It sat just above Norman’s navel and seemed to wink each time he sneezed. Round, brown, and an inch across, it protruded from his woolly abdomen like a leather button on a Harris tweed, and he hated it. As a gift to himself on his twenty-fifth birthday, he had it removed.
When it screamed at being cut, the dermatologist vomited onto the tray of sterile instruments, the pancake of tissue writhing and squealing in his forceps before falling limp, dead. Norman ran shirtless out of the examination room, careening through the lobby, knocking over patients and magazine racks, and locked himself in the handicapped toilet, trembling. There, in the mirror above the sink, he saw the cobalt blue eyeball, glazed with blood, squinting out from where his mole had been.
He looked into the eye, and the eye looked into him. He saw himself by the light of newborn suns. He saw the misery he’d worked so hard to bury: the broken heart, the unpaid student loan, the father he’d never met, the cancer cells multiplying in the rich loam of his marrow, the anguish over why the gods were so indifferent to helping him.
And as he began to weep, Norman wished, more than anything, that he were one day younger, still twenty-four years old, with a patch of brown above his navel and only two blue eyes, not seeing anything at all.
Tim Brockett wanders the world, playing music and writing. He holds a Bachelor of Music in Jazz Performance from Oakland University and has performed extensively throughout Asia and North America. His writing and photography have appeared in Expat Travel & Lifestyle (Philippines) and Doanh Nhân Sài Gòn Cu?i Tu?n (Vietnam).