Apple of My Eyes
Apple of My Eyes
by Glen Bawan
This nightmare had been waking me up every night, and it made me almost sleepless the night before my first day of teaching. That night, I woke up sweating and gasping so I went to the kitchen for a drink. As I opened the fridge, all I knew was I’m still into that nightmare and it preoccupied me. All I knew was I’m afraid. After I had a glass of water, I went back to my bed and wished it would never bother me again.
It had been 10 years since I endured all the physical abuse and molestation from my father but it was still haunting me every night! And he was dead, but what he did to me was still living inside me. Being a good daughter, I didn’t think I deserved it. Since then I always said to myself that life is unfair.
My eyes closed when it was about 4 a.m., an hour before my alarm would expire. After an hour, I woke up on the sound of the alarm clock and then I stood up to get ready. On my way to school, my mind was still preoccupied. The thing that bothered me the last night still made it through the morning but I hoped to be in focus during my class and be free from the nightmare I always had—my unfortunate situation from the past.
Fortunately, it didn’t bother me during the first day of classes. I was doing well and so my students. Indeed, all was doing well until my eyes fell upon this freshman student of mine, this 12-year-old boy with a one-sided black hair, one of the neat-looking boys in the room. The first time I saw him, my cold sweat came out on my skin and my breath shortened as if I awoke from my nightmare.
I didn’t know who this boy was but he was like an old acquaintance. Perhaps I saw him somewhere before. I didn’t know. Days passed and it kept me thinking where and when I saw him and why I felt strange in our first meeting. As I saw him in one of my classes every day, that feeling always hit me, that feeling that could only be felt in nightmares. Every day I was afraid. Then I remembered the first time my eyes fell upon the face of that student, his eyes was also at me. So I concluded it was his gaze upon me, and I thought perhaps someone I knew reminded me of that stare or those eyes. I didn’t know. That was on my mind every night.
My nightmares were gone for days so I got complete and peaceful sleeps. But it seemed that those nightmares came in daytime during one of my classes. Every time I saw my student, I saw someone I knew. As I thought about it every night, a face started to build in my mind like a jigsaw puzzle having its pieces completed one by one.
Then the jigsaw puzzle was finished.
It came to me that what I saw on the boy—his gaze upon me—was like the gaze of my father! My father had always given me that look while he had me abused and molested. Every time I saw my student, I saw my father. Despite their similarity, their faces were not alike. But that similarity reminded me of all the things my father had done to me which had been coming back as nightmares, and every time I saw my student was a nightmare too.
Was he a reincarnation of my father? Why did he come back? What does he want? Does he want to abuse and molest me again? Oh, please no.
Every day was a nightmare for me. Every day I wanted to avoid that student and his evil stare. I didn’t want to happen again what my father had done to me several years ago, and I would do all that I could to prevent it from happening again. During class, I did all my best not to look at him and not to call him. I focused my attention on my other students as if he doesn’t exist, and the idea of him being nonexistent is a great one.
There was a successful week when I avoided his stare, because even outside the class room I didn’t look at him, so, of course, I didn’t see him looking at me. But one day at my class after that week, I asked my students some questions about our lesson that time. Sadly, no one raised a hand. Then it happened that this student, the one I always avoid, raised his hand and apparently he was the only one. I knew it was him even without directly looking because he had been sitting there since the first day. He was there on the farthest right of the last row when I first saw him staring at me. Again, I did my best not to look at him but I had no choice. My body started to tremble as my eyes went to the direction where he was but not on his face to avoid seeing him staring. I called him and I couldn’t speak properly. He answered my question correctly, but I made a mistake—I accidentally looked at his face! There was a difference between looking at his eyes and looking at Medusa’s eyes. You would become a stone if you looked at Medusa. But if you looked at him, you would shatter into pieces. Tiny pieces. It was the evil gaze I always avoid because it was a nightmare for me, a nightmare from the past and present.
I woke up on the clinic lying on a small bed and the school doctor was next to me, sitting on a chair and perhaps waiting for me to wake up. She said I fainted during my class but they didn’t know why so she asked me. I couldn’t tell her that the reason of my fainting was the student, so I quickly thought for a lie. What I told her was maybe I was hungry or maybe it was because of lack of sleep, and I know it wasn’t.
“Ma’am, you should rest for about a whole day,” the school doctor said, “and don’t forget to have complete sleeps and don’t skip meals.”
