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Believing is Seeing

By , Taylorsville, GA
“Do you think she gonna like it?” Izzie asked as she wrinkled her forehead in concentration, forcing her tiny, aching hand to continue producing rich, solid lines with her dark blue crayon as she refrained from scrutinizing the work she had already done. She poked her tongue out as she moved her tired hand back and forth over the paper, the movement causing a few more of her wild, tangled blonde curls to fall free of their ribbon each time it was made. Although she was beginning to feel restless, it wasn’t hard to convince herself that she didn’t need a break—after she finished coloring in the sky, her picture would be complete.

Feeling a hand lay gently on her shoulder and give it a pat, Izzie glanced up from her work to see that her best friend, Stella, had stopped organizing the crayons in order to give her a reassuring look. “She’th gonna LOVE it!” Stella insisted as she grinned a smile made all the more beautiful by the missing baby teeth. “Look how pretty it lookth!” Izzie couldn’t help but smile at her friend’s lovable lisp.

Feeling a giggle rise up from her tummy, Izzie quickly managed to fill in the last little space in need of her crayon at almost the same time as Stella finished her organizing. Stepping back from her kiddies table, Izzie tilted her head and absently stuck her finger in her mouth, her light blue eyes surveying her hard work. Stella moved silently to stand beside her, sticking a concentrated expression across her features and staring hard at the picture that Izzie had slaved over for nearly an hour.

Though it was a little crude, Izzie believed the picture got the image that was in her imaginative mind across. It depicted a hilly, flowery field with a deep blue sky overhead. A rainbow curved its way through half of the page, and next to where it touched down stood two stick-figure personas of herself and Stella, holding hands. “It does look pretty…” Izzie admitted meekly, her heart being too young to yet have felt the sting of true pride. “But is it good ‘nuff?” Doubt was prickling at Izzie’s mind, and she reached up a chubby hand to smack her forehead in uncertainty as she looked away from her drawing--and made the mistake of glancing around her room. The hideously pink walls, rug and bed sheets that she had detested for as long as she could remember met her eyes, and immediately she felt a headache coming on. She really didn’t like her room—it wasn’t at all suited to her newly developed tastes. However, after asking her parents year after year for a different-colored room, perhaps blue or green to suit her likes, the answer was still a no.

Stella twisted her lips and hesitated to answer a moment, not having finished her scrutiny over every last detail. Izzie tore her attention away from the pink she so hated and focused back on her best friend, waiting in slight fear as she watched Stella’s eyes flit over the drawing’s four corners. “Ith PERFECT! Ith tho good! It will work!” she finally exclaimed, clapping her hands together and giving a little jump of pure joy in the air.

At her best friend’s assurance, a wave of excitement began to rise up in Izzie, causing a grin to explode on her face as she turned energetically to face Stella, balling her hands in fists and pounding the air in front of her. “You tink so?!” she squealed, her excitement overflowing in her eyes and coming out through her voice.

Stella turned to grab Izzie’s hands eagerly and began jumping up and down, her mocha brown eyes lit with assurance. “Yeth I know tho! Thith’ll do the trick!” she happily insisted, laughing as Izzie returned Stella’s grip on her hands and began jumping as well, spinning her best friend around.

Suddenly, Izzie stopped jumping, releasing Stella’s hands as she took her attention from her best friend and put it back on the drawing, a thought of how she would have to clean up the surrounding table sometime that night passing through her mind. Gently, she ran a chubby finger over her picture’s surface, a slightly worried frown creasing her cherub face. “I hope…” she sighed, a light that made her look years older than she was appearing in her eyes. “If this doesn’t work I dunno what we gonna do,” she admitted softly as her mind struggled to come up with solutions she hadn’t already tried. However, she drew a blank. Over the past year and a half, she and Stella had tried everything they knew how to do. Up until this point, nothing had worked.

Izzie prayed this time would be different.

Stella blinked, and grabbed Izzie’s shoulders, shaking her out of her thoughts. “But thith’ll work! It gotta! Ith…what that word?” She crinkled her forehead, furrowing her eyebrows as she tilted her head to gaze up at the ceiling from one eye.

