The Highest High

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I was sitting quietly on a red stool, bag in lap, waiting for my turn at the eye doctor’s. The girl skipping about next to me looked all of five years old. A wide pink headband smoothened her long hair away from her face. She had on matching shoes. She looked bored, and to pass the time she would smile at me, then turn away, then smile again, then turn away again.

I see that her grandma is waiting be fitted with new eyeglasses. The little girl’s dad, being the one who promised to pay for grandma’s glasses, was helping to choose a pair of frames.

Tiring of our smiling game, the girl marches imperiously to her dad and demands, as only little girls can, to play their game of swing-in-the-air. Her dad picks her up and swings her body back and forth, the momentum lifting her up, up, up in a widening arc.

“Higher, dad, higher!” the little girl cries, shrieking with pleasure.

Her dad protests, “But honey, look at your hair, it’s getting messed up.”

“Common, Dad, higher, higher!”

The pink headband loosens, and then tumbles to the floor.

“Higher, dad, higher!”

“Sweetheart, we have to stop, mom will get mad.”

“No dad, higher, higher!” She is laughing so hard her eyes were filling up with tears.

“Alright, no more, that’s enough.”

“Noooo daddy, I want to go higher, hiiigggghhheeerrr!”

The doctor motions me to go inside. I am told to peer into a peephole and stare straight ahead. I see what looks like a Lomo photo of an empty highway stretching to the horizon, a taut blue sky, a noonday sun beating harshly down, a white monument towering in the distance. I stare at this scene until my eyes begin to water. Next, I am tasked to read letters of varying sizes, all equally spaced out, neatly black against a square white box lit from behind. I toss off a lot of vowels and consonants, making up guesses for those that blur out on me. After a while the doctor matter-of-factly says I can get up from the cool leather chair, and that she will be back momentarily with my lenses.

I look down, my vision refracting black letters on the floor.

Even through the closed door I can still hear her screaming, “Higher, daddy, higher!”


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