When Eyes go Red by Sofia Klein

 I stare at the paper. I look at the sharp pencil lines and three-D shadows of the cat. The shiny graphite makes the harmless animal’s eyes glimmer at the slightest move. I finally blink and take a deep breath. I take my hands out from between the chair I am sitting on and my butt and lower the chair with the pedal on the bottom. If my hands aren’t disabled, I can’t be high enough to be able to touch the white square with the cat. I’m not low enough, though, so I sit on my hands again. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. It’s just a cat, I think. It seems as if someone in my head answers me. It doesn’t matter. And I bounce on my hands forcefully to stop the urge to touch the cat.

  “Shaina?” The door opens slowly, giving off small creaking sounds. I spin around my chair. Just as I thought. There’s my only friend, Elliot, leaning over to look at me outside the door, smiling at me weakly. His face is completed with big green eyes, a small nose, and slightly out-turned ears perfectly placed under his curly brown hair. His personalty is even more beautiful, as he is friendly, honest, and funny, and he doesn’t care if you don’t laugh at his jokes or anything small like that. Why is he best friends with me, out of all people? And why do I always feel I’m not returning the favor? 

“Hullo, Elliot,” I reply lamely.

“You okay?” Elliot raises an eyebrow.

  “Am I ever okay?” I ask, and I swipe away the cat picture with my elbow, causing several other papers to float to the floor. I look at the pictures, from food to animals to doodles to humans to monsters. Elliot starts to run, and I’m not mad. That’s what I always tell him to do, Isn’t it? That if I show signs of going bezerk, he should run before someone gets hurt? But I quickly stop him. “No, I won’t bite today. Not in the mood. Come in.”

  Elliot looks uneasy when he comes in, like always, so again I’m not angry. He waves a piece of paper in the air. “How about some brownies?” he asks. I see the picture now, two gray brownies colored with graphite, topped with chocolate chips and whipped cream. I lick my lips and my hands tingle. How I have longed to have one; or at least touch the drawing. But if I do, I know I’ll regret it. I point to the blue ring on my index finger, then to the camera on my wall, watching me, spying on me. Elliot nods and puts the paper behind his back.

  “I’ll ask after lunch,” I say to him. I take off the blue ring and it makes a small buzzing sound. I swiftly slap on my gloves and the buzzing stops. I start to pick up the papers that fell on the floor, and Elliot helps together we carefully place each one in my thin, plastic files and snap them into my lose leaf binder.

  “Shall we go?” Elliot asks, eyes gleaming and hand outstretched. I nod, pick up my binder, and take his hand. When we step out of my small, dark dorm, other kids going to lunch step away. No one takes me seriously, especially with my binder. Elliot and I, the people you have to watch out of. Not really Elliot, though, most people in this school like him. He’s not considered dangerous. He doesn’t have a security camera in his wall. He doesn’t have to wear a ring that shocks you every time you touch paper without gloves. He doesn’t have to sit alone at a small table with a force field around him, preventing you from making any other friends, even though everyone knows I can’t no matter what…

“Elliot?” I ask.

“Yes?” he replies.

“Do you think…” I start, but my my mind trails off, realizing this is stupid.

“Yes?” Elliot repeats.

  “I – nothing, it’s stupid.” I say, looking down. How could I even think of asking if it will get better? If I will ever get noticed, but not for a bad reason? Not because of what I am? But this is what everyone is, at least, here. On the planet closest to earth. Though no one knows we’re here. This planet’s name is Morek. This huge, famous school on this small, unnoticed planet is for people with powers. We are all orphans. They come here to train; to learn to control our powers. Elliot can control people’s minds. Sam, a bully, can take any of the six scenes away from someone (The sixth sense is speech, the ability to speak). And me… I can take any pencil drawing – graphite or led – and bring it to life with my hands, my touch. I am misunderstood. I have anger issues, and my powers are very sensitive. On Morek, it is rare to have anger issues. In fact, I am one of the hundred people who currently have it. I am the only one with anger issues in this school, so people think I am dangerous and have to be isolated.

  “Shaina?” I hear Elliot say. I snap back to the real world, but not soon enough for Elliot to have to not call my name again. “Shaina?”

“Yes!” I snap back, as if I had already replied. I forgot I haven’t snapped out of my dream. “Er – sorry,” I say, and for a second I think I feel Elliot start run, so I clutch his hand tighter. “No. Don’t go, not here. I don’t want to be alone with everyone else running away from me.” Elliot frowns and stares at me for a second, and I think my eyes might be turning red, like they do when I get angry. I cover my eyes with my cupped hand, and Elliot quickly laughs and says, “Oh, you look fine. Let’s go.” and we start walking again.

