I never meant to take his eye. It was just sitting there in a dish next to the bathroom sink. I guess he took it out to clean it or something. I'm at Uncle Joe's a lot, but I'd never seen his glass eye up close before.
I shouldn't say "glass eye," because they're not glass anymore. They're made of lighter stuff now, some kind of plastic. Mom keeps saying, "We have to find it. Prosthetic eyes cost a fortune."
My cousin Seth and I take turns sitting with Uncle Joe, and Wednesday was one of Seth's days. My mother says it's rude to call it babysitting, but that's basically what it is, except that Uncle Joe is old.
I forgot my English notebook there on Tuesday so I rode my bike over to get it. Seth was asleep in front of the TV, and Uncle Joe was snoring in his chair. I was just gonna grab the notebook and go, but I had to pee. I went in the bathroom, and when I saw the eye, I took it.
Maybe I should feel guilty for taking the eye, but I don't. What does Uncle Joe need with a fake eye? He never leaves the house.
Well, I didn't just take it. I tipped the dish sideways so it'd look like the cat had jumped up there and knocked into it. I didn't think that through, though. If the cat had knocked the dish over, the eye wouldn't have gone far. People think glass eyes, I mean prosthetic eyes, are round, but they aren't. At least, not round enough to roll very far. If the cat had knocked the eye off the sink, it'd still be in the bathroom somewhere.
Everyone blamed Seth, even though he said he'd been asleep all afternoon. They thought he stole the eye as some kind of prank. Uncle Joe said he didn't want Seth setting foot in his house ever again, so now Seth doesn't have to babysit, and I have to go over twice as much. I didn't do anything wrong, as far as anybody knows, but I'm the one getting punished.
Maybe I should feel guilty for taking the eye, but I don't. What does Uncle Joe need with a fake eye? He never leaves the house. He just sits there flipping through magazines and talking to himself. Mom brings him groceries, and Aunt Ronnie comes down from Albany every other weekend to vacuum and do laundry. None of us care if he has a pink hole in his face.
I appreciate the eye. I treasure it. I hold it in my hand, and rub the back with my thumb. I carry it with me everywhere I go.
Sometimes I get this itchy feeling that Uncle Joe knows I have it. It's almost like he can see through the eye, like he's there in my pocket, looking for a way to escape. Whenever that happens, I reach in my pocket and squeeze the eye really hard. I like to remind it that I'm in charge.
Lisa Beebe lives in Los Angeles, where she sometimes talks to the ocean. Her stories have appeared in Pacific Review, Indiana Review, Switchback, and Psychopomp. She is working on her first YA novel.
Illustration by Mercedes Knapp.