The Scarlet Letter
I have trouble falling asleep though. No trouble sleeping, just falling. So I usually read or listen to an audiotape to tune out the noise in my brain until I finally drift off. Tonight I will humor my husband and lie here with my eyes closed.
And he is right… I close my eyes and there they are. Written in purple-black ink the color of eggplant skin. Tiny elegant curvaceous letters flowing into each other to form words, and words delicately spaced flowing into phrases. The whole dance of text flows gently past as if on a divine teleprompter. I think they read from right to left. But I can’t quite make them out.
They are so tiny, like the last line on the eye doctor’s chart. I can see it, but I really couldn’t tell you what it says… is that an E or an F, or maybe an R? And to compound my frustration the Gods don’t seem to write using the familiar alphabet. No this is Sanskrit or florid Arabic of some kind; unspeakably beautiful but utterly unintelligible.
Infants, I’m told, have a foreshortened field of focus. They can only see what is important to them, which is things within a few inches of their face, like Mother’s breast. But I suspect that their relatively poor vision is actually adapted to a higher purpose. They are not much distracted by things external. Their very short sightedness allows infants to read the Words of the Gods that are written on the inside of their eyelids. Which also explains why they spend so much time sleeping.
Our consciousness changes as we age, until everything that is interesting or important is going on outside of ourselves, beyond our eyelids. Our eyes adapt to these new priorities and lo and behold, no longer can the Words of the Gods be brought into focus, if they can be seen at all. And we forget. Forget this language and these symbols… if only I could remember.
My vision is uncommonly good and since my husband has pointed this text out to me, I will try again. Perhaps more light will help. Yes, it does! A full moon or candlelight beyond my eyelids gives the Words bright sharp edges so that they can be distinguished.
I watch for a while and a pattern begins to appear. It is the same few words over and over and they begin to look familiar with repetition. Can’t the confounded things cease their infernal scrolling so I can get a good look at them!
And they do. They stop as if caught in the instant of a photographic flash. Now I can make them out.