The Eyes Have It
by Dyna Dee
Sitting in the train compartment with six other students and Mrs. Delaire, I stare out the window trying to hide my excitement as I appear to gaze at the green lush fields and farms of the French countryside that steadily passes by as the train rushes towards Paris. The other boys in the compartment are talking excitedly and eating some snacks they've brought. I ignore them, finding their conversation trivial, but suddenly I sense someone's eyes resting on me. I turn my head to see my teacher watching me with worried eyes laced with a touch of pity in them.
"Are you alright Michel?" she asks concerned.
I nod and manage a small, wistful smile. "I just can't remember if I've ever been to Paris or the Louvre before." I reply in my perfect French, though now that I've learned about my gift for languages, I notice that I do have a bit of a foreign accent in some of my pronunciations.
The compartment is suddenly still, a reaction to what I've just said. Everyone at school seems to know of my background, though the information certainly hasn't come from me. I've heard the hushed voices and whispers as I walked down the school's corridors. Words like, orphan, explosion, and amnesia, are the ones that have carried past their lips to my ears. Most of the boys at school seem afraid to approach me, like my tragic tale is somehow contagious. I'd have to say that, after three months at the school, most of my friends are the teachers. Of course, they know my background, and several have reached out to me offering to be a mentor and friend. Mrs. Delaire is one of them. At first, I accepted any warmth I could get as the feeling of isolation and loneliness at times has been hard to bear. Then I realized that Ms. Preston, my shrink, was getting information about me from a source other than myself, someone at school. I realized that one or more of my teacher "friends" was reporting to her on a regular basis. Not knowing who it was, I distanced myself from all of them.
I absently tugged at my jacket sleeves. I wish we didn't have to wear our school uniforms into Paris, and on a Saturday at that. Mrs. Delaire said it was necessary as the school was paying for our excursion, and that we would be easier to locate in a crowd. I was disappointed. I have a new pair of black, low riding jeans and a black sweater that I'd wanted to wear. Strange, now that I think about it, my whole closet is filled with uniforms and black clothing. The only clothing I wear with color is my silk boxers and tee shirts. What was my obsession with the color black all about? Why silk boxers? Hey, good questions. I can ask those the next time I visit Ms. Preston, let her dig into my psyche for answers to those questions.
"If you remember anything, let me know." Mrs Delaire said, after an awkward moment. "Maybe I can help." She puts her arm around my shoulders and gives me a gentle hug. I give her one back. I hope she isn't Ms. Preston's informant, I like her. She's in her late 40's, married with no kids. She's what people might refer to as "pleasantly plump", but I don't care, she has warm green eyes and a gentle smile that's comforting, as are the slight traces of grey that filter through her brown hair. When she smiles, which she does often, one dimple is revealed in her left cheek as well as small crows feet at the edge of her eyes, telling those who care to notice that a lifetime of smiles has been issued from her face. To me, she personifies what a mother should be. I hope my mother was like her.
The Louvre is so big and impressive. It's filled with such beautiful works of art, each exquisite piece capturing a brief moment in history. Being Saturday, the museum is quite full and, as enthralled as I am by the many works of art on display, I spend most of the time searching the faces of the thousands of art patrons, looking for the blue eyes that haunt my nights and now my days. I study the faces of people passing me by, and those thoughtfully contemplating the works of art hung high on the walls. I study the faces of people in line and even those in the restroom. I know I must look odd, staring at everyone, but it's become a compulsion. Every time I close my eyes, I see the other's, pleading with me, urging me on in my quest for understanding, and for him.
I almost bypass a group of girls as they stand in a small cluster, all dressed in a similar uniform: a long dark skirt, white blouse with pleated cuffs and collar, and a strange lacy scarf at the neck. Pretty fancy uniforms for a girl's school. Must be some upper-crust school. Just as I'm about to look away, I see one of the girls do a double take as she glances over at me. I turn my head back to study her. She looks startled, but no, the blue eyes aren't right. I dismiss her face and begin to search for another.
Our group has advanced to the next painting by a Dutch impressionist, and I make note of it enough to please Mrs. Delaire, then turn my head to begin my search again, one ear listening to the lecture she's giving on the artist and background story of the painting.
I jump slightly, startled to find the girl from the group I'd studied moments before standing next to me. Her eyes are wide in disbelief as she studies my face. I study hers also. She seems familiar, and I feel the hair on the back of my neck rise.
"Duo?" she whispers so only I can hear her. She's speaking to me in English.
