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Tetrachromat

 

by Jonathan Schneeweiss

 

 

Brother lay eyeless on the cot.

 

Self-surgery was necessary so he would share them.

 

I still could not see him because of the bandages, but I knew he had not moved since he had given them to me.

 

The voice of the radio stung my ears, and I wanted it to stop. Rain had come earlier than expected, it said. I could not take off the bandages, it said. You haven’t healed, it said. Not yet. But I had to take them off. The drumming of droplets called me to the window, and I could taste the moisture.

 

“Brother dies to share his eyes,” I said to Brother’s corpse. “His magic eyes with cones so wise, to see what spectrum lays disguised.”

 

My fingers squeezed the gauzy bandages, wanting to pull the veil down and see Brother’s worlds. I clasped my hands and prayed the rain would continue. It had to.

 

Just until I could remove the bandages.

 

“Mutation,” I said. “Augmentation, vibration, donation. Which led to privation. The eyes of man see a million colors. Add one cone and a hundred more.”

 

I listened and strained and tried to hear it. I willed all strength into my ears, but the pulse of the rain only slowed and softened.

 

“A hundred thousand?”

 

“No,” said the doctor. “A hundred million. Ninety-nine million and a million more. A hundred million colors is what the tetrachromat sees. He hides worlds in his eyes, which led to demise, a sad surprise, a barrage of whys, no tearful

goodbyes, and a loss of the prize to brother despised.”

 

Your eyes.

My eyes.

 

The rain stopped.

 

“Th-the d-d-damn damn damn bandages!” I shrieked.

 

I tore them off and light blinded me. I gripped the window, forcing the muscles of my eyelids to retract. Painful sight bloomed like fire in my mind.

 

There it was.

 

Rainbow. Luminous arc of seven divided and dispersed by a century of millions. The pantheon of stolen colors that lived in these holy eyes alone.

 

I could not breathe. I quaked and quivered and cowered and cried, but the celestial kaleidoscope pulsed, danced, and blazed overhead. Erratic, chromatic, prismatic tides of living screaming skies. How could he have kept it for himself? How could he not have shared?

 

How could I not share?

 

What cruelty to bury worlds of beauty in the impurity of one man’s mind?

 

What awful jealous greed and gall! What foul and filthy shameful crime!

 

But I was a charitable soul.

 

I’d see justice done, it’s what I was. It’s why I did this—for fairness alone. I stumbled over the cot and fell to the ground with him.

 

Eyeless holes stared.

 

My fingers dug deep into my eye sockets.

 

“See it, Brother! See a hundred million colors!”

 

How could I not share?

 

I screamed and gripped and pulled, and blood shimmered like the aurora.

 

 

Jonathan Schneeweiss writes mostly fantasy and science fiction while studying ancient Babylonian literature at a post-graduate institution in Queens, NY.  He maintains a biweekly blog, Schneeblog.com, aimed at helping new writers through analysis of common writing problems.  His work has been featured in Daily Science Fiction.

 

Jonny Schneeweiss - Writer of Stories and Blogposts - Schneeblog.com

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