“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.”
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!”
“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?”
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.