“Um…” Izzie analyzed her friend’s face, raising an eyebrow innocently as she thought about the situation. Unfortunately, being young as she was, her vocabulary was very, very limited.

Before she could think of a word, a voice startled the pair from their thoughts. “Izzie! Dinner in three!” Izzie’s mom’s voice rang through the house, making Izzie jump due to the familiarity of the firm call.

Stella tightened her grip on Izzie’s shoulders as the girl took an involuntary step back, forcing Izzie’s eyes to meet hers. “Thith ith our chanthe! We gotta do it now!” she told Izzie, reading the uncertain expression on her face perfectly. Izzie smirked and crossed her arms over her chest; Stella knew her much too well. As soon as her mom’s voice had called for her, a stab of doubt had almost convinced her she shouldn’t even try.

With a glance at her best friend’s firm, stubborn face as she dropped her arms from Izzie’s shoulders, Izzie slowly reached over and grabbed her drawing, looking it carefully over once more as she cradled it in her hands. A look of determination crossed over her face as she took the picture in one hand, letting it fall to her side as she stomped past Stella, heading towards the door. “Then let’s do it,” she stated a little nervously, not looking back to see if Stella was behind her as she reached for the door knob. She could hear her friend’s light footsteps on the wooden floor behind her.

Biting her lip, Izzie cringed as her mom’s warning call reverberated through the house, holding on to the door knob for support. “Izzie! Come in to dinner, Dad’ll be home soon!” it yelled, and though no harsh tone laced the words, the reality that they symbolized was just as bad. Izzie stared hesitantly at the door knob, wanting this moment to last forever so the next moment of her life, where she would throw the door open and charge down the hall bravely, would never come. She smirked as she thought this, remembering how Stella always made fun of her when she asked of Izzie what power she would have if she could be a super hero. Instead of flying or controlling nature, the only power Izzie ever wanted was the ability to stop and start time on command. She had never questioned why this was—she only knew it would come in handy. Time was such a pretty thing.

Suddenly, a sharp poke right below her ribs jarred her from her mind’s wanderings, and she craned to see over her shoulder in irritation. “Whatta you waiting for?” Stella wondered as she met Izzie’s eyes, a slight smile tugging at the corners of her lips as a few strands of her dark brown bangs fell into her eyes.

Izzie glanced away from the girl, slowly cracking the door open in hesitation. “I guess nothin’” she mumbled, and lifted a foot to step through.

Smiling in glee as happy excitement rose to fill her eyes, Stella laid an assuring hand on Izzie’s shoulder, pushing her through the door. “Thith ith gonna be great!” she reassured Izzie for the last time. “Ith gonna work, you’ll thee!”

Taking a deep breath, Izzie nodded absently at Stella as she stepped out of her room. Gripping her drawing firmly, she began to run down the hallway connecting her bedroom to her kitchen. “Mommy! Mommy!” she cried, a hopeful grin forming on her face as her chubby legs that were a tad too short for her age carried her faster and faster towards her kitchen. She could hear Stella’s footsteps behind her, and was reassured by how firmly they hit the wooden floor with each step. “Mommy!”
Izzie’s mother glanced up from carefully setting a steaming pot on the table as her daughter ran happily into the room, and raised an eyebrow at her, removing her oven mitts. “Hey, honey!” she exclaimed, matching her daughter’s 100-watt smile with her own as she tucked a strand of long, brunette hair behind her ears. “Whatcha got there?” she wondered playfully as she planted her hands on her hips, having noticed the large paper hanging from Izzie’s hand.

Feeling reassured by the warm acceptance, Izzie ran over to her mother, beaming up at her as she threw her arms around her waist. “It’s a picture I drew!” Izzie informed her happily as her mother’s arms wrapped around her in return. She buried her face in her mother’s shirt and screwed her eyes shut. If she could be as sweet and loving as possible… Izzie slowly opened one eye, inconspicuously peering behind her to where the slightly uncomfortable-looking Stella stood offering Izzie a small, meek smile.

A slight chuckle bubbled up from Izzie’s mother’s throat as her father threw open the front door, stepping inside while dragging his briefcase behind him. “Oh, is it? And can I see this picture?” Izzie’s mother inquired teasingly as she smoothed back a few of her daughter’s stray curls.

