• Vol. 05
  • Chapter 10
Image by

The Eyes Have It

The minute he looked at me, I was caught. His face, not beautiful – a crooked tooth, the too-weak chin, the scrag of facial hair. A face unblessed with perfect symmetry, with glowing skin: the things they said I had, the aunts and friends of brothers and sometimes even boys. But my gaze spiralled inwards, when it landed on him: to the eyes, blue and keen. And that blue – it seized my look, caught it like water to ice.

He told me nice things, and the blue seemed pure and true as the sky. Lying together in the scorched grass, his hand burning on my waist: then he would tell me all the ways I wanted to be, how the summer tint of my hair and the weave in my walk filled him, right to the brim. How all the other men wanted me too, would stare and yearn – but I was his, and he had won. He would hold me by the hips, and in the depths of the sun and the stolen liquor the cornflower bruises would go unnoticed – until later, when the sky had turned dark.

Sometimes he would tell me the same things, but in a different hue – his eyes then seemed more grey than blue. He would tell me again how the men looked, but now it was a different game: he would seize the neckline of my T-shirt and pull at it, say 'flaunting all you're worth'. He would look at me as though he had been taken in: that blonde tint, that strut, my mouth – all illusions, and now his sight was clear. Then his eyes were targets, weaponry: aimed at the men and boys, aimed at every part of me.

Sometimes I tried to tell him, struggled to tweezer out the words lodged just below my ribs: you're chipping away at me. It hurts. But he would get that little crease between his eyebrows, and say: 'you're overthinking, can't you just relax?' His eyes were at their deepest then, and I would get lost. My head had always been in the clouds. I tried to press my feet into the ground, to feel the earth against my toes. I reached out my hands and touched him, the muscle and bone, held on to something solid.


The Eyes Have It

Once, I tried again to form the words – the right way this time, the good way, so he would understand. He threw a plate against the wall, sent spikes of china everywhere. Only when I felt a wetness on my cheek did I raise my hands, and taste the iron tang. Within five minutes he was back, and cradling me against the wall; stroking my hair, murmuring: 'your beautiful skin.' He pressed his forehead to the bridge of my nose, looked at me with the eyes big and blue.

And I stared back at him, spiralled back. Back, back, back – blocked in the ice.