  When we get to the cafeteria, there are looks that make me uneasy, like usual. People either avoid eye contact with me or stare at me, either with a nervous look or a nasty grin on their face.

“See ya later,” Elliot says, and he kisses my cheek.

I blush. “You too,” I say. As I walk to my dark table at the right wall of the room, I swear I can hear Elliot mumble, “Good luck”.

*      *

  I look at the table at the middle of the wall on the right. A small force field, arms length wide, almost twice as tall as me, is surrounding a table . I have to sit here for forty minutes, three times a day, every day. I sigh as I step closer to it. “Open,” I say, triggering the voice command system and calling off the force field so I can step inside. 

  I never get lunch, like everyone else. They know I can supply myself. So I get to work. I spread out my pictures until I can see the one I want. A tomato cheese sandwich. That’s what I want most out of all I have here, but… no, I don’t want it. I’ll start a new one. I take my pencil and a clean sheet of paper. Lets see… spicy turkey sandwich with chips on the side. Yes, this is what I want. So I start drawing it. I almost done when I drop my pencil and it lands on the floor. I kneel down to pick it up. When I find it, I reach for it. but I can’t pick it up. my hands are numb. I reach for the force field. I can’t feel it. It’s almost as if I can’t touch it. Then it hits me. I can’t touch it…

  I spin around to find Sam, my bully, smiling a me with a scowl. He has a large body and blonde buzz-cut hair. His blue eyes show the sense of glee, like he has accomplished something.  Two other boys are with him, Carter and Tuck. Carter can read minds. He is skinny and tall, but not as tall as Sam. His eyes have the deep hue of gold, and his hair is as brown as dirt. And Tuck can levitate things, though he’s not very good at it. His powers are strong, yes, like if he levitates something you’re holding on to, it will shoot out of your hands. But he can only levitate small things, like jewelry boxes. He is skinny but short, and he is very fast. His eyes are a mucky green like a swamp and his dirty-blonde hair is messy and ears length. Sam always takes something away from me every day. He almost never takes away my sense of touch.

“Hello, Sam,” I say, realizing I’ve been staring into space for far to long. “Would you be so kind to give me back my senses?” I return his nasty grin.

“Sense of what?” he asks and laughs.

I start to get annoyed, already. “Touch. Or, feel. Or… whatever. Just give it back.”

“Whatever you say,” he sniggers. I stop shaking my hands and all feeling comes back to them “Thank…” I start to say, but then my throat tightens, Sam, Carter and Tuck laugh, and I know Sam has took away my sense of speech. I think my eyes are turning red when I realize, what does it matter? What do I have to say, anyway? So I keep drawing and try to ignore Sam’s laughs’.

  A minute later, I know Sam is still stalking me. So I start drawing faster, afraid he’s going to take something else away from me, when I drop my pencil again. I shoot a nasty look at Sam. “Drop dead, Sam,” I think, so Carter can translate it for him. “Go-“ I stop and jump in my seat as a hand rests on Sam’s shoulder. And it’s not Carter’s or Tuck’s, I know that strong hand anywhere…

   The hand moves on to Carter, then Tuck, and all three of the boys black out and walk slowly away. Elliot rushes by my side and bumps into the force field. “Are you okay?” he asks. I nod at my hand, then I lick my lips. Elliot nods and runs back to where Sam, Carter and Tuck are walking. They immediately change direction and walk towards me, then start running (Elliot wants them to get here faster, I decide).  Then they are right outside of the force field, and feeling comes back in my hands and my throat loosens up. “Thank you,” I gasp and Elliot winks. Sam, Carter and Tuck walk away again.

“Are you going to let them go?” I ask. Elliot’s mind controlling only stops when he wants it to. He looks over at the three boys, walking like zombies. “No,” he says. “only when lunch ends.” He looks at my picture of the sandwich. “Are you done making that?” 

“No. Why?”

“Because, I was thinking, how would you live without a sense of touch? The people who run this school don’t even feed you!” And before I can say another word, he’s off.

The rest of lunch is about as exciting as dirt, which is fine if you are trying to avoid having your eyes turn red. I finish drawing my sandwich and eat it. It is delicious. The chips are nice and crunchy. I draw some water to wash it down, and before I know it, lunch is over.

  When we all leave, I rush through the crowd to find Elliot. Everyone who notices me moves away quickly, but it is still hard to push through. I find Elliot talking to Sam. Yelling, actually. About how Elliot shouldn’t take control of his mind, about how Sam shouldn’t take away people’s scenes. Then Tuck pounces on Elliot, and I grab Elliot’s wrist and pull him away, so Tuck falls on the floor as we run.


