Jan/Feb 2002 spotlight

Not Seeing

by Duncan White


Anne came in from work. Dropped her bag. Went over to the fridge. She pulled out the wine and found a glass.

I looked at her.

She shook her head.

"It's been a hard day," she said.

I nodded.

She had her drink, and she sat across from me at the kitchen table.

She drank some. Then looked at the walls. She seemed to look at them a long time.

I looked at the walls to see what it was. There was nothing new about the walls.

"You have to be careful," she said. Lifted her glass. Then put it down again.

"You have to watch out. It's possible to stop seeing things," she said.

"To stop seeing things?" I said.

She nodded. And sipped her wine.

Then she looked down at herself. She still had her coat on. She stood up. Pulled it off. Hung it on the hook.

She sat down again.

"I went the whole day not seeing anything."

"How do you know?" I said.

She looked at me.

"I don't know. But tonight I couldn't remember changing trains."

I shrugged.

"Happens all the time," I said.


She was looking at the walls again.

"What you looking at?" I said.


I watched her stand up. She went over to the door. By the door is a green plant on a shelf. She stopped by the plant. Held up a leaf and looked at it.

Then she walked out of the room.

I sat there.

Then the phone rang.

It rang three times. I didn't move. Anne picked it up.

"Hello," she said.

"Who?" She said.

"Are you sure? What number do you want?"

"Anne who?"

"Wrong number," she said. Anne hung up.

"Wrong Anne," she said.

I couldn't see her, as she was in the other room, so I got up.

She was in the toilet.

The door wasn't locked. I walked in.

"Wrong number?" I said.

"I saw an accident today," she said.

She was sitting on the toilet. Her skirt was around her knees.

I leaned in the doorway.


She nodded.

"An old man hit by a car."

"Shit," I said.

"He must have been eighty."

I shook my head.

"To get through eighty years, only to be hit by a car."

Anne looked at me.

"Was he alright?"

"I don't think so. The car was going very fast."


She reached for the paper. Wiped. Stood up and flushed the toilet. I watched her pull her skirt back up.

"He wasn't looking," she said.

She looked at me.

"He didn't see it."

Anne went out and sat back at the kitchen table.

I thought about cooking some food. And paying more attention to detail.

I imagined that old man. I bet he knew a thing or two. To get through eighty years without paying much attention.

I looked at Anne. She didn't get it.

Some of us go a lot further than others without seeing very much at all.


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