The Eyes Have It
by Dyna Dee
With a loud, startled gasp, I sit up in my pillow fighting to catch my breath as I break away from my dream. My trembling hands cover my eyes as I try to focus my thoughts and calm my nerves. The same dream has awakened me every night for the past two weeks. Eyes. Wide, ocean-blue eyes. Beautiful eyes. Pleading eyes. Sympathetic eyes. Knowing eyes. Sad eyes. Happy eyes. Eyes that show fear, sympathy, and kindness. All these intense emotional expressions come from the same pair of extraordinary eyes. Tonight though, they had been imploring. They desperately wanted or needed something from me.
I can only wonder who those eyes belong to, if indeed they are more than just a figment of my imagination. The vision of them leaves me with a vague feeling of familiarity as they visit me each night in my dreams. Could it be a memory of a parent's eyes, a neighbor's, or a friend's? I don't know, but I feel strongly that they belong to someone of significance in my life. I wish I could remember who it is,........or was.
My thoughts go back, again, to the time shortly after I regained consciousness in a sterile hospital room. I was told that there had been an accident, and that I had been in a coma for quite some time. It was quickly evident to myself and to the medical staff that I had no memory. I couldn't remember anything about myself. I thought it curious at the time, but oddly, the doctors didn't seem too surprised by my memory loss. They just nodded their heads and jotted down notes on their clipboards, looking very efficient in their task of being....doctorish.
It's a somewhat odd and chilling first memory I have of laying in my hospital bed ringed by doctors, nurses, and psychiatrists while being told that my parents had been killed when a faulty gas line in our home exploded. I'd been injured, but was thrown free of the flames that engulfed and devoured my home, my family, and any reminder of the life I had led.
A man in his early fifties with a thin face and body frame, greying black hair, and dark rimmed glasses that fit on a narrow nose told me this news in a clinical, efficient and unemotional manner, and added that, in any event that I didn't understand him, that I was an orphan. Because no living relatives had been found, I had been made a ward of the Public Children's Protection Agency.
Frankly, I didn't know what to feel or how to react to the news I'd just received. My mind told me that I had suffered the worst thing that could happen to a kid, and that I should be mourning and filled with grief. But I couldn't remember the home they spoke of nor my parents. I felt awkward, numb, and strangely embarrassed. From the expressions on the faces around me, I could tell that the adults were waiting for some sort of reaction from me. So, I did the only thing I could think of, I covered my head with my pillow, shutting all of them out.
Do the eyes belong to my mother?
The feeling of numbness followed me as I was discharged a week later from the hospital with a clean bill of health. My only complaints were slight headaches and some lingering weakness in my limbs. As we drove away, I discovered I'd been treated in a military hospital, because the sign above the front entrance boldly declared it as Romafeller Veteran's Hospital. Did they say my father had been in the military?
After several hours riding in near silence in a car with a total stranger, I found myself standing in front of the doors to a private Catholic school in Lyon, France. Ms. Preston, my newly assigned psychiatrist/social worker who had driven me to Lyon, explained to me that my parents had left a will requesting this particular school and that a sizeable life insurance policy, as well as a generous insurance settlement, were set up to fund the cost of my education all the way through college.
Ms. Preston seems nice enough, maybe even a bit pretty for a lady in her late thirties, but there is just something about her that I don't trust. No reason for it, just a feeling I have. She stands at about 5'6", taller than I am, and she probably has a decent figure, but it's hard to tell as she always hides it under a dark suit jacket and loose dress pants. Her eyes were small and brown as is her straight chin-length hair. Her perfectly painted lips are a bit thin for my taste, but she does have a pleasant voice, which is kinda wasted on a psychiatrist, as they're suppose to do the listening. She's somewhat kind, if not a tad condescending to me. But the really odd thing about her is that, during our first few weeks alone in my sessions with her, I could feel fear radiating off of her. A fear of me. I wonder what a shrimpy, fifteen-year-old kid could have done to cause an adult to be frightened.
After spending a few moments contemplating and memorizing my last dream, I roll out of my bed and glance at the clock. It's five thirty a.m. With a deep sigh I move towards the bathroom attached to my room, grateful that I got at least a couple of hours of sleep last night. My insomnia is becoming a problem, and I don't know if I'm going to be able to hide much it longer. It's starting to show on my face, and in my sluggish performance in class. Once again, I'm glad I have my own room so that I'm not bothering anyone with my problems, and neither is there someone present to report my sleeplessness or nightmares.
I hadn't realized when I first enrolled here that I had been given special sleeping quarters until a week later, when I visited a potential friend's room. Most of the boys here share their room with three other boys and use a common bathroom shared with six other rooms. I figured the insurance settlement for the accident that claimed my parent's lives must have paid the extra fee for my more private quarters. I'm glad. I like my privacy and my own shower, and besides, my nocturnal sleeplessness would drive other people nuts.
