Eye

It’s in the grimy corner down by the railway, boldly painted on the sooty bricks: an eye, vivid amid the tag marks and obscenities. Giant, the pupil larger than my head, the iris yellow-brown. the eyelashes exaggerated, but far from feminine. I can’t shake the feeling that it’s watching me, leering.

Later, from the bus, I spot half a head on the corner of a parking garage. Large ear, short dark hair, an unpleasant smile, stylised; the scale is identical. Still watching me. Two blocks later, a torso and a muscular, manly arm and shoulder, enormous, in the gap between the door and window of a fish-and-chip shop. Black vest, light brown skin, a spidery, tag-like tattoo. Distributed graffiti. Odd, amusing, rather strange.

The foot seems to be following me to work the next day, a huge, hairy, muscled leg in a red running shoe, walking along a factory façade. Fragmented giant, twenty metres tall.  I feel small, and very female.

The arm is on the side of the corner shop near my flat, a clenched fist wearing a lumpy gold ring. Not as funny now, but threatening – a stylised gangster. Around the corner, on the wall of a school, there’s a whole lower torso and thighs in red running shorts, enormously endowed. It’s badly out of place against the shrieks of the children playing behind the wall. I walk faster, wish I wasn’t wearing heels.

Across the road from my flat last night, the other half of the head on a corner, yellow eye still fixed on me. I’m afraid to go out. But huddling inside will do no good. As I sit here now it’s gone. But inexorably, a millimetre at a time, the giant, two-dimensional hand is sliding spider-like around the window frame and into my room.

5 thoughts on “Eye”

  1. I think this is lovely and deeply creepy in an appropriately urban way. I love the way it reinforces the loneliness and aloneness of urban settings – the way she can become paranoid over time with no one to tell about it.

    Enjoyed the descriptions of the graffiti a lot: slowly becoming more threatening and more important to the narrator as the story goes on. ‘ The scale is identical’ really works for me – something creepy and intentional just there.

    I was uncomfortable with the constant repetition of gender – it seems to be an important part of what you are communicating but for me the association of female and vulnerable vs male and threatening is distracting from your character’s growing fears.

    I liked ‘Distributed graffiti. Odd, amusing, rather strange’ as a window on the narrators attitude. And found the last paragraph a excellent creeping climax.

    1. As always, fascinated by the different responses in the comments. It’s clearly more difficult to read this as a male reader than as a female, at least in the current tiny sample. This story is a fantasised embodiment of the fear of rape, basically – the gender issues are integral. I find it difficult to see how you can separate the character’s fears from the male/female threat/victim associations, which I think is a failure on my part to take into account the different way a male or female reader is situated. The reality is that female fears in a threatening urban environment have an integral component of fearing sexual violence.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the detail and atmosphere; I can’t work out if the fact of your being unsettled by the gender implications means the story isn’t working, or if it means it’s working really well. Darned political content.

  2. Our Hero travels around her city, discovering various bits of graffiti depicting bits and pieces of a man. These bits seem to be following Our Hero around town on her travels. Ultimately, this graffiti person comes closer and closer to her home, and the piece ends with a graffiti hand reaching in through her window. Our Hero is essentially being stalked by a gangster graffiti drawing; she seems scared of what it might do to her, although she seems to be waiting for it as it creeps into her home.

    I liked this piece quite a bit. The writing style with the short phrases and list like descriptions is quite well done. I also thought that the description of her growing fear was controlled and well measured out (like via “I walk faster, wish I wasn’t wearing heels.”). The urban creepiness comes across well — reminds me of movies where people are trapped in inner city slums and are being hunted by gangs. Only nowhere near as OTT!

    Like ElementalSystems, I also thought that threatening maleness of the graffiti and scared femaleness of Our Hero was stressed. I was unsure whether this was to make a statement about gender (was my first thought — but I couldn’t come up with a satisfactory statement), or to bring out the stalker vibes. At the moment I’m leaning towards the latter, especially when I reread the fourth paragraph where it’s described in gangster-like, and its enormous “endowment” is pointed out.

    A little typo with either a full-stop or capitalisation:
    > yellow-brown. the eyelashes exaggerated

  3. I thought this was fantastic. It is gritty and creepy, and conveys a strong sense of hopelessness and hunted paranoia. The detailed graffiti descriptions are strong, clear and detailed, which adds a lot of power to the narrative. I really enjoyed the city descriptions and the casual notes on what the narrator was doing (on the bus, walking past a school in high heels, etc). These add a gritty realism which makes the fantastic elements more effective.

    Unlike the others, I like the emphasis on the femininity of the narrator. It adds an additional dimension to the threat provided by the encroaching terror.

  4. I think I must agree with the guys on this one. I think it was a bit stressed. To me, the sentence ‘I can’t shake the feeling that it’s watching me, leering’ in the beginning is enough to set the threat in mind. And as you read, the threat will grow along with the girl’s fear.

    It could be that because I am a girl living in a city, the threat is already in my mind and so was an automatic assumption when I started reading.

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