Questions of Perspective by Sara Collie

A girl aged ten, small and powerless. Red jeans, blue pullover, a puzzled expression on her face. She is standing on a hill. She is looking at a giant chalk horse that is painted on another hill in the distance. A barbed wire fence, all knots and points and rust, is stopping her from getting any closer. But that’s okay. From over here she can really see the horse. Earlier, when she had been over there on that other hill, standing right on top of the horse, it didn’t look like much. Just a strange, rough, whitewashed surface with uncertain edges. As she stood in the middle, catching her breath after the steep climb she hadn’t really believed that it was a horse at all: it seemed much too big. Her dad had laughed at her. “Of course it’s a horse, that’s why I’ve brought you here – because you love horses!” She had felt silly over there, earlier, for not seeing it, but it was clearer now. As the wind disturbed her pigtails, blowing tufts of hair into her face she smiled in recognition. “Hello horse” she whispered, “I see you.”

It wasn’t just the horse that she had been having problems with: lately, lots of things had been troubling up close. In the opticians earlier that week she had sat in a dark room scrutinised by a man whose moustache tickled her face as he peered into her eyes. The sensation of it sent shivers down her spine and made it hard to breathe. Somehow she could see the inside of her own eyes glowing where his torchlight shone in. This strange vision and her deep discomfort had obscured the test chart in front of her and she had strained her eyes to try and make out the letters on its surface. But as they got smaller, she couldn’t see them anymore. They danced a blurry dance and then disappeared. Afterwards, her mum said she’d have to get glasses. Her brother had immediately started to taunt her, to call her names, to tell her she was defected, no good. Even before she’d had a chance to pick out a pair of frames they were already spoiled: not neat or new or even really hers. She was already sad about seeing things more clearly if this was the price to pay. Would the glasses really help her to read? Would they make the words on the page sit still? Would they help steer her pen when she wrote so that all the letters would finally stop jumbling themselves up? Or would they always gallop about, spilling outside the lines? Did it really matter? What would she write, even if she could see the page more clearly, even if she could spell? And who would believe what she had to say, even if they looked up close? She whispered a little prayer instead; let the wind carry it over to the horse. 

A girl aged ten, small and powerless. She is standing on a hill. She is looking at a giant chalk horse on a hill in the distance. Red jeans, blue pullover, a smiling expression on her face. But underneath that smile she is sad.


Sara Collie is a writer and language tutor living in Cambridge, England.  Her writing explores the wild, uncertain spaces of nature, the ups and downs of mental health, and the mysteries of the creative process. She has a PhD in Contemporary French Literature and her poetry and prose have appeared in various literary journals and anthologies.

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