Molly knew everyone in the village, and they all knew her. They also knew about the spectacles she had found and carried with her in her apron pocket. But Molly was the only one who knew about the strange power the glasses held for her alone. Both her parents had tried them on once or twice, but they had never commented on anything strange or different when they wore them. All that Molly could see when she watched first her mother and then her father try on the glasses was that their eyes looked as if they grew wide and enormous. But that always happens when you look at people who wear thick glasses, Molly had thought, It’s quite the mystery. Molly had talked to her parents about the colors that she saw. Moriah had suggested once that maybe the spectacles helped Molly understand people better, just like Great-Grandma Ethel had been able to do. That explained some things, Molly had agreed, but it did not explain why she reacted so strongly to the colors she saw. That was something Molly thought she had to discover for herself, so she decided not to share her true feelings just yet. And so even though she had never kept a secret from her parents before, Molly hugged her feelings and her spectacles closer.
The morning sun was rising and the earth was still damp with dew when Molly and her parents pulled up to the market square. There were so many people pushing carts and setting up awnings that, for a moment, the crush of people was precarious. Molly could smell the wonderful aromas of frying foods and see her friends in the crowd. She couldn’t wait to get down from the wagon. Molly’s friends waved and called to her as she rode past. Molly waved back happily, stood up on the front seat of the wagon, and taking the spectacles from her pocket, slipped them on her nose. She looked eagerly around. All the hustle-bustle of the crowded street seemed to slow, the colors intensified, and a soft aura rimmed the crowd and swirled in rainbow arcs above them, filling the sky. In that moment, she felt a sudden and intense sense of belonging and community that touched her deep inside. Sliding the glasses a little further down her nose so that she could peer over their tops, Molly watched as the world around her shifted back just as she had expected. Returning the spectacles to her apron pocket for safekeeping, she jumped down from the parked wagon and began to help her mother and father set up for the day’s selling.
The village children laughed and played among the carts and stalls and ran happily through the crowd that filled the small street. Molly ached to join them. This year she was twelve years old and it was time for her to be allowed to be on her own a bit. “May I go now, mother?” asked Molly excitedly. She could not wait to run and play with her friends.
Moriah stood up. She had been busy packing a woven wicker basket. “Your father and I will be very busy today,” she said. “If you can deliver these few packages for me this morning, you can have the rest of the day to do as you please. You have been such a tremendous help already to your father and me. Maybe we can even have some time later to buy you some new ribbons for your hair.” Moriah reached down and stroked Molly’s golden braid. “You’re growing up so fast,” she said with a wistful smile. Moriah knew that her daughter wished to join the many friends who called to her. She could see it in her eyes and so she said, “I am trusting you to do this for me today. I think you will find out for yourself how very important the task really is.” Moriah bent down and kissed her daughter’s pink cheek. Molly breathed in lavender and vanilla, her mother’s favorite scent. It was warm and comforting.
“I love you,” Molly whispered and gave her mother a hug and slowly released her. She felt proud that her mother was trusting her to be on her own and she was also very curious about what she would discover as she did her errands. Moriah reached down and handed Molly the basket she had packed.
“Off with you then,” she said. “Everything in the basket is labeled, you should have no problem getting everything right. Just stay on the main road, it will lead you to where you need to go.”
Molly took the basket from her mother. Considering the basket’s size, it was lighter than she had expected and she carried it easily in her hand as she began to walk away. At first Molly was excited. She was on her own for the very first time. But soon disappointment nagged at Molly’s heart. She longed to be free and run with her friends. They still called to her as she passed, “Meet us at the corner! C’mon Molly!” they yelled, and she called back to them, “I’ll be there soon!” But first I have to do these errands for my mother, she thought to herself a little sadly as she kicked a loose rock angrily with the toe of her shoe. How she wished she could just run off and enjoy the day, and for a short moment, she almost did. But Molly could not disappoint her mother and she was still very curious about what she would find on her errands. Carrying the basket easily on her arm, Molly walked slowly away from her parents’ tiny stall and followed the main road that led out of town and into the big world. The sun was shining brightly in the sky and the day was blue and beautiful. Molly thought about her friends as she walked. Most of the kids in town were her friends, but not everyone.
