#172 The Walking Eye

by Jasmine Templet

The old man had an eye like a snake. It was a glass eye, shiny and milky looking. His left eye. My mom called it a curse. She said it was punishment for whatever he did in the war.

I've never asked him but I think it was a clacker. One of those black armed bugs the iron men built to dig deep into the heart of the earth. I've seen the skeletons of those machines in museums. One was so tall it reached the dome ceiling with its rusted sword legs broken and twisted. I imagined those eyes were alive and watching me. Waiting.

The old man had eyes like that. Patient. One blue and one gray. He's always been there on his porch in a chair that never rocks. Mom takes him things now and again. She sets the baskets where he can reach if he wants. She says it’s our duty. Really I think she wants him to feel beholden.

He doesn't. Feel beholden, that is.

I wasn't sure he felt anything until his eye cracked. This girl came to see him. Real pretty. I noticed the blue of her dress from my window. She knelt at his feel and screamed so loud. Her fists pounded into the wood near his feet.

The old man never moved. When we visited him after, I saw his eye had a crack in it. Deep and white—a pit dug right in the center. It was all I could see.


Whipchick said...

I love how this raises as many questions as it answers. The world and the characters in it are so very vivid, too.

Anonymous said...

Wow. I'm with whipchick-- there are so many evocative hints of a history we don't know or expect, now laid to rest, and the undercurrent of fear regarding the old man (betrayer, overseer, whatever he once was).