The Spectacle Dilemma

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
July/August 2011

Joyce Chen
The Spectacle Dilemma girl looking on the dresse

I hate everyone for making me wear those things

Angie pulled on a jumper and a pair of pants, not peeking. She stuck her arms in a jacket without allowing herself even to think. After gulping a cup of OJ and some cereal, she brushed her teeth without grimacing. But when she was ready, backpack slung over shoulder, it was time. To decide.

She let her eyes wander to the dresser, staring with unconcealed revulsion at the small, flat case that crouched beside her alarm clock. I hate them, she thought. I hate the nurse for that test. I hate Dad for ordering them. I hate everyone for making me wear those things… and saying I look so cute in them!

Angie shivered. The very abominable idea that she would look cute in that awful contraption was disgusting. Yes, that’s right, she decided, smiling smugly, she would not wear them. Of course she wouldn’t. She would leave them at home and say she forgot them.

With that landmark decision, she walked triumphantly to the door, ready to catch the school bus.

“Honey,” called her mother, “did you remember to bring…?” Her inquiring eyes appeared as she reached the landing. Angie scowled. “Well?” prompted her mother.

“I forgot them,” she mumbled, scuffing the carpet all the way to her dresser. Her hand hovered for just a moment above the case before her fingers closed around the rainbow-embroidered Angelina. Then it was stuffed unceremoniously into her backpack.

By the time Angie reached Mrs. Fox’s fourth-grade classroom, she had finished vowing to keep the glasses in her backpack until she could find another excuse to not wear them. But fate prompted her to break the solemn promise as the zipper was undone and the case fell out along with her homework.

Gregor stooped down to pick it up.

“I didn’t know you wore these, Angie,” he said, handing it back to her.

Angie, chatting animatedly with a friend, suddenly flushed scarlet as she caught sight of the case.

“I don’t,” she snapped, snatching them from Gregor. “No one in our class does.”

“But it has… Angelina on it,” the boy protested. She flushed even deeper and stuttered a little.

“Ooh, they’re yours?” asked Nancy. “Try them on! I wanna see!”

“I… I…” she stammered with the case half in her backpack already. But already a few others of her classmates had started watching interestedly. Slowly, the hand withdrew with the colorful case in it, and the same hand pulled the case apart. A pair of purple glasses fell out, their clear lenses sparkling in the light.

The Spectacle Dilemma girl with glasses

Her classmates waited, still watching.

Angie pulled them on delicately, her eyes closed, like they might explode any second. I don’t need these, she thought. I don’t need these. Then she opened her eyes. And blinked. And blinked.

These can’t be my eyes, she thought. These… are too clear. They’re too real. All of a sudden, in a dizzying rush, Angie realized, this is the real world. This is the real world! I can see again!

But there was another thing…

She turned around, facing her classmates, waiting.

All of a sudden, Nancy beamed and clapped her hands together.

“Oh, Angie! You look smart in them!” she exclaimed.

“I do?” she asked, wonderingly.

Gregor nodded his head, agreeing. “You look… nice in those.”

“I do? I do!” and Angie couldn’t help breathing a sigh of relief. Then she turned back again and slowly turned in a circle, drinking in all the details that had been so fuzzy before.

I can see again…

The Spectacle Dilemma Joyce Chen

Joyce Chen, 13
Missouri City, Texas

The Spectacle Dilemma Lydia Giangregorio

Lydia Giangregorio, 12
Gloucester, Massachusetts

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