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The alphabet exercise. Have you ever been tasked with something easier said than done and heartily groaned because you didn’t want to do it, but you dug in anyway only to find at the end that you really liked the challenge? Well, that’s what happened to me when this Alphabet Writing Exercise was given. In 15 minutes, I was to write a story where the first sentence started with the letter C and the next sentences would follow by letter (D, E, F and so on). I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but when the timer went off and pens went down, I was happy. It’s amazing what can happen when you just let go and let your creativity take over. Oh yeah, I only made it to T so that’s where the story ends . . . for now.

Could I learn to love him over time and forget he only had one eye? Didn’t he deserve happiness as much as everyone else did? Everyone else. Forget about the everyone else is what I needed to do and just follow my heart.

Gilbert was a good man, with a good job and lovable personality, but with only one eyeball in what was otherwise a perfectly fine head. He called on me often and when I said yes, he took me to dinner at the café down by the docks where they served bottles of Chianti at each red-checkered cloth covered table. Italian was his favorite food and sometimes while we talked, he called me his “Bella.” Just the thought of Gilbert makes me smile until I think of his one eye and then I cringe. Kept hidden behind a black patch with scars escaping up and down, Gilbert had yet to tell me the story of why his second eye socket wasn’t there. Long ago, maybe when he was a child, he learned to lie and say it was damaged in an accident whenever anyone built up enough courage to ask what happened.

Mother said I should learn to appreciate him as unique rather than deformed, and that everyone had defects, some more obvious than others. Nevertheless, the thought of looking into only one eye creeped me out and prevented me from opening myself up and loving him like he deserved to be loved.

On that Friday evening, he picked me up promptly at seven as the wind raged and the rain fell in torrential sheets. Pulling on my raincoat and my second-hand yellow Wellingtons, I thanked him for holding the large black umbrella as we made our way into the cab. Quietly, in the backseat, he reached out and brushed a raindrop from my cheek, and his touch was electrifying. Realizing I could no longer deny my strong feelings, I turned in my seat and without saying a word, for the first time lifted the patch.

Sitting rock still, Gilbert allowed me to examine him, his good eye closed to the sight. Tracing the soft pink area of flesh above his cheekbone with my fingers, I was no longer frightened by his appearance and lack of normality, and I gently replaced the patch.