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TERRY AND THE EYE • by Gaius Coffey

“I saw you,” Terry shouted, “your left eye was open!”

The baby-sitter shrugged. So what if he had? It didn’t change anything, leastways, not for her. “Do you want to play, or not?”

“You cheated,” Terry continued, “it’s not fair.”

And no, it most certainly was not fair. Ignoring his protests, Janie left the table. Part of her felt guilty as she knew the proper thing to do was to explain and to try to teach him the social skills he would need later. Yet, the prospect of finding words that a boy his age could understand was dismal. He followed her into the kitchen, still bleating his accusations. She tolerated it for long enough to boil the kettle.

“Terry.” She inserted her fingers into her eye-socket. “That’s enough.” She plonked her eye onto the work surface and turned the pupil towards him. “I didn’t cheat.” She wasn’t sure if he was about to laugh or wet himself, but at least he’d shut up. She passed him the ball of glass and spooned instant coffee and two spoons of sugar into a mug.

“Does the other one do that?” he asked. It was impossible to remain angry.

“No, Terry.” She knelt down to his level and fixed him in half a gaze. “And some people think it’s rude to ask things like that.”

“Why?”

Now that was a question. People never remember pain and it had happened years ago. Her youthful skin had quickly healed so that now even she found it hard to find the scars. Still, she grieved her loss, cursed each Friday night when she went out as she could never see to make up her right eye the way she could her useless left.

“Come on, Terry.” She put out her left hand for him to take, picked up her coffee, and led him back to the game. They sat down and he began to suck on her eyeball. “Don’t do that!”

“Why not?”

“You might swallow it,” Janie answered.

“I’ll be careful.”

“I’d like it back, please,” she said.

His accusation was tangible as he relinquished his new toy, and it turned to resentment as she placed it on the table beside her coffee.

“Aren’t you going to wear it?” Terry asked.

She sighed and went to rinse it off then made a show of inserting it so that he could see how it was done, then panicked and caught his hand when he made to extract his own eye with the spoon she had used to stir her coffee.

“Whose turn is it?” she asked.

“I’m bored with this,” Terry asserted, and Janie sighed.

“What do you want to play?”

“Marbles.”

He stared directly at her left eye and his mischievous grin caught her off guard so that she found herself laughing in spite of herself.


Gaius Coffey has written full outlines for two sit-coms, several novels, a couple of screen plays, a stage play and a radio play. He has even completed some of them. Currently, he is working on the final draft of a novel and flash fiction is just one of the many exciting and enjoyable diversions he has found to prevent him from actually finishing it. He lives in Dublin with his wife and two cats.


GD Star Rating
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TERRY AND THE EYE • by Gaius Coffey, 3.7 out of 5 based on 101 ratings
Posted on March 6, 2010 in Literary, Stories
Tags: ,
  • Bill West

    Nice one Gaius!
    You had me feeling nicely uncomfortable.
    I will keep an eye out for your work in the future.

    Bill

  • Craig Parker

    Amusing story and having two small boys myself this short story has made me giggle as I can just imagine them being exactly the same.

  • http://www.lauramchaleholland.com Laura McHale Holland

    This story is brimming with life. I can see aspects of myself in both the babysitter and the boy. I would suggest saying “Janie shrugged” in the second line and working in that she’s Terry’s babysitter in the paragraph that follows the initial dialogue because at first I didn’t know Janie and the babysitter were one and the same. At that point in the story, there’s no way of knowing only two people are at the table. Not a big deal though. I enjoyed this.

  • http://www.apcharman.com Andy Charman

    Neat slice of life.
    Never mind the past being another country, childhood is another planet. I particularly liked the child-minder’s begrudging affection and reluctant sensitivity; her amsued respect for the child’s own logic. Find myself there very often.

  • Sarah

    Very good – nicely uncomfortable indeed – and I loved the idea of playing marbles!

  • http://barndance.biz Ian Carter

    That made me chuckle. Well done!

  • http://mistyhill.blogspot.com Deborah Bundy

    LOL at this one. It was the perfect mix of humor with a serious side note. Thanks!

  • Cindy Lu

    The ending was indeed fabulous, perhaps saving the whole piece. I thought the story rambled just a little and it took a little too long for me (but I’m dumb) to understand the game they were playing. Too much was made of the coffee and the make-up thing.
    I know sometimes it’s tough to find just the right word, but the word ‘dismal’ just didn’t seem to fit.
    But it did reminded me of my grandfather taking his teeth out, and at 5 I thought that was amazing. Three stars.

