Blue Eyes Are For Lovers This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

December 9, 2009
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My mother has blue eyes. They're the type of eyes you simply can't help but notice - an unmistakable cobalt blue that, when deliberately placed upon you, manages to be both uncomfortably penetrating and reassuringly disarming at the same time. Her eyes are undoubtedly the most beautiful and distinguishable feature of her delicate face, the single factor that immediately separates her from the rest of the partially familiar, mostly doubt-inducing faces that a disgruntled housewife will inevitably run into at the grocery store on the morning she forgot to take the curlers out of her hair. This slew of indistinguishable faces will acknowledge the housewife with a friendly wave, and she will respond with a deceitful smile, embarrassed of her inability to recall the circumstances under which she is expected to recognize these faces that mean nothing to her. My mother, with her cobalt eyes and compassionate soul, has never been the insignificant face in a supermarket run-in. She is rarely forgotten, and never taken for granted. Life, I've learned, tends to side with the blue-eyed and open hearted.

Your eyes are green, but there have been times when they looked more brown than anything else. I noticed this most whenever you were angry or disappointed, especially on that day we both stood on my doorstep in the hostile October air and you kept turning your face away from mine to preserve yourself some dignity. I didn't tell you then, but you'd never been good at hiding your tears.

I remember when we actually used to do things together other than harbor raging grudges and test each others' limits with our rising voices. You used to have a speed boat, do you remember? You towed it to my house on the back of your truck the day you bought it, ambushing me in the driveway when I stepped onto the front lawn to grab the morning paper.

What do you think? you'd asked me playfully, taking my hand and twirling me towards the stern. I stared blankly, first at the paint-deprived abomination of a boat that was currently occupying my innocent driveway, then at your expectant face.

I think you missed the garbage truck, I politely informed you. It came by at six.

You laughed and told me you'd bought it off your uncle, sixty bucks, you couldn't say no. I laughed and asked you how it felt getting ripped off by family.

Go get dressed, you'd said, taking note of my plaid pajama bottoms, Let's go for a ride.

I remember eyeing the sizable dents and scratches skeptically, doubting the boat's ability to keep itself afloat, let alone the two of us. It was a homely little thing, that much was for sure, but you couldn't have cared less because in your mind a boat was a boat, and this one was all yours. You tilted your head at me in the glorious sunlight and plastered on that goofy grin I never could resist. Of course I went with you.

We spent that summer fearlessly exploring what seemed like the entire California coast. By the time September snuck up on us, I felt as though I'd memorized every inch of kelp forest and reef lurking slyly beneath the ocean's surface that was worth mentioning, and could practically recite the names of all of the ports we'd visited and revisited from Santa Cruz to Santa Barbara.

This is it, you used to say as the motor hummed in agreement behind us. It's just me, and you, and all of this, and you'd nod at the open sea. Every time you did I felt as though the entire Pacific belonged only to us, and rightfully so.

You showed me hidden caverns and coves that the ordinary eye would have easily missed, and taught me how to anticipate the oncoming of waves in certain places before they broke. I taught you how to play beer checkers with the six-packs you used to steal from the back of your dad's restaurant, and wistfully pointed out why people with voices like ours should never take on the arduous task of slaughtering a Whitney Houston song. For those three blissful months of interminable summer, it was just you, and me, and all of that. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way.

One particularly sunny day towards the end of June, you showed up at my place unexpectedly in your truck and announced your arrival with three obnoxious honks of the horn. I skipped outside, letting the front door slam itself shut behind me, and greeted you with an expectant kiss. Old Mrs. Harrison from across the street looked up from the rose bush she'd been watering and shot me a look that clearly conveyed her disapproval.

I want to show you something, you told me.

I hopped in the truck with no reserves and, after a quick boat ride along a devious route, you told me we'd arrived.

Close your eyes, you said.

I did just that, and impatiently opened them seconds later to find ourselves completely encompassed by the most breathtaking cave I'd ever seen. I couldn't do anything other than sit there, stunned into silence, and let my eager eyes fervently drink in the details of their surroundings. You remained in the seat across from me, wordlessly watching me with a coy little smile that betrayed your satisfaction and pride. We stayed there for hours, blabbering about nothing and everything amidst the towering stalactites and the water's soothing sonnet. That was the day you first told me you loved me. Your eyes had never looked so green.

I still can't remember exactly when things began to change between us. There was no defining moment, I suppose, no specific date that I can point to on the calendar and say There, that was the day we stopped working. It isn't as though anyone ever wakes up and impulsively becomes self-destructive, just as the leaves of the maple trees that ceaselessly careen about town don't randomly decide to change from green to brown and gradually collapse to the sidewalk in despair. Still, it happens nonetheless. Looking back I suppose I should have seen it coming, as obvious and discernible as the harrowing shift in the air that had announced the arrival of fall, but I'd always closed my eyes when the leaves began to fall.

Sometimes, when I'm lying in bed and the suffocating silence begins to coil itself slowly, maliciously, around my compliant throat, I wonder if you would have remembered that day, or those times, at all. If I had been born with blue eyes, maybe I'd be able to convince myself that those would have been the days that stuck with you the most, the times that would have flooded your mind as overpoweringly as thrashing waves against a struggling speedboat whenever you'd hear my name. But I know that this wouldn't have been the case; you left that day with an anguished memory, reminiscent only of the ugly words that spewed uncontrollably from my mouth and pushed you back into your truck and away from my house.

The detectives insisted that it was an accident. They assured everyone that there had been competent evidence to prove that you'd simply lost control of the wheel and careened over the side of the cliff. It had been a windy day, they'd said, and the added weight of the boat hadn't helped anything. I wanted to believe them then, for the sake of my sanity if nothing else, but these days I'm not so sure what to think, not about your death, not about anything. Weeks went by when I did nothing but lay on my front lawn and watch the dead leaves flutter to my feet, trying not to imagine you and your wet green eyes that looked so brown jerking your steering wheel straight towards the lake, your speedboat trailing consensually behind you.

The permanence of words, both written and spoken, used to intimidate me. Thoughts that may have seemed innocuous within the private confines of our minds often find a way of releasing themselves into the unsuspecting universe, and once they're out there, they take on an entirely different context. They simply can't be taken back, no matter how much we wish they could be or how little we meant them. The memory of that last argument is one that I have never been able to banish. Those words still linger in my skull and soak up the air around me, haunting my dreamless nights and serving as an incessant reminder of my bleak heart and brown eyes.

The whole month after your funeral, I spent the better part of my time writing apologies that could not be unsaid on scraps of paper from my English notebook and tossing them into the lake. I'd sit cross-legged on the edge of the road and watch each of them as they made their silent descent, one by one, into the beckoning water, and imagined that they would somehow find a way to reach you. Once those four weeks had passed, I stopped pretending. The water only smeared the ink anyway.

It's been almost a year since that day in October, and I still have yet to be able to bring myself to go anywhere near a boat or the ocean. An overwhelming amount of my time is still wasted every day as I frantically try to shove your name, your face, those eyes out of my thoughts, only to catch them stealthily creeping their way back in the instant I slip up and let my mind wander. It's a relentless and raging conflict, an epic power struggle within the walls of my head, but I've come to the weary conclusion that allowing myself to remember would only be a useless attempt to demolish the parts of me that your absence has already stripped away. There are still days when the overwhelming urge to go back washes over me, blurring all of my lines and rendering me as useless as those wet apologies, but I know that there would be no point, none at all. That lake is still wet, you're still not here, and my eyes are still brown.

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