“Oh? What’s this I hear?” Izzie’s father boomed, walking in his almost-waddling manner to toss his briefcase on the counter top. Turning to face Izzie, Stella and his wife, he threw open his arms in faked disbelief, his red, curly beard covering more than half his face as he hid a smile. “Did someone draw a picture today?”

Izzie laughed, a bright, innocent light shining in her eyes as she removed her arms from around her mother. “I did!” she exclaimed cheerily, delicately lifting her drawing and spreading it out on the table, being careful not to get it near the casserole dish. Stella ran up to stand beside Izzie, leaning on the table and taking another look at the drawing as Izzie squirmed over on the other side of her, getting out of her parents’ way.

Izzie’s father smiled as the drawing was laid out and moved to stand by his wife, wrapping an arm around her shoulders as they both looked over Izzie’s picture. Slowly, a soft smile slid over her mother’s face to match the one on her father’s, her sparkling dark green eyes taking in every detail of her daughter’s work. As they were scrutinizing the drawing, Izzie and Stella exchanged hopeful glances—the soft smiles on Izzie’s parents’ faces just had to be a good sign.

Excited anxiety built up in Izzie, overwhelming her until she just couldn’t stand her parent’s silence anymore. “Well? Whatdoya think?” she squeaked out, a sharp, uncomfortable pang of nervousness stinging her before her question was fully out.

Izzie’s mom reached a hand down to gently rub the corner of the paper, not taking her eyes from it as she rubbed her husband’s back with her other hand. “Wanna know what I think?” she inquired as she lifted the picture, stepping out of her husband’s embrace and moving towards the fridge with it in hand.

Stella and Izzie both nodded eagerly as they turned to see where Izzie’s mother was going. “Yes! Yes!” Izzie both squealed as Stella nodded, their bright eyes transfixed on Izzie’s mother’s every movement.

The woman raised an eyebrow undecidedly at the fridge before carefully selecting two magnets to pull from its surface. Spreading the drawing out on the fridge’s largest door, she stuck the two magnets on diagonal corners, and stepped back to survey her work. The girls watched this form of acceptance as they held their breath. “…I think this is BEAUTIFUL,” Izzie’s mother raved, turning to smile down at her daughter. “You’re such a wonderful artist, especially for one so young, darling!” she continued, lavishing her only child in praise.

“I agree! You’ve come a long way, squirt!” Izzie’s father added with twinkling eyes as he reached out and scuffled Izzie’s head, chuckling after he said it as if he had made a joke.

The feeling that rose up in Izzie was one so sweet, so richly jubilant, that her own brain couldn’t even categorize it. Her eyes shone with welling tears as a huge grin broke out on her face. Turning to face Stella, she saw her friend had an awestruck look on her face, her cheeks red from grinning so hard. Before she realized what she was doing, Izzie was jumping up and down, making Stella begin jumping and laughing as well.

Her mother had accepted the picture. She thought it was beautiful. Finally, her mother had accepted who Izzie was.

“Alright, now why don’t you go ahead and sit down, sweetie, and I’ll bring your milk over,” Izzie’s mother advised, giving the drawing one last smile as she opened the refrigerator door and took out a gallon of milk.

Izzie’s father slid out a chair and plopped himself down into it, picking up a knife and fork as he stared at the casserole dish in front of him. “Mm, I’m ready for some good eats!” he roared to no one in particular as he licked his lips.

As Izzie made a move to sit down at the table, she felt two slender bindings wrap around her arm, halting her movement. Glancing back, she saw Stella’s worried face searching her own as she kept her hands wrapped around Izzie’s arm. Izzie raised an eyebrow at her in a silent what’s-wrong look. “There’th only three theats,” Stella whispered in Izzie’s ear, glancing feverishly over at the table.

Izzie saw in Stella’s eyes what she was asking, and new in her heart that it was time to test out her mom’s new apparent appreciation and acceptance for Izzie. She slightly nodded at Stella, and, taking a deep breath, turned to face the direction her mother was in. “Uh, mom?” she asked tentatively, reaching out and resting shaky fingers on her chair as she glanced down at the floor.

