Word Pictures

Word Pictures (March 2020, Week 1 Day 1)

The boy was small, quiet, and easy to miss – and those three things were exactly what drew Ella to him. Knowing you’re wrong sets you up to fixate on those who are right and she, for all she wished otherwise, was his exact opposite. Ella untangled her gangly limbs and cringed as her chair scraped against the concrete floor but kept her eyes on the little boy as she made her way across the large room. If she hadn’t been at the library she might have left him alone. The library was the one place in the world where Ella felt brave and strong and like she just might be able to belong somewhere after all.

The boy didn’t react when her chair made the horrible noise, and he didn’t shy away from her as she approached him. His large eyes just blinked at her from behind his glasses as he watched her get closer. Ella held her tongue until she was standing within reach of him, thinking through what she might say. She could ask him a question, or share something about herself, or talk about the book she had in her hand. First impressions mattered – that’s what she’d learned over the years.

“Why are you hiding?” The question fell out of her before she’d finished deciding what to say and Ella bit her tongue to stop herself from letting anything else escape unbidden. She pretended that she didn’t care about the heads that turned her way, that she didn’t notice the disapproval on the faces attached to those heads. She kept her eyes on the boy and her mind on her tongue and waited for him to answer.

“I’m not hiding but if I was it would be because I want to keep the word pictures bright and not have them dulled by distractions.”

His voice was soft, just above a whisper, and crisp with extra oomph behind his Ts and Ss. There was a musical quality to it and Ella found herself wanting to come up with more questions for him just so she could hear it again. 

“Word pictures – I like that. What are you reading?”

The boy held up the book he was reading and Ella recognized it. “Oh!” Her blurt of excitement was loud and drew more attention to her. “But I love that book!”

“Well, then,” the boy said as he looked down at the words on the page, “you understand.”

Ella did. She had lingered over that particular book longer than most. While she wouldn’t have used the phrase “word pictures” herself she did understand why he did. Some books make you do all the work, filling in blanks and imagining what the author intended. This one was different. Each page was filled with such descriptive language that, for Ella, it had really been like the pictures formed in the space between the page and her eyes.

“I’m sorry to have bothered you.”

The boy touched a paragraph near the bottom of the page, closed his eyes for a moment, and closed the book.