The Lazy Eye
My father has a lazy left eye that wanders off mid-sentence as if bored. When we sit down for dinner, and he starts yelling at my brother, the eye wobbles towards the door in search of a quiet corner. I want to go too; sit cross-legged in the coat closet away from the noise. Instead, I twirl the spaghetti around my fork, twisting, turning, over and over. Anything to keep from staring.
He’s had it since he was a boy, my mother tells me, pulling me onto her lap later that night. The house settles around us, and I snuggle deeper into her bathrobe, tucking my head under her chin. She points to a photo of a small cherub-like boy in dark knee socks and short pants. The right side of my father’s face is swallowed up by a black eye patch. He looks like a miniature pirate who’s lost his ship and crew.
My mother doesn’t know why the patch was on his right eye. Maybe, she thinks out loud, to make the left eye work harder. As if its laziness was a character trait that could be cured.
I checked your eyes when you were born, my mother says, smiling. I imagine her pulling down each of our tiny lids – my brother, my twin sisters, and me—looking for signs of minutes-old indolence, her relief followed by gentle kisses.
Some nights—when the bills are low, and our grades are high—I sit on the couch next to my father. We read—he the paper, me my book—and in the peaceful silence, I hold my breath; dare to take a peek.
With startling clarity, his left eye always winks down at me, under perfect control.
Patti Jurinski lives in Florida with her husband and two sons, but will always be a New Englander at heart. Since leaving the corporate world four years ago, she has augmented car line boredom with reading and writing, the latter taking on a life of its own. Although writing a historical fiction novel is her main entrée, flash fiction stories are the yummy nibbles she can’t quite say no to. She is thrilled (and slightly terrified) at the prospect someone may read her work.