Login   Sign Up 


The Opticians Shop

by Lavalumpy 

Posted: 11 January 2014
Word Count: 166
Summary: A Short Story in 1 single paragraph. My hope was to convey a story which was larger than the number of words within.

Font Size

Printable Version
Print Double spaced

The Optician Shop

20 years ago, I visited  an Opticians. It was a small shop, quiet and a lovely bonnie girl, about 5 years old, was getting her new glasses. When they were correctly adjusted and fixed they were placed on her tiny nose and ears.    Thickest bottle bottom lenses ever, eyes massively magnified in those hideous NHS freebie children's frames in marbled pink. God, this memory is so vivid. The girls Mum reached in her handbag and gave the child a bright packet of sweets. The girl, so delighted beamed with joy, oblivious to the her new look in hideous glasses. The girl saw sweets and I saw teasing, mean girls, no dates, lonely, isolated. They left the shop and I cried for her present and I cried for her future.  I looked up and the shop assistant was crying too. I often wonder how that girl is now. She'll be about 25. I hope she's ok. I hope she's happy.

Favourite this work Favourite This Author

Comments by other Members

Lavalumpy at 09:01 on 11 January 2014  Report this post
To clarify...NHS is the free 'National Health Service' in the UK. 

Lavalumpy at 09:32 on 11 January 2014  Report this post
To clarify...NHS is the free 'National Health Service' in the UK. 

Account Closed at 09:38 on 11 January 2014  Report this post
Thanks for posting and welcome to Finding your Feet.

As I said in the Forums thread, this is a great story and one that adults will know well. It demonstrates that in one short para, there is a larger story building in the reader's mind. One they can add their own interpretation to, founded on their own childhood memories.

I wonder if the shop assistant was crying for the girl's future? In my view, as a reader with my own interpretation, I guess not. I think she'd see the pleasure in the girl's eyes and view it differently. What if the shop assistant was once a young girl who couldn't see, but when she got her first pair of glasses (possibly better-looking ones), she stepped out into the street and saw trees in sharp focus for the first time? Then she'd be crying tears of joy knowing the girl had a lifetime of seeing ladybirds' eggs on leaves and words on the page ahead of her.

Great story with so many nuances for each reader.

Lavalumpy at 11:41 on 11 January 2014  Report this post
Thank you Sharley for your considered view. 

I hadn't considered the perspective of the shop assistant other than to think the nature of crying might be infectious and the juxtaposition of the child's joy against potential pain was enough to cause emotion. 

Your thoughts interest me and show that even a small seed of writing can sprout many branches of thought in a readers mind. It was sort of my intention. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I would love to perhaps discuss my current work ( a novel) at some point.,:) x

NMott at 14:35 on 11 January 2014  Report this post
A well written short story. And lots if potential. I particularly liked the line "The girl saw sweets and I saw teasing, mean girls, no dates, lonely, isolated." I felt that nicely summed up the story. I am left wondering why the shop assistant was crying - maybe she was touched by the little girl's joy at being able to see clearly, and seeing the bright colours for the first time in her life. Maybe the brightly coloured sweet packet was something the mother had specially chosen and saved for this occasion . Maybe you could make up an ending where a pretty woman turns up 20 yrs  for her repeat prescription of contact lenses and she's brought her own child in for her first pair of glasses and tells the girl she's beautiful because she knows like the story of The Ugly Duckling one day she will be. 

NMott at 14:40 on 11 January 2014  Report this post
You could convey the shop assistants feelings with a line of dialogue eg she says isn't it wonderful for the girl to be able to see clearly, which contrasts with what the narrator is thinking (and through them what the reader is thinking), and that makes the reader think twice, that maybe it's not such a sad story after all . 

RooA at 01:46 on 12 January 2014  Report this post
Hi Lavalumpy,

I loved the descriptive details in this story - like "the tiny nose and ears" contrasting with her "massively magnified eyes", I found that description particularly striking.

