The Girl with the Goggles

Kimi returned to wakefulness like Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the hill, slowly, painfully, and unwillingly. She dreaded the moments when she first woke up. Her eyelids opened allowing light to return to her world and she focused on the ceiling as hard as she could. The bare white surface was one of the few things in this world she could stand to stare at. She bent her entire will to holding her eyes on the whiteness, the starkness, the purity of the surface while she groped on the side table for her goggles.
A clock, a glass of water from last night, and her hairbrush were knocked aside by her questing hand. She began to pant; had someone taken her goggles, had they fallen to the floor? She couldn’t bear looking away from the ceiling to search for them, she knew that what she would be forced to see would be ugly and terrifying. The goggles did not reveal themselves to her fingertips; if they were missing what then?
Kimi was on the verge of hyperventilating while psyching herself to look away from the ceiling when her fingers found the familiar shape. She collapsed into her pillow in relief. She closed her eyes and pulled the goggles over her head with the ease of long practice. When she opened her eyes again she could see the edges of the goggles in her vision; the power indicator glowed a healthy green, it was safe to look around.
She sat up and surveyed her room. The goggles painted beautiful colors, chosen to improve her mood, on the walls. She stood up and walked across the shag carpet, turned to luscious grass in her vision and went downstairs for breakfast.
“Good morning Mother,” she said as she entered the kitchen.
Her mother stood in front of the stove. The goggles showed her a stunning device, more artwork than tool. Its stainless steel surface was covered in curving designs that inspired peace and tranquility as her eyes traced their paths, the flames of the burners were rainbow hued as they warmed the golden pans placed over them. Mother looked over her shoulder at Kimi and smiled. Her face was artfully painted with just the correct amount of makeup to accentuate features that a Renaissance artist could only dream of painting. Small, colorful birds flitted around her head and her smile glowed like the sun; Walt Disney couldn’t have made a more perfect image of a mother.
“Really Kimi,” she said.
Kimi could hear the annoyance in her voice but her smile remained beatific.
“Even at breakfast?”
Kimi glanced at the art deco table with the ever changing art installation hanging overhead and smiled at her mother.
“Of course mother.”
She sat in a gilded chair. She didn’t like the way it felt underneath her, the shape seemed wrong somehow but it was beautiful to look at. Father strolled into the room, drawn by the smell of bacon and eggs. He was muscular with a lion’s mane of hair and just enough facial hair to accentuate his manliness without looking unkempt.
He kissed his wife on the cheek and then looked at his daughter. His smile filled her heart with joy. When he spoke, his voice from behind the ever expanding smile did not sound happy.
“People are going to start calling you bug eyes, kid.”
“Daddy, your generation is showing,” Kimi said, playfully chiding.
She ignored her parents and stared out the window while waiting for her meal. Rainbows painted the sky and birds flew in a riot of color past pink and white clouds; it was another beautiful day.
The final member of the family entered the kitchen. Kami was a vision of loveliness. Her hair was spun gold which moved from one artistic style to the next with each breath. Her skin was smooth alabaster and her eyes were brilliant blue, like rare gems placed in a living statue. Her perfect body was wrapped in a gauzy ribbon of cloth which revealed yet maintained modesty. Kimi loved the way her sister looked, even more so because she knew that should she look into a mirror she would see the exact same thing for they were twins after all.
“Morning Mom, Dad,” Kami said as she flopped into a baroque carved chair. “I don’t know why you keep wearing those things, Kimi.”
Kimi reached out her perfect alabaster hand with its ruby nails and patted her sister’s equally perfect arm.
“Oh Kami, you’re beautiful as always and utterly droll. The goggles just help me to see more clearly. You should try them.”
“I read that they might be addictive,” Father said.
“Really?” Mother’s voice was fearful behind her perfect smile.
“Kimi, maybe you should take it easy.”
Kimi shook her head and turned away. It was more relaxing to contemplate the works of art on the walls than listen to her parents haranguing.
Kami rose from her chair and floated across the floor to her sister. Her smile was perfect as her emerald nailed hand rose to caress her sister’s face. Kami understood her. Kami’s stroking hand clamped down on Kimi’s goggles and wrenched them from her head along with several strands of hair.
Kimi screamed.
A short, slightly plump, girl with straight blonde hair grinned through a spray of freckles as she held the goggles high overhead like a trophy. Kami’s pajamas were rumpled from a restless night’s sleep. Her fingernails were ragged from habitual chewing and her gray-green eyes glittered with mischievous joy.
“Damn it Kami,” Father shouted.
He stood up from his plastic chair at the head of the round wooden table. His beer belly, straining its stained tee shirt, bumped the table causing it to jump as he rose. He ran a permanently grease stained hand through his sparse gray hair as he glared at his daughter.
Mother ran to Kami, reaching for the goggles. A threadbare house coat hid her less than statuesque physique. Her dishwater eyes were sad and weighed down by heavy black bags beneath.
“Give me those,” she said.
Kimi couldn’t take it. She screamed at the horror around her. Peeling wallpaper and harvest gold appliances all mocked her with their ugliness. The thin sunlight making its way through the window revealed only the brick façade of the tenement across the alley; it couldn’t wash away the dirt and squalor of this room of horrors in which she was trapped.
“You’re ugly,” she screamed at Kami.
Kami leaned close and grinned, her cheeks held a faint blush of excitement as she taunted her sister. Kimi recoiled, knocking her metal and plastic chair to the floor where she curled into a ball, weeping.
“Everything is ugly,” Kimi screamed. “You’re all hideous, everyone is.”
Kimi curled tighter into a fetal position and rocked on the stained linoleum floor. Tears ran down her face and soaked the collar of her polka dot pajamas.
“What should we do?” Mother sounded afraid.
“Give her the damn goggles back,” Father sounded defeated.
Kami hesitated; Kimi’s weeping rose to a high pitched keening that cut like a blade their ears.
“Do it,” Father shouted.
Kami knelt beside her twitching sister and smoothed her long beautiful hair back from her face. She slid the goggles over Kimi’s head and positioned them properly over her eyes.
“It’s ok,” she said. “You can look now.”
Kimi unclenched her eyelids and saw the familiar, comforting green power indicator. Her sister’s goddess-like features beamed at her in joy. Color returned to her world and she felt her heart slow. Joy filled her mind again now that the ugliness was gone and she could again see the beauty that was in the world. This was the world as it truly was, not as her deceiving eyes showed her. This was her perfect home.

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