I let my fingers roam my welts like a blindwoman trying to read the price on a smooth label - afraid to think there was no writing; but knowing there must be some worth in what I felt.
But somehow I failed to feel the price, and felt lost; until someone else pointed it out to me. So I opened the wallet of my soul to the crooked merchant (the one with a finger always on the scale and a wicked gleam in his eye), believing the price he demanded to be fair and needing his wares too desperately to haggle.
I was unaware that the change and trinkets I thought I exchanged were gold coins of self worth, beautiful beneath the gritty layers of shame and lonliness. Oblivious that I let go the tiny jewels of my self: the onyx of my perseverence, the marbled stone of my fortitude, the mirrored gloss of my pride, the emerald of my desire to be loved, the ruby of self expression.
I left with pockets of pyrite and dirt and went back to the ground - digging and weeping until my fingers bled. Afraid to be so broke, and terrified that I'd dug up all there would ever be of me.
All of this made worse by those who laughed at my gullibility; who ridiculed and berated my difference and mocked my blindness - making me fear them more than the merchant. Making me fear THEM - so much more.
I began to sneak when passing them. I learned to change my path rather than cross them; rather than let them see me so helpless as that. So I dug in the darkness and under the candle lit cover of lies and took the long way around - the roads less traveled. Till one day..... I met her.
She knew all the same paths - and some different ones too. And as I passed her, she spoke to me and asked me gently "what do you carry, child?"
"These stones and coins", I answered, and showed them to her before she could ask; not caring at that moment if she robbed me or not for then I'd have nothing - nothing else to be stolen or swindled or pried from me.
"Will you come with me?" she asked. "I want to show you something." And her voice was so soft and my need was at its wits end and so I went with her to some safe place wherein she took my small hands in hers. She gently washed the dirt from them and caressed them with a softness I did not know.
Even though the dirt and grit under my nails still shone through black, I could see past the filth - past the cuts and tiny wounds, past the bruises and the rough spots. Then suddenly once again they were the hands of a child.
And in her patience and wisdom and the love she developed for me over time. she taught me about worth, and how to tell the true gold from the fool's. She taught my fingertips to know the difference between the cool and the warmth of the colors, to count the fine lines on the edges of the coin almost absent-mindedly and with stunning accuracy, using the concealment of my pocket. And how to do it without anyone noticing. And suddenly I could function in front of "them"; sometimes even BETTER than them with my newly heightened senses, and I thanked her the best way I knew how.
I held her hand (the one that had first taken mine) and pulled out that little sack (the one tied with the worn string) and I carefully sorted my coins and jewels into her hands and poured the dirt at the bottom of the bag towards the ground and into the air where it was borne away on soothing winds.
We started walking then; along a soft beach together. And as we walked we talked she showed me each of the coins and jewels and told me how special each one was; handing them back to me one at a time and watching as I deposited them into the soft leather sack which I hung around my neck again. And when we stopped to embrace in a place where land and sea and sky come together, I smiled at her as I watched her marvel at the blindwoman now gazing into her eyes.