Fiction Piece- an Eye for an Eye

I was only four when they came for Angel. The way they walked was what drew my eye away from my chubby fingers stacking wooden blocks next to the window sill. Shoulders pushed back, chin raised to the sky, and feline eyes glowering at the occasional baby who stared for a mere second too long. The rough growls sliding through their taut jawline made my lip quiver as they stormed through Mother’s garden of tulips, the yellow petals wilting under their muddy boots. I remember screams of desperation that sounded strange bursting from my mother’s thin lips and usually warm chocolatey eyes. I remember Angel dropping her cereal bowl, milk and cheerios plummeting to our spotless white tiled kitchen floor. Angel’s begging is what clings like gum to the walls of my brain. The words “no” and “stop” make me want to giggle with the amount of times they ignored them. Later, Mother explained the law “an eye for an eye.” 

“Sometimes-.” she started but her words seemed to get caught in her throat. “Sometimes people make mistakes. They get angry or sad and they lash out and they hurt people. They hurt people. But, Maylea, our government has a law for when that happens. It’s called an eye for an eye. When someone save another, they have the ability to choose a person that has been mean or hurting other people to get taken out of society.” 

“Is that why Angel was taken by those people? Was she mean? Did she hurt someone?” Tears welled in Mother’s eyes and she hung her head in shame. 

“You have to be nice, Maylea, to everyone, because I want you to stay with me. Never say ‘no’ when someone is offering you something.” I was only four but I understood the gravity of her words.

I didn’t know what Angel did, but I knew I would never see her again. I’d never hold her hand while walking to school. Never cry in her shoulder when I scratched my knee trying to ride my tricycle. Never whisper back and forth to her when the sky darkened and the stars shone. My sister was gone and it was because of someone who knew her. 

The sun ripped a hole in the blackening clouds and created a ring of gold above my head. 

“Maylea, the sun is in your favor today,” commented Grace from the opposite side of our classes lunch table. “Would you like a feta and spinach sandwich? My mother and I made them especially for anyone who wanted one.” In truth, I did not want another damp feta and spinach sandwich that tasted of soggy sewer residue packed in between bricks, but I couldn’t afford to be rude. 

“Thank you, Grace, that would be most pleasurable.” I knew I was overdoing it with my smile. “How is your mother, by the way?” 

“Well, how is yours?” Casual conversation surrounded us, no one too loud nor too quiet. No one was overly excited nor bored. Average, everything had to be average or the scale would tip. I squeezed my hands into fists hiding my annoyance under my blue and gray plaid skirt. 

“She’s fine. The anniversary is coming up.” Grace stiffened, exhaling the slightest bit too loud but managed to keep her friendly smile painted on her face. Mrs. Rose stood up, the classroom keys that hung around her neck clanging together. 

“Class, please pack up your lunches and line up to go back.” We were like robots the way we fought our emotions. Burying them six feet under, only the ghosts of ourselves allowed to be shown. Every second marked another slow tick into numbness. Except I was not numb. My emotions raged like an ocean, the current sweeping the sandy bottom of my ignorance. The rest of the day fell into a haze, blurring into the sameness of yesterday and the day before. However, when school ended slick sheets of rain abandoned the sky and clung to me and my classmates skin. 

It was the walk home without Angel that let my mind wander the most. I never really got to know her, and when I was sure it was undetectable I allowed a tear to fall from my lashes. Shame burned inside me. Be numb, I commanded myself. A shiver crept through my nerves as a cold droplet of water slithered down my spine before soaking into my clammy skin. Muddy water squished around in my shoes as I stopped to stare at my reflection in a puddle. How absolutely hilarious was it that my reflection showed an innocent teenage girl on the cusp of puberty? Mother always said that I looked more like her with my light washed Asian skin and my short black hair cut at the end of my chin. I wish I listened to her more. I was lucky to have bangs covering the craters and tiny volcanoes on my forehead. A dark figure appeared behind me. My breath speed as I knew who it was. 

“Maylea Maja, you have been chosen to be taken. You have to come with us,” said the figure behind me. I couldn’t think, so I absorbed. The odd warmth of the ward’s hands as he wrapped the thick metal handcuff around my wrists. The controlled blank stares of my classmates and teachers created a wall between them and me. Their eyes tore at my every detail, trying to remember the quiet girl in the back of the class. Trying to think what I could have done wrong to hurt someone so much, they chose for me to be taken. My eyes stayed on Grace, because underneath her the cold lines of her emotionless expression there was a small upward twitch of her lips. A memory flooded over me, knocking my feet out from under me.

A three year old Grace strutted over to me. My fingers sifted through the grainy sand in the small rectangle sandbox. 

“Hi, my name is Grace. Can I play with you?” I nodded handing her a shovel and moving over so she could sit on the edge of the box with me. “Why are you digging a hole?” she asked. 

“We can dig our way to China. My mommy says that if we dig far enough we can make it there.” “Well, my Daddy is a doctor and he says that’s a lie. China is too far, we can’t dig into it.” 

The Ward tucked my head into the slick black van. Anger burned inside of my heart for Grace. 

“Your father saved someone yesterday, didn’t he?” I yelled at her. She only flinched slightly. “So you gave him my name when he could think of anyone else’s.” I hated the way my voice cracked at the end. “Why me?” Suddenly the feta and spinach sandwich I had turned to stone, knotting and twisting in my stomach. Grace turned her head away. 

“Told you she is crazy,” she whispered to the girl next to her. 

At the end of the day, I would be a ward of the state, I would never know what I did to Grace to deserve this, and I would never see Mother again. But a glimmer of hope pierced my heart as the only thought that could fill my head was Angel, I am going to see Angel.