The Gift of Reading

My eyes flickered back and forth tracing the bold monochromic lines that streaked across the breadth of the page. Each word was beheld and deciphered by my mind then placed together piece by piece to paint a picture in my imagination. Paragraphs described foreign lands, each sentence revealing a detail to add to the image growing in my mind. Emotions flowed from the pages and my heart fluttered with each conflict confronted. The rough bark of the tree I propped against dug into my back but I ignored it. So deep was my enjoyment that I didn’t notice the aged woman as she settled on the bench beside me.
I happened a glance up during an interlude from the story my brain was so greedily digesting. Within that glance I beheld a sorrowful face and bewildered staring eyes that flashed as she timidly looked away. The plot of my novel had slowed enough for my curiosity to convince me to have another peek. I lowered my book to my lap and peered through my swirling bangs.
It was then that I noticed she was focused on my book. Recognizing another book lover I ventured a conversation.
“You like this book?” I inquired passing her the book. Her head dropped as she looked at it. Expecting an immediate answer I wondered if perhaps she could not speak. The trees silently swayed in the wind branches intertwining and breaking up the cheerful sunlight. Finally she looked down at my face and shook slightly as a single tear slid down her cheek following the crevasses of age on her weathered face.
“I’m afraid I’ve never read this book” she said, “or any other book”.
Feeling the weight of pity I asked “why not?”
Slumped upon that bench she went on to tell me how she had never received her education. In the late 40’s she had been born on the streets, her mother a drug addict. Her mother survived only long enough to teach her to survive, never once considering quitting drugs if only to save and provide an education for her daughter. After her mother died the woman wandered, searching for work as many others had. By then though the jobs had been filled and she never found a refuge from the streets. She walked then from shelter to shelter, homeless and penniless.
Her story out she turned to me and silently implored me to read her a little, her eyes pleading so much it wrenched my heart. I set myself next to her and began to read out loud translating the forbidden words into a language she knew and understood. She shut her eyes and the words streamed from my mouth into her imagination. Her mind flew as she wandered the halls of the story. Her tears flowed freely as she beheld the freedom of her imagination and escape from the cruel world. As I read on her tears ceased and with a content sigh a smile spread across her tired face.

The Gift of Reading

Allison Matthas

Joined February 2009

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Artist's Description

Written on the spur of the moment i thought about what it would be like to have never known reading or education. I cried when it was done.
Ok so i entered this in a contest called Polar Expression… and i’m in!
I’m going to be part of the anthrology they are publishing!
My story is being published!
The anthrology is going to be called Under the Canopy so i’m excited to see it completed!

The age was 99 to 14 and there were hundreds of entries. It’s an all Canadian series so :D

And i may also win $500 but for now i just wanna get in the top ten and get a free copy of the book.

Months later- :D i got 4 books! And was interviewed by two newspapers, everyone is still congratulating me on my published story. Lol next on the list to write a book and get it published :)
and after that maybe bestsellers list???

Artwork Comments

  • lacewren
  • Allison Matthas
  • lacewren
  • Allison Matthas
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