Saturday, 18 June 2022

'Lens' by Mikki Aronoff

Your mother scuttled and shrank your world, so your dad took you to his lab to swell the invisible in the clutch of your eyes. With a magician assistant’s flourish, he sterilized a needle with a match, kissed then wiped your fingertip with alcohol. A prick and a squeeze, and he smeared a drop of your blood onto a small rectangle of thin glass, sliding it onto the microscope’s stage. A twist to focus, and the sky poured in. The first time you saw floaters in your eyes, you were a kid in the clinic’s bathroom.  You thought you saw germs without the aid of a lens, a super-power you clasped in secret. When you were eight, he let you hold the magnifying glass as he pulled a splinter with a tweezers from your palm. Voilà! For your birthday, he gave you a microscope kit, then drove to the park. A drop of pond scum on a slide. A hair. A picked-off scab.

Your husband scuttled and shrank your world, so you concocted a private retort. One Saturday, sitting across from him in a booth of the student union building cafeteria, five-way chili a weekly treat, you held your thumb and forefinger up to frame his face and torso. You’re only THIS big, you tittered.  He stared, saw the Exit sign through your face. For your birthday, he stole a cheap magnifier from Woolworth’s. Like Uri Geller bending a spoon he twisted its jump-ring onto a chain. The glass got scratched jostling against the keys in your pocket.

Later, your father’s eyes, milky behind glasses thick as bottles. The way he twists his neck to focus on your face, the distance behind just mist. Sometimes he sees what floats through your mind. Glass. Blood. A slide. Magic.

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