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Grade
8

    Coming out of the womb was quite an out of body experience. Sensations came from all around me, even from within. One second my entire life was a muffled black world, and the next, blindness and deafness devoured my vulnerable mind.
    When I opened my eyes, the first thing I noticed were my mother’s. They were a dark shade of brown- a warm mahogany. She was clearly tired, and faint introductions of wrinkles were beginning to set. Her eyes were smiling, crinkled at the corners. Evidence of teardrops lay in between her long lashes. When she blinked and opened her eyes again, it seemed as if a new galaxy was revealed each time. 
    I enjoyed my life as a baby in the beginning. Everywhere I went, people pointed at me and lit up. In parks, young power couples ran by, their eyes lingering on me as they fantasized of having a child of their own. At the mall, young toddlers stared at me while I cried. Elderly grandmas in wheelchairs at grocery stores threatened to absorb my presence with their prune-like faces. Eyes of strangers were constantly fixed on me, as if I were a celebrity and any human action that I performed was extremely compelling.
I was quite overindulged at home. A minimal blood curdling shriek was enough to receive anything I desired. I was spoon fed a textureless slop and drank from a marvelous sippy cup. My rear was regularly smooth and delicately soft, free of rashes. I had an endless inventory of toys that I could either entertain myself with, or demand my mother to wiggle them in front of my face. We played intense rounds of peekaboo, for hours on end. I only listened to the highest quality music at night, drifting asleep to Mozart instead of Kumbaya. Of course, when I did inevitably wake up crying at an advantageous 4 AM because I was tired and wanted to go back to sleep, my mother was consistently ready to rock me back into dreamland. I crawled around all day, throwing my toys for no reason, sucking on my toes, or fitting as many objects as I humanly could in my mouth.
Even among this infinite paradise, what I enjoyed most was being held by my mother. Not because I enjoyed being enveloped in two bony arms- I actually quite disliked that. But within her beautiful, endless eyes, I lost myself. I would carefully examine them, each time noticing a different vine branching out of her pupil, or a tiny speckle in her whites. I would spot tiny flakes of dust between her eyelashes, after counting and taking in the length of every lash. My toys were great to play with for a few minutes, but they never changed. My mother’s eyes were galaxies-constantly evolving and changing, and unmistakingly the greatest part of my life.
On the other hand, my father barely held me. The times he did, I remember quite clearly. His arms were large and stiff, and he emitted a strange strange odor, which I now realize was the scent of cigarettes. My father had a cold, unfriendly face. I cried the first time I saw it. I was terrified that he would crumble my defenseless body into pieces, and then further devour me. His eyes were unlike the inviting ones of my mother. They were a lifeless steel color, dull without any complexity. They did not seem to resemble a pair of eyes, and instead reminded me more of a concrete wall. 
 He was quite different than my mother. Other than when I was eating dinner or playing in the family room, I only saw glimpses of him. He never came into my bedroom. There was no rocking or singing from him, and I became increasingly curious. The only feature I could attribute to this mysterious man was his voice. Similar to a gorilla, his tone was deep and thundering. He always sounded as if he were on the edge of shouting, his words full of discontent and rage. I yearned to learn more about my father.
I grew quickly and healthily. I learned to make nonsensical conversations with my mother, and I could successfully walk for 6 feet without crashing and burning. I still cried and screamed quite frequently. I recall growing a rash on my rump, and it was quite possibly the most dire agony I had ever experienced. My mother applied rash cream to the area, but it did not alleviate any discomfort. 
 Around my first birthday, my father’s temper spiraled out of control. He was no longer regularly on the brink of exploding in rage. He was just in a constant state of fury. I watched him constantly berate my mother, his voice spiked with hostility. These instances occurred daily, and I observed with such an alarming vigor that I never even made a sound. 
I spent most of my waiting for my father to come home. I was fascinated by his odd behavior. He was different than all of the other strangers I had met; he had no particular interest in dealing with me. I constantly wondered about where he was and what he was doing. I remember that I would shriek and scream because I wanted to see his face, or at least hear his booming voice. I was a mad scientist, and my father was an unclassified specimen.
After I came to the conclusion that my father had vanished, I lost interest in just about everything in life. I was tired of unauthorized strangers staring into my soul. I was tired of inhaling wafts of my own feces after my diaper had reached maximum capacity. I was tired of tumbling onto my face after concentrating so hard to keep my balance. I was tired of being whisked away by my mother while trying to explore anything remotely intriguing. I was tired of listening to Mozart. I was tired of ghastly amounts of vulgar goop being shoved down my throat. I was tired of toys and peekaboo. I was tired of everything that once made this life so perfect, except for one thing.
