David raised the eye to his nose and breathed in the scent of pine. There was something intoxicating in that scent, something wonderful, much like the times in his youth when he would open his mother’s Earl Grey teabags just to breathe in their aroma.
The scrap of wood felt good in his hand, the smooth edges where his knife had run seemed…right somehow. It hadn’t taken great imagination to see the eye. It was there in the scrap of wood that had broken off one of the brittle wooden pallets he had been pulling across the back lot of the hardware story earlier that day. The flimsy pallets were always cracking, shedding endless scraps of worthless wood. But this one…this one had seemed to call to him somehow.
On his lunch break he sat on the loading dock, his baloney sandwich forgotten in his locker as he carved at the eye, carefully shaving away layers of wood with his pocket knife.
He had never carved anything before in his life. But this felt important, good somehow. What was that thing the scupltor had said? To carve an elephant, start with a rock and take away everything that is not an elephant. He liked that idea, the idea that the elephant was inside the rock before the carving ever started, that it was only the sculptor’s job to reveal the thing that was already there. That was how he felt now. Like the eye was already there and all he had to do was to set it free.
Just a few more strokes with the knife and it would be finished. Just a few more cuts and-
The alarm on his phone brayed warning him it was time to go back to work. He mashed the button absently and went on carving. Just a few more minutes, that’s all he needed. They wouldn’t miss him for just a few more minutes. Because it was almost there, almost perfect.
The knot in the middle of the piece of wood seem to really be looking at him now, and he could almost…almost imagine that it could really see him.
He became dimly aware of a voice shouting at him, telling him to get up and get back to work, but the voice didn’t matter, because this was his true work. And when he felt a rough hand on his shoulder he turned quickly and lashed out with the knife, and the man fell, his neck gaping open like a second mouth.
David went on carving. He barely noticed the spreading pool of blood as it spread over toward where he sat. He was close. So close.
The scent of pine was stronger now, filling his head with strange ideas. He felt almost as if he were floating as if his soul had become disconnected from his body. This was reality. This was power. Everything he had experienced up until now was just a shadow of a dream. With the eye he began to see truly. And when it was finished…
Then there was shouting, someone else had discovered the body. They screamed at him in horror and rage, but they did not understand. They could not see. The body was nothing. He had set the soul free. It was beautiful and wonderful and right.
He worked faster now, his fingers moving as if by their own agency, and all around him the men stared, none of them brave enough to come closer. They were calling, calling for help, for police, but it did not matter because he was very nearly finished. He felt something well up inside of him then, and with the scent of pine in his nose he felt his body shudder and his eyes filled up with tears, not of sorrow, but of joy, joy at the realization that this was thing he had always been meant to do, all of his life leading up to this single perfect moment.
And as the first of those tears fell into the wooden eye he realized what he must do. The carving was almost complete, yes, but until now he had not understood the true nature of the carving. It was not the wood alone that must change. For the carving to be complete he must change as well. So he lifted the knife to his face and led it slide in ever so gently into the socket of his eye. The world bucked with the agony of pain, but some part of him was past caring now, and he dug at the eye with the knife until with a tearing, rending “pop”, it came free. He was dimly aware of the sound of screaming, and some of the screams were his, but it didn’t matter now because he was almost done. He tossed the bloody, pulpy, ragged eye off of the loading dock and took the wooden eye, the true eye and jammed it into his gaping eye socket. And with that a smile broke out across his face.
The carving was finished.
And for the first time in his life he could truly see.