omicron7889

Hong Kong

Always sleep-deprived
Craving spicy barbecue chips
I like rhymes and pizza
Boomshakalakah

Also I hope you're having a good day :)

Message to Readers

This idea came to me as I was brushing my teeth. Just another reason why dental hygiene is so important.

Eyes Like A Fish

January 8, 2021

FREE WRITING

3
    My mother used to call them fish eyes. The muddled ones, the messy ones that could stare at you with a thousand emotions or absolutely nothing in them. 
    I first heard her say that when I was seven, accompanied by the pricking gusts of winter wind and maroon sludge on the ground from leftover snow. A homeless man lay dejected against a lamppost, the remainder of a cardboard sign doing the little it could to shield him from the oncoming gales. 
    (Mommy, why is that man sitting on the floor?)
    A man in a suit had walked by, the crowds parting in front of him like a population would do to their king, a tyrant king with nothing left in his heart but disdain and disregard. The crowd parted before him, and so did we. As his stately and royal air brushed by I could smell his cologne, sticking into my nostrils and making me want to sneeze. He sneered at the homeless man and his tattered sign, and I held my mother's hand tighter. I liked the soft back of her hands, my fingers wandering over them and focusing on the bumps from her veins instead of the tyrant's gaze.
    "Eyes like a fish." I heard my mom say. Eyes like a fish. Whatever did it mean? I tried imagining his head as a fish, but couldn't. All I could see was his cruel twisting sneer. Jeering.


    The second time I heard my mom say those words was after my eighth-grade teacher had called me out in front of the class for being too slow to hand in my work. Again. It's the third time this week! She had yelled. I said nothing. My mother came to class the next day after seeing my tears that night, marching in right after school ended and demanding an audience with the teacher now. He's going through a tough time, my mom tried to explain, reigning in her anger and keeping it in perfect control. My teacher couldn't understand.
    "Eyes like a fish." My mother grumbled as we left school, her car keys jingling madly in her hand as she unlocked our car door. I pretended not to hear, and ignored the reasons why I could not finish my work on time.


    The sixth time I heard my mom say those words I was seventeen, and haughty. Tossing up the hair I let myself grow out, I told her in uncourteous ways that my business was my own. She thundered down upon me for, and I remember, acquainting myself with such a person. My friend. My friend who later that day pulled me aside as we left the arcade, and pointed to the small convenience store at the gas station we usually saw walking home. I have a knife, he whispered into my ear. They won't see us coming, he reassured. There are no cameras. 
    ("Eyes like a fish!" My mom had yelled at me before I slammed the front door shut behind me.)
    I stared at him in shock, and found nothing I could relate to in his eyes. Come on, he had said. Come on. He pulled out his knife, waved it around my face. Fine, he had snarled. Fine. You're scared like the coward you are. He pushed me, tried to bend my will. But he couldn't. I finally understood. I went home that day, silent. Eyes like a fish. My mom was right. I made dinner for her that night, apologetic. We didn't speak of it again. I never spoke to that friend again either.


    The twelfth time I heard her say those words was after the funeral procession for my uncle was over. My aunt, sitting on a wooden chair next to his grave in the cemetery, had finished weeping, for she had nothing left. Her eyes drove so deep into the tombstone, it almost seemed to me that she'd knock it over through her gaze. My mom walked over to her, put an arm on her shoulder. She was my father's sister, but my mom treated her as her own. My aunt's head turned, slowly. 
    Her beautiful hazel eyes were dulled, holding nothing but loss as vast as the night sky in them. Endless. A cosmos of emptiness. Whether she registered my mom's presence that day I do not know, but I could never forget those eyes. Grieving eyes, worn down by the subtraction of a single person in this universe of equations. 
    "Eyes like a fish." My mom sighed quietly to herself a week later as she was chopping celery. She thought I wasn't paying attention, I didn't usually when she talked to herself. But I wanted to listen that time. Something in me compelled me to listen, and learn. Those fish eyes had scared me, because they held terrifying emotions that I wish I'd never have to know.


    The final time I heard my mother say those words was when I graduated from university. A doctorate in my hands, I threw my cap high up into the air like my friends, catching it as it fell because I knew my mom would want to keep it, immortalise it on our bookshelves. I handed it to her later, and blushed as she stood on her tip-toes and kissed my head. I'm proud of you, she told me. I tried not to cry.
    Later, during the organised dinner party she pointed out a friend of mine a few tables away. She was gaping open mouth at the screen of her phone, no doubt receiving ecstatic news I'd hear later about an internship or a placement. Her eyes almost seemed to leave her head out of elated shock, and my mom and I giggled madly, high on the day's events. "Eyes like a fish." We both said in unison, laughing even harder when we realised. 


    The first time I said the words alone happened just now, when I was smoothing down my hair. My cowlick refused to cooperate, and it's insistence at staying upright suddenly provoked a fresh round of sobs from my chest. Placing my forearms on the edges of the sink, I wept and bawled and blubbered like a child, resisting the urge to cry out in pain. To cry out in the absence. Her absence. She had left me at forty-six, the breast cancer eating away her entire life. 
    There was nothing to classify the emotions that rampaged around me, nothing to calm them down. Her memories, her smile, her voice both comforted and crushed me, pouring in rage and grief and love and anger and hurt and love, so much love into my heart. I had raised my head up after my hiccups subsided, raised it up to blow my nose. It was only after I steadied my breaths that I finally dared to look into the mirror.
    My eyes were puffy, dark. They contained an endless void of pain, and anger at her having to leave me. But sparks of joy remained too, sparks that flew every time I touched upon a memory of her. My eyes stared at me from the mirror of the bathroom, and something in me brought me back to when I was seven. Then to when I was in eighth-grade. Then to when I was seventeen. Then to my uncle's funeral. And finally to my university graduation. 
    I looked into the mirror again. I stared back at myself, unblinking. There was life in those eyes, life that she gave me.
    "Eyes like a fish." I mumbled. I paused. I gave a tiny breath of laughter, and then I smiled.

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  • January 8, 2021 - 8:27pm (Now Viewing)

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4 Comments
  • omicron7889

    Awww thank you!!


    8 months ago
  • K-Rewie

    I almost cried, it's so well written.


    8 months ago
  • omicron7889

    Thank youuuuu your words give warmth to my heart :D


    9 months ago
  • nezi_nes

    Dang it I nearly teared up :0
    So well written


    9 months ago