The incandescent bulb in the little wall sconce by the bed cast such a warm and pleasing light on the open pages of the book she held. She scrutinized the vintage typeface; without lenses in her eyes, she could examine every curvilinear shape, the swirl of each serif. So clear was the close-up vision in her naked eye, she could even make out the minuscule dimples on the page where the ink had settled and then dried: a printed page was a thing of beauty, she concluded. But here was the rub: only the one eye, her left eye, could see the letters on the page with perfect acuity. Her right eye was damaged beyond repair, so that—with the exception of a tiny pinhole just above and to the right of center—all she could see was a comical gray shadow, with text spilling out all around it, but distorted as if reflected in a fun-house mirror. Comical, because the shadow had assumed the most unlikely shape since the morning it first materialized in her eye: Curious George. That beloved literary character from her childhood now lived permanently in her right eye.
Sometimes she wondered if this was a little mischief God had made for his own amusement: robbing her eyesight and leaving in its place a cartoonish monkey. She didn’t share this notion with a soul, not even the little one now nestled into the crook of her left shoulder as she read aloud to him from the pages of a Hardy Boys mystery. From time to time during this evening ritual she closed her good eye, the left one, and forced herself to read aloud the words as seen through the bad one. This exercise felt important, somehow: she needed to stay sharp, she told herself, in case this hideous disease awakened in her other eye and left a shadow far more sinister than the face of Curious George. Her pace slowed a little as she struggled to read the text through her right eye, and listening to her stumble, the child looked up at her, full of his own curiosity.