Eye Light

Luana Santos, Staff Writer

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An original narrative essay


I can’t remember his name. It gets me upset that I can’t remember his name. He was

always quiet and his silence spoke more to me than the few words we exchanged to each other.

He was around my age, perhaps a little older. His eyes were so innocent; a dark brown that

shined in the glimpses of the moonlight.

It was early in the morning, the sun was just rising at the time my mom and I were

walking to the van. We were the first ones of the “cargo.” I was little and so getting into the back

of the van was hard. I was a little hesitant; looking at my mother for some reassurance. She

smiled and had her hand on my shoulder and said, “You can go.” I looked around to my left. I saw the van was parked next to a convenient store with a name that I was able to pronounce, but I never heard of the word before.

My mom picked me up and handed me off to a guy that was already in the van. He said

something to me that I couldn’t understand that much. It was a mixture of Portuguese and

something else. He let me go and had me sit in the corner of the van behind some sacks of some

sort of crop. I stayed quiet and obeyed what I was told because that’s what my mom said would

get us to the new land.

My mother jumped in with the rest of the cargo. She sat next to the sacks of crops I was

behind at; far enough that it’s not obvious to see that she is hiding something, but close enough

for me to know I was protected. We were the last shipment of that day, supposedly.

Between the holes of two of the sacks in front of me, the last sight I had of light was

closing in front of my eyes. I saw a few kids on the other side who were already awake to start

the day off with their chores by milking the cows, collecting eggs, and maybe clean the pits

before they went off to school. That’s the only reason why kids back home would wake up this

early. They were all tired, but they knew they would be able to pick the best food out for

themselves for breakfast. They were starting to sweat in the rising heat, but they knew they

would be able to jump in a lake later in the day. Their clothes were old, but all the kids knew that

no one could afford the nice clothes that you see on the TV in the local bar. All in all, those kids

seemed peaceful, being on the right side of life and within my vision. The door on the right

closed. That was the last time I saw of the life I had before.

The left side, all I saw was dirt road and a few cars driving every half hour to go work

miles away. They droves miles to work a demanding, laborious job for a couple of cents an hour

in order to support their families and themselves. In most cases, it’s just to put food on the table

and be able to have some money for more candles or a new wire for their lightbulb. Any extra

that they had, they would try to save up on sewing materials for clothes for the kids because

buying new clothes were a couple of dollars. I thought that life was bad. That life was not the life

I wanted to live. I love family and human connection, and working like those fathers and mothers

would mean that they would lose that value. The door on the left side closed, even though in

reality, it never did.

My bottom hurt for a long time, especially on the bumps the van would go through. I

don’t remember how long we were in the van or how long we had left to go before reaching the

other side. Everyone in the van was quiet, as if they were waiting for something. I didn’t know

what it was. The only sounds we would hear were the sounds of the tires on the dirt and the real

cargo being thrown around. When the sacks were being tossed around, no one even had the

decency to pick it up. The adults would look at each other to see who would get it, but no one

did. I gripped on to the woven wheat that my sacks were made up of so they wouldn’t make a

mess near me or my mom because I knew how much my mom hated messy things. Eventually,

one of the sacks got pushed towards me and whatever that was in there hit me in the nose. My mom looked at me and raised her index finger up to her lips. She looked away, but I kept staring at her, waiting for an answer as to why we stopped. Her arm started shaking.

I heard a door open and slam shut, I think it came from the front. I heard mumbling and

faint groans sometimes, too. The conversation probably lasted a couple of minutes. Then, it got

silent. I looked at my mom, her face was stern and she looked straight ahead, as if she was ready

for something. I looked at the other adults in the van, they were all looking down, and their eyes

seemed like they were lost in a trance. It was probably silent for a good ten to thirty seconds or

so, but the looks that I saw around me made it seem like forever.

The back doors of the van opened up, both at the same time. I felt joy and relief that we

made it to the other side. I was about to get up from behind my sack but was startled when a

woman and a little boy jumped in. I think the woman was his mother. She merged in with the

other adults. The boy stood in the middle of than van not knowing where to go. He turned around

to look at the man in charge and he pointed at me. The boy slowly walked up to me with his two

small fists in front of his mouth. Because of a ray of moonlight, he noticed a glimpse of my

moving eyeball looking directly at him. He stopped and started to whine. The man in charge

fiercely hushed at him and told him to get behind the sacks. He came around and stopped

between me and my mother. I looked up at him, him at me. He slowly bent down and kneeled

next to me, then criss-crossed his legs, all very slowly, all not losing sight of each other’s eyes.

He turned right and looked up at my mom who didn’t look down. He looked left and looked at

  1. Then he looked at his mother’s direction, hoping she would look at him. She didn’t.

I kept looking at him, just watching. Nothing was going through my mind. I was just

looking at him and seeing what he was doing. He felt me staring at him and he looked back at


“Oi.” I whispered.

“Hola.” he whispered.

I didn’t know what he said. Either way, we didn’t talk after that because we knew the

importance of the silence. We kept looking at each other for a while. Then, he turned his head

and looked forward through the sacks. I wonder what he was thinking. Maybe he was thinking

why I was staring at him for so long. Maybe he was wondering where he or everyone else was

going. Maybe he was wondering what the freedom land looked like. Maybe he was wondering

where everyone else was coming from. Maybe he was wondering when those dark doors would

open. Maybe he was wondering what everyone else used to do in their spare time. Maybe he was

trying to figure out what I had said to him. Maybe he was wondering what I was thinking.

