The "Do You Have Lots of Faults Too?" Issue



     by Sonya Larson

The bus tour to Mount Rushmore is when I lose my contact lens. Debris from the fuzzy neck pillow gets in there and when I pull my finger from my eye there it is, shiny and torn in two.

I swear quietly. This is the land of Jesus. The woman beside me wears a homemade shirt: I'm from Detroit, but I was born again. "What irony," Bill says, over and over. He stares at the contact, which is flapping in the wind. "It's the land of hills and valleys, and you've got no depth perception. That's tragedy right there. That's Shakespearean, that tragedy." He points his binoculars at some birds.

"Give me your glasses," I say. The bus cushions, its people, are all a mirage—half clear and half watery mess. I've got a headache blooming.

"The prescription'll be wrong for you. I'm practically blind."

"Not like me, you're not."

"Get accustomed first." He raises one hand and covers his eye. "See? I married a woman of resilience."

I wink back and forth, back and forth. The sunlight hurts even my good eye. I contemplate inventing a little patch with my bus ticket, strapping it to my head with a rubber band from my purse. I plan it in my mind, the whole structure and genius of it, but then drop it because I don't even carry a purse.

Detroit pats my arm, kindly.

Bill is looking through the binoculars when he announces a sighting of George Washington's nose. The whole bus can hear his excitement. "And his right cheek! And his chin!"

Maybe I can piece the contact back in two, with a little spit. But on my fingertip the thing has shriveled and dried. I flick it out the window and the bus slows over gravel, as Bill gets ready to stand. "Give me your glasses," I say. The headache is spreading from a slow screw between my eyebrows.

"You'll make it worse that way."

"This is a honeymoon; I don't care."

"They're big on you."

"I'm going to be miserable if you don't do something."

"Oh, honey." He puts his arm around me, husband-like, and gives me a kind and earnest frown. I love him but when I see that face, it's a face with no ideas.

"Give me your glasses."

"Fine," he says, and takes them off. "But be careful. We're the blind leading the half-blind out here."

I put on his glasses—thick shields, really. Instantly my brain twists inside, all confusion. I squint just long enough to see George Washington's gleaming forehead rising from the rock. Bill once said that that forehead is the closest he's ever felt to patriotism. You'll almost believe in it, he says. Almost.

I give him back the glasses and he hurries off the bus, aiming his binoculars at Washington or perhaps Lincoln or Roosevelt. I can't tell anything from here. Detroit turns to me, showing how to make a pinhole with my finger and thumb. If you look through it, she says, the image will sharpen. I love her so much.

Outside Bill is climbing on a rock. In his rumpled shorts he seems an older version of himself, earnest and tired—his fascination keeps him alive. "That's my husband." I say. "We're new at this."

With my fingers forming the pinhole, all the world's corners are darkness and skin. My one eye sees him floating, and the stretched white shapes of Washington's temples. She wants to see it herself, but Detroit stays on the bus. As if I'm the one to keep an eye on.