The fields in which I play are green but always curiously soft and dark, as if overlaid with cloud. They grow darker by the day. Mother says I am losing my sight, but she is wrong—I am losing my light only, I am only losing my colour. I can still see.
The things I see are not always the things she sees, that’s all. I tried once to explain it, but ended up in bed for a week with mustard-cloths and cod-liver oil. Now I tell her nothing. I saw a ragged thing in the garden just now, sad-faced and torn on the fence, and went to unhook it. It held a hand out, all bones and mould, a moment before I stepped on the rotten boards over the old well.
“Oh,” I said. “Thank you.” It nodded as I went around the well, stepping on the daffodils there, and pried the thing loose from the splintered boards.
A girl with no face, only a starry void, watched me go back into the house.
“Oh, Henry,” said Mother as I came in. “The doctor is here. Go upstairs—yes, take my hand. And stay out of the garden!”
As the old man tested my eyes, one then the other, I watched out the bay window at the ghosts and gaunts floating in the garden, each in their particular darkness—a violet, a turquoise, a scarlet, a grey. The daffodils looked pale and grey at their feet.
After lunch, I went back outside, slipping easily past mother in the kitchen, and felt my way to the fence leading to the great field behind the house. The horses appeared as huge blobs, but the faceless girl was as clear as day.
“They say I’m going blind,” I told her when I had reached the middle of the pasture. A kite cried out overhead; I looked up and saw only the clouds, thunderstorm-dark.
She shook her head, then frantically pointed behind me; I turned in time to see the neighbour’s bull bearing down on me at a half-hearted gallop, just driving me off, no malice in him. I ran for the fence and slid into our own garden, crushing mint and thyme underfoot. A winged monster with ten eyes stooped to inhale the scent as butterflies fled from his great scaly head.
“No more playing outside,” Mother said. “The bull almost got you. You can’t see, darling.”
“I can see!”
“No,” she said. “You can’t. Go to your room. Come, here’s my hand.”
I packed my father’s old duffel bag and ran away the next day. No one would play with me in the village, for fear I would hurt myself; and mother refused to let me play outside the house. At least the ghosts and monsters acknowledged me, spoke my name, saw what I saw.
But I stepped wrong as I sneaked from the garden, foolishly employed in looking back at the house.
I barely heard the crunch as the well cover gave way, and fell through a spiraling darkness, landing in a great crowd of the things, scales and feathers, slime and hair. I looked down at the body of a small boy, just visible, a dark huddled mass next to me, and reached instinctively for his dark jacket.
“You cannot go back, Henry,” something said, guiding me away from the body. “But welcome.”
“Thank you,” I said. “I cannot see up there.”
“Down here,” it said, “you can. Come, lead on.”