Thursday, July 12, 2012


Brand New Eyes
By Michael A. Withell

It was on a cold winters afternoon in November that the boy decided that he didn't like his eyes. They were just too damned brown, who could ever find his dull brown eyes attractive? People had always told him that blue eyes were the best, that people with blue eyes go places; the boy wanted blue eyes.

Jimmy next door got new hands for his last birthday and the word on the estate was that he could crush metal with them. He didn't even have to ask his dad for help. Even poor little Heather got a new pair of legs last Christmas and now she's able to run faster than anyone; even twelve year old Marcus. The boy wanted new eyes.

“You'll have to ask Father Christmas”, said his mum, “he knows if you're misbehaving and he doesn't need special eyes”. She smiled at how much her little boy was growing-up and soon she wouldn't even have to use mythical figures as her parental blackmail.

The boy was satisfied with this and he knew that Father Christmas would agree that new eyes are a necessity, you need at least one replacement body part nowadays to be considered cool.

“Wouldn't you prefer a new bike?” asked his mum, “I'm sure little Heather couldn't run faster than you on that”. Work had been tough for the worn-out woman during the past year and a bike would be the much cheaper option. A pair of eyes could easily cost six months wages, and that was before the strikes and cuts in the biomechanics industry.

“No silly, I want new eyes. It'd be cheating if I raced her on a bike anyway, you know that”. The boy despaired at how stupid his mum could be sometimes; who would ever like him if he had to use a bike to move faster than a girl?

The mum watched her little boy play with his plastic and metal toys, moving them across the carpet with great care. The afternoon light shone through the window of their high room, illuminating their small haven in the dangerous city.

“How about a chemistry set? You could show Jimmy how you really break-down metals and stuff. I'm sure him and his friends would think you were really clever.” Her boy had always had a keen interest in how things work and she remembered him coming home in third grade and telling her about the Theory of Relativity. She couldn't remember what it was and didn't think it was in any way relevant to her existence. She was tired; she worked far too hard.

“No Einstein, I want new eyes”, said the boy in an increasingly exasperated voice. Who would think test tubes and foaming liquids were cool? He'd rather not have his new eyes than have to go through the embarrassment of showing the other kids a stupid little chemistry set.

“I know. How about a puppy? I'll even let you name it if you want”. She knew her son loved animals on the televisual-implant and she would quite enjoy having a dog herself. Anyway, it taught a child how to properly look after another living creature and might even give him an excuse to spend some time away from his virtual reality gaming-thingy that is all the rage nowadays.

“I don't want a dog!” snapped the boy without anger, just impatience, “they poo and they tear things up and they pee on everything”. How could he ever look the other kids in their non-transplanted eyes if they saw him with a handful of dog faeces? He'd be the butt of all their jokes and he'd probably have to change his name and emigrate to one of the colonies. Maybe if he chose to emigrate they might give him new eyes; he'd heard about all the government incentives on the news.

The boy's mum was clean out of ideas now, maybe she'd just have to ask for more hours at the electronics factory and buy him the new pair of blue eyes. At least then her little boy would feel accepted, even if in reality it wouldn't make him any cooler than he was now. He'd still be her first and only child

“How about a book?” she asked absentmindedly, still thinking about how she'd cope with the extra hours at work. “You love stories”.

The boy huffed, picked up his cane, and slowly felt his way out of the small apartment room. His mum put her head in her hands, took one long breath and prepared to leave her son at home as she went to work.

All he wanted was to be cool; he wanted new eyes.

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My name is Michael A. Withell and i recently had my first piece of flash fiction published in Mossy Hearth Magazine, entitled 'Cassandra'. I am a British law graduate who aspires to be an author. My main influences are Philip K. Dick, Dan Simmons, T.S. Eliot and Robert Heinlein.

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