Patrick Peters had sent $7.49 plus shipping and handling, which equaled roughly three weeks’ allowance, and now, after waiting an eternity, there was a box on the kitchen table with his name on it.
He couldn’t contain himself and tore indiscriminately at the thin cardboard sides. He retrieved his prize from amidst a heap of shredded paper. The plastic glasses were hideously bright green and pink with “SURE-FIRE X-RAYS” printed in yellow down the arms.
Patrick held them in awe for a second before putting them on. He was going to see all kinds of girls’ underpants. He glanced surreptitiously around the room. There was no-one in sight to foil his plan. He slipped on the gaudy frames and left the house via the front door.
As luck would have it, the first person he saw was a girl. She was too far away for him to make out clearly, and the lenses were so dark as to be almost useless without bright light. He raised the glasses to balance on his forehead while he approached to within range of Emmy Burton.
Emmy was Patrick’s friend Ricky’s older sister. She was going into eleventh grade next year. Patrick drew nearer to her yard and casually nodded at her while he lowered the glasses and continued to walk past.
Right away, Patrick realized there was something wrong. He couldn’t see any underwear. He couldn’t even see any skin, which he realized in that instant would have been an even greater outcome. He shook his head and looked harder. The glasses were X-ray all right, or something. They weren’t working like Patrick had imagined. He saw almost clear through Emmy.
She coughed and startled him. Had she caught him staring? No. He relaxed, and concentrated again on his reconnaissance. He found he could make out her insides. He recognized them from his school textbook. There was the brain, throat, heart, and lungs.
Patrick noticed something about the lungs. One looked like the picture in his book, the other one seemed different. It was a darker color, and there looked like there was something else in it.
Emmy coughed again. This time Patrick took off the glasses and stopped walking. He was torn. Should he tell her what he saw, or would he be in trouble for trying to use the glasses? He bit his lip and drew in a breath. He thought about Ricky, and that if Ricky knew that someone in Patrick’s family was maybe sick, and Ricky didn’t tell Patrick, then Patrick wouldn’t like that.
Patrick slipped the glasses into his pocket. “Emmy?” he asked. “Are you OK?”