Turning on the bathroom light, I look at my reflection in the mirror and study the facial features reflected in it. I can see the dark shadows under my eyes. I think they're becoming permanent. Ms. Preston noticed and wanted to know why I'm not sleeping well, and I told her I was staying up late studying. I wasn't about to tell her the real reason, my dreams of the eyes. The dreams mean something important, I just know it. I can't risk having the memory of them taken away. Every time I begin to have a memory, I'm suppose to tell Ms. Preston so she can help me gain back my past. Each time I tell her what I think I remember, she puts me under hypnosis under the pretense that the session will open my mind up and help the memories come back. But how can you trust someone who doesn't admit to giving me a shot of some unknown drug after I'm under her hypnotic influence. (I can tell by the hole, bruise, and soreness in my arm that I always discover later.) She consistently professes to want to help me remember, but each time I have a session like that, I have no recollection of what I had remembered. I wouldn't ever have known I'd even had a return of memory if I didn't keep an informal journal in my school notebook, mixed in with my notes from my classes to keep it secret. Funny, but there's something in me that urges me to be covert about my personal life, it's somehow important for me to hide my feelings and what I'm thinking. Too bad I can't tell Ms. Preston about that, she'd have a field day trying to figure it out. Anyway, because of my journal notes, I've seem a pattern emerge of my confessions of new memory, the hypnotizing sessions, and the lack of memory afterwards. I'll be damned if I'll let her take any more precious memories from me. Why is she doing this? I can't seem to come up with an answer.
Looking into the mirror over the sink, I know there is something just not right about the way I look. My hair had been cut short in the hospital for treatment of my head wound, or so they told me. Funny, but I never detected any scaring from the major head wounds they say I had that caused this loss of memory. Thankfully, my hair grows fast, and at this point it is several inches longer, even to the point of being considered long and shaggy. It's a rich medium brown, a chestnut color, one of the teachers said in their description of it. I stare at my face, almost heart shaped and my eyes are unusually large. They're a most unique color, a blue/violet at times.
Are they my mother's or father's eyes?
Guess I'll never know. It's an empty feeling not knowing what your parents looked like. I've asked Ms. Preston if she could find a photo of them, but she said the house had been completely destroyed. I shrug and smile at my reflection. No matter whose face I've inherited, it's a pleasant, even attractive face, one I can live with.
I've been in this school for three months now. I feel more comfortable with my room at this point, though I feel restless, like I should be moving on. I've made a few acquaintances, though I'm basically still a loner, a stranger to most of the guys here at school as well as a stranger to myself. With a deep sigh, I turn on the shower and hold my hand under the cold stream and wait for the water to get warm. I think I'm becoming a little less numb about my life now as I begin to discover interesting things about myself. Of course, I speak French, but I now believe it's not my first language. I dream in English. I happened by some American tourists on the street one day and heard them talking. To my dumbfounded surprise I found that I understood them perfectly. I cautiously approached them and asked where they were from....in English! It came out of me so naturally, so easily. I now believe it's my primary language, and have kept this fact from Ms. Preston. Any scrap of knowledge I learn about myself is like a treasure to be hoarded and enjoyed.
Since I began to learn more things about myself, I've become more curious about who I am and what I know. I've learned from listening to the many tourists that come to Lyon that I understand and to some degree speak Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, English and strangely enough, Arabic. (Though I understand more than I can speak .)
I undress and get into the shower. Nothing like a nice hot shower. As always, I automatically reach behind me for...... something that isn't there. What could it be? An intense feeling of longing always follows the movement. I miss something terribly. This has happened consistently during the last month when I shower, and even when I walk, I miss something on my back.
I shampoo a thick lather into my hair and close my eyes. Instantly I see the blue eyes, the color of the Mediterranean Sea, watching me, beckoning me. A portion of a fine delicate nose is now visible in my waking vision. If I could see something more, his hair or his mouth....Wait! Why do I think it's a guy? Who is he? He must be important to me or else why would I keep seeing him?
Finishing, I turn off the water, grab my towel, and step out of the shower. Today is Wednesday, the day I see Ms. Preston. I have a standing three-thirty appointment every Wednesday afternoon. I call it the grilling session. I sit, and she grills me for a half hour on what I remember. She becomes suspicious when I say I haven't had any new memories, so I discovered that I need to give her something to make her think I'm being honest about what I remember.
I need to think of something new for today. I won't be telling her about the eyes. I instinctively know they are important to my past, so I need to cling to and protect this clue that may be the key to my memory. She seemed interested when I said I thought it strange that I have an obsession with food. I could tell her I dreamed I was hungry, deprived of food. I do vaguely recall such a dream, and it sounded like a reasonable explanation as to why food seems to important to me. I never miss a meal, I eat fast, and keep a small stash of non-perishable food in my room. I smile smugly as I dress in my school uniform for the day. Fear of food deprivation, that sounds like a plausible phobia to me, something she could sink her teeth into, pun intended. I just hoped she'll believe it.
After I finish dressing and grooming, I sit on my bed with my books and wait. It's six-forty a.m., twenty minutes until the cafeteria opens. I'll go through the motions again today, going to classes that seem too easy while I try to learn more about myself, and always, I study everyone's eyes, looking for the blue ones that need me, that beckon to me.
In my third period class, Mrs. Delaire, my art teacher, asks if anyone would be interested in going to Paris to the Louvre the following weekend. I raise my hand. I don't know if I've ever been to Paris, but maybe, just maybe, something there will trigger my memory.