It made me glad because I would completely avoid my student and especially his stare for a day.
There was a smile on my face upon waking up in the morning I stayed at my home. I enjoyed my breakfast as if it was one of the best I ever had, and it was the first time I appreciated the beauty of sunshine when I looked at the windows. That day, there was truly lightness in myself and in my home because I felt safe for I wouldn’t see my student’s gaze and I was free from any danger or harm that it could inflict. Spending the morning and afternoon reading a book was an excellent idea.
But as the day would about to end, I started to felt uneasy. The night came and I knew my suffering would come back again. When I went to my bed, there came an awful itch on my eyes that I couldn’t stand and made me want to scratch it hard and the worst in my thought was to remove my eyes. I screamed to this feeling, this feeling that my eyes were burning while there were needles poking it. I didn’t know what I should do, and I couldn’t stand the pain that I remember seeing myself hardly breathing, having a fast and short gasps. Blinking my eyes fast couldn’t alleviate the itchiness. It failed me. So I stood up from my back, opened the lamp, took the small mirror inside the drawer beside my bed and looked into my eyes. There was nothing strange. Even redness, there was none. The itchiness in my eyes was totally gone as if I didn’t felt it, as if it wasn’t there. Was my mind playing tricks on me? Was that feeling all made up by my mind? But I knew that was real. I knew what I felt was real. The mirror was still on my shaking hands while my eyes were staring at nowhere. I didn’t know what to believe.
The next morning, when my eyes opened from sleep, the first thing that hit me was the strange thing happened last night. I hurriedly looked into the mirror to check my eyes and still saw nothing strange. It was a good thing to know, but knowing that that day I would come back again to school was not. I didn’t want to eat breakfast. I didn’t want to move. I didn’t want to go to school.
I didn’t want to see my nightmare.
Unfortunately, I needed to. It was my job and I must be responsible. I said to myself that I would try, come what may.
At school, it was still the same. My job was to teach the students and my personal task was to avoid one. That day was fine because I didn’t catch his gaze. But then something still bothered me. Throughout the day, even when I arrived back home, the strangeness of last night was still there. The strangeness I felt preoccupied me like the preoccupation I had every time I woke up in my nightmares. I didn’t know why it bothered me so much even though I had concluded it was only a trick played by the mind. Then something came to me about the strange happening.
Was it because of him?
Yes, it would be possible. One would always have a way to hurt anyone if they want to!
That day ended and sleep wasn’t for me during the night. Who could sleep if someone was trying to hurt you? Who knows if he was there in the dark corner of my room, waiting for me to sleep and then jump over to strangle or stab me or whichever way he prefers to hurt me? It was a long night for me. Every second was slow but every heart beat of mine was fast. I never felt this kind of fear before. Many thoughts were in my mind but above all was the thought of having my life in real danger.
The dawn came but my eyes were still wide open. I knew I would not be able to come in my classes and I spent the whole day inside my room thinking and worrying about my safety. My memories about my father came back and it made my whole body tremble in bed. For me, my father and my student were one. For me, my father came back as one of my students to molest and abuse me again. My student is my father and he is wicked!
For almost two weeks, I hadn’t been to school without notifying the principal or any of the officials. In those days, I locked myself in my house and didn’t go outside. I was scared because of this deep-seated fear from the past that would haunt my present and future, and it was created by my father. All the time, the windows on my house were closed. He might be there, possibly in the window panes, gazing at me and preparing to hurt me again. Also, I rarely ate for the reason that my food might have poison or something deadly he might put. There was the feeling that someone is watching me, perhaps behind those closed doors and windows or outside my house. Probably it was him. This had been my condition for almost two weeks.
I knew the school principal tried to call me several times and I didn’t respond in any of those. Perhaps they were disappointed because of my attitude but it didn’t bother me so much. In fact, I was more bothered and troubled from the thing I fear most. In my mind, there was only one thing that preoccupies it—this fear I have. And there was only one thing I want—to get rid of this fear.
A thought struck my mind. From the first day of my teaching, he was the first one to catch my attention, and today my attention is still on him. Every day and night he was always on my mind; I was preoccupied by him. Indeed, he was the apple of my eyes.
I decided to come back again to the school and prepare a letter and something to say, perhaps an excuse about the reason of my absence and why didn’t I notify them of my condition. But then I immediately changed my mind and my decision. I wouldn’t come back there to explain myself, but I would come back there to finish and totally get rid of my past and present nightmare.
