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G is for Glasses

I still owe you folks a bunch of urban fantasy worldbuilding ficlets. So, with thanks to msstacy13 for the prompt, here we go:

G is for Glasses

Katie scowled and followed her mother into the store. It just wasn’t fair. She pulled and dragged and stomped her feet, which wasn’t nearly as satisfying as she imagined swishing her tailmight be. Not that she could do any such thing, of course. Her twin sister changed forms just fine, but the only sign that Katie was catkin were the slit pupils in her very nearsighted eyes. Pupils that would look even stranger seen through thick lenses.

Katie’s mother sighed. It was hard enough having a kit that was stuck in human form, but foot-stomping, as if her child were a mere human, and an ill-mannered one at that? But all she said was, “What can’t be cured must be endured.”

This was met with more foot stomping; words didn’t make things better, and those words in particular usually signaled a turn for the worse. But those words also meant that her mother wouldn’t change her mind, no matter what her children did or said, so Katie sighed and tried on a frame, and then another. She expected it would be quite the chore, trying on frame after frame, leaning back to see how the color and shape fit her face, and then leaning forward to peer at the details.

It wasn’t the experience she expected. There was something magical in the way a pair of glasses could make her look like someone else, someone quite different than her sister, Pearlie. Some of them were like costumes, making her look like her mother or a teacher, a doctor or a judge. Together, they posed a new question: who did she want to be? And then she found something even better. A few, a very few, gave her the sense, for the very first time, that she was looking at herself.

She leaned into the mirror, grinning, going back and forth between those frames to pick the best two, the ones that made the world look brighter when she had them on. Then she walked quickly, with light, sure steps to her mother. “Look at these! They’re so marvelously, splendiferously perfect!”

Her mother took the frames and read the prices on the tiny labels. “These are awfully expensive.”

“The sign says two for one, so I can have a pair and a spare!” Katie pointed to the sign. “Please?”

Her mother had her try on some other frames for her, but it was clear that she was eager to wear those two, and reluctant to wear any others. The change in her demeanor when she was wearing those frames was quite pronounced. It was as if she gained two years of poise and maturity in those frames. Finally, her mother agreed to pay more than twice what she’d told Katie was their limit, and the technician in the back room made the glasses while they waited.

The first glasses were purple metal, with tiny pale blue stars, and the second pair were also metal, but had purple, green, and blue strands twined in a pattern that reminded Katie of braided hair or Tiffany lamps. Katie danced around the room in the second pair, waiting impatiently for the first pair to be finished. She felt free and graceful in the glasses, a new feeling for her. When other customers came in, she didn’t stop dancing, but she also managed to never be in their way. Catlike, she never tripped or knocked anything over.

Then the saleswoman came out to fit the first pair of new glasses precisely to her head, while the second pair was sent back for its lenses. Katie cooperated with the fitting, her heart pounding and her eyes darting around the room whenever the lenses were perched on her nose. The world was so bright and clear! People and things had a bright inner glow. Dutifully, she read the words on the wall and the small print on the card the woman handed her. She patiently waited while the woman cleaned the glasses one last time, then returned to dancing.

The other girl, the one who had come in while Katie waited, looked unhappy. “They’re all ugly!” she cried. Katie couldn’t help but let her eyes fly to the scene as the girl’s parents offered a new set of glasses to try. The girl had a clear blue inner light; the glasses they parents offered matched their own orange and brown glows. Predictably, the girl hated all of those too. She ran to the far end of the store, where she stood facing a wall with her face red and eyes closed. The mother hung on to one of the frames, while the father put away the rejects.

Impulsively, Katie went to the cheapest wall, and grabbed frames whose inner glow matched or complemented the girl’s glow, and walked over to the girl. “Excuse me,” she said, “I—I didn’t want to come here for glasses either.”

“It’s not fair that I need glasses!”

“No, it’s not. But they will buy you a pair you hate if you don’t find some you like. And what good is that?”

“None.” The girl opened her eyes. “Hey, those glasses you’re wearing look good on you. Do they have more like them?”

They did, but the glow was the wrong color for this girl. “I don’t think so. But maybe you could try these?” Katie felt an odd confidence, but let her voice sound hesitant as she held out the glasses she’d picked out.

The girl tried on one of the frames, and then another. “These are all better than the ones my parents picked out.” She smiled. “I’m Alma.”

“I’m Katie.” Solemnly, the girls shook hands, and then Alma dragged Katie to meet her parents and help them look through frames.

By the time Katie’s second pair of glasses was ready, Alma and her parents had agreed on two frames and they were comparing addresses. They only lived three blocks apart, and were scheduled to go to the same middle school the next year.

As they left the store, Katie said, “These glasses are magic!”

Watching her daughter’s eyes dart excitedly back and forth, lingering where the world’s hidden auras were brightest, her mother had to agree.


( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 11th, 2014 11:50 am (UTC)

Oct. 11th, 2014 08:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Gee...
Oct. 11th, 2014 12:10 pm (UTC)
I wish my glasses had been magic.
Oct. 11th, 2014 08:16 pm (UTC)
Me too!

In retrospect, I wonder if the glasses are actually magic, or if Katie had reached a point where anything that opened herself up to being herself might have worked as a catalyst for her own magic.
Oct. 12th, 2014 01:31 am (UTC)
Interesting possibility!
Oct. 12th, 2014 04:22 am (UTC)
She is catkin, after all.
Oct. 11th, 2014 02:57 pm (UTC)
D'aww. ^_^

Picking the right glasses is hard!
Oct. 11th, 2014 08:16 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you liked it!
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 12th, 2014 03:31 am (UTC)
Thank you!
Oct. 12th, 2014 03:24 pm (UTC)
Loved this. Having recently picked out glasses...
Oct. 12th, 2014 08:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you. I'm glad to hear it--not the glasses part, though there's only so long you can put that off once you start needing them, but that you enjoyed it.
Oct. 14th, 2014 08:09 pm (UTC)
Yay! Really enjoyed this.
Oct. 15th, 2014 01:25 am (UTC)
Thank you!
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )


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