We stood together near the beach on my last vacation day. I eagerly bent over her small portable showcase looking for the earrings I’d found earlier. They were gone.
“I told you you should get them when you wanted them,” she teased.
I kept looking for something blue to match my eyes. My husband found a pair I’d not noticed. He held them out. The earrings with multicolored blue stones had silverwork that swirled in the elegant shapes of treble clefs – a tiny tribute to the musician in me.
He bought them then complimented the shopkeeper on her English.
“I learned speaking with people here,” she said proudly. “I did not go to school.”
I looked at her face to thank her. We were both smiling. Her eyes shone dusky brown gold: the colors of sunrise when the new sun spreads across red desert earth. Warm light poured out of them. She told me her name. I told her mine. I was swept away by her beauty. I’d not looked into her eyes before we’d bought the ear rings. She’d watched me, intent on selling me something – me, being an easy pushover, intent on not being talked into buying something I didn’t want.
Now we’d finished the transaction we could face each other in gratitude. She beamed, filling me with her warmth. She saw me and I saw her beyond the small business exchange we’d just made by the beach. We could see the wonderful game we’d just played together – and laugh.
True eye contact can be as intimate as an embrace. Each of us is a world. Catching each other’s eyes – two worlds meet for a brief moment.
Why have I been so afraid to look?
I wear the ear rings still. I’m wearing them now. The blue brightness of them brings comments. People like them.
They are blue like my eyes. But I remember hers.
I cannot remember her name. I will never forget her eyes.
Janet Lee Carey was raised in the redwood forests of California. Hearing the soft speech of the ancient, whispering trees she dreamed of becoming a writer. She is the award-winning author of eight Young Adult novels including Dragonswood, (Kirkus and School Library Journal starred reviews). Her Wilde Island fantasy books are ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults. School Library Journal calls her work, "fantasy at its best-original, beautiful, amazing, and deeply moving."Carey links each new book with a charitable organization empowering readers to reach out and make a difference.
She tours the U.S. and abroad presenting at schools, book festivals and conferences for writers, teachers, and librarians. http://www.janetleecarey.com
7:30 BELLS Posts run every Tuesday.
7:30 BELLS Guest Posts run on the second Tuesday of every month. Join me on February 9 for a guest post with children's book author Clare Hodgeson Meeker.