I agree with the other comments about shop assistant's perspective, and the girl's new, clear sight. I remember when I first got glasses I felt like a superhero, the whole world seemed so much more complex and beautiful than the fuzziness I had grown used to seeing. Maybe this is trite, but I was wondering if the shop assistant was seeing the girl's sightless past, the narrator was seeing the girl's future of teasing and loneliness, but the girl herself was just seeing the present world around her, something that had never been clear to her before. Just a thought.

I also wondered why the narrator was visiting the opticians - was she buying contacts? Had she endured the torments that lie ahead of the little girl, and was now making the decision for herself that she would never again mar her face with unsightly frames? 

This is certainly a thought-provoking story, so perhaps it's best to leave us guessing!

Lavalumpy at 09:02 on 12 January 2014  Report this post
Thank you all very much for your very interesting views on this very short story. While there are only 160 words, I did spend considerable time in contemplation of the story and I too had wider views and ideas. 

The piece was inspired by a conversation I had this week with a good friend of mine who is deaf from birth and is assisted by hearing aids in both ears. We are both early in our 40's now and I was asking about his experiences at school and with other children in general. Hearing aids are less conspicuous these days, but they certainly weren't back then; and on a child's small head those older, larger aids were very prominent. It stirred a memory of mine of seeing a girl in an opticians shop.

For me the focus of the piece was about image and stigmatisation. Interestingly I hadn't revealed the gender of the narrator who is actually male. I wonder, if re-read, how this information changes the emotional response to the piece. Should I perhaps clarify it by saying something like "20 years ago I was visited an opticians shop to collect my wife's glasses which were in for repair"?

I hadn't considered too much the shop assistant. I did wonder that in addition to the girl she was moved by the unusual site of a grown man brought to tears in public.  Also, the man's emotions were focused on the girl and I don't think, in narration, he would consider the shop assistants reasons, he would assume they were similar to his own. I did consider including the reaction of the Mother who smiled kindly at her child, hiding any reaction to the ugliness created by the glasses. All parents want their children to be perfect in every way, therefore I felt the mother's would be hiding her own disappointment  and perhaps an element of emotional despair. 

One of my aims was to write something which was very concise. I think adding the emotions of the other characters would distract from that initial elegance. But hey, isn't that the dilemma we all share as writers; What to reveal, but perhaps more importantly, what NOT to reveal. The girls future will be forever unknown to both the narrator and the reader, therefore I leave it back to your own imagination. 

I very glad you enjoyed this piece, I know it's short, but a lot of thought went into it, and writing something so concise was so much more difficult than typing away on an expanded narrative. I couldn't be a poet. :)


NMott at 14:04 on 12 January 2014  Report this post
I think its important for writers to consider other character's reactions, and not just the narrator's, and consider conveying view points that may well be the opposite of the narrator's. One thing to be aware of is 'authorial intrusion' - where the main character is a thinly disguised version of the author, and being used to convey the author's political, social, religious, or other, views. The reader may not necessarily agree with those views, at which point the piece, despite it being conveyed as 'fiction' , may feel like a polemic, since only those views are being portrayed/considered. If the reader doesn't agree with those views then they may well dislike the main character and that can stop them reading on. - especially important to have a 'likable/sympathetic' main characters in novels. 

NMott at 14:17 on 12 January 2014  Report this post
To add, Authorial Intrusion can be pernicious, because it can get to the point where the character is acting out of character (eg a child acting like an adult, a male character acting too feminine).
Maybe have a go at writing as different main characters to practice Characterisation. Margret Geraghty's The Five Minute Writer is worth checking out. 

NMott at 14:24 on 12 January 2014  Report this post
My apologies if I'm jumping ahead to subjects which may be unnecessary at this point in time. 

Kerry P at 18:18 on 15 January 2014  Report this post
I haven't got a great deal to add to what has already been said, but I thought I must just tell you that your story gave me goosebumps - no mean feat in one paragraph!

To post comments you need to become a member. If you are already a member, please log in .