Some of the children didn’t like her for one reason or another. Sometimes the older boys teased her about all the names she had. They called her weird and stupid and they teased her mercilessly about her glasses and her names. Usually she did not mind too much, but today was different; she was alone. The road she followed led past an old run-down shack that stood on the last corner out of town. From a short distance away Molly could see a group of boys standing together and laughing. She recognized Billy Lenda and Ivan Bilco among them. When the two boys noticed Molly, they elbowed each other and pointed at her.
“What a strange one you are.”
“Crazy Molly with all those stupid names.”
“Where are your dumb glasses, Molly?” they yelled and roared with laughter.
When Molly heard them call at her from across the road and tease her about her names, her first instinct was to turn and run away as far and as fast as she could go. After a moment she thought better of it, and remembering her idea, she quickly put the basket down next to her and reached for the spectacles in her apron pocket. She slipped them on and looked defiantly, directly at Billy and Ivan. Instantly, her view of the boys shifted. Instead of seeing the boys who bullied her, she saw an impenetrable darkness as deep as the ocean surrounding both Billy and Ivan. She felt a cold, hard heaviness in her heart, and she wondered for a moment about the source of the evil darkness that rose up around the boys. Was it the color that made the boys so mean or did their mean spirit make the colors that surrounded them? Molly did not know. She slipped the spectacles down so once again she could peer over the tops of the rims and, as she did, the boys on the other side of the street came back in focus. The wildly spinning blackness that had flown about their shoulders disappeared in an instant. Still they called angrily to her.
“You’re so strange, Molly,” they yelled. “You’re so strange with your glasses and names, strange, strange, strange.”
Molly’s eyes filled with tears that fogged up the lenses she still wore. She was feeling terribly sorry for herself. Maybe they are right, she thought, as she turned and walked quickly past the boys without looking in their direction again and trying hard to ignore the names they called her. As she passed, she took the spectacles off and held them tightly in her hand. Maybe I am a little strange, she thought sadly, and for a moment she was filled with self-doubt. But then she began to think better of herself and her courage returned. I don’t know why the spectacles work the way they do. But whatever they say, I know what I see. I know these glasses are special for me in some way. I just have to learn what it is.
Molly’s thoughts still ran fast and furious as she continued to walk away and she was a bit breathless when she reached the far corner that led out of town. Looking back over her shoulder, she could no longer see or hear the boys. Relief flooded through her and she stopped for a moment and put the basket down. She removed the checkered cloth that covered the contents and wiped her eyes. As she did, she noticed several labels in her mother’s neat handwriting: Mrs. Eos, Mrs. Teresky, Mrs. Lieben. Just the sight of her mother’s writing gave her comfort, and she wiped her eyes once more and placed the cloth back in the basket. As she did, she suddenly remembered the dream of the women she had not so long ago and the seeds of the idea that had come to her when she awoke. A huge smile lit Molly’s face.
“It’s time!” she said aloud. “I can begin right now!” She picked up the basket once again and started on her way, more excited than ever to continue with her errands and her plan of discovery.
Molly had met Mrs. Eos, Mrs. Teresky, and Mrs. Lieben many times before, but she had always been accompanied by her mother whenever they had stopped by for a visit. The women were each a distant relative in one way or another, Molly knew, but she could never remember exactly how, so she always called them Mrs. when she spoke with them, just as she had been instructed to do. It will be very different this time though, thought Molly, remembering back to when she had been much younger. She had often come along with her mother on her errands when she visited her friends and family, but she had not really paid much attention to any of her mother’s conversations with the women she visited. Molly had never been invited to participate in any way. It had never bothered her, and truly she had never really cared before. It had always been much more fun to tease the cat with a feather at Mrs. Eos’s house or roll around on the rug with her best friend Miranda’s new puppies whenever they would visit the house of her mother, Mrs. Lieben. This time would definitely be different. Molly was not so little anymore. She had a plan and she knew exactly what she wanted to ask Mrs. Eos.
