The Story of My Eyes

The Strange Man Drove Off into the Day

Photo by Engin Akyurt on

I was alone. I am always alone. I should be used to this feeling by now. But, it never leaves me. Even with the presence of my cousins or my mother or even my brothers, I am alone. This feeling crept in on me ever since I witnessed a family. A real family. A family with a father AND a mother. A family that spends time together. I’ve always wondered what that felt like, to be so free of responsibility that you could laugh. Laughing, smiling, joy. What strange things. 

As I walked down the only streets that I will ever know, my eyes were searching. Searching for a man that would not come. I’ve accepted that my father would never be able to be here like the other children. But that never stopped me from looking. Searching for a life I’ll never have. Amid the whooshing of cars, there was one that noticed me. It slowed to a stop as the driver side window slid down, it was a man I’ve never met before. 

He started, “Why is a little boy like you walking the streets alone?” 

“I’m walking home, sir.” My mother has always taught me to be polite. It was part of our culture, “always respect your elders” “Don’t offend anyone” “Always say sir or ma’am.” 

The man silently assessed me from head to toe, and then he sighed, “Get in the car, kid. I can drive you home.”

Hesitance creeps into my body, but my house is still 5 miles away. So, I accepted the ride with a “thank you” and climbed into the car. 

“Where is your mother?” The man questioned. 

“She’s taking care of my siblings, sir.” 

“And your father?” He continued.

“Don’t got one, he died in the war before I was born” I responded with no emotion in my voice. I’ve never met my father before. How could I mourn a man that I’ve never met? 

The man got quiet after that, and he continued to follow the directions that I gave him. Once we stop in front of my house, I reach for the lever to open the door. 

“Wait, Kid! Do you walk home everyday?” He stops me in my tracks. 

“Why yes, sir” 

He sighs, “I’m in town for a couple of months, I’ll drive you home at the same spot, ok kid?” 

“I…ok.” Then the strange man drove off into the day.

I Was Not Alone

The next day, I wait. I wait with my feet on the cracked sidewalk. I wait for the strange man that might not come back, but I am alone. So, I wait. My eyes lift as a black car drifts closer to me. As I got in the car, the loudest silence followed me. Silence that was not silence. The sweet, ringing bells of the bob-head sitting on the dashboard, the sounds of the air conditioning whooshing out of the vent like a pile of dishes breaking, the slow hum of the engine beneath my feet. I kept my eyes glued to my ripped shoes. The temptation in me wins as I steal glances at the stranger. Curiosity courses through me as the silence that was not really silence filled the air. 

A soft sigh, “Kid, I’m only in town for a month, I will try to help you as much as I can.” 

I was startled that a strange man would want to help me. The man doesn’t know me, and I don’t know the man. So…why? The only answer I could manage was a small nod. As the house loomed closer, I couldn’t hold it in anymore. 

“Why?” I all but blurted. 

The man slowly pulled the car to a stop and turned towards me, “You got a name, kid?”

I answer with a small murmur, “Tony.”

Photo by Bob Price on

He stared at me for a while longer before he said, “…When I was young, my father walked out on me. In a way, I see myself in you. We have to take care of each other, you, me, and all the kids like us. You are never alone, kid.” 

I walk to my house in a daze. That night. That night, when my eyes were beginning to adjust in the dark, was the first time I felt…I was not alone.

I Treasured it With My Life

I remember the day my mom promised. She promised me a special gift as long as I did good things. That day, she took me to the rickety rackety shop in the corner, but I didn’t care. It was the most amazing place I’ve ever been. It was small with just one window. I saw all kinds of things. Rows and rows of toys and magazines surrounded the shelves and an upside down table and even hanging lights that were so bright I had to look away. I wanted to get lost in the store. Just live there forever and never be found. Escape the realities that was life.

I remember my feet tripping on a piece of wire that was lodged out of the carpeted ground. When I was falling, a dash of red fell into the corner of my eye. I jumped up so fast that I almost bumped my head on the leaning T.V. in the corner. The red was gone. I searched and searched for the place until I was running in circles. I don’t know why but I needed to find that red. As I turned the corner of the aisle, I saw it. Sitting right on top of the broken shelf. Almost like it was calling to me, like I couldn’t resist not going towards it. I couldn’t take my eyes off of it. I couldn’t stop myself as my feet walked on their own. I couldn’t breathe as my hand crept towards it. It was a red bike. The red bike. It was all I ever wanted. And I got it!

Photo by Sergei A on

That day, I rode my red bike with crinkles around my eyes. With it’s crooked handle and drifting wheels it was perfect. It was MY bike, and I treasured it with my life.

This New Window That Has Opened

Sometimes mama cries. When I was younger, I thought it was normal for girls to cry a lot  since mama did so often. I always questioned why she would need to cry so much. When I asked she only said, “you will learn when you grow older, my son.” Mama, who sleeps late and wakes early and makes us breakfast and is gone before we all wake. Mama who has always cared for us was on my bed, crying. Aunt Lucy died today. She said I would have to step up and since I was the oldest in our family I had to tell the other children. Tell them why they can’t play today. Tell them today is a bad day.

But first, I stayed with mama and held her while she cried. I tried to imagine if one of my siblings were to die. How I would feel and that just made me hold mama even tighter. That night, Mama did not sleep late and she did wake early and she did not make breakfast. I took care of her because I am the oldest and it is my job. As I do so, my eyes adjust to this new window that has opened. 

Photo by Kat Smith on

I Never Saw Him Again

I had this friend once. He would always do the craziest things. One time, we went to a special part of a neighborhood. Far, far away from where we lived. These houses weren’t like our houses. No-they were clean and shiny. One even reflected the brightness of the sun.

Photo by Min An on

My friend, Darius, was always the daring type. When he suggested we cross onto the property, are you serious? Crazy!? Come on, it will be fun! Don’t you want a closer look?? Before I could say anything he was already running towards the pristine front steps. Darius gave a small laugh as he started to lean down to pick up the rocks filling the garden. Before I knew it, he was swinging his arms back and back and he launched the rock towards the house. The house that was someone’s home.

I couldn’t imagine what I would do if someone threw a rock into my own home: Hey! – Hey! What are you doing? Stop that! I stop him with a hand on his arm. What? It’s just a little fun, what’s your problem? I was angered that he couldn’t see what was wrong. My problem!? My problem! This isn’t your house! Darius was getting as angry as me now. So what? We’e just havin’ some fun. Enough was enough. I couldn’t control myself as my fist flung towards his face. That day, I felt my eyes open a little more, and I never saw him again. 

One Last Time

Seeing the place I grew up in through older eyes was…different. The place looks different. It feels different. It no longer feels like a weight is on my shoulders every time I walk up the decaying gray steps of my childhood home. It no longer feels like a place that’s holding me back. It no longer feels like a place where I did not belong. I am no longer alone here. I am with my family. I am with my home. I smile up at the crooked window sills and the dead roses in the front of the house because I got out. I turn around and walk away from the place that opened my eyes, down the cracked streets, one last time.

Photo by Josh Sorenson on

Author’s Note:

This is a story inspired by my dad’s childhood. I took the stories that he told me about his childhood and added some made up bits in there to form a story. My dad has always been who I looked up to the most. He started with very little and has worked his whole life to get where he is today. Someday, I want to grow up and have the same determination and perseverance as him.

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