"Michel." I answer back in English just as quietly. "Do I know you?" I feel a flutter of hope in my chest. This could be an old friend, a classmate, or a neighbor that could tell me more about myself.
Her eyes widen. "Oh my, it is you." she whispers excitedly and then looks over my shoulder at the group I'm with. She immediately seems to compose herself, becoming calm. "We've been worried sick about you." She says quietly as her hand reaches out to touch my arm, but in seeing my confused expression, she frowned and removed it. "Where do you go to school?" She asks politely and, this time, speaking in French.
"Saint Mary's of Faith, In Lyon." I reply, same language.
"What's your current name?" She's smiling, but seems anxious for some reason.
"Michel DuFrane." I answer, but I'm thinking, 'What the hell does she mean by current name?'
She blinks several times as if looking for confirmation of something.
"Do... do you know me?" I ask hesitantly and hold my breath. I silently pray she does.
The blond hair, blue eyed girl looks behind me again at the group of boys and Mrs. Delaire before she answers. She nods and whispers. "We've gone to school together, well, only for a short time." she amended, and then leaned closer to whisper, "I know your friends."
"Friends?" I ask quietly excited. "Does one have large, blue-green eyes?"
She smiles and nods
"Michel!" Mrs. Delaire's voice calls out sharply and I jump slightly at it.
"Yes, Mam." I turn to meet her disapproving look, but as I hold her gaze, it softens. "I would appreciate your attention, please." she says, her voice less reproving.
"I'm sorry." I reply, looking and feeling properly contrite.
As soon as the lecture proceeds and I feel I can safely look away, I turn my head back to the girl. My heart begins to beat faster and I have a lump in my throat. She's gone. I look around feeling frantic. She's my first and only true link to my past, to my memories, and to blue eyes. She's gone. My heart and hopes plummet.
From the reflection on the train window, I can see by her face that Mrs. Delaire is upset with my silence. I've withdrawn into myself going over and over the conversation with that girl. What did she call me? It sounded like Duo. An unexplainable chill goes through me. Friends, I have friends. But most importantly, a blue-eyed friend. I rest my head against the cool window of the train as we pass the rural farms and close my eyes. In my moment of solitude, the blue eyes greet me. I can now see blonde eyebrows above the large blue eyes, a slim nose and now, two lips. They are moving. I keep the image clear in my mind, trying to understand what he's saying. It seems to be either three words or three syllables.
I'm aware that there is a shifting in the seating arrangements and can faintly smell my teacher's perfume and, because of it, I'm not surprised when she speaks to me and her soft voice is very close. "What's the matter, Michel? Did you remember something? Did that girl you were talking to upset you somehow?" She asks concerned.
'Damn, she noticed that.' I shake my head. "I was hoping I would remember or recognize something. That girl looked familiar, but she said she didn't know me." Okay, only part of what I said was a lie. I can live with that.
My art teacher's arm goes around the back of my shoulders, and she gives me an affectionate squeeze. "I'm sorry," she says softly, her voice carrying her sincerity. "I can only imagine what you're going through."
I nod because, when you think about it, what do you say to a statement like that? "I know you want to remember, and someday, I'm sure you will." she whispers with conviction just as I stiffened at the word she had just uttered. "Remember." I repeat the word silently to myself, and then once again as I put my fingers to my mouth, feeling the word as I mouth it. Sweet Mary, he's saying "Remember". I lean into Mrs. Delaire's arm and rest my head on her soft shoulder and close my eyes. I'll take her offered comfort while I relish my new discovery and try to figure out the puzzle behind it.
"I know who that girl was." I open my eyes to look at Marcos, my classmate from Spain who is sitting directly across from me. "That girl with the long golden hair?" He asks for confirmation.
I nod and wait for his explanation.
"She looked familiar because her picture has been in all the Euro magazines and newspapers. She's the newly found princess of the Sanq Kingdom, Relena Peacecraft.
I feel the arm around my shoulders tighten and I sigh deeply and close my eyes, hoping to hide my excitement. "I remember seeing her face on a magazine cover." I say softly, trying to fake embarrassment. "No wonder she looked familiar and didn't know me."
I settle back into Mrs. Delaire's side, my eyes remaining closed. Pretending to be asleep, I concentrate on my vision of Blue Eyes. I can see almost all of the pale, almost angelic face and, now that I've figured out the word he's saying, I can almost hear a gentle voice pleading with me to remember. My mind is filled with curiosity, not only for what it is I should remember, but how on the earth does a princess know me? Who am I?