RoomHate(3)By: Penelope Ward
“So, you have no idea how he plans to use his half? You’re just going to show up there in a few weeks, and if he’s there, he’s there, and if he’s not, he’s not?”
“Oh, this is going to be interesting.”
Fourteen Years Earlier
The boy that Nana started watching this summer was sitting outside of her house. There was no way I could let him see me looking the way I did right now. Peeking through the curtains of my bedroom window, I wanted to just watch him without him knowing I was there.
There was little I knew about him. His name was Justin. He was about ten years old like me, maybe eleven. He’d just moved here to Rhode Island from Cincinnati. His parents had money; they had to have if they could afford the large Victorian house they bought next door to Nana’s. They both worked in downtown Providence and paid Nana to watch Justin after school.
Now, I could finally see what he looked like. He had shaggy dark blond hair and was apparently trying to teach himself how to play the guitar. I must have stood there at the window for almost an hour watching him strumming the strings.
Out of nowhere, a sneeze escaped from me. His head whipped upward toward the window. Our eyes met for a few seconds before I immediately ducked. My heart was pounding because now he knew I’d been watching him.
“Hey. Where did you go?” I could hear him ask.
I stayed crouched down and silent.
“Amelia…I know you’re there.”
He knew my name?
“Why are you hiding from me?”
Slowly standing up with my back facing the window, I finally answered, “I have a lazy eye.”
“A lazy eye? Is that like a wandering eye?”
“What’s a wandering eye?”
“I’m not sure. My mom always says my dad has a wandering eye.”
“A lazy eye means I’m cross-eyed.”
“Like cock-eyed?” He laughed. “No way. That’s so cool. Lemme see!”
“You think it’s cool to have an eyeball that goes inward?”
“Yeah. I would love that! Like, you could look at people, and they wouldn’t even know you were staring at them.”
He was starting to make me giggle.
“Well, mine is not that bad…yet.”
“Come on. Turn around. I want to see it.”
Unsure of what came over me, I decided to let him see me. I couldn’t avoid it forever.
When I turned around, he flinched. “What happened to your other eye?”
“It’s still there.” I pointed to my right eye. “This is just a patch over it.”
“Why do they make it the same color as your skin? From here, it looked like you had no eye. Scared the crap out of me for a second.”
“It’s under the patch. My eye doctor is going to make me wear this four days a week. Today is the first day. Now you see why I didn’t want you to see me!”
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of. It just startled me at first because I didn’t know what was coming. So, your cockeye is under there? I want to see it.”
“No, actually, the covered eye is my good one. The doctor says that if I don’t use my good eye, the lazy eye will strengthen and straighten out over time.”
“Oh…I get it. So, can you come outside now? Since you don’t have to hide from me anymore?”
“No. I don’t want anyone else to see me.”
“What are you gonna do when you have to go back to school tomorrow?”
“I don’t know.”
“So, you’re just gonna stay inside all day?”
“For now. Yes.”
Justin didn’t say anything. He just dropped his guitar, stood up and ran over to his house.
Maybe I did really scare him off after all.
Five minutes later, he came running back toward his spot in front of Nana’s. When he looked up into my window again, I could hardly believe my eyes. (Well, “eye.”) Covering his own right eye was a gigantic black patch. Justin looked like a pirate. He sat down, lifted his guitar and started strumming. To my surprise, he then began to sing a song. It was a take on Brown Eyed Girl, except he’d switched the lyrics to One Eyed Girl. That was when I figured out that Justin Banks was equal parts insane and adorable.
After he finished singing, he took a black Sharpie marker out of his pocket.
“I’ll color yours in, too. Will you come outside now?”
A feeling warmer than I’d ever known filled my heart. Thinking back, that was probably the exact moment that Justin Banks became my best friend. That was also the same day he first graced me with a nickname that would follow me through our teenage years: Patch.