By Janet Shaw
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53 reddoor3/3/04 54 19/4/04 11:12 AM Page 54 BEYOND THE RED DOOR I didn’t realise that this seemingly meaningless task was to prepare me for the real reason that I had been sent to this school: to learn braille. But the intense dislike I harboured for the rule of not being allowed to read with your eyes was no match for the loathing that was evoked when my fingers were introduced to braille for the first time. The thick paper riddled with raised dots seemed to regard me with invisible eyes and speak in a foreign tongue.
This was something to be flaunted. ‘I’m not allowed to look at the sun because I’ve got a glass eye,’ I proudly told a friend soon after arriving at Nedlands Primary. ’ This was an afterthought. Somewhere along the way I’d become confused about the real reason for not gazing at the sun’s bright rays. It was my good eye that would have been permanently damaged by the burning ultraviolet rays, not my artificial eye. My glass eye and I had a love−hate relationship. In general I accepted it as part of me and never really noticed it, but when it needed readjusting or cleaning, I refused to take part.
As I looked at my sister’s red face, I overheard 39 reddoor3/3/04 40 19/4/04 11:12 AM Page 40 BEYOND THE RED DOOR Mum telling Dad that Susan had fainted when the thermometer was placed in her mouth. Our plans would have to be put on hold for a few days while she rested in bed. Sensing my parents’ worry by their lowered voices, I tried hard to think of something to say to make things better. It came early the next morning when I awoke to find my sister peacefully asleep and still breathing. This I announced excitedly to my drowsy parents, adding with relief that she wasn’t dead yet.
Beyond the Red Door by Janet Shaw