Scattered light

When I was a child, I looked forward to seeing the dentist.

His name was Dr. Job. Like Job in the Bible, long o, not as in “teaching is a hard job.” I could not understand this when I saw his name on the office door: Why do we say ‘Jobe?’ It says Job! J-o-b. That’s not right. It should have an ‘e’ on the end. J-o-b-e …

It irritated my father: That’s how his name is pronounced. He knows how to spell it. Now stop.

Dr. Job had white hair and a white coat and to be honest I wasn’t happy to see him.


I wanted his rings.

After each visit—usually for a filling—Dr. Job reached into some magical cabinet and brought out a box. With a big smile, he opened it before me like a hawker on the city streets selling watches out of a car trunk.

The box was full of rings, set in foam rubber, as if on display at a fine jewelry counter.

“Which one would you like, hmmm? You’ve been a good little patient!”

Of course I was good … there were rings for the taking! How they glittered. All different colors, sizes, shapes. It didn’t matter which one I chose as they were adjustable; their metal bands were split to be widened or narrowed to fit.

One day I looked and looked it—had to be the best ring—until Dr. Job finally cleared his throat: “Ahem. You need to pick one, all right?”

I settled on a ring with a pale purple stone cut in facets like a diamond. I put it on the ring finger of my right hand (not my left, that was for getting married someday). Feeling like a princess, I said: “This is alexandrite, right?” (so … as a child I was fascinated by birthstones and pored over them in mail-order catalogs. My own is emerald. To me, at the time, this pale purple was prettier. June’s birthstone. Point to ponder: How many kids today know about birthstones? ).

Dr. Job looked at me and blinked. He closed the case and returned me to my father.

The main reason I remember that ring is because of a scene in a different office. Plagued by allergies, I had to get weekly injections in both arms. Sometimes I had reactions, rashes or big knots that burned. While I sat waiting, waiting, waiting at the doctor’s office, before and after the shots, I read all the children’s books and magazines—I loved Highlights. Then I read the grown-up stuff, like Reader’s Digest. One afternoon I was too tired to read. I sat sideways in the waiting room chair, leaning against the wall in the late-afternoon shadows. I reached up to rub my sore left arm when waning light from the window caught my “alexandrite” ring. A dozen tiny rainbows appeared on the wall beside me. Mesmerized, I move my hand this way and that, watching the rainbow-spots dance, vanish, and reappear. I forgot the time, forgot my swollen arm; I was too busy scattering the light.

This whole story returned to me as I was continuing my containment cleaning and sunlight caught my ring (diamond, on my married finger) just right.

Scattered light. Tiny rainbows. On a day, incidentally, when Highlights became a destiny…

Ethereal moments call for an etheree, don’t you think.



in shadows

sometimes brings gifts

otherwise not found.

Like seeing little things

that remind us how it was

to be children full of wonder

scattering light everywhere we go,

making bits of rainbow dance on dark walls.

30 thoughts on “Scattered light

    • Thank you, Christine – it delights me that you love this story and your writing always imparts the same to me! I could not believe the prize! I loved the magazine so much as a child and as you can see in this post, it got me through some tough moments; how strange and wonderful is it that the workshop should come now. I am awed.

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  1. The pacing and details in this story are brilliant. You are one of the best storytellers I know. There hasn’t been much good news lately, but seeing you own the Spirit of the SOLSC prize, which is an absolutely amazing prize, was the best news I’ve heard in a while. It is just so RIGHT. You are the spirit of this challenge. Your perspective, your humor, the way you sew it all together with grace and meaning is what SOL is all about. Fran, I am thrilled for you! This is so well-deserved. I can’t wait for you to go to Highlights and experience it all. Congrats my friend!!


    • It IS an amazing prize! I couldn’t believe it, Kathleen. I made a nomination and didn’t even imagine winning. It is incredibly meaningful on so many levels … thank you for your happiness on my account. You yourself are always a day-brightener. I am grateful for you and your words and your encouragement more than I can express, Kathleen. It wraps around my heart. ❤


  2. This is really beautiful. Another one to add to the collection that I’ll share with my class. We’re actually getting to do spend time with a poetry unit (we’re giving up our test prep unit!!!). I have so many connections. One is that I had an orthodontist who gave out gifts at each visit. He had these little boxed science kits and sometimes collections, like mini shell collections, and I could take one kit or collection at each visit. I remember thinking it was a little beneath me–as a junior high kid—but I took them anyway, And kept them. But the lasting image of this is the child scattering light (like a flower girl, I’m imagining) and making rainbows dance on dark walls. Spectacular.

