Eyes are the window into the Soul.
Eduard woke up. The blankets were on the floor again, but he was still warm despite the early Winter chill. He looked into the hallway and saw the light in the bathroom on, lighting the frame of the closed door. The light in the bathroom, which he turned off every night, was on. The door he left open every night, was closed. The light, was on.
Yet Eduard was alone.
He got up, feeling his heart race. He put on his robe and slippers and slowly, agonizingly, headed towards the door. He wanted to run. He wanted to crawl back into bed, pull the covers over his head, and wait for it to all go away. For the door to be open. For the light to be off. For this overwhelming, loathsome dread to be gone.
Still he crept forward.
His slippered feet slid across the carpet. He grasped the ends of his robe's belt and pulled them tighter. They were a tangible, physical tie to the real world; an anchor bracing him against this nightmare's edge. He reached the wall next to the door and let go of the robe's belt. He felt along the wall and slid his fingers along the smooth wallpaper until they reached the frame.
He clutched his robe.
He put his head to the door and placed his ear on its cold panel. He listened intently but couldn't hear anything over his rapidly beating heart. He inhaled deeply, and holding his breath heard voices; the soft, intermingled ghosts of words. They were as real as the wisps of smoke from an extinguished match, and just as easy to grab.
Hesitantly, he reached for the handle.
A static charge arced from his thumb to the handle, visibly hanging in the air as a crisp blue line. It bit his thumb hard enough that he yelped in surprise, recoiling from it. As he turned away the light went out and the door was open.
A shadow stirred.
Eduard watched himself dash into the cold bathroom scarcely aware of what he was doing. He frantically stabbed for the light switch, desperately trying to cast some light into the Erebus dark. His hand was pounding all along the wall until he felt the plastic faceplate of the switches and clicked one.
The fan whirred overhead.
The humming fan's drone turned into the harsh laughter that kids save for groups far away from adults. Eduard felt their eyes boring down on him as he looked at the splintered, plastic remains of his General Lee model. Joshua stepped on it one last time, grinding it into the ground with his foot, before smirking at Eduard. Eduard remembered watching that smirk disappear after he pinned Joshua later that afternoon. When Joshua was alone. Eduard particularly remembered the smell of the model glue still crusted on the X-Acto knife he used to cut out Joshua's horrified eyes.
The fan stopped and the heat lamp came on.
Its electric drone and ruddy light cast him back to his high school's darkroom. To the red lit room with the constant buzz of the large, black timer, and the lingering quiltwork of chemical smells