Her mother glanced over her shoulder to see Izzie, tilting the jug of milk upright as she did so it wouldn’t overflow from Izzie’s cup. “Hmm?” she asked, setting the gallon of milk down on the counter to make a swipe at a few stray tendrils of hair. “What is it, hon?”

Though she kept her eyes trained to the floor, Izzie could still see Stella’s watchful stare out of the corner of her eye, and heard the tapping of her foot on the wooden floor. “Um, could…” Izzie began, hardly glancing up at her mother, who had set down both her glass and the milk in order to turn all the way around to face her. “Could…” she continued, feeling a wave of something almost like nausea creep over her.

“Yes?” Izzie’s mother asked as her father glanced over at Izzie and grunted. Izzie didn’t fail to notice the slight tint of annoyance lacing her mother’s word.

Izzie shuffled her feet, and made the mistake of glancing up at Stella. Her best friend raised both of her eyebrows at her, throwing her hands over her head in a silent plea for Izzie to get the show on the road. Izzie offered her a little half-smile before snapping her eyes away from Stella and focusing them on her mother. “Could we get another chair, for Stella to sit in?” she finally blurted out, widening her eyes in shock as soon as she did so. A creeping doubt seeped into her being the moment the words were out of her mouth.

For a beat, both of Izzie’s parents just stared at her. Then, her mother let out the most heartbreaking sigh Izzie had ever heard as she turned back to screw the lid on the top of the milk gallon. Izzie’s heart shattered and dropped to her stomach the moment that sigh reached her ears, and she leaned on her chair for support, afraid she was going to be sick. She glanced over at Stella, and saw that her best friend was shaking in unvoiced sobs, tears beginning to stream down her face. “Izzie, we’ve had this discussion before…” her mother sighed, irritation fogging up the words and stinging Izzie’s heart.

Her father slammed the hand holding the fork down to the table, and Izzie snapped her eyes to him as soon as she heard the sharp noise, a few of her blond ringlets falling in her eyes. “Don’t you know bein’ almost seven’s too old for imaginary friends?” he yelled, and Izzie flinched at the harsh phrasing of the question as Stella moved to press against her. A throbbing ache began to form in Izzie’s chest as she tried to fight off the tears that were foretold by the burning of her tear-ducts. Izzie’s mother shot her husband a look, but he ignored it. “It’s past time for you to stop pretendin’, and start living in the real world!” he boomed.

Hot tears began rolling down Izzie’s cheeks, and blindly, she turned and started running back to her room as her mom shouted, “ROB! That was NOT a gentle way to phrase it!” She could barely hear Stella’s footsteps behind her, as the sobs that she was choking out filled her hearing.

Izzie reached the door to her room, and was prepared to fling it open and disappear inside when, on an impulse, she stopped to turn and listen to what her parents were saying in the kitchen. Stella stopped right in front of her, giving her a confused look as she wiped away a few of her tears, but Izzie waved her off, motioning for her to be quiet for a second.

“Should I go after her? Calm her down?” Izzie could tell her mother’s voice was edged with worry, and though she couldn’t see the table, she guessed her mother was leaning against a chair. Throughout the years, whenever her mom was trying to decide on something, she had a signature lean that Izzie had picked up on.

Izzie’s father’s answer was slightly muffled, as if he had a huge bite of food in his mouth. Izzie leaned against her doorway, fighting the urge to run into her haven. “Nah, just let’er be. She’s gotta learn she’s too old for this pretend cra—“

“It’s NOT cr**!” her mother’s edgy voice interrupted her father’s, and Izzie flinched away from its harsh tone. “She’s still so young, and imagination’s a beautiful thing, dad always said!”

A moment of silence rang from the kitchen, and Izzie strained her ears, wondering if she was missing something. Finally, she heard the tell-tale clash of metal-on-metal, and guessed it was her dad’s silverware hitting his plate. “Maybe so, but she obviously has yet to realize or admit, whichever it is, that her ‘imaginary friend’ isn’t REAL! At this rate, she’s gonna wind up in some mental institution! Is that whatcha want, an insane daughter?”