At the end of the village in a secluded grove lived Mrs. Eos. Moriah and Mrs. Eos had known each other for a very long time, since Moriah was a young girl herself. Mrs. Eos had always lived alone, with just her fat black cat for company. In her large garden she grew an array of strange and wonderful flowers and herbs that Moriah would sometimes use in the medicines and curatives for which she was known. Many other people from the village visited Mrs. Eos’s garden to buy the fruits and vegetables she had for sale, but Mrs. Eos always saved the best of what she grew for Moriah.
In the middle of this seemingly secret grove, surrounded by sunlight and flowers, sat Mrs. Eos’s shiny white painted house gleaming brightly in the sun. It was a very old and traditional dacha house, the kind of small and well-crafted home that most people would travel to from the cities to spend a quiet weekend here and there in the country. It had been built many years ago when Mrs. Eos had been just a child. She had many wonderful memories of her own youthful summertime adventures and she had enjoyed the time she spent there so much that when it came time for Mrs. Eos to make her own way in the world, she had decided to move permanently to this idyllic home and its surrounding gardens. The house itself was not very large, but the land on which it sat was wide and sprawling and lushly planted. It was warm and comfortable and the perfect space for Mrs. Eos and her ancient cat, whom she affectionately called Kiska.
Mrs. Eos’s dacha was made of planked wooden siding that had greyed in the weather, but each window, column, and door frame was contoured by lacy gingerbread trim that shone brightly in brilliant white. There was a large covered porch surrounding the little house and its roof sprinkled with a flowering vine of pink geranium. A neat pebble path led to the front door, and Mrs. Eos, who loved all things light, had painted it a shiny warm yellow that seemed to bathe the shady porch with a sunshine glow. She took great pride in her home. It was spotlessly neat and tidy inside and out and, even though it was well hidden from the road amid a stand of exceedingly old and very tall pine trees, the sun always seemed to shine brighter and stay higher and longer in this magical grove. Mrs. Eos’s gardens were always well tended and overflowing with wonderful flowers, shrubs, and herbs, which grew in profusion and perfumed the air with marvelous aromas that smelled dreamily of lilies, lilacs, and tuberoses. At the windows, the white linen and lace curtains rustled in the breeze, and from the path Molly could see Mrs. Eos at the door, a broom and dustpan in her plump little hands and a crisp white apron tied firmly about her round middle. It was almost as if she had been waiting for Molly to arrive. From her doorstep, Mrs. Eos raised her hand in greeting. Molly waved back and began to walk a little faster. As she went, Molly thought back to all the other times she had visited Mrs. Eos in this beautiful garden. She had always loved coming here.
“Good morning, Mrs. Eos!” she said quickly.“Child, child,” said Mrs. Eos happily. “Come in. Come in. How very lovely to see you my dear, truly it is! Come in. Come in!” Molly bent down to rub the fur of the fat cat that lolled in the sunshine near the front door, then she carefully wiped her feet on the mat and stepped inside Mrs. Eos’s shiny house. Inside, the windows were open to capture the sweet-smelling breeze, and everything felt cozy and serene.
“Sit down, sit down,” said Mrs. Eos in her sing-song voice, indicating a large floral chair in the corner. “You’ve had a bit of a walk, haven’t you?” she said, not waiting for an answer. “Let me get you a glass of lemon water, my dear,” and she toddled off towards the kitchen. Molly sat down on the edge of the overstuffed chair and pulled her spectacles from her pocket. From the kitchen she could hear the sounds of tinkling glass and water being poured. She placed the spectacles on her nose and waited. Quite soon, Mrs. Eos returned to the room balancing two large glasses and a yellow pitcher of lemon water on a shiny round tray. Molly watched her as she entered the room. Through the spectacles she saw a brilliant yellow halo of light appear around Mrs. Eos’s silver head, a light that looked as vivid and golden as the sun. Molly’s heart filled with beauty and compassion. She slipped the glasses down her nose once again, and as the golden light faded, she looked at Mrs. Eos as if for the first time. Molly clasped her hands together in her lap and leaned in a little closer to the old woman.