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    • I am cheering that your test prep unit is GONE! I count this as a major good thing having come out of this awfulness! How exciting that your class will be working on poetry. I’ve always loved it but haven’t worked at it much since dabbling as a teenager, so it’s definitely growing me. Didn’t even think about continuing a daily post after the SOL challenge ended and this just sort of happened; I’ve never tried to write a poem a day for National Poetry Month but now it’s “a thing” and I am trying to sustain it. Am finding it a great release (well, and hard work … but fulfilling). Happy that you’d like to share this piece. Please do. 🙂 Wild that your orthodontist gave out science kits – how cool is that? Junior high kids are more worried about things seeming beneath them than any other segment of society, I think, but I find it very touching that you kept those little kits. When I remember little things like this, I wish I still had them. Pure nostalgia. Probably best I don’t … I’d be on Hoarding: Buried Alive … thank you for this wonderful comment.


  3. So much to love in this post – the dentist gifts (my kid’s dentist had them), the focus on light (my OLW), the way that story led to story led to poem, and this paragraph, “Scattered light. Tiny rainbows. On a day, incidentally, when Highlights became a destiny…” (I was one of many who nominated you!) Your words are a blessing to our community. And I didn’t know you were writing poetry. I’ve stepped away from blogging to tackle some of the things neglected during March. Off to read your poems now!

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    • Dentists don’t do this stuff anymore, right?? I appreciate how they tried to make an unpleasant experience better for the kids … speaking of gifts: THANK YOU for the nomination, Ramona, and for letting me know; it is immeasurably meaningful to have been awarded this prize and to know why. I’m still amazed and beyond excited. Your words are a treasure to me. Know that YOU are a blessing. As to the poetry … don’t know exactly how I fell into the poetry pool like this but since I did, I decided to make it a daily swim for April, if I can manage it 🙂


  4. When I read that you loved going to the dentist, I thought, “Here is where we part company!”
    This is so beautifully written and seamless in its construction. I love how the ring story blends into the poem and the realization that we never lose our childhood wonder if we are open to the memories. Thank you for a great read today!

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  5. Fascinating. You have done a magical job creating this piece. You tell a story, add to it, come to the present and finish with a poem. The child in me still likes when light dances on the walls.

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  6. So many connections from multiple dental visits to allergy shots. My birthstone is also emerald, though I coveted June’s sparkly splendor. You wear the cloak of childhood so well in this piece, capturing the joy and wonder of little discoveries. Thank you also for introducing a new poetic form, the etheree. Had to look that up and may have to try it. Congrats again on the Spirit Award, Fran. Like this slice, you encapsulate the essence of this challenge.

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    • First – you must try the etheree. Dying to see what lyrical miracle you create with it. Next – thank you for your words of congratulations. Still stunned, but SO excited! And: Why I am not amazed that we have ALL THIS in common, too??? But actually – it is amazing to be connected by a bazillion threads!


  7. You made that bitty prize from Dr. Job’s box 100% dazzling. Perhaps I need to share this with my son before his next dental visit. The last one didn’t go so well. (I’m enlisting the help of his big sister and his stuffed puppy before the next one.)

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    • Poor Ari … good news for him, maybe, is that it will be a while before dentists do routine things. My six-month cleaning for April just got rescheduled for the end of June. I do hope the stuffed puppy (or, idea of a new bitty thing? Shameless bribery??) will make it more endurable for him next time.


  8. A new diamond ring
    Making bits of rainbow dance
    as we kneel at the altar together.

    Your post and poem reminded me of how the stained glass at our church makes rainbows appear inside my diamond. Meditative to me every time.

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  9. I, too, looked forward to the dentist for the prizes at the end. Even now, my sons wait for the bouncy ball they get once their teeth are cleaned. I really appreciate the movement in this post – how you started at the dentist, then the allergy shots and then your own home today – the richness and depths of the memories sparked by those little rainbows – and then the image at the end of children scattering light. Sigh. And, of course, congratulations on your prize! I was really excited when I saw your name – I thought, “Oh, maybe Fran will write a book!” I can’t wait to see if you do.

