I peer into my drawer of glasses, deciding, and empty eyes stare back. Most people don’t notice the images pressed into the lenses, like the negatives of old photographs, but Daddy and I do. He keeps his glasses in the garage, but I’m not allowed in there.
I select my pink ones with scratches on the lenses and Hello Kitty printed on the arms. They creak as I force them to fit and the plastic presses into my skin, but the memories are worth it. While Mummy watches TV, I watch snippets of old time imprinted in the glass.
Through the lenses, I see the park and my old bike, rainbow tassels swinging from the handlebars. The pictures are silent, but I remember the whirring sound of my stabilisers against the ground. Then the ground is all I can see. Daddy helps me up, brushes down my dirty knees and smiles.
He glances over his shoulder at a woman walking her dog. “Go on home, sweetie,” his lips move and my memory supplies the sound. “Auntie Jen will take you. I’ll be along in a bit.” I nod, biking off and waving, but he’s already walking away. A streak comes loose from my tassels and dances through the warm air, sharp red against the sky.
There’s a bang downstairs and reality shifts back into focus. “Daddy?” I call, returning the too-small glasses to the drawer. The stairs creak as I go down and in the kitchen I curl my toes against the cold tiles. “Daddy?”
I stop. The garage door is ajar. Daddy never leaves it open.
Fiddling with a button on my dungarees, I peer in. The concrete beneath my toes is icy and the darkness steals my voice. This room is out of bounds, but I can see the drawer where Daddy keeps his glasses.
He has dozens of them. They stare in more colours and shapes than I knew existed: some have lenses as thick as my fingers; others have yellow owl eyes, on the hunt for little mice.
I can’t help myself. I take a blood-red pair with scratched lenses — bigger than mine.
Through the glasses, the room changes and I’m pulled into a different time. The sunshine greets me and I smile back, pleased to find I’m in the park again. Ahead, a little girl rides her bike and a dog snaps his jaws around a ball. I untangle a crimson tassel from the grass and run it through my fingers.
There’s a hand on my shoulder. With a blur of white, the image twists to show the sky. The tassel slips to the ground in a streak of red.
It’s dark and I squint to see the picture in the glasses. For a second, I think something’s wrong with them: I’m in the garage again. The table is covered with a plastic sheet and there are tools beside it. The pictures whip around, so fast my eyes water, and the objects blur in splashes of black and red. The image settles on my hands and my mouth dries. Daddy twists a rope around them. On the table, there’s a glint of metal.
I wrench the glasses off and they crack against the concrete floor.
“What’s going on?” Daddy appears in the doorway, his face contorted with anger. I snatch the glasses, my heart pounding, and throw them into the drawer. The empty eyes stare. “You know this room is out of bounds!” he roars and I slide back, my stomach cold.
And I realise: Daddy doesn’t wear glasses.
Molly Flynn is a writer from Lincolnshire, UK and is currently studying English Literature at the University of Sheffield.
Thank you for your Patreon support; it means a lot to us.