I open my eyes and they just fall out. One straight into my shirt pocket. I pop it back in. One rolls all the way to the back of the bus. It stares at me past the fossilized gum. It looks at a thick chin hair. It looks at my calves like butternut squash. It looks at my buttons screaming. It looks at Brian not looking. “It’s us,” he’s saying, like we haven’t lived here fifteen years. The bus wheezes. The eye pings and pongs. “Left foot,” Brian says, and I squish it with one stomp. He holds his hand out. He wipes some gunk off my one eye. We go home.

9 Comments

  1. Jack O'Connell

    I really liked this. It had strong rhythm with the short sentences. And each sentence felt different and its own piece. It really starts to bounce and reflect back on itself when Brian shows up and I lose track of who is looking who is being seen. Maybe you could keep burrowing down that hole in in that direction, keep talking about seeing and being seen and not being seen, when sight is detached.

  2. Bud Smith

    Hell yes. I like this a lot. I see a lot of potential with expanding this. This could be a diptych or a triptych. Here is 1 of 2, or 1 of 3 in triptych. What happens when we stomp our own eye, does it change how we see the world. Are things slanted and blurry now. Does the narrator see in between dimensions? I am think of the cyclops who willingly gave away one of its eyes to be able to see the future but in being able to see their own future they must know the exact date and time of their death and they can do nothing to prevent it. All that being said, if we are going home at the end of this piece, what is to be said of the home if you continue into part 2 and then so on. I just think the concept is such a cool one that there is energy to go forward of if you are not feeling like writing farther into this narrative, what other body parts could be lost in sister/cousin pieces adjacent to this and how can we say what it means to be present in this strange universe where we lose agency over our own organs, willy-nilly, casually and disregarded on the bus ride home. <3

    • Bud Smith

      like this

      Cat Nap
      by Teresa Plana

      EYES
      I open my eyes and they just fall out. One straight into my shirt pocket. I pop it back in. One rolls all the way to the back of the bus. It stares at me past the fossilized gum. It looks at a thick chin hair. It looks at my calves like butternut squash. It looks at my buttons screaming. It looks at Brian not looking. “It’s us,” he’s saying, like we haven’t lived here fifteen years. The bus wheezes. The eye pings and pongs. “Left foot,” Brian says, and I squish it with one stomp. He holds his hand out. He wipes some gunk off my one eye. We go home.

      EARS
      (text about one’s ears flying off like butterflies and being eaten by bats [who have the best ears of all])

      TONGUE
      (text about waking up and seeing you have literally switched tongues with a house cat and it is having a hard time licking itself effectively and the sandpaper of you cat’s tongue is ripping your mouth all up)

      ^
      That’s what I mean with triptych … and, uh, of course, those are just real off the cuff ideas, I bet you could come up with something so much better than mine if you think them out and think how they can relate to the story you are trying and succeeding in wanting to tell if you do in fact want to expand this. One of the things that also strikes me in this is the idea that you have put Brian in the piece so naturally I want some kind of arc with Brian and perhaps to be surprised and moved and hopefully crushed into a paste of emotion the way you have crushed the eye in the beginning almost so you don’t have to focus on the way Brain is looking or not looking at the narrator for some reason. Meaning, we surrender our sight so it doesn’t have to break our heart. Self-preservatiuon by means of self-ejection from the space suit of the human body

  3. Bill Merklee

    Terrific opening sentence. A portrait of an aging couple rendered with a few well-chosen details (including the title). Love the idea of looking from the detached eye as opposed to in a mirror or a photo or a reflection in a shop window. The loose eye getting stepped on seemed comical at first. Then I thought stomping is a pretty deliberate act, which made it sad. “It’s us” carries so much weight, I wonder if some physical details about Brian just before it would make it stronger still.

  4. Kara Vernor

    Incredible physical details and language. I love “fossilized gum” and “calves like butternut squash” and “The eye pings and pongs.” An arc is there, too, and I really dug that he assists her in squashing the eye while then helping to care for the other–and the way they are so in sync in squashing it. That tells me they’ve been together for awhile without saying it directly.

    I want to better understand, or something more from: “It’s us,” he’s saying, like we haven’t lived here fifteen years. I thought at first he was looking at a couple out the window or elsewhere on the bus, but now I’m thinking he’s indicating their stop–which makes the 15 years comment make more sense to me. I guess I think this line could reveal more–not that it has to but that’s where I think there’s the most opportunity. There and also the title.

  5. Benjamin Niespodziany

    Big fan of this opening line and how the rest of the lines continue with these short, abrupt jabs. Very fun and very visual. I’d love to read a few more jabs about the others on the bus. Does anyone notice? Is the bus empty? What’s the driver up to? This one is a blast, one I’d love to see expanded. If eyeballs fall off on the bus, what happens once these characters are on the sidewalk, in the home, trying to sleep?

  6. Saxon Baird

    I love the image of eyes rolling down a bus. Damn, what a nuisance. And all the germs. Really gotta wash them off before popping ‘em back in. Especially with those excellent acute details (fossilized gum, thick chin hair, etc).

    I’m curious about the underlining back story here. About the “it’s us” and the 15 years and we’re home. What would it look like if some agency behind the eyes popping out was given to then and how that might suggest something about the partner and the bus ride, even if banal, like perhaps the tiredness and ennui that comes after of seeing the same streets on the same routines with the same person (which i’m already reading it a bit as) years after years. Maybe the eyes are over it and that’s why they go looking for some new detail and thus represent an agency and daringness that the narrator perhaps doesn’t contain or have the courage for themselves. It doesn’t need to be lengthy, but I will say that the “as if we haven’t lived here 15 years” suggested annoyance and a tiredness. Just a slight gesture into that a little bit more could open the story up to something new.

  7. Greg Oldfield

    Teresa,
    Not only was it cool to see eyes pop out of the character’s head but also the revealing details when we see what the eye sees. I wondered, too, if the eye views the world differently when it’s outside of the body? Does it have an opinion about it’s host, Brian, the other kids on the bus? I think expansion might help answer these questions, but you have something unique here that lends itself to more playfulness and weirdness, and as the ride progresses, the reader will be right there, too.

  8. Teresa Plana

    Thanks everyone! This is very helpful. It makes me realize that most of this story is still inside my head and I haven’t properly put it on paper yet. Kara’s right on the money that “this is us” means they’ve reached their stop. I’m trying for the back-of-the-bus eye to be a figure full of condemnation and criticism of the protagonist (her looks, her relationship), which she squishes because actually she’s happy with what she has. I think I need to be more explicit and maybe explore what’s around them a bit more!

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