by Maribel Steel
On my thirteenth birthday, I ripped open my presents. A rectangular box, with a pale watery landscape on its cover, made me jump up and squeal. My eyes widened as I savoured the moment, opening the box to reveal a riot of colour.
Six nested tiers of delicious Derwent pencils. Round-barrelled, elegant waxy spires of seventy-two fine art pencils, and I couldn’t believe they were all mine.
I dived-bomb my gift-bearers.
“Pity you don’t like them.” Dad laughed, attempting to free himself from the excited drop-bear clinging to his chilli-red cardigan.
“I love them!” I squealed.
Sweeping up my wands of colour, I followed my mother to our sun-filled kitchen. In the heart of her nest, surrounded by the warmth of saffron tones, was where I felt most inspired to draw.
I watched my mother slip on a cotton apron and swiftly tie the straps in place as she began to prepare the rich tomato sauce for our Spanish brunch.
I traced patterns of dancing sunlight onto a blank page, blending delicate shades of primrose yellow and orange chrome that swirled before my eyes.
My father entered the room and pulled out a chair. He moved the coffee cup to his left, encroaching onto my drawing territory guarded by Derwent soldiers.
“You can finish that later, darling,” mum said. “Lunch is ready.”
One by one, Mum took sizzling dishes out of the glowing oven. The spicy chorizo sausage smoked my brother out of his bedroom: happy to trade his six-string guitar for mum’s Eggs a la flamenca and put song writing fantasies aside for a while.
Our mother served each of us our fragrant meals. She moved swiftly from oven to table, puffing little puffs as she warned us to blow the piping hot sauce. The edges of the oven poached eggs bubbled in a sea of floating tomatoes, black olives and spicy sausage.
“So we’ll pick you up after school tomorrow, OK?” My father said plainly.
Looking up at him, I shrugged my shoulders. I had hoped my parents would have forgotten about the eye examination at school, the letter that came home – and the appointment they had scheduled with an Ophthalmologist.
I suddenly felt sick and jumped up before given permission to leave the family celebration. “It’s not fair.” I stomped my foot.
What’s up with her?”
Paul – leave your sister alone.” Mum scolded and continued eating, ignoring my melodramatic outburst. “Sit down, darling, please finish your egg.”
“‘It’s not fair.” I repeated angrily. “Why won’t anyone listen to me? I-Don’t-Need-Glasses.”
And with rigid chin, I turned from the table, bumping into the wooden door frame as I ran crying to my room, the words don’t be silly chasing me until I could slam the door shut on the world.
It took another two years before we learned the two words that changed my life forever – Retinitis Pigmentosa.
Maribel Steel is a writer & inspirational speaker, blogger, mother and vocalist. She lives in Melbourne, Australia with her partner and teenage son. She was diagnosed at fifteen with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). To read more about her various writing projects, visit her website: www.maribelsteel.com
Or read her most recent post ‘Being Blind Benefit #1’ at: www.gatewaytoblindness.blogspot.com