This story is by Tamas Zoltan Szenasi and was part of our 2016 Winter Writing Contest. You can find all the Winter Writing Contest stories here.
It is one unusual Sunday lunch. Especially unusual because this supposed to be my grandmother’s birthday, which – as promised – I am spending with my dad, mom and grandma. We can not be together like this often.
‘Oh my little grandson. Your parents are going to be late.’ grandma says to me with sadness in her voice.
She can predict it somehow before it happens.
She can easily read it from my face how I feel when mom and dad promise to arrive in time but they don’t do it. I can already imagine their reasons for being late.
‘You are a clever boy Billy, you know they always make up reasons to hide – or just not to tell – what they do not want you to know. Probably, they do not want to hurt you.’ grandma smiled and added:
‘Your mom’s excuse is going to be this:’ I could not come earlier because I had a meeting in the office. Smiles. ‘Old fashioned way of excuse.’
And, of course, your dad’s doesn’t want to be fair and straight, too, so: ‘I could not make it because my front left tyre got a puncture on the way.’
She looks at me and adds ‘Only I can tell, what they actually think and what nobody has ever noticed. Those little signs and oh yes, reading their behaviour. I can easily tell everything about them and my magic glasses are really helpful to do so.’
Finally they arrive. Truly not in time but they are here. My whole and little family finally get together, sitting around that big dining table in the kitchen. For me that piece of furniture – which I have never liked – is the classic theatre of feelings, told or untold emotions, fake facial expressions, whatever that last one means to be.
During this Sunday family lunch I hear the strangest conversation, among some mentioned unimportant things – for example – about the changes of the stock exchange or how the prices of goods harshly and unstoppably increasing in the supermarkets. None of them are interesting.
My dad starts ‘Does anybody read any newspaper nowadays?’
‘Why? Is it full of crimes, lies and sins? grandma responds, exactly knows what to say and when.
‘Are you reading in my mind? Mom, I always tell you not to do this, you know it is not my favorite thing. Anyway, I do not understand how people can do such things like these. Robbing, killing, lying.’
‘And stealing feelings and breaking relationships.’ mom responded with a never seen smile on her face, saying every word with her genuine and feminine calmness.
The air stopped, no breath could be heard. Grandma slowly put her spoon down on the table, sighed and said ‘As I always say it, inside of the body nothing is cold, and the body should never be seen as a cold one.’
‘What? Mom do not start this again, please!’ mom says, but after she winks at grandma and I see she knows what grandma means with this sentence.
‘Billy, it seems like our loved grandma knows what she says. Hm, brave.’ says my dad, after taking a spoonful of soup.
‘Mom what does brave mean?’ Billy asked.
‘I think your dad means that your grandma knows something what we do not.’ she smiled to me and dad.
‘Grandma is it true? Tell me. I want to know everything they do not know. Please!’ I said with a wondering face.
‘Billy, I love you and I love all of you. Here is how I do it. Do you remember when I told you about my magic glasses? Can you find me them?’ I turn to be really excited, mom and dad also notice it.
‘I think I’ve left them somewhere in my room. I am not sure, being able to remember things I’d done would be a miracle in my age.’ she whispered it into my left ear and smile again.
‘Mom, dad! Grandma asks me to check something in her room now. I am done with my soup, thank you. Can I go? Please?’
‘Ok, then. Hurry up. That chicken will be here on the table faster than you think. I want you to eat it until it gets cold.’
I run to grandma’s room then stop in her door and start thinking. It’s my task to find them and I also can not even guess why she mentions them as ‘magic glasses’.
I know that she needs those glasses to see. To see things others can not. It is tool for her. But how it comes to be called ‘magic glasses’. I totally become excited and can not think about anything else but those glasses. I start to look for them all around the room. First I check under the bed, after on her cupboard next to the bed and I also check in her gigantic and beautiful wooden wardrobe on the left side of the bed. I can not find them. I tell to myself ‘Maybe she has a special place to keep them at.’ When I am at the end of checking the wardrobe, I notice a hidden storage space in the back of the wardrobe. I open it. It is a box. A box with strange, wonderful and magical signs on it. I think I find it. I turn to be happy and smile. I lift the box out, hold in my hand for a couple of seconds.It does not seem to be heavy. I quickly open it. The glasses are in front of me. Finally I go out from grandma’s room and heading straight to the kitchen.
‘You hid them well.’ I put the glasses on the table, wink at her with a smile on my face and sit at the table.
‘There is no need to hide them I assume. Am I right?’ she says with taking a sharp look at mom and dad. ‘
They want to be hidden and found.’ she continues. She knows exactly how to make everybody to pay attention. ‘They leave you to find them, and you can find them with your unrepeatable and unique intuition. Well done darling. Can I have them? I want to show you what they can do.’
‘Is it about those glasses again? dad asks with his inimitable pessimism.
‘Yes Richard, we are talking about them. Oh, I almost forgot. Do you know why your question contains a lot of negativity and pessimism? Do you want me to tell you? Do you want me to get to know yourself better? she was really serious, took her everyday glasses off and put the magic glasses on. She starts ‘Let me begin, please.’
‘The answer what you need is inside you. So, do find it. Guess what? The answer is: You do not believe. You do not believe in miracles, in spirituality, reading feelings and knowing well what people around you are actually thinking about. Am I right?’
‘You are definitely right mom. I do not know what to say. ‘ dad’s face turns to red and it seems he has no secrets any more, after taking a look at my mom, whose mouth is still opened and her face also turns to red as a reaction on what grandma says.
‘I can see everything which is hidden from the eyes. I know it sounds like a science fiction thing. These glasses work like an emotion magnifier and a behaviour translator together.’
‘An emotion magnifier? Interesting. Your grandma seems suspicious to me Billy. May I ask you to make sure she is going to take her medicines after dinner?’
‘Using sarcasm? Typical for a person who wants to make the others think he is absolutely alright. Grateful and totally pleased with life, if you will, but you are not one of those. Were you listening to me when I said what I said? I do not think so. The most important is that I know why you are behaving like this. You are my son, I know youryou’re your inners and outers. I know what you think about and I can easily translate every little sign of your behaviour, however you behave. And I am able to do this because I have these glasses.
You are not interested in anything at all. I can see it on you.I always try to ‘check’ you without the glasses. I can not do it. You are taking extra care on hiding what is inside you and what you feel.’
Dad interrups ‘You are absolutely right mom. Every time when you are wearing those other glasses I realise I feel differently. That time I can not lie to you. I can not lie or hide anything to anybody around me even now.
‘They are not just a tool for checking how other people behave, they can actually control behaviour and feeling, because they are full of love and intuition. Just like I am.’