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Aba, Ch. 2: “Where do those eyes come from?”

March 10, 2013

I was at Aba’s. Ruchama had woken up crying, in the lower bunk. Aba heard, and dashed in. Aba doesn’t dash anywhere when he’s out for the night. He has taken Ambien for years, and he was still a mess until he started his Lyrica for fibromyalgia. But he’s developed a radio receiver in his Daddybrain, tuned just to the frequency of my sister’s cries. I guess she was about three, because that was the first summer that we slept in the bunk bed Aba built for us. I was on the top bunk, and I was sleeping lightly. So I woke up, also, and I was talking to Ruchama about Willa and Willoughby, the story Aba used to read to me when I couldn’t go to sleep. Aba comes in and starts talking in Spanish to Ruchama, like he had done when we brought her back from Guatemala when she was just over a full year old.

All of the sudden, Ru starts crying again. “Daddy! I want Daddy, not you, Ezra!” My dad enters, and we agree that we’d act out the story of Willa and Willoughby. Aba played the little girl Willa, and I voiced Willoughby. Just like in the story, Ru was fast asleep by the time we got to the end.

Aba sang my bedtime song, “Simple Song,” by Bernstein, and I snuggled under my soft Philadelphia Eagles blanket and fell asleep. This was the first time that those molten eyes appeared.

How does a dream start? And when does it turn into a nightmare? I keep forgetting to ask Aba, and have him ask me back, “Easy, medium, or hard, Ezra?” Was it just a headache, like Aba gets, and both my optic nerves needed to blow off stress? That might explain the symmetry (a word my first-grade art teacher taught me). Does you brain zap your eyes and make you think you see things? I hadn’t had a stressful day; no, it was a great day. We had played golf and gone to the playground. Both of us kids were very happy, and Aba said it was a great day for him, too. But it seemed just like I went back to sleep when these fiery red holes ripped through the backdrop of my eyelids.

My science teacher says that most dreams last a few seconds. This one could have been less than that. I jerked myself up like a zombie, and then I woke up. Noiselessly, I padded down the ladder from my bunk, and knocked on Aba’s door.

“Ru-Ru,,” he asked. I was relieved. Aba wasn’t asleep yet.

“No, Ezra,” I answered.

“What is it, motek?” That means “sweetness” in Hebrew. Did I mention that Aba was the one who was born in the JezreelValley, on a kibbutz in Israel?

I don’t remember saying anything. Aba tells me that I was the only Kazakh boy to have whiter skin than Lady Gaga. I crawled in under Aba’s sleeping bag.


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