  • Oonah V Joslin

    Very nice Gaius

  • Margie

    You captured the curiosity of the young boy perfectly. 5 marbles. :)

  • Mary Mc Ateer Tutty

    Quirky sense of humour indeed!
    Addresses some of my worst fears – scarey, but also a paradigm of the genre.

  • Alvin

    The ‘show’ turned to ‘tell’ in the paragraph where the boy tries to take out his own eye while she’s cleaning hers. The switch left me feeling cheated.
    Good portrait of a young boy’s innocence.

  • Jen S

    5 eyeballs from me!

  • http://www.paulfreeman.weebly.com Paul A. Freeman

    A five from me.

    However, I couldn’t but help imagine how the babysitter looked to the boy with the orbit of one eye empty!

  • J.C. Towler

    Agree with Cindy Lu (8) on “dismal”. I don’t know why “dismal prospects” sounds okay but “prospect was dismal” doesn’t quite click.

    Anyway, It was the only stumble for me in an otherwise enjoyable story. Took off quickly in an unanticipated direction and held my attention throughout.

    –John

  • Anne Marie

    I held my breath thinking she’d fall asleep and lose her remaining eye to a curious child. Whew…. not only did it not happen, you caught me off guard with marbles and made laugh.

    Here’s a bunch of marbles, I mean stars for you!

  • Jen

    This one confused me a little. I didn’t realize their were sitter and sitee but since it was explained in the comments, it’s a cute story.

  • http://www.book-works.biz Bob Curby

    Gaius – wonderful!
    All those who like this say “EYE”

    “EYE!”

    :)

  • Gaius

    Wow, thanks everyone for your comments. Some good and very helpful feedback in there.

    BTW, not sure what ads Google are serving up for you, but here in Ireland, they have chosen to serve up “Optilase” (laser eye surgery)… Everyone’s a critic! :)

    G

  • jennifer walmsley

    I enjoyed this Gaius.

    Made me smile and squirm.

  • Amy Corbin

    This was really good. Great ending.

  • John Ritchie

    Good stuff, G, I like the way your story explores the innocent directness of the young.

    I once met a lady who only had one eye. The left hadn’t formed at all so she just had blank skin there. Yet she had made up the area around where the eye should have been. It was quite disconcerting.

    Best

    John

  • Rick

    Reminded me of me when I had a nine fingered babysitter. My bother and I were just as mischievous. You capture the boy, perfect.

  • http://quill-quirks.livejournal.com Brenda Blakey

    I admit I closed one eye and tried to imagine applying eye-makeup. Interesting. That age child probably would have said how creepy the socket looked without the eyeball in it. Otherwise, bravo for the enjoyable story.

  • Gaius

    Pleased to find people still reading and commenting! Thanks everybody, very helpful, much appreciated.

    Brenda, I don’t know about the boy’s reaction. When I was writing it, my thoughts were that aesthetic judgements are learned and, in the absence of his peers, he would take his cues as to whether or not it was creepy from the baby sitter. She was maybe a bit bitter about what happened, but would be well past any physical revulsion.

    But, as ever, I could be wrong! :)

    G

    ps: How did you get on with the makeup? ;)

  • http://quill-quirks.livejournal.com Brenda Blakey

    I have always found young children to say the bitter truth quickly and openly. Around the time they no longer require a baby sitter they read cues and begin to clam up tightly in true teenager fashion. I can only assume I have miss guessed the age of the boy in which case the error in judgment is, most assuredly, mine.

    Ps: Still swabbing away at the make up. Please don’t stare.;o

  • Gaius

    Hi Brenda,
    No, I think we were thinking similar age and I agree about the openness. I think it’s down to the question of whether or not he found the missing eye creepy, which could have gone either way… I imagined him curious rather than shocked, so could well be me that got it wrong!
    G
    ps Turning a blind eye to your fetching half make-up. :)

  • http://quill-quirks.livejournal.com Brenda Blakey

    Hello Gaius.

    Let’s un-muddle a bit, shall we?

    I believe a young boy, in REAL LIFE, would have been grossed out over an empty eye socket. I cannot apologize. But, I did enjoy the story.

    You imagined the boy in your fictional work would have been curious about the eye. You should not apologize. Indeed, you are the author.

    It’s the reader’s privilege to approve or disapprove. It’s the author’s privilege to write what he wants or write what everyone else wants him to write.

    Ps: Finally mastered the makeup thing. Thanky you.

    B.

  • Gaius

    :) ;)
    Gaius

  • http://quill-quirks.livejournal.com Brenda Blakey

    :)

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  • http://pittsburghflashfictiongazette.com Guy Hogan

    This was a pleasant and at the same time an uncomfortable read. I didn’t know whether to cringe or to laugh. I guess that’s what the best fiction does.

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