Short Fiction Sunday

THE EYES ON THE BACK OF MY HEAD

Mom said she had eyes on the back of her head, but I didn’t believe her.  Not until I grew my own.  Then I saw Mike Mansky try to put a dead frog in my hoodie.  I ducked and he flew over my back.  The frog did too.  It landed on Mike’s face.

Everyone laughed and Mike got detention for having a frog outside the science lab. 

Later I side-stepped his spit glob before it hit me in the head.  Then, I weaved around Principal Stiitz just as Mike leaned forward to put a note on my back.  His hand smacked a yellow sticky on Stiitz’s chest. 

He got two more days detention for calling the principal a dork.

I didn’t tell anyone about my new eyes.  They were my secret weapon against Mike Mansky.  And I knew all about secrets.   They lose their power when you talk about them.  I certainly didn’t want to lose my edge with the class bully. 

I called them my super-secret laser eyes.  Although that might have been a mistake.  As soon as I named them, I started seeing things.  And not just the people behind me.

My lasers saw right into them.  I couldn’t see their scrambled eggs sloshing in their stomachs or their blood pumping through their veins.  That would have been cool.  What I saw was worse.  Much worse.  I saw their secrets.

I saw Layinda’s heart beat for me.  It got really fast whenever I walked by.  I knew Toby brought his DS to school and that his stomach looked like a pot of rotten cabbage because of it.  I even saw that Principal Stiitz hit a car in the parking lot—and wasn’t going to tell. 

People were different on the inside.  My super-secret laser eyes saw things my real eyes couldn’t see.  Like how Layinda cried every night when kids called her fat or that Toby brought his DS to school so the other kids would pay attention to him.  He liked having friends more than he hated getting grounded.

Mr. Stiitz?  I won’t even talk about his insides.  It’s just too gross to think about.

The one that really bugged me though, was Mike Mansky.  His secret made him mean.  I saw things I never wanted to see.  I tried to close my eyes, but they must not have lids.  At night I scratched at them, but they wouldn’t go away.  Even the hottest shower didn’t burn them out.

When Mike chucked the ball at me in gym, I let it hit me in the back of the head.  Right between my eyes.  It stung worse than the flu shot, but it didn’t stop me from seeing.

I didn’t duck out of the way when he “accidentally” spilled his lunch tray.  My eyes saw right through the chicken noodle soup and chocolate pudding.  I cringed at what they saw.  I was lucky that Mike Mansky’s lunch was the only thing that hit me.

It was just too much.  That night I begged Mom for a haircut.  She buzzed it right down to the nubs. 

“Do you seen anything unusual?”  I hoped my eyes would disappear with my hair so short.

“Nothing at all.”  And I saw that Mom cheated on her diet with a piece of banana crème pie.  Worse, she was disappointed in me.  Again.  This time for snapping my little sister’s crayons.  I didn’t think she knew about that.  Or when I buried all of Janie’s dolls in the backyard.

That weekend I wore a stocking hat to hide from Mom’s secrets.  It seemed to help.  She didn’t like how weird I looked, but I refused to go out of my room without it.  On Monday Principal Stiitz didn’t like my new attire either.  He made me put my hat in my locker—right next to the dead mouse from Mike.

I went to the bathroom to throw up.  Not because of the mouse, but because of all the secrets swirling around in my head.  I had to tell someone before I exploded.

That someone happened to be Mike. 

He followed me into the bathroom.  He wanted to laugh about the decaying mouse.  Instead, I made him cry.

“I know about your secret.” 

Mike’s face turned red, then white.  His fists bunched up by his side.

“Your step-brother.  I know what he does.”

Mike growled and stepped closer to me.

“He put that mouse on your dinner plate last night.”

Mike shook his head.  “How could you know that?”

I almost told him about the eyes on the back of my head, but I told him the truth instead.  The one my mom sees when she looks at me.  “Cuz I’m a bully, too.”

People are different on the inside. 

Sitting on the bathroom floor, I told Mike Mansky about my super-secret laser eyes.  He told me why he picked on me.  We both found out I was right about secrets.  They lose their power when you talk about them.  And sometimes that’s a good thing.

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12 responses to “Short Fiction Sunday

  1. Wow – powerful stuff, Cat! I love this line: I tried to close my eyes, but they must not have lids. Very nicely done 🙂

    • Thanks for your continued and wonderful support. It means a lot to me. I just tried to picture what a young boy would do when he realized he was seeing more than he bargained for.

  2. Nice.
    I was confused (and still am a bit) about the gender of the narrator.
    Also I thought Mike would have a worse secret.
    I could definitely see this develop into a longer piece.
    Good concept! 🙂

    • Sorry I confused you! I just write. In my head, I know my audience. But since my audience is actually adults rather than kids, it might be best if I give a head’s up on gender and age from now on.

      I actually picture this piece more as a character sketch than anything. It would be fun to develop it into a novel. So much potential. But I have to give Voidwalker the credit. His comment on my last short story inspired me to write about the super secret laser eyes. Let nobody say ideas aren’t everywhere!

  3. I enjoyed this piece. Good work.

    iapetus, I do believe the narrator is male—Layinda sounds distinctly female and I doubt there would be a young lesbian attraction in there for no reason. Plus, it’s a bit extreme for a girl to shave her head and for the mother to be willing. Finally, would any boy really follow a girl into the bathroom?

    • Thanks for visiting and commenting, Knowlton. Also, thanks for picking out the details. I hope that means I did something well.

      I wrote this piece for the eight-ten year old boy. Just feeling out an idea to see how it works.

      I appreciate your time to this piece and hope to see you around.

  4. Well I, too, think that Layinda is (hopefully!) a distinctly feminine name, but I didn’t realize until that point in the story, either, that the narrator was masculine. When I read over the beginning again, I couldn’t see any reason why I had assumed that the protag was female until then. MY mother always said that, and I am female, so I guess I assumed that the protag must be one, too. (Although the frogs and spit globs should have alerted me!)

    Good story! It is nice how the protag ends up with compassion for the bully and how it changes both of them. Very thoughtful piece.

    • Yes, very feminine and sweet in my mind. I’m sorry I stole your name. But that’s kind of the funny thing when I write. I never have to think of my characters’ names, they just seem to appear on paper. I hope you don’t mind.

      I am intrigued that so many people are confused about the character’s gender. When my 13 year old daughter and my 8 year old son read it, they both knew it was a boy. I never gave it a thought until after I confused Andrew. I guess that’s a good lesson on know thy readers. It’s also a good example on how our life experiences shape our assumptions.

      Your mom sounds very smart.

      Thanks for visiting and joining the fun!

  5. I loved this one! What a great plot idea.

  6. Cat, this is excellent. I could see this as the beginning of a great MG novel. The voice is authentic, and I was drawn in right away. And I like the moral of the story. This is very well done! (I’m going to read it to my kids:))

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