The Optometrist

Micah Bateman

Cover your right eye and read the lowest line.

Rubber bullets bruise the bones of priests in the ruined streets. I had thought I could save someone, but it was a child who pulled me from the river where I swam from the fire-lined shore. He was missing half his face. The other half, Jesus. After he rescued me, he ripped my wallet out with the back pocket of my jeans and didn’t even run away. I yelled after him, thanking him in my best idiom. He dropped my documents in the fire as a drone buzzed the riverside.

Now cover your left eye and read the lowest line.

My mother saved our quarters for the Christmas ham. We drank from the fountain rather than buy milk. Then we fed the neighbors with our ham. Their sons bought two milks a day. My brother and I beat them behind the barn with our bare fists and then harassed them with the stock prod until they said mercy. After that I grew up to be a kind man.

Better, or worse?



"The Optometrist" published previously in print in VOLT