black and white. Yes. She’s being serious, this is no game. You know Anne. She wouldn’t make something up. Well, yes. Okay, thank you, Mary Kate. Wait let me get a pen and paper. Okay. Uh huh, yeah. Okay, thank you. Good bye, love!” Momma hung up the phone and dialed another number. While it rang, she spotted me. “Go get Mommy a notebook for her grocery list, Anne, honey.”
“You have one in your hand, Momma,” I said, aggravated. Although I was three, I knew she was doing something mean. Nothing was wrong with me!
“Then, go color,” she mumbled. She gasped and said, “I, uh, mean, write me a story.”
“Why can’t I color?” I questioned, on the verge if crying,
“You can, honey. Go, go color!”
“Okay,” I sighed. I let my shoulders hang as I walked to the living room. I got out the crayons and stared at them in confusion? Why so many crayons for the same color? I wondered. I shrugged and got out my dinosaur coloring book. I heard the hum of my mother’s voice as I rubbed the black crayon on the dinosaur’s tail. I was careful to stay within the white lines. Soon tears made the picture blurry. It didn’t matter. There wasn’t much to see anyways.