Amy adjusted her contact lenses. She hated her contact lenses. Her eyes had started to water, but not because she was particularly upset… Embarrassed, yes, but not upset. Her eyes tended to water like this whenever she found herself in stressful situations and that made her contacts slip, so she preemptively adjusted them mainly out of habit. Sadly, as much as she hated them, the lenses were very much a necessity in Amy’s life. Not because of her vision, no, that was fine. She had to wear her contact lenses, her green contact lenses, because Amy had blue eyes.
Amy wished she had green eyes, just like those of her mum and sisters and some of her friends. Or brown eyes, like those of her dad, brother and a few more of her friends. But Amy had blue eyes. Throughout her life, she had met more people than she could possibly ever count; People of different races, ethnicities and cultures, people of different shapes and sizes. But she’d never met another with blue eyes. Not one person. It made Amy feel extraordinarily isolated. She felt almost freakish, like she was the only blue eyed person on Earth. More than anything, Amy longed to meet someone who shared her affliction and who understood what she was going through, but for now she was alone, so she kept them hidden.
Amy sighed and reached down to pick up her shopping. In her haste to get up from her seat on the bus, she’d upended the flimsy plastic bag and spilt the contents onto the floor. The next stop was hers, so the pressure was very much on to gather her things and get to the door. As her face started to flush, Amy began to pick up the items and haphazardly stuff them back into the bag, keeping her eyes down so as to avoid eye contact with the other commuters. She knew that they were watching her, awkwardly wondering whether to help while simultaneously trying to ignore the fact that anything had happened at all. She could feel dozens of pairs of green and brown eyes all fixed on her and it made her face burn brighter still.
As the bus approached her stop, Amy saw a pair of legs appear in front of her. She started to move out of the way in order to let them pass, but they stopped moving and started instead to bend at the knees. Keeping her eyes on the floor, Amy continued to hurriedly put away her shopping as a pair of arms and wrinkled hands appeared and began to help.
As the bus rumbled to a stop, Amy’s stop, the hands put the last item of shopping into her bag. Amy grabbed the handle and looked up to see the kindly face of an old man looking back at her. His deep brown eyes met with hers for a moment before the sound of the opening bus doors made her leap to her feet.
“Thanks.” Amy muttered, before hurrying to the front of the bus and out through the doors.
Jack watched the poor young girl scrambling about on the floor of the bus a few rows down, bundling packets of rice and cheese and who knows what back into her carrier bag. Her face, partially obscured by her seat, had very obviously turned bright red and Jack felt quite sorry for her. Nobody was helping. Not one person. They were all pretending not to notice. After a moment of deliberation, Jack eased himself to his feet and walked over to the girl.
The bus was slowing down to stop as Jack bent down, silently started to pick up the former contents of the plastic bag and hand them back. Finally the bus lurched to a stop, just as Jack placed the last remaining item back into the bag. Jack looked up to see the red face of the girl looking back at him. Her bright green eyes locked with his just for a moment, before she sprang to her feet, said something inaudible to Jack and scurried off the bus. After a moment, he carefully got to his feet, made his way back to his own seat and sat back down.
With a sigh, Jack adjusted his contact lenses. He hated his contact lenses.
Based on Shel Silverstein’s “Masks”