• Vol. 03
  • Chapter 05
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In The Absence Of Eyes

The year my daughter lost her eyes was the year the cat came. At first, I shooed it from the doorstep. It was some kind of Prussian Blue, sleek, no collar and, like my daughter's blindness, I thought: 'We didn't ask for this!' and screamed at God about it.

I screamed a lot that year. I screamed until my throat was hoarse, in linen cupboards, behind the bathroom door with my face buried hard in my husband's dressing gown; I didn't want either of them to hear me, to realise how I hated the sight of my stumbling child. I watched her become an infant again; babbling, grasping, her hands searching for immovable objects to cling onto.

It was the cat who stared at my tears. I saw it again through the patio doors, unblinking, like a smudge in a pencil drawing that I couldn't erase and I was forced to share the secret of my brimming eyes with it, behind my daughter's back. It kept returning, appearing in sunny nooks in our garden, curling on top of the wall outside my bedroom window. 'Perhaps it's a stray.' My husband said. 'It's just looking for a home.'

I hated it when my husband made reference to my orphaned status, as if I would suddenly take the cat in because of this one similarity we shared. I knew better. It was there to wrench the feelings out of me and hold them in its lamp-like, yellow eyes, to devour them slowly with a lazy flick of its tail.


In The Absence Of Eyes

My daughter let it in by accident. She had heard the rain dusting her playroom room and wanted to feel it on her skin. I found the patio doors folded aside like the curtains of a stage and the audience to my family's tragedy came wandering in and weaved itself around my daughter's legs. I held my breath and watched.

My daughter didn't jump in fear or surprise as she had when the objects most familiar to her had become strangers. It was as if she knew that some form of life had gathered itself around her ankles. She reached down and I watched in amazement as the cat placed its jaw in the cup of her palm. I saw her fingers feel every minute hair on its skull, knowing the colour, knowing where to find the gentle triangle of its nose and, for the first time, I saw my daughter see again.

She hadn't lost her eyes. They were simply waiting outside to slink back in.