The power of the emerald gaze

My parents never said it, but the truth was they only remained married “for the kids”.

That’s what I overheard my mother saying one day when they were arguing loudly. My father had always thought I was not his child. My mother claimed it wasn’t true; she had repeated it so many times over the years that she had come to resent me because of it. My siblings hardly spoke to me, blaming me for the discord in our family.

All because of the colour of my eyes. I was even lonelier in school. I was fed up with the bullying and people calling me a freak, or those who slowed down just to look into my eyes like I was an animal in the zoo. Were they expecting me to clap my hands like a seal? Or balance a ball on my nose?

With no other choice, I decided to purchase a pair of brown-coloured contact lenses to conceal my true eye colours.

Hopefully, people would forget about my mismatched eyes, and I would make some friends.

I cleared my throat.

“Ma, are you okay? You look tense.” I regretted my words as soon as they escaped my lips.

Immediately, my mother snapped at me. “What do you mean? How am I supposed to look relaxed? You boys don’t even help clean up this house. You think I’m not tired after a day at the office?”

Then, she did something unexpected; she stood up and stormed into my bedroom. I ran after her, terrified at what she was going to do. She grabbed my contact lenses in their beige container and stormed back out, not slowing down as she passed me, despite my pleas.

She went to the balcony and flung them out. We were on Level 21. I knew they were destroyed for good. Before I could react, my father harshly slammed his hands on the glass table, slightly cracking it.

I ran out of my apartment, risking my parents’ wrath. They were arguing loudly and didn’t notice me slipping out. I took the lift down and ran to the area outside the balcony to look for my contact lenses. I spotted the container. It was open and lying there, with no lenses inside. I searched the grass, very careful about where I stepped so as not to crush them. After an hour, I was about to give up when I noticed something gleaming in between the blades of grass. My contact lens, one side at least.

I didn’t find the other one. One would have to do to conceal my emerald-green eye.

I went home and washed it and cleaned it repeatedly. The next day, I used it again.

Strangely, I passed out in school just before recess and had no memory of it. The doctors examined my pupils closely and ran various tests. They found a living organism in my pupil, which they were unable to identify, so they labelled it Organism 0634. They said they couldn’t remove it, so they instructed me just to monitor the situation.

Travelling home from the hospital, it seemed as though my mother didn’t care about what happened, nor the dangers I faced with an organism in my eye. If anything, she looked like she would prefer me dead; one less mouth to feed, after all. Without notice, my body forced out a deep breath, and my eyes started to slowly close against my will. Surprisingly, I could still see, but it was as if I had put on a filter.

Immediately, I had mixed feelings of worry, guilt and distress. I felt tears prickling my eyes; I blinked them back. I started to breathe heavily, pressure exerting on my heart. Thoughts and questions clouded my head. I saw lots of cars; a traffic jam. Suddenly, everything ceased, and my eyes once again opened. I was panting and sweating in my seat.

The next day, I headed to my third-period classroom, about to grab the classroom door handle when I abruptly stopped in my tracks. Once again, I started to breathe extremely heavily, and my eyes slowly closed. Once more, after my eyes were completely shut, I could see.

I saw through the door what seemed to be a sizable bucket of paint connected to some string. The door was ajar, allowing the bucket to rest comfortably on it. The bucket was connected to a thin string, tied to the handle of the door.

At once, my eyes reopened, and I instantly let go of the handle. I chose to go through the back door. I went in and sat down. The teacher entered and the bucket fell on him, spilling paint down his head and shirt. He was exasperated and ordered the whole class to sit silently while one boy was instructed to call the discipline master.

On the same day, I was walking to my lunch table with Ahmad, Muhammad and Hannah, when I stopped and started to hyperventilate, and my eyes began to close. I saw an extremely fine string placed in front of us and two boys clenching onto the string.

Promptly, my body began to float. As I focused below me, I observed us tripping over the wire, plunging towards the ground, and knocking over our food, which spilt onto the floor.

I was getting better at using my power.

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from ‘Emerald Gaze’ by Adam Cheong. It is part of a series of short stories – The Eye: A Young Writer’s Anthology. Priced at RM31.90 the book is available at BookXcess. All royalties go to Yayasan Chow Kit, a non-profit organisation serving the needs of children and teens in the Chow Kit area of Kuala Lumpur.

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