  I slam the door to my room and pull Elliot in. We both crack up, then come back to our scenes after about a minute. Then we stare at each other for about five seconds before we lose it again. When we finally stop, my and Elliot’s eyes are watering and our faces are bright red. Breathless, I put on my blue ring as required. 

“Speaking of that,” Elliot says, also breathless, nodding at my ring. “did you ask about the-“

   “Brownies!” I finish for him. “I’m sorry, I promise I’ll ask the Master after dinner.” I plop down on my bed and Elliot follows. “No need to promise,” Elliot sighs. “I mean, you don’t have to ask. I know how much you loathe the Master.” My eyes widen. I do hate the Master, for he is the one who made up the rule that I have to be isolated, and he is the head of this stupid school. But Elliot might be the bravest seventeen-year-old on both Morek and Earth to say that, especially with the camera on my wall. I point to it, face pale, and Elliot’s eyes follow my finger. Soon his face is pale too, and he kisses me on the head before he sprints out of the room.  I sigh, knowing this will probably cost me and Elliot – bad. I plop my head down on my pillow and breathe hard.

  In the hallway, I hear the speakers boom, “All students who participate in dueling class, please report to the gym. I sit up, get out of bed and grab my binder. Walk outside. Make myself ready for anything people will tease me for. Anyone in the dueling class steer clear of me. I just walk smoothly, making sure to keep my eyes straight so no one makes eye contact with me. Sometimes people prank me, so I make sure to look down for traps once and a while. Sometimes I’ll get through without a trick. I think I might make it to class when I step on a medal plate and a pile of foul-smelling slop falls on my head.

  I wipe a chunk of what looks (and smells) like a mix of mayonnaise and soggy bread off my eyes, and I’m not surprised to see Sam, Carter and Tuck laughing evilly at me. About five other kids in dueling class stop to see what is happening. Then five more. They all start laughing. I shoot all of them a nasty look, with cheeks almost as red as my eyes. Then I feel something slip away from my arms. I see Sam run, but leaving Carter and Tuck behind, and I know he stole my binder. I sprint after him, only to be pushed back by Carter. I stumble, fall on the floor, but shoot straight up after about two seconds. Then I push Carter behind. That’s when Tuck grabs me and pins my arms behind my back and Carter starts punching me in the arms. I don’t remember what happens for about two minutes after that, but my best guess is kicking and screaming and punching, because when I finally snap out of it Tuck and Carter are practically twitching on the floor, and everyone is staring at me like I have just killed someone. None of this stops me from chasing after Sam. 

  I sprint after him, but he is far ahead of me, and the goop on my shoes aren’t making it any better. I do slip, but I catch myself. Then I give up, panting, breathless, and walk to a hallway bathroom to wash the slop out of my hair. That’s when Carter slams into my back.

  He keeps running so I can’t catch him, and I feel Tuck will probably do the same. I turn around just in time to catch him and pin him to the wall. It’s pretty easy, with his small size. Sometimes I even forget that he’s Sam’s age.

“Lemme go!” he says kind of shaky, because he squirming around like there’s no tomorrow. I slide him up the wall, which makes him squeal. Then I drop him on the ground. He scampers up, skits away like a rat that is in danger of getting squashed, and stumbles at the corner of the hall. I watch him go and remember I have to wash my hair out. I walk to the bathroom and enter.

  I go to the sink and wet my hands. I take my hair tie out and let my long, blonde hair fall. I comb it with my hands and twice come across a particularly nasty clump of avocado and chickpeas. I have to wet my hands several times, because the rotten bread seems to keep soaking up the water. My hair is barley clean when I realize this is what Sam wants me to do.

  I have three parts of my girl-self. One, my tom-boy side. Two, my angry (Elliot likes to call it ‘red eye’) side. Three, my girly side. The instincts that tell me to clean my nails or wash my hair. And right now, I’m stuck in my girly side.

  Now I’m on my ‘red eye’ side.

I dash out of the bathroom, wondering what Sam’s story-to-make-me-look-bad is. Perhaps he put glop on himself and said I did this to him. Maybe he said I hurt him with my drawings. But then I remember he has my binder, so maybe he’ll finally get in trouble instead of me. But I can tell he didn’t when I walking into the room. The teacher, Mrs. Pearson, is glaring at me and Sam is looking at me with a devilish smile. I walk shyly to my team’s side of the gym and sigh. Sam tosses my binder at me and I catch it, but I can tell he was aiming at my head.

This was the first chapter to Sophia’s unfinished story if you’re interested in more visit



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