The Manner of All Refracted Things

It’s an odd feeling, looking at your own hand beneath the surface of the water.  Knowing that it’s right there but seeing it somewhere slightly else.  It makes you acutely aware of the water’s surface, even though it’s as close to transparent as you can get without actually being transparent.  Your refracted hand looks like a hand, generally, but not the one you’re familiar with.

It’s an odd feeling, too, meeting someone.  Forming your surface-deep version of them to be called upon until you can embellish their concept, add depth.  Seeing a refracted person, but registering its distortion less strongly than you do your hand’s.  You know your hand.  You don’t know this new person.

But just as you notice your reflection in the water’s translucent surface, you notice your reflection in the people you meet, and suddenly you’re aware of the surface and how it distorts what you look at.  You hold still, consciously, anxiously, to let the water settle and let your eyes see properly.  When your hand swims into view, it’s relief, relief that you’re still as intact as you imagined yourself.  When a person does, it’s wonder, wonder at how different they are from how you imagined them.

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