His calloused words reverberated throughout the house, stinging Izzie in an inner place she hadn’t even known she had. She was unaware of the tears that began pouring from her eyes, shaking as she waited anxiously for what her mother’s response would be. Feeling a gentle pressure on her back, she glanced up to see Stella smiling at her reassuringly, and gave her a soft smile in return.

Just when Izzie believed her mother was never going to reply, her curt, submissive words floated from the kitchen. “I suppose you’re right.” By the scraping sound that followed the words, Izzie instantly assumed her mother had slid a chair out from underneath the table to sit down.

A countless number of emotions built up in Izzie, completely overwhelming her to a point that she’d never been at before. They thought she was INSANE? She lashed out and grabbed her door knob, flinging open the door to her room angrily as she ignored Stella’s soft plea of, “Izzie…”. As soon as she was through the threshold, she kicked her chubby little legs into high gear, running towards the window seat on the opposite side of her room. Upon reaching it, she threw herself onto it, burying her head in her arms and beginning to sob.

Izzie sniffled and glanced up from the safe haven her arms had made as she felt a hand gently rubbing her back. Stella blurred into focus, as the girl was standing over her best friend’s shaking body. “Ith okay, Izzie…I’ll alwayth be here, even if they don’t athept me,” Stella assured her softly, grinning her somewhat toothless grin.

Her words only made Izzie cry harder, and she turned her body to face Stella’s direction, tears flowing down her beet-red face. “But WHY?” she screamed, her hands flying to a now badly aching head. “WHY don’t they accept you?! Why can’t they just accept me with you?!” she wailed, twisting around to face the window again and burying her face back in her arms.

Stella clambered onto the end of the window seat not currently being occupied by Izzie, letting her gaze drop to the floor. “I dunno, Izzie…” she said, being at a loss for words.

This didn’t bother Izzie, as she threw her head up in order to continue her rant as if Stella had never said anything at all. “In fact, why can’t they SEE you?! Why are you so visible to me but not to them?! Not to anyone else?!” she cried, her voice starting to rasp from yelling at the top of her lungs. Sniffling and wiping her nose, she continued. “You’re real! I know you’re real! I can feel, see, hear you, WHY CAN’T THEY?!”

Blinking, Stella glanced all around the room, obviously not having any idea what to say. There had been only a select few times in the past when Izzie had been that distraught, and Stella still didn’t know how to respond. “It’d be tho great if they could…But I gueth only you can thee me...you thpecial,” she finally offered, making her voice just loud enough to be heard over Izzie’s wails.
At Stella’s words, Izzie began to calm down, her sobs growing softer and softer. Finally, she raised her head, sniffling and wiping at her running nose. “Special…” she mused, her eyes fixated on the large window in front of her.

Stella grinned at her, relieved that she was no longer sobbing. “Yeah, you thpecial!” she repeated, jumping up from the window seat. “I’m gonna color!” she informed Izzie as she dived onto her bed, which was right beside Izzie’s—another thing that Izzie’s parents just couldn’t see.

Nodding absently in acknowledgement, Izzie didn’t glance over at Stella, her eyes too busy staring up at the beautiful moon and blanket of stars outside of her window. “Special…” she murmured to herself.

It all made sense to her now.

Imagination was a powerful force--one that could, with the right influence, accomplish anything. Most people only ever used a small amount of it in their entire lifetime, mostly when they were children. As they grew into adults, they lost any connection into the realm of Imagination that they may have once had.

But, things created with the mind couldn’t become real based solely on imagination. Izzie glanced behind her to see Stella coloring away on her bed, humming Mary Had a Little Lamb as she worked. If there was no belief, no die-hard faith that Stella was completely real, Stella wouldn’t exist. However, because she believed, Stella fully existed, but only to her.

Only because she believed.

And this was why her parents couldn’t see Stella. Izzie smiled a smile of realization, the truth clicking into place as she turned back to gaze up once again at the starry sky. Her parents had long lost the ability to believe in what they couldn’t see.

For, she knew the truth.

It wasn’t that seeing was believing. Izzie smiled softly, tearing her eyes away from the night sky to slide off the window seat, feeling content in her heart as she accepted her parents’ blindness. After all, now it was clear…

BELIEVING was SEEING.





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