Maybe, he was just like me.

He looked very concentrated in something. I don’t know why everyone in the van looks

like him. What are they waiting for? Why can’t we talk? We should be celebrating for going to

this new place and on this adventure. We should be happy, shouldn’t we?

I look away from him and follow everyone else. I look forward, letting my mind wander

about back home. I wonder how much homework my friends got that day. I wonder if Leo ever

beat his video game in his play house. I wonder if Leo’s sister ever bought me those shoes to

teach me to dance with. I wonder if my grandmother made her famous dinner of all types of

cooked meat, straight from the hunt. I wonder what my dad looks like. I wonder if I look like

him. I wonder if he’s really tall. I wonder if he’ll like the same things I like. I wonder if he’ll like


I don’t know how deep I was into my thoughts, because I don’t remember any of them

anymore past those. All I remember after that was darkness in my eyes and dreams of the new

land in my head. It was all so peaceful. I dreamt that I had lots of toys because I remember my

mom say we’d be able to get more money there. Lots of friends because I had lots of toys to

share and they would want to play with me. Lots of things to do like go to Carnival and have

churrascos and go to capoeira classes and watch football games and go to lakes. Maybe even ride

some horses again and chase the chickens and watch the stars and laugh at night. Or maybe even

play in my friends’ play houses and watch Xuxa! Or maybe even —

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

I opened my eyes and felt light headed from all the fast movement. The doors were wide

open and everyone started fleeing. Before I could even begin to process what was going on, my

mom had already picked me up and held me close to her chest. I saw the boy’s mom call for him,

but I don’t remember what she said.

“And him mom, what about him!” I screamed to her.

“His mom has him.” She said.

I didn’t know where we were or where we were going. There were tall stacks of wheat all

around us and dark skies above us. Everyone was moving too fast in all different directions. Everyone was screaming.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

Everyone was screaming louder. I tried to look out from the side of my mom’s shoulder

but she held my head back. All I was able to see were running legs and still legs. I heard a wail. It sounded familiar, like when one of my friends from back home broke her wrist. But this one specifically hurt my ears. I felt my mom turning directions sharply and then stopped running. When I looked up, she was kneeling in the stack of tall wheat in the middle of nowhere. She put me down and had me kneel close to her and next to her. She raised her index finger to her lips without moving her head, and she slowly brought her hand down. While turning away from her to look straight ahead, I spotted the boy a couple of feet away from us. He was kneeling still and silently crying. We looked at each other for a while, then I was the one who looked ahead. I felt him staring at me.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

I cringed and tightened my fists and eyes and hid my neck in my body. My mother didn’t

move. I looked up at her and she didn’t move, but she shook her head slowly from side to side telling me to stop. I stopped moving.

Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

I couldn’t help tightening my eyes. I was too scared to open them because I thought the

moonlight would shine on them, so I kept them closed for the rest of the time. I heard yelling and

screeches from all over the place, all around me. I wonder if the boy was still crying. I wonder if

he lost his mom. I wonder if he remembered how important it was to be quiet. I wonder if he’s

okay. I wonder if he’s still there.

The shooting stopped. It was dead silent for a long time. A very long time. I slowly

opened my eyes and saw the tall stacks of wheat swaying. I looked up at my mother and she

didn’t look like she moved an inch. Her face was still the same. I looked left and saw the boy

was still kneeling and looking down, breathing, but lifeless. He was probably so scared. I saw the

smallest rays of the sun come up from the sky, but not enough to lighten the sky. Everything was

silent again. I thought everything was okay. I thought the guns were gone. But I kept looking at

the boy and wondered why he still looked the way he did.

He slowly looked up at me, his eyes were open so wide. He looked up at the sky and

noticed the smallest sunlight. He slowly looked back down at me and mouthed something to me.

His lips touched, he pulled in half of both his lips, opened his mouth, closed his mouth and pulled in half of his lips again, and opened his mouth one last time.

He put his hands on the ground and lifted himself up. When he was standing, he blinked a

few times and his eyes sparkled from the rising sun. He started walking away from us, dreadfully

and slowly. I never broke eye contact from him. He rustled in the tall stacks of wheat. He only

rustled for a few seconds after he moved.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

His knees fell first. It held him up for a few seconds. After they quit, his body fell after.

Blood dripped down from his body and stained the soil. My mouth was closed, trying to keep my

screams inside. My eyes were crying but I didn’t know what I was crying about. Nothing was

going on inside my mind. I didn’t have a reason to cry about something like if I broke something

or if someone hurt me. I couldn’t process what was happening. I looked up at my mom, I saw

two tears roll down her cheeks. But her face still remained the same. She slowly grabbed for my

hand and held it tightly.

I looked back at him. I couldn’t remember his name. It gets me upset that I couldn’t

remember his name. His lack of silence spoke more to me than the few words we exchanged to

each other. And his eyes were so innocent; a dark brown that shined in the glimpse of sunlight.

1 Comment

One Response to “Eye Light”

  1. Mary Ellen Dakin on April 25th, 2017 11:35 am

    From the stark title to the vivid imagery to the final heartrending scene, this story is a powerful work of literary art and a cry for justice. Keep writing; your stories need to be told.


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Eye Light