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A Minor Difference

by Dianna Dorisi Winget

I squinted glumly at the May sunshine that peeked through the clouds. Now that the rain had stopped, it was a perfect afternoon to spend working in the rock garden Mom and I had started. In fact, it was a perfect afternoon to spend anywhere, except indoors, waiting for my aunt Marge and cousin Kurt to arrive.

"Faith," Mom said, stooping to dust the coffee table, "Please don't look so bored when Kurt comes. He'll think you don't want him here."

I frowned. "He's blind, Mom. He can't see how I look."

"He may not be able to see," Mom said, "but he'll certainly be able to tell by the way you act. If you were at his house you'd want to feel welcome, wouldn't you?"

I felt a little stab of guilt. "I like him okay," I said. "I just don't know how to treat him. He's so different."

Mom nodded. "I know. But remember, he's the same age as you. I'm sure he likes lots of the same things you do."

I nodded, but I was sure she must be wrong. How could Kurt possibly like playing on the computer, or climbing the old maple tree in the backyard, or even watching TV for that matter?

Seconds later a bright red Volkswagen pulled into the driveway, announcing its arrival with two quick, cheery beeps. I watched Kurt climb out from the passengers side, his golden-red hair stirring gently in the breeze. He put his hand on the car and waited for his mom to come around to his side. Together, they walked to the front porch.

Mom went out to meet them, happily embracing Aunt Marge and then Kurt. I plastered on a smile and went over to receive my hug. I wasn't about to hug Kurt, but I did give him an awkward pat on the shoulder. I could tell he was as uncomfortable as me.

"Come on in," Mom invited. "I just made a fresh pot of coffee. Faith, why don't you show Kurt around a little?"

A wave of panic swept over me. Show him around? Was she kidding? How was I supposed to show him anything?

Mom gave me an evil-eye look. "I'm sure some fresh air would be nice after the long ride," she said.

"Uh, sure," I stammered. "Come on, Kurt."

I flushed with embarrassment as his left hand groped in the air for a few seconds before finding its way to my elbow. "I don't want to bump into anything," he explained.

"Right." I said. I led him toward the back yard with slow, stiff steps, wondering what in the world I was supposed to do with him once we got there. I didn't expect to see the beautiful rainbow that arched across the sky. "Oh, wow," I blurted. "Check out that rainbow." As soon as the words came out, I remembered Kurt was blind. I groaned and clamped my mouth shut.

"It's okay," Kurt said. "Is it a big one?"

I nodded turning my attention back to the sky. "Yeah," I said. "And close, too. One end seems like it's right here in the yard."

"Can you tell me what it looks like?" he asked. "Sometimes I can picture things in my mind."

Describe a rainbow? A rainbow is a rainbow. You either knew what one looked like or you didn't. I tried cocking my head at different angles, but the rainbow remained the same. "I don't know," I said. "It's a great big arch of blue and green and yellow and pink."

Kurt nodded.

I could tell he was disappointed, and it made me feel like a loser. But looking down at the damp, squishy ground gave me an idea. "Come on," I said, taking him by the elbow. "Let's get off the porch."

We knelt in the moist soil, and I took Kurt's finger and traced the shape of an arch. "There," I said. "That's how a rainbow is shaped. It's like an upside down U."

Kurt retraced the simple pattern several times. "But what does it really look like? The colors, I mean?"

I cleared my throat. For the first time I thought about how different it would be if I couldn't see all the colors around me. "I'm not sure how to tell you," I said.

"Maybe if you closed your eyes."

I tried it. "Okay," I began hesitantly. "Blue is the color of the sky on a clear day. It's bright and—deep and bold, and it makes you feel good, I guess. At least it does me." I opened my eyes, feeling foolish.

"Go ahead," Kurt said. "You're doing better than Mom usually does. Tell me about green."

I felt a little better. Could he really see the rainbow through my words? "Green is like the grass," I told him. "And trees are green, too. I think of it as a fresh, new color. In the spring everything starts to turn green because it's a new season."

Kurt smiled, and I felt a twinge of excitement. I closed my eyes again. "Yellow's next," I said. "It makes you think of something warm. Probably because the sun is warm and yellow. It's kind of a soft color, I guess—like a fluffy baby chick."

"Our kitchen's yellow," Kurt said. "Mom's says it's supposed to be cheerful."

"It is," I said. "That's why it's my favorite color. And the rainbow has a little bit of pink in the middle, too. But it's already fading. Pink is a very pale, gentle color. Right now you can almost look right through it because it's so fine."

We sat silently for the next few minutes as the colored mists began to disappear.

"Is it gone?" Kurt asked.

"Just about," I said. "Rainbows never do last very long. I wish you could've seen it for yourself."

"I heard about it," he said. "That's almost as good."

I took a close look at my cousin's face. Being blind made him a little different from me, but not as different as I'd thought. After all, we both liked rainbows. Being his eyes didn't seem quite so weird anymore. "Come on," I said, reaching for his hand. "I want to show you the rock garden Mom and I are building out front."

© Dianna Dorisi Winget