by Susan Ellis
“What do you see in the picture?” the lady with the grey hair asked me.
I looked from her unreadable brown eyes, hidden behind bifocals, down at the picture lying flat on the table before me. It looked to me like a silhouette of a hawk aloft in a cold twilight sky. The tips of the bird’s wings were finger-like, black against blurry bare branches. But anyone could see that. What did the lady want me to see? There must be hidden meaning or she wouldn’t be asking me. I felt heat flood my nine-year-old face and I searched her eyes again for clues.
“Tell me what you see, ” she repeated, looking down and tapping the photo with the eraser of her sharpened pencil.
“Ummm, a bird? In the sky? Maybe like the tail is the mouth?” I guessed, miserable.
“Mmmmm,” she murmured noncommittally. She wrote in a notebook that was angled away from my line of sight. She replaced the picture with a puzzle.
The lady was the raptor and I was an undefined leafless branch.
Three weeks later the results from the test were mailed.
“They don’t know what they’re talking about,” Mom sighed.
At recess I played hopscotch on gritty asphalt with a girl from the Special Ed class. She usually played alone. She couldn’t talk, but I could read her eyes. She hadn’t found the hidden meaning in the picture either.