The Reality Institute

The Boy With Lights in His Eyes by Roberto Figueroa

Across the street, children pressed two fingers against their lips and exhaled, pretending to smoke. The fog that covered the darkened town felt made of these breathes; sticky warm and based on pretend. The boy with lights in his eyes walked alone and un-costumed. The children hurried on.

His sunglasses no longer worked. He couldn’t see, because the light that mysteriously glowed from his eyes would reflect back into his eyes. That Halloween night, his lights were two headlights of clear, white light, spreading out through the fog and bouncing with his steps, focused somewhere near his feet. The lights shuffled and disappeared with his sidewise glances and rapid blinks. He walked away from the residential areas, and took a concrete path into the flat fields of some produce that surrounded his town.

From somewhere off to his left he heard a scritch scritch of wood on dirt. He followed the sound.

The boy with lights in his eyes followed the sound to an area between two fields, to a shallow canal. The water trickled slow as a small stream, barely enough to propel a leaf more than a foot before giving up and finding another route. And in that small stream was a man in a boat.

He wore a red hat with flaps, and long grey hear poked from underneath. His dark red vest showed stains from past liquids. It frayed at the edges. His boat looked like a small wood kayak. The boat seemed homemade, just like the single oar he used. When the boy looked at the grip, it shone with small amounts of blood where the splinters and rubbing had broke the skin. He kept digging on his right side

“Huff. Huff. Huff.”

The old man didn’t seem aware of the boy with lights in his eyes.

“Huff. Huff. Huff.”

The boy with lights in his eyes looked at the disturbed dirt behind the boat, and the old man’s footsteps. The man had thrown the boat down the bank of the shallow canal. Then he had walked to it, righted it, and gotten in. The boy with lights in his eyes figured the man had not moved since getting in, his oar scraping the hard dirt over and over again.

“Huff. Huff. Huff.”

The boy with lights in his eyes walked behind the boat. With the old man’s next tired effort of dragging the oar against the ground, the boy with lights in his eyes pushed as hard as he could.

“Huff. Huff. Huff.”

He slipped, the top layer of dirt too loose to provide any sort of stable leverage and ended up laying prone in the tiny stream of water. The man continued without noticing.

“Huff. Huff. Huff.”

The boy with lights in his eyes stood up, and looked down. Thousands of tiny rocks clung to his black zip-up and jeans. A stripe of moisture ran from his groin to his forehead, where the stream had touched his clothes. He felt embarrassed about falling. He readied himself for another try.


The boat moved. A tiny bit, but it moved. The old man switched the side of his oar to the left. The boy with lights in his eyes readied himself to push.


They moved again. The boy with lights in his eyes put his head down to add more power to his next push.

“Keep your eyes up, boy. I can’t see.”

The boy with lights in his eyes looked up and the old man continued down the canal. The old man’s hands bled, and the boy with light in his eyes became light headed and breathed heavily.

“Huffhuff. Huffhuff. Huffhuff.”

After some time, the old man put down his oar. He got up, and walked out of the boat. He walked out of the canal.

“You can keep it, if you want,” he said to the boy with lights in his eyes. “I don’t need it anymore.” And the old man left into the fog.

The boy with lights in his eyes looked at the boat. His breath got in front of his eyes and he was momentarily blinded by an intense light. But it faded when he cocked his head, leaving only the lit up light colored small boat and a single bloodied oar. The boy with lights in his eyes put the oar in the boat, and dragged it out of the canal, finding it to be relatively light without the old man sitting in it. He dragged it all the way home, and left it in his backyard. Years later, he’d take it to California and paddle out into the water. That’d where he’d drown and die. But a lot of things would happen before then.

He walked into his house where his parents were watching TV. They hadn’t made him dress up, and for that he was thankful. He went and took a shower, and went to bed.
He turned off the lights, closed his eyes, and saw red, the glow of light on his eyelids.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply