This is a response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt Eyes

The fourth floor was colder and more quiet than the others. She held her hands out and waited, breathing fast and shallow.

“Ow!” she said, lifting up her bare foot, the big toe pulsing.

“I’m sorry! So sorry!” said the girl beside her. “They said be still, be calm here because the assemblers cannot be startled. But I can’t help it! I’m too excited!”

“Don’t jump around!” an old voice shouted, hands clapping right next to their ears. “Be still and wait.”

The two girls pressed into each other and tried not to laugh. They laughed.

“Calm down or I’ll separate you,” old voice said.

They had not heard that word before but they knew they didn’t want it. They joined hands and quieted themselves. One foot’s little toes curling in and out, in and out.

“What color?” she whispered to her new friend.

“I don’t know! I don’t care! I just want to see. I want to see everything!”

“Me too, me too! But I’d like green.”

“Why? You don’t even know what green looks like.”

“My mother told me. I heard her say, ‘Look how green the grass is, how very bright green’ then I felt her smile and remember something special. It made her heart skip.”

“Your turn!” the old voice said to the other girl, leading her away.

“Wait for me when you’re done!” she called after her, “I want to see you before we go!”

She waited peacefully in her darkness for the last time, listening to the infinite space between here and there…imagining, feeling without touching. This contentment is important. Why?

“Now you!” said the stern old voice with stifled joy, a story told with two words.

The girl held her hands out. Warm ones led her forward up one, two, three steps. A different place. Rustling. What’s that? Feathers! She will see an angel! She knew it.

She didn’t know what she knew but something shifted, inside or outside? Fear? It was smaller than she expected. She wrapped both arms around it and squeezed.

Wind pulsed behind her from great white wings.

“Are you protecting me?” she asked, arms outstretched.

Her answer tumbled in with urgency, years pressed into moments of courage, trust, surrender and fight. She heard nothing but she tasted it all, bitter and sweet. Life. Love!

A painful sharp tap on the shoulder and “why you?” whispered in her ear. “WHY YOU?”

She tilted her head and shook the doubt out, the sandy dust poured on the ground where it belonged, under her feet.

Gently, He took her hands. Stars fell from her fingers.

“There are no eyes for you here, child,” He said. “You will not see the way you expected, the way you wanted to.”

She swallowed hard, twice, her small hands exploring his beard, every long wiry strand woven through time like millions of silver anchors. She felt strong as steel.

“You cannot see,” He said. “You are blind. The choice is yours. Will you be born?”

She climbed onto his lap, put her head to his chest and listened. Little toes curling in and out in rhythm to the heart that bears all burdens. She heard it beat faster and soar with hope.

“Yes,” she said.

She thought of the green eyes she hoped for while waiting in line.

“What does green look like?” she asked.

“What does it look like to you?”

“Adventure,” she said, “and warm wind. And maybe tastes like sugar.”

“That’s right,” He said, holding her tight. “And are you afraid?”

“No. Because when I hold my hands out, someone will take them.”

And that’s what she did.

The little girl skipped away with the old voice who’d brought her up the stairs more excited now than she’d been before.

“When will she know she is the protector, of so many?” the angel asked.

“I don’t know.”

“What if she had refused?”

“She didn’t.”

“But what if she had? What if she’d said no? Then what? Why do you let them choose?”

“She did not say no.”

“But if she had! What a horrible mistake that would have been.”

“There are no mistakes here.”