Monday, January 23, 2012

Dark-Adapted Eye

Everybody looks but nobody sees.

Or if they see, they don’t understand.

Or if they understand, they don’t react.

When I was just little, I saw a woman push her daughter off a playground swing and then scold her for crying when she fell.

This betrayal terrified me so much I immediately ran to my own mother who misunderstood my distress but was quick to soothe me with a cuddle and a kiss; quick to promise me that she would never, ever let me fall.

She hadn’t seen.

She didn’t know.

Once I saw a man deliberately slam a door in his son’s face, then jeer at him when blood spurted out of his nose and he cried, It hurts, daddy, it hurts.

My father was with me but he hadn’t seen what happened.

I could tell he was troubled by the sight of blood on the little boy’s face.

I could tell he thought something was “off” about the other father’s tone of voice.

He could tell it was a mean voice and not a teasing voice at all.

He had put his arm around my shoulders and hugged me to his leg.

“How about some ice cream?” he’d asked.

He hadn’t seen.

He didn’t know.

But I did.

My eyes are adapted to the dark; I can see the shadow in the sunlight, the skull beneath the skin.

I can see.

And I know.

Nobody saw the drunk driver who blew a red light and plowed into my parents’ car going a hundred miles an hour, killing them instantly.

Nobody saw him but my parents are dead anyway.

The driver hired a really good lawyer and because no one had seen him at the bar where he’d gotten shit-faced, she could establish reasonable doubt.

The signal light was faulty.

It was a foggy night.

He hit the accelerator instead of the brake.

The driver lost his license.

He was sent to rehab.

He was out in a month.

I know where he lives.

I’m going to kill him.

I’ll be careful.

I won’t be seen.