I thought it would be interesting to share one of my short stories with all of you. The following short story was originally published in 2016 in Baldwin Wallace University’s literary publication, The Mill.
The story is from the perspective of a young, intentionally ambiguous, child.
(As a heads up, friends, the story includes alcoholism and implied domestic violence.)
Mr. Potato Head’s Eyes
I drop the Mr. Potato Head to the ground and his eyes pop out and bounce under the dresser. Frowning at the brown blob of a toy, I decide to get the eight-shaped plastic piece later. There are other things I want to do right now. I will clean up later after snack time. Daddy won’t notice the mess right now. He’s taking a nap.
I keep digging to try to find my black movie glasses. Grandpa gave them to me when we went to go see Wreck-It-Ralph in 3D. It was cool. Grandpa said he wanted to see it because it had his name in the title. On the way back to his house after the movie ended, he told me how he used to go to places like they had in the movie. He said he would go play the games with his friends and try to make the girls laugh. That’s where he met Grandma Alice. She’s dead now. Mommy said the angels didn’t want to give her back after she boarded the plane. She was going to visit Aunt Jenny in Florida, but the angels just loved her too much. I miss her.
I move a few more things around in the toy bin before I finally find the glasses. I quickly put them on. There is a crack in the left lens. I’m afraid that it is going to fall out before I can show Mommy. I remember that there is tape in the table where the keys go.
I am upstairs a minute later, opening the drawer of the table. It always gets stuck. I don’t like the noise it makes. It reminds me of the noise Mommy makes when she is trying not to cry. I grab the tape then slam the drawer. I don’t want it to make that noise again.
In my room, I take the glasses off and put them on my LEGO table. I am careful as I rip the tape off the roll and stick it to the lens. There are bubbles. I can’t get them out. What if I break the lens if I take the tape off? I choose to leave it.
Putting the glasses back on my face to see how good I did, I see that the left lens is foggy looking now. I could still see some, though. I wonder if this is what things look like when Grandpa isn’t wearing his glasses.
I listen to see if Daddy is awake yet. I can hear the TV. There’s some sort of show about cowboys and Indians on, I think. It’s time for me to wake him up. Mommy should be home soon.
It isn’t very long before I’m standing in the living room. I can already smell the gross smell of Daddy’s special nap time bottle. It is really strong smelling today. He always has a better nap than I have. His snoring always wakes me up too early.
My voice sounds funny as I call his name because I have my shirt over my nose. It sounds like I am wearing a scarf, but it’s summer and it would be silly to wear a scarf when it is hot out. I think. Mommy likes to wear scarves in the summer, though. She won’t tell me why.
Daddy gargles and stops snoring for a minute. I think he is starting to wake up but then he snores again. He’s so loud. It reminds me of the carwash Grandpa took me to the other day.
I move closer and poke him. I have to jump out of the way before his arm falls off the chair. I stand and stare at him a moment before I decide to go into the danger zone. I have to be quick and sneak like the good cowboy on TV. As he reaches the lever to blow up the tunnel, I pull the lever on Daddy’s chair. He flops forward as his feet hit the ground. I can hear him grumbling angrily as he tries to right himself.
“I swear, kid, if you ever touch my chair again, I am going to beat you until your bottom is as blue as a Smurf,” he growls as me. He always says that when I wake him up. He usually doesn’t mean it. He knows he will get in trouble with Grandpa if he finds out that Daddy is sleeping while Mommy is at work.
We hear the garage door open. Daddy wipes his hands over his face. He grabs the mouthwash he hides in the recliner and takes a sip. I wrinkle my nose as he spits it back into the tiny bottle.
“Not a word about my falling asleep, y’hear? You just remember what I said about beating you blue.”
I nod. It seems to make him happy enough.
He gives a grunt then turns his attention to the TV. He searches for the remote. It is on the floor next to the chair, but I hear Mommy come in and run to greet her.
“Mommy! Mommy! Look! Now I can wear sunglasses, too! I was watching cartoons yesterday and they said wearing sunglasses inside is cool. I wanted to be just like you, Mommy. Now we both look cool.”
Mommy frowns. Why did she frown? “Mommy, why are you frowning?”
She tells me not to be foolish. She says that I shouldn’t clutter my things with trash and that I should throw the glasses away right this instant. She pushes passed me and starts to yell at Daddy. Even in the hall I can still smell Daddy’s bitter drink. I think she is yelling at him about that. I don’t know.
I am glad I am wearing my sunglasses because I don’t want Mommy to see I am crying. She doesn’t like when I cry. Dragging my feet, I go back to the basement to find the Mr. Potato Head eyes I had lost.