By: Sydney Fessenden

I like to stare at the Ikea light fixture in the living room,
letting the middle bulb sink into my shallow eyes.
I look until it starts to hurt, my ripped fingernails gripping
the worn suede of the couch as pupils get lost in
the dangerous yellow. For a moment I think of the
solar eclipse, when I looked at the sunlight with no barriers,
staring death in the face with a veil of night drawn over it,
laying on an inner tube in the middle of the lake with
hands of Tootsie pops and a friend.
It was easy to like it.

The raft we lie on drifts to sitting on top of Oakhurst
monkey bars, being upside down bats and not fighting
with mom. Then to the static of the slide as it lifts my
eight year old hair away from everything. If I went back
to the slide, it wouldn’t lift my hair again. For some reason
I just know that.

I finally look away from the light, uneven fingernails
loosening their hold. Nothing is left in my gaze but spots of
yellow and purple.

I try to blink them away, but the spots grow and
consume everything. My preschool picture in that
pink embroidered dress that I would twirl in as my
parents lifted me above the hammock that is now
consumed by ivy, the empty holes in the mantel where
stockings hung precariously, hearth melting the Ghirardelli
my cocoa-burnt tongue licked off shiny foil.
And my outstretched feet, almost as torn as my fingernails.

All I see is the yellow and purple, even when I close
my eyes. The hues creep into my lids until everything
about me is exposed to the dizzying colors.
I can’t see anything else. But it can see everything.
Maybe that’s easier.

Maybe it’s easier, but I miss that static and joy of fairy houses
in trees and stepping on raw pecans from the towering oak
above my sunburnt head, and Solo cups of white flannel caterpillars
that make little mouths scream for help when venom spreads
to unsuspecting knuckles. Pricked fingers would turn as
crimson as the overhanging mulberries by the curved concrete
wall, whereas now a pricked finger is sterile and cold in an
office, void of salt and unfamiliar in my teeth as I
fake a smile at whoever is behind the two-way mirror.
I’ve forgotten what side of it I’m on.
I’ve forgotten a lot of things.

I used to look into the light and enjoy the geometric patterns
that spread across my vision as soon as I looked away.
Nothing was obscured by the colors, only enhanced and made
into a masterpiece I could never recreate. Blinking made the patterns
even better. Blinking also made them go away eventually.

Now, the patterns blind me and reach past my large pupils
and cover up the wooden rings in my irises. Everything horrible that
my eyes touch is still there even after I close them.

I still blink anyways.