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I wish I had a flashlight, said the nine-year-old, as we walked through what’s yet pre-dawn to the bus stop.

Well, actually, I said (and you must understand, I am speaking quite literally as a father, here: my well, actually is well earned): in this sort of light, this half light, a flashlight would do more harm than good: the light of it’s bright, sure, but only on what you shine it on. Everything else would be harder to see. But if you let your eyes get used to the darkness, you can see much more.

Okay, she said, but dubiously.

I mean, a flashlight would be good for focussing on something specific, I said. But it’d be so much harder to see everything else.

Look! she says. I can see my shoes now! —And she can, we can: green shoes, and blue, subtle shades that mingle in the dim light, but at least we can tell them from the grey concrete of the sidewalk, now.

They could be flashier, I said.


Yeah, I said. With reflective stripes? Or the ones that light up, when you step on them—

Oh, yeah! she said. —But those are no good, she said, for lock-down drills.

—Oh, I said.

—Later, at the bus stop, she climbed the ladder of the playground slide, and saw a flash of green with the sunrise, and called to me to come see it, and it was still there, sort of, mostly, limning the bellies of the clouds. —But then those clouds all lit up in that shade of magenta they say you can’t ever see in a rainbow, and the bus came, and she went off to school, and I headed off to work.

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