Was it wrong if I wanted to be safe and at peace? This was my first thought upon waking up in the morning of the day I came back to school. I needed to protect myself from his motives, his hidden motives. I knew he has. I knew he wants to hurt me. I knew all of that even though he didn’t say it because my father already did it to me.
Always be alert, I said to myself. I was indeed alert on my way to school. I walked down the street and looked on the faces of every person on my way especially at my sides and my back. Many times on my back, actually. He might be somewhere and following me. There were also possible places where he could hide, such as big trash cans, behind the trees, behind the parked cars, or anywhere he could hide or fit himself. Above all, I didn’t forget to bring something that could protect me even though it was illegal to bring a deadly weapon in public. A small-sized kitchen knife in my pocket was enough to protect my life. I brought it easily inside the bus without them noticing because they didn’t check the passengers’ pockets. The bus was already half full, and as I walked inside, I looked on every passenger to make sure he wasn’t there. To have a view of the coming and going passengers, I sat on the farthest seat.
By arriving at school with pale face and dark circles under my eyes, the faculty members would assume I got terribly sick so I had not been able to go to school for about two weeks. I didn’t go immediately to the faculty room but instead took a walk through the corridor first. As I walked, I peeked at every classroom I passed by, making sure he wasn’t near me and I was safe. Again, I looked everywhere for he might be somewhere there and maybe he wants to surprise me. There were no students outside the classroom. The classes had already started and made me realize I came late.
Probably this is what they mean by being lucky, lucky as a girl who saw the boy she likes on the school corridor. This neat-looking student with a one-sided black hair was walking not so far from me. I wasn’t frightened but I needed to make sure I wouldn’t see him looking at me. My fear reduced because something you fear most is scarier when it’s on your back and when you’re not seeing it, because you don’t know what does it do or what it’s capable of. This is scariest when it’s in the dark. But if it’s in front of you or in broad daylight, you can see it and you may get frightened but you can still prepare to defend yourself or to get rid of that fear.
He went out from the classroom and headed to the comfort room. No one was outside the classrooms except the two of us, so I followed him stealthily. He went inside and I stayed on the door for a second. As he went straight to the urinal, I entered and locked the door. I pulled the knife in my pocket and rushed towards him, then stabbed him on his shoulders and arms a couple of times so he couldn’t fight back. He turned towards me and looked on his stabbed wounds with his widened eyes that say his teacher stabbed him and he couldn’t believe it.
But it was not yet finished.
As he turned his face to me, I saw his wide and shocked eyes gazed upon me. It was my first time seeing it that near. The time slowed and my bad memories from my father flashed back—from all the physical to sexual abuse I received from him. It was a nightmare happening while being fully awake. How could I wake up from this nightmare if I wasn’t asleep? I must do something to end it. This time, his gaze was weak, shocked, and full of fear which gave me a little courage and strength.
He tried to run but I grabbed him on his hair and stabbed his two eyes, the left eye first then the right. He shouted and tried to defend himself as the blood flowed from his eyes to his face, and some blood sprinkled into his shirt and mine. The knife made it halfway through his eyes. I stabbed them many times that they were nearly crushed, and then I scooped both eye balls out with the knife. After I removed those eyes, I threw and flushed it down into the toilet bowl while still holding him in the hair. It wasn’t that easy, and it wasn’t that hard. He screamed and cried on agony but only in a moment. I pushed him and he fell on the floor.
“What do you feel?” I asked. He didn’t answer and I heard him grunting, only grunting.
“Don’t you worry,” I said, “your mind is just playing tricks on you. It will be gone later. Promise.”
Blood coming from his eye socket covered his face. It was like he is crying but with blood and it was all over his face. And he was not sad but suffering. I did it all so I could totally get rid of his gaze and to prevent him to do again what he had done to me many years ago. But after all of this, I still felt his eyes were still gazing upon me. I thought I already got rid of it, but I was wrong. As I screamed in mixed frustration and fear, I stabbed him again many times in his face.
Since then, every night as I close my eyes and sleep inside the four corners of this dark cold prison, all I see was the bloody face of the boy—the redness of the blood flowing from his eye sockets to all over his face, and eyeless but still looking straight to my eyes and showing his wickedness by screaming in a high pitch at my face.
This is my new nightmare.
“Apple of My Eyes” © 2014 Glen Bawan
© Glen Bawan and Dark Narratives, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Glen Bawan and Dark Narratives with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.