December 11, 2005

The Eye of St Lucy Part 4

I dropped off to sleep immediately and was soon dreaming that I was standing in the rain waiting for a bus. All the people in line with me had huge staring eyes like the Sumerian statues we'd studied in Art History. I didn't know which bus to take, and every time I tried to climb on board, the driver would tell me, "No, not this bus." Then I'd get off and have to wait in line again. The dream wearied me; I was glad when M. E. shook me awake.

"What were you dreaming?" she prodded.

I told her, and she sat back, a frown on her face. “That's a pagan dream.”

“What did you dream then?”

Emmi looked at me shyly then glanced away.

“Are you going to tell me or aren't you?” I demanded.

She twisted a pigtail between her fingers. Her face looked pained. "I dreamed about, well, I dreamed about Jesus..."

“Are you sure?” I began. In a flash I understood. “Emmi, you're going to be a nun!” I cried. “Nuns marry Jesus."

Emmi shook her head. “But I don't want to be a nun.” Two tears slid down her cheeks. “It’s not fair. I don't want to be a nun.”

“It was only a dream,” I pointed out.

“But this is St. Agnes' Eve,” she wailed.

I patted her on the shoulder but couldn't think of anything comforting to say.

After a while, Emmi stopped crying and sat hunched up looking out the window at the snowflakes beginning to accumulate. I pulled the quilt from the foot of the bed and tucked it around us. Emmi turned back to me, her dream apparently forgotten.

“Don’t you wonder about the saints, if they really do what they're supposed to? You know, miracles?”

I wondered, no doubt about that.

Emmi sat up, shrugging the quilt off her shoulders. “I do too. There has to be a way to find out--” She paused, a glint of mischief in her eyes. “For instance, what about Aunt Tom's eye? I wonder what she sees through it."

“You mean her second sight? If she really can see people’s sins with it?” A thought took shape in my mind. Emmi was staring at her hands and I knew she was thinking the same thing. "No. No, we shouldn’t -- "

"But we could.”

“I don't know,” I whispered. “We better not. What if she finds out?”

“Is that all you think about, getting caught? Look, we're only going to borrow it to look at. We'll give it back. Besides,” Emmi wriggled out of bed. “If I'm going to be a nun, I've got to make sure.”

I wished Emmi weren't so eager.


My voice said, “I'm coming,” but my heart felt like a bowling ball dropping over my foot.

The floorboards creaked as we crept over to the curtain. Cautiously, we peeked around it. Aunt Tom was lying on her side, her face to the wall. On the table by her bed was the small china cup where she put the glass eye every night before going to sleep. Emmi laid her finger across her lips then inched forward. I followed, stepping as quietly as I could. Aunt Tom let out a rumbling sigh and my whole body trembled. I held my breath as Emmi tiptoed closer to reach into the cup. When she finally held up the glass eye in triumph, she gave a thumb's up with her other hand. I shivered, wishing she would hurry, but she stood by Aunt Tom's bed as if roots were holding her legs to the floor. Holding the eyeball up towards the window, she held it close to her own eye and turned it over and over between her fingers, staring.

"Come on," I breathed.

Emmi crept back over to me. “You look at it. I can't see a thing.”

Holding the precious eye in a closed fist, I dragged her back around the curtain, then crawled into bed. My stomach curled as I opened my hand to examine the eyeball more closely. Gingerly, I turned it over in my palm, then held it up so I could squint through it at Emmi.

"What do you see?" Emmi urged, then snatched the eye back. "Did you see anything?"

"No, it just makes everything look kind of wavery."

Emmi held it up again, peering first at it and then through it at me. "I don't see anything either. It looks like plain old glass." Her eyebrows wrinkled in puzzlement. “Aunt Tom swears it works. I can't keep anything from her. She says she can see my soul and I believe her."

“I don't. And you shouldn’t either. It's a fake, that's what I think."

“It can't be. Aunt Tom wouldn't lie!”

“Maybe she wasn't really lying. Just a little fib. Anyhow, at least it means you won't have to be a nun. Aren't you happy about that?” I put my hand out. "Let me see it again."

Emmi moved away. "No," she said. "Aunt Tom never lies."

“C'mon. Give it here. I just want to look at it one more time.” I reached out to wrestle it from her.

Emmi held it tight and pushed back against the headboard. Irritated, I leaned forward to grab it, but just as I managed to pry open her fingers she released the glass eye before I had hold of it. I wasn't quick enough. The eye rolled off the bed and fell to the wooden floor with a crack. Both of us scrambled to the floor only to find the eye severed neatly in half.

"Oh, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!" breathed Emmi. Pitifully, we tried to fit the halves together.

“Girls, what's going on back there?” Aunt Tom grumbled sleepily.

Emmi paled. Don't move, she mouthed.

My fingers holding the broken glass, I sat frozen. Aunt Tom moved in bed and made sounds as if to get up. Finally, Emmi squeaked, “Sorry, Aunt Tom, I just knocked over a book.”

I held my breath. An eternity passed before Aunt Tom grunted, turned over in her bed and fell asleep again. I looked at Emmi and knew the same panic was written all over my face.

“Oh God,” I whispered, forgetting not to take the Lord's name in vain. “Now what?” My hands were shaking. I handed the glass halves to Emmi, who gave one back to me.

“No,” she said, as if I were trying to deny my part in things, “You keep one half. We're in this together. We won't tell anyone what happened. They’ll think it rolled off the table, or that Aunt Tom misplaced it.” But Emmi didn’t believe her own story.

“She'll know! She has second sight!”

Emmi’s eyes formed slits then opened wide. “No, she won't -- she won't have the eye.”

Posted by pamwagg at December 11, 2005 12:06 PM


Emmi is the quintessenial product of a Catholic(or perhaps "parochial" is more accurate)education. I, of course, have intimate knowledge of this unique phenomenon. How,pray, tell, does a Unitarian such as yourself have the ability to write so convincingly, utilizing a setting with which she is not quite so familiar? I know the answer to my question already. A superior writer can persuade an elephant to surrender his tusks if need be. Naturally, a lover of all fauna and flora would never stoop to such depths, but I do believe the metaphor is appropriate. N'est pas?
Admiringly and lovingly, Perkless

Posted by: Paula Kirkpatrick at December 12, 2005 03:30 PM

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