“How are you, Mrs. Eos?” Molly began politely.“Oh, I am well child, very well,” replied Mrs. Eos as she slumped heavily into her chair. “Well, as well as can be expected and truly child, I don’t wish to complain.” “Is anything wrong, Mrs. Eos?” Molly asked.
“Well since you mentioned it, my dear, I love the sunny days, but the nights are so dark. I am not at my best in the dark, you know. My bees give me lots of wax and plenty of honey, but it all means nothing without a wick.”
“I’m so sorry,” said Molly, “I do wish that I could help you.” Reaching into the basket she pulled out the package labeled Mrs. Eos and handed it to the old woman. “My mother sent this to you,” Molly continued, “I’m not sure what it is, but I surely hope it can help.”
Mrs. Eos took the package in her small plump hands and untied the wrapping. A large spool of candle wicking fell into her lap. A bright and glorious smile lit Mrs. Eos’s round face and a tiny tear fell from the corner of her eye. “Oh! Thank you, Molly dear. You have made me so happy. Now I can spread my light whenever and wherever I wish!” she said with glee.
Molly felt her heart fill with the most amazing lightness. How did her mother know exactly what Mrs. Eos would need today of all days? “Mrs. Eos?” asked Molly, adjusting the spectacles on her nose so that she could see through the lenses. Once again a bright yellow mist glowed softly about the old woman’s head. “Mrs. Eos, my mother told me you were in the room when everyone named me.”
“Oh yes! Oh yes! Of course I was there. We all were. Everyone so excited, so excited!”“And do you remember, Mrs. Eos, which name you gave me?” asked Molly a bit nervously. She had waited with excitement to hear what Mrs. Eos would say and she trembled a little as she waited for her answer. “Do you remember whom you named me for, what she was like and why you wished to bless me with her name?”
“Do I remember?…of course I remember. I’m not quite as old as I look,” Mrs. Eos replied, her stout little body shaking with laughter.
“Well—” asked Molly, “which one was it?”
“Lucy, I think,” said Mrs. Eos, scratching her head. “No…no, yes. Yes, definitely Lucy, definitely Lucy. It was my mother’s name. How could I not remember, and since I had no children I thought I would pass it on to you. My mother was such a funny, happy soul. Everyone should be happy as she. I was lucky to receive such a gift from her. Every day when I rise, I start a new day. New possibilities to seek and new beginnings with which to embark. Even when it rains I wait for the clouds to clear until once again I can bask in the warmth of the sun. I think each one of us has a responsibility to be happy. My mother surely did. I gave you her name so that her spirit of happiness could be part of you too, and because of the joy you feel, it will be easy for you to pass it along to others.” As Mrs. Eos told her story, Molly had slipped the spectacles back onto the bridge of her nose. She thought to herself, Our name is Lucy, and listening to Mrs. Eos’s words, Molly began to see a rich dark red plume emerge from the bright golden mist that had first surrounded Mrs. Eos’s head. The colors separated into tendrils and the tendrils curled into themselves and then floated away as if they danced on the wind. Happiness bubbled up inside her and she felt like giggling and laughing; she felt warm and light and graceful. Molly was so very delighted and grateful for the name Mrs. Eos had chosen for her.
She stood up from the chair in which she sat and went over to Mrs. Eos. Taking the old woman’s plump hand in hers, she gave it a tender squeeze. “Thank you so much for telling me about Lucy,” she said, and then she bent down and kissed Mrs. Eos’s soft cheek and gave her an enormous hug. “Thank you for your gift, Mrs. Eos,” Molly whispered in her ear. “I have to go now, but I promise I will be back.”
“You have made me very happy, child,” said Mrs. Eos, getting up to walk Molly to the door. “Please tell your sweet mother how grateful I am for her timely gift.”“You have made me very happy too, Mrs. Eos. I promise to remember all you have told me.” Molly left Mrs. Eos at the front door of her tidy white house, a delighted smile shining on her face, and a large spool of candle wicking in her plump little hands. “Goodbye,” Molly called as she stepped out into the sun-filled yard and began to skip down the path. “Lucy,” she sang to herself, “Lucy.”