My mother’s eyes brought me peace. Her patient gaze was always enough for me to stop screaming. Just a glimpse of that marvelous shade of brown took my breath away, and I was once again lost in her endless galaxy.
 But after my father had seemingly vanished, she began to cradle me less. In fact, she did many other things less, too. My mother was always planted at the kitchen table, typing on her laptop. My father had brought his job along with him, and left my unemployed mother desperate for any work. During meals, she would stare at her screen while she steadily held up a spoon of muck, awaiting my mouth. She would not look into my face as she changed my rotten diaper; she was busy focusing on her resume. At night, she would sit next to my crib in a large green armchair, a blue hue reflecting onto her exhausted face. Her fixated eyes darted back and forth across the screen while I listened to the bothersome clacking of her keyboard. I watched her for hours everyday, hopeful that she would once again scoop me up into her arms, but she never even laid her eyes on me.
In my beautiful mint green room, there was an oversized metal mirror. I would spend quite a long time staring at my own reflection, intensely critiquing my red, splotchy face, or my stubby nose. Sometimes I would crawl up immensely close and investigate my own eyes. However, I failed to discover any unique sparkles or shades within my irises. They were a dull slate grey, inert and empty. They were lifeless and barren, just like my father’s.
On a bitter Sunday in mid-November, my mother planned to take me to the doctor. I decided not to go. 
I was taking a bath. My mother, who had been sitting on the toilet lid and checking her inbox, left the bathroom to take a phone call. As I stared up at the ceiling, I began to relive my memories of being held by her. The image of my mother’s infinite eyes were enough to bring me to a decision.
I inhaled as deeply as I could manage, my lungs straining to contain my last breath. I gently shut my eyes and rolled over onto my stomach, my face submerged in the pleasant bath water. I visualized the luminosity of my mother’s eyes- the color of the richest chocolate you could ever taste. I struggled to contain the inhale within my fragile body.
I could feel my heartbeat pounding in my ears, and unable to suppress the immense pressure, I harshly exhaled. I remembered the galaxies, deep within her eyes. All I wanted to do was to lose myself in those stars. I was slowly floating up to them, the image of the nebula become clearer and clearer. I could sense my blood coursing through my veins. My heart threatened to detonate within my chest. The stars were so near, I was almost among them. My body, panicking and shaking uncontrollably, felt as if it was being disemboweled by a burning stake. The burn was overwhelming, consuming my entire existence. My consciousness gradually dimmed as the glimmering stars dissolved into an ocean of black.
Then, suddenly, there was no more pain. My heart wasn’t pounding anymore- in fact, I couldn’t sense a pulse. My body felt light and hollow, as if I was not a physical being. My body was floating higher and higher, and a sense of warmth surrounded me. I slowly opened my eyes, and raised my head. I was surrounded by a painting of crimson, sapphire, and violet swirls. Stars illuminated the landscape with a brilliant radiance. I had made it to the galaxy; I was among the stars.
There was no sound that escaped my mother. Her thin, wine lips formed the shape in which you would assume would lead to a scream, but no sound exited her mouth. She stood in front of the porcelain tub for what seemed like years, motionless. After an eternity, her lips snapped back together like magnets, and roughly seized my lifeless corpse. She raised it up in the air, and whipped it around so that my flushed face was towards her. My body was still warm; my face was distant and smug. My mother squeezed her ear to my heart, searching for any sign of life. 
Unsurprisingly, she was unsuccessful. Still incredulous, she did what every child and adult on this planet is told exactly not to do to a baby like me. My mother, a perfect embodiment of an angel, a gift from the heavens, shook my limp, dead body as if I was a martini. My loose head flung back and forth as she rattled me with great force. If I was alive at the time, my mother would have undeniably killed me.
My mother began to scream after her determined efforts failed to show results. It was a shriek of pure terror and rage, of everything cruel in this world. She screamed with such a piercing edge that I sensed her break. Her heart had shattered inside her slim frame, breaking into millions of shards. All purpose of life and joy had escaped her soul. The scream was so fierce, my eyes flickered open for a sudden moment. 
In that single moment, my eyes reached my mother’s for one last time. I did not see the eyes of the tender woman who held me while my teeth viciously attacked the green pacifier inside my mouth, or of the woman who sung the same lullaby dozens of times in a row to get her uncomplacent child to stop wailing. There were no speckles, squiggles, galaxies or stars. I did not recognize these eyes; they were not the eyes of my mother.
They were the eyes of myself.

State
MI
Zip Code
48103