On the day Angel found out Ash was losing his sight she felt something snap deep inside her as if there had been a twig lodged within her heart that had been stepped on. Your heart could break not just for love but for other things. Like disappointment and grief, but mostly, for cruel twists of fate. And it could break not just for yourself, but for other people too.
Ash was a photographer. Quite famous in his own way. Sunsets and skies were his things. According to Ash a sunset was the singular most magnificent thing to look at in this world. It took his breath away again and again.
When he found out he would soon be blind he sat in the old chair on the back porch glued to the sunset. He had ten cameras set up shooting it from every angle. The sound of the shutters were like nails in Angel’s heart. Please don’t take his sunsets away, she prayed every day.
It began as a photograph edged with shadow where the corners were blurred. Gradually the blurring crept further and further into the image as if the shadows were paint leaking into the centre. Angel knew his eyes were getting worse when Ash began stumbling into furniture, when he lined every flat surface in the room with image after image of multi-coloured sunsets; desperate to hold onto them.
One day it began to rain. The sky was black for over a week. The rain pelted and beat on the roof. Ash began to panic. Where is the sun, he cried. I need to see the sun. Time is running out.
The rain continued to pound the roof. Relentless. The old roof couldn’t take it. Pock-marked, weary, she gave way, scattering water all over the floors and down the walls.
The insurance covered a brand new roof. Fully insulated. Would keep out the heat and the cold, not to mention the rain. An idea came to Angel as the builders were measuring up.
What about glass? she asked.
A glass roof would be expensive, said the builder. I don’t think the insurance will cover it.
I’ll pay the extra, Angel said. It has to be done.
She didn’t tell Ash what she was doing. She organised it so that the sheets of glass would be put in place when he was getting some tests done at the hospital.
The builders finished an hour before Ash arrived back home. With the glass in place the house was so light. Every corner, every crevice was illuminated. Angel could see the golden aura of sunlight caressing her skin as she walked from room to room. The clouds hung over the walls where the glass ended, doilies on the back of couches. Everywhere was tinged with blue light as if the house itself was falling through the sky.
When Ash arrived home he was astonished, perplexed at what Angel had done.
How can we have a roof made of glass? he said. It’ll be too bright. Too hot.
Don’t worry, said Angel. It’ll be perfect. It’ll be just what we need.
And it was. Ash could lie in bed memorising sunsets, basking in the ethereal blue, the vibrant yellow, the bleeding orange; glorious and infinite. He could eat breakfast under sunrises, listen to music under rain; trace the pattern of wings as they soared to forests far away.
And sometimes, even though he knew he shouldn’t, he would close his eyes and just feel the light and colour coming to him through the glass, tumbling into his mind; each time of the day a different sensation, a different level of warmth.
And gradually, as he became accustomed to the changing levels of light on his face, on his skin, he began to fear what would happen after the darkness less and less. He began to realise there was more than one way of seeing and that even when the light had drifted away from his eyes, he would still be able to feel it, like something brimful of holiness, a gentle caress under glass.
*Inspired by the Search Engine Stories prompt – glass houses.