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    • A bouncy ball is a great prize! Super balls were invented when I was young (why do I feel the need to lean on a cane when I say this??) and it was SUCH fun to bounce them as hard and high as we could … thank you for your words regarding movement in the piece, Amanda. It just kind of rolled out that way and was fun to write whereas some posts I have to hammer to death, until I am thoroughly sick of them. Thank you for the congrats and your excitement – it really WOULD be a time to try for that, wouldn’t it??


  10. Fran, your story has a magical quality. As I read it, I realized how deftly you layered your story until the end when everything came together. “On a day, incidentally, when Highlights became a destiny…” I am so delighted that you won the Highlight scholarship. It is a prize well-deserved. Throughout SOL20 I found your slices so compelling, so genuine, and full of life that I too, thought you deserved to be nominated for the award. I guess Ramona and I felt the same way without even sharing this thought. Your writing is shining like a rainbow, Fran. For a first time etheree, your poem radiates the gentleness of your heart and the soul of a writer. “Time/waiting/in shadows/sometimes brings gifts/otherwise not found.” Congratulations! Continue to write poetry.

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    • Carol, I cannot tell you how much your support means to me. Thank you for the nomination! I am still basking in amazement! Your words mean so much. As does your work – you’re a constant source of inspiration. I am enjoying these new poetry forms I’ve not tried before and hope to maintain the poem-a-day. Know that I am so grateful for you!

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  11. All of the sparkles in this slice! I particularly enjoyed:
    “While I sat waiting, waiting, waiting at the doctor’s office…watching the rainbow-spots dance, vanish, and reappear…” you capture these kidmoments in kidvoice – we have both the image and the mood wrapped up so nicely together.

    And what I loved was this idea that you wrote an ethereal poem, which I know in my head should vanish before my eyes, and yet it grows stronger and more present as the lines go on. There’s something quite amazing about that.

    Beautiful writing, my friend.


    • That moment of waiting and the rainbow sparkles on the wall has strangely stayed with me all these years. The poem was my first attempt at an etheree (I am currently trying on other Slicer’s forms to see how well they fit me), Thank you so much for these words. They mean much to me 🙂

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  12. So many things I love about this slice! This line jumped out at me: With a big smile, he opened it before me like a hawker on the city streets selling watches out of a car trunk. Such great detail and description. I will now have to look up etheree poetry!


  13. I was so happy to hear that you won the Highlights prize (especially since my vote was cast for you!). I am looking forward to the day that your Slice is about a book birthday, for I know that is a certainty. This post would be an excellent example of small moment writing, if our fourth grade Writing Camp was still in session…sigh. (Though I’m not sad the reason for the Writing Camp–THE test–is nonexistent this year!) I had so many thoughts reading this post–my nonfiction readers in the library who do regularly ask for books on rocks and gemstones, feeling sorry for the time you had to spend at the doctor, my own appreciation of scattered light from my wedding and anniversary rings on my car’s headliner at just the right time of day. Which also makes me think of a funny memory…my young son, four or five at the time, finding out that I carried his birthstone in my wedding set, and asking if he got the rings when I died. Ha!

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    • I still can hardly believe the Highlights award! Thank you for the nomination. I want you to know I voted for you, Chris. You always put so much thought, heart, and detail in your posts AND in your comments. It’s clearly not a “checklist” for you – you take the time to craft such meaningful comments as well as beautifully creative posts. I have been so grateful for these and cannot imagine slicing without you. You and your “voice” are a natural part of the slicing rhythm to me.

      I want to make the most of this gift so maybe, just maybe, I can finish one of the longer things I’ve wanted to for so long …

      I’m with you in shouting HOORAY for tests being canceled! Speaking of gifts!

      I am delighted to know all the thoughts and images that came to you as you read this post. Sometimes I feel I am throwing in too much and the secret is usually in paring down. I remembered reading and loving the Highlights magazine in those long hours at the doctor’s office waiting room with a great wave of teary nostalgia upon getting the notification of the prize. I needed to honor it. Plus, that’s yet another “light” connection … and how I love seeing threads connect.

      I loved books on rocks and minerals as a child! Had a magnificent sticker book. And whatever did you tell your boy about inheriting those rings (YIKES!)?

      Thank you always for your priceless words, Chris. YOU are a gift. 🙂

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