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The Eye

Paras awoke with a dread. The bedsheets were soaked in sweat. He’d barely slumbered for fifteen minutes. Breathing heavily he switched on the bedside lamp and stared at the framed photo on the opposite wall. Mounted on a 11 x 14 scale a dark iris set inside a greyish sclera glared against an emerald background. 

On closer inspection, one could see it wasn’t an ordinary photo. “The eye” was merely a clever topiary amidst edging plants. A box shrub formed the iris while pearly alyssum had been planted in the shape of a cornea. The dark emerald landscaping gave it a striking appearance. The landscaper even had the mind to add a border of darker shrubs to line the under eye. 

To Paras it had seemed like a cool optical illusion. However, hanging it in the bedroom had been a mistake.

The photo had unnerved many including the framer and printseller. Paras had shot it in Russia. 

“This eye reminds me of the Grudge poster.” The printseller had said. Paras had laughed then.

“We all see what we perceive and our imagination builds the rest.” Paras declared. 

Right now though he could not perceive it as a topiary. His fevered mind only saw an eye widened in rage, glaring malevolently. The gray walls of his bedroom seemed to shrink. Roxy bounded into the room. The blue border collie gave a short yip and bounced onto his lap. Paras gave him a belly rub until he was overwhelmed by the dog’s licks. He instantly felt better.

Laughingly, Paras went to the connecting bathroom and splashed some water onto his face. Perhaps the comments everyone else had been making were getting to him. It was a clever illusion. That was all it was. 

So what if his girlfriend had moved out? She claimed she’d been spooked by the photo. His maid wouldn’t dust the room until he found a sheet to keep the eye covered in broad daylight! His co-worker had told him to throw the photo away. They all said it exuded malice. Imaginative minds. Paras kept the photo because it was one of a kind. 

Roxy was barking. 

“Oh shut up.” Paras hollered from the bathroom. Several neighbours had complained that the dog’s barking in the wee hours ruined their sleep.  Roxy would stand at the foot of his bed and bark at the photo. Short barks and threatening growls. He’d taken to bolting his bedroom door so that the dog could sleep undisturbed in the hall. 

Paras had seen something once. The box shrub had stirred once, as though something was trying to rise out of photo. Only once on a late night after an exhausting trip. Paras had chalked it up to his insomnia. A hallucination. When he knew it was a topiary, why should he see it as anything but? 

Paras splashed his face again. He gazed in the mirror. Dark circles had formed under his puffy lids. His hair had lost its sheen. His face looked drawn. He could even glimpse some wrinkles across his smooth brown skin. 

How long had it been since he had slept? Perhaps it would be a good idea to take some melatonin tablets. His doctor had advised it. As he rummaged in the medicine chest affixed next to the sink, he heard Roxy whine. 

The stupid dog was going crazy. Great. Tomorrow the neighbours would complain again.

The whining and squealing sharpened until Paras clapped his hands over his ears. Then silence. Thank god. Tomorrow he would discipline Roxy.  

Paras found the tablets and unscrewed the bottle. 

A shuffling arose outside the bathroom door. A dry rustle as though a heap of leaves were shaking in the wind. Strange. In the glitzy high rise he tenanted, no trees bordered the building. 

The rustling drew nearer. 

Paras popped the tablets and chewed.

Roxy was scratching the door. Poor dog. Tomorrow he would get rid of the photo he promised himself. 

His hand gripped the doorknob. He’d begun turning it. 

Paras stilled. 

A fresh wave of dread broke over his skin as he remembered. 

He had locked the bedroom from the inside. Yet the door had been standing open and Roxy had entered. Enveloped in fear, Paras put an ear to the bathroom door. 

Something rustled like dry leaves. Something scraped against the door sounding like dry branches. 

Something had silenced Roxy. 

Something that came from the eye.

Written for Sadje’s WDYS#169.

Yes it’s a horror story. The photo unsettled me and that’s how this tale came to be. Don’t worry, it’s still a photo…or is it?

Thanks for reading 💕


Published by Aboli Mane

Poet. Writer. Blogger. I post short reads, and poetry on A Writer In The Room. I published my debut poetry book "An Aster's Solitude" in 2019. Currently: Writing my first novel, an animal fantasy in a fictional world. Follow me to keep yourself updated.

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