He stares at the painting, in a state of awe. I’m confused. What’s so magical about a painting? He’s saying something about how labor intensive it must have been to make a painting like this. How wonderful it would be to live in the painting. 

“It’s just a bunch of dots,” I say pointedly. “There’s nothing wonderful about it.” He just smiles, amused. 

“You have to look at it like it’s a window. Like it’s giving you a clear view of another person’s world.” He waits for my response, but it doesn’t come. I tap my foot against the concrete floor. The rest of the gallery is just as boring, and we’re here for at least an hour longer while Mom finishes up her shift. It couldn’t hurt to try. 

“Well…” I begin. “I… guess the white, yellow, gray, and blue make the sky look… sort of real.” 

“Yeah,” he says. I expect him to start yammering on about the feelings looking at the clouds give him, instead he looks at me again. “What else?” 

My ears feel hot, I can hear my heart beating in them. I look down at my scuffed up sneakers. I try to avoid eye contact by rubbing them against the ground. 

“I — ” I swallow my pride. What good is lying now? “Hadn’t thought of anything else… ” 

He doesn’t get mad. I can feel him smiling at me. A beam of light shining down on me just as the light shines down on these three people in the painting. 

“That’s okay.” 

I look up. 

“Really?” I smile back at him, confused. 

“I’d prefer to continue our discussion, but if you’re really stumped… ” I cross my arms.

“You’re really trying to take me on a guilt trip?” 

He smiles. A wide grin that succeeds in making me laugh. Dirty looks from all around the gallery find their way to me. I mumble an apology to the angry museum visitors.

A minute later, he asks me, “Did you think of something else eye-popping about the painting?” 

“Eyes popping?” I ask, excited. “Like in that video where they cut the lady’s eye open? But it’s ACTUALLY a SHEEP’S EYE?” 

He laughs. “That’s not what I meant!” He messes with my short hair, like I’m a dog. 

“I meant what comes to your eye first?”

“Oh,” I laugh. “I guess, those three people in the light.” 


“Yeah,” I respond. “They look like the only people in the world.” 

“I get that,” he trails off. 

A scratching sound takes him back to the real world. A crow is dancing on top of the skylight. The skylight is right above us. Looking up at the light, shining through the dim gallery, I finally understand what my brother meant by the word “window.”