It lasted just a moment – maybe a half a moment – no more than a blip on the timeline that spanned 16 years of life for Archibald West.
But that moment – that blip – was all Archie needed to become completely convinced something was different about him – something special. In most ways Archie was a normal young man – he had a normal young man face and a normal young man haircut, he wore normal young man clothes and normal young man shoes and watched normal young man television. But in that moment he wasn’t normal.
It had been a flash, seemingly exploding from a car that had been slowly cruising by the intersection where he stood, waiting to cross the street to snag a few apples his extraordinarily blind but still fairly capable mother had requested he pick up on his way home from class.
He longed to live inside of that moment for eternity. Because in that moment he was special. In that moment, he was different.
It was that flash of, well, something that Archie couldn’t get out of his head. Not that he particularly wanted to get it out of his head, but try as he may for the remainder of the evening, that moment remained lodged firmly in his brain, replaying itself again and again in a desperate attempt to put words to what he was seeing – to justify, rationalize, or even understand the flash that he had seen.
“I don’t know how to describe it,” he said to Paul and MaryAnne, desperately straining to describe the sight he had seen. To put to words something that seemed to be, at its core, indescribable. “It was a flash of…something. I could see more than I could before! The car just looked..different!”
MaryAnne and Paul briefly looked at one another, then back to Archie, who was sitting across from them on the adjacent bench of a small picnic table. It was the following day, and the three friends had chosen this spot and this manner to spend their 45-minute lunch block.
“It was like…it wasn’t just black and white and gray,” said Archie, now jumping to his feet. “It was more!”
“Do you mean like color?” asked Paul, scowling a bit.
“Color?” asked Archie.
“Yeah man,” said Paul. “Like blue or red or the others. The ones you don’t see. Because you’re colorblind. We’ve talked about this a few times now. You can’t see color. Like 95% of the population can. It’s pretty standard. What do you think you’re in The Giver or something?”
“I just…” said Archie, looking defeated. Looking normal.
“Though I guess it’s kinda strange that you could see it for a second there,” said MaryAnne. “That’s pretty weird. Probably ought to get that checked out.”
Closing the door behind him, the doctor’s eyes met Archie’s.
“As it turns out, you are quite special Archie. You’ve got like, tons of cancer. Right in your eyeballs. They’re huge. It’s a wonder that no one told you how ridiculous you looked before. I knew the second you walked in just from looking at your face. The tests were really just a formality. Jesus Christ Archie you look like Rocky Dennis if he did a few rounds with Mike Tyson. But yeah you’re totally gonna die.”
“Dang,” said Archie.
Shortly after, Archie died. Some like to believe that he was able to live on in that moment – the flash – for all of eternity like he so badly desired. They believed that, somewhere, somehow he could suspend life in that brief burst, the short, immeasurable moment when Archie was special.
This, however, is scientifically improbable.