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Maya’s Sunglasses MAG
The chipped lenses gave the world a honey-colored glow. Suddenly, Maya's optimism seemed to have a viewpoint. I'd feel good about life too if I saw the world like this. The thick plastic frames were warped from overuse and mishandling, but they still managed to hang straight on her face. I figured her ears must be crooked, because they always looked funny on me.
From three feet away, Maya watched me casually as I played with her sunglasses. A small satisfied smile hung lightly across her chin, and milky brown eyes studied how carefully I handled her property. Maya had owned these glasses since she was in the sixth grade. Usually, she didn't care who touched her things, but these were the exception. I was surprised that she even let me touch them, and I'm her sister.
“Who gave these to you?” I asked, running my fingers slowly across the sides.
She thought for a second. “J.D. Andrews. She was one of Oscar's girlfriends – one of the good ones.”
I didn't remember J.D. Andrews. “Why'd she give them to you?”
“I was having trouble adjusting to my new school. She told me that sometimes things just need to be seen in a different light.”
That quote seemed too enlightened for one of our uncle's dime-a-dozen girlfriends. I placed the sunglasses on my face again, and watched the world turn the color of a Hawaiian sunset. What J.D. Andrews said made sense. If she was half as smart as she seemed, she must have dumped my uncle before he had the chance to get her into too much trouble.
I caught my reflection in the rearview mirror. “They're still crooked,” I complained.
Maya laughed. “Maybe you're crooked, Denise.”
I pouted. “I am not.” Maya just rolled her eyes, her casual smile slightly longer across the bottom of her face. She extended a long, slender hand and I placed the sunglasses in her palm. She put them back on, and suddenly, her face looked complete again. Maya's sunglasses had become a regular feature, just like her comical mouth and round nose.
“I love these sunglasses.”
“I like them too,” I said. At that moment, a sliver of jealousy ran up my spine. I wanted sunglasses that made me look even half as cool as Maya.
“You'll find your pair,” she assured me. “I bet you'd look good in aviator frames. You have the jaw for it.”
Instinctively, I stroked my jaw. Maya grinned and tapped my chin with the her finger. Automatically, I felt five again and Maya was 12, and her cool middle school friends were over while I had been home all afternoon from morning kindergarten.
“You're all right, Denise. Do you know that?”
“Yeah, I know,” I said, but my voice was unsure.
Maya looked away, her ever-present grin at a neutral state. In two weeks, she would be traveling upstate, to that fashion college in San Francisco, to become an eco-friendly culture-conscious fashion designer. In three weeks, I would be starting sixth grade, and I couldn't decide which of us was more nervous.
Probably me. Maya was too cool to break a sweat.
“Do you know that FIDM has a campus in LA?” I asked innocently. “You don't have to move away.”
Maya laughed like a breeze in the trees. “I know, Denise. But I want to move away from home. It'll give me a chance to grow up and out.”
I pouted inwardly. I didn't want my big sister to grow up, up, and away. Maya noticed my pout. She turned to me, her eyes smiling over the rim of her cherished sunglasses.
“Hey,” she eased. “Don't worry. I'll be back for Thanksgiving and Christmas and your birthday and the other holidays.”
My lower lip withdrew a little, but I wasn't totally satisfied. I guess I was spoiled that way. Maya sighed and sat up straight. She took off her sunglasses and folded them in her lap before looking me dead in the eye. Wordlessly, she placed the glasses on my knee.
“So you can see me when I'm gone,” she explained.
I didn't say a word. I couldn't. In my lap rested the symbol of my sister, and it was mine now. The ultimate accessory, the very image of cool, belonged to me. Slowly, I touched the frame. It felt different now that it was mine. It felt … fragile.
“Thank you,” I finally gasped.
Maya smiled warmly, sunshine through clouds. “You're welcome. Just be careful with them.”
I nodded vigorously. These glasses would receive high-end treatment. Nothing would ever harm them.
I didn't wear them in front of Maya. I just kept them in my lap, and my sister and I sat in silence, enjoying our last normal summer together. The sun was meandering toward the horizon, taking its sweet time, but we barely noticed when it had set. At that moment, it was just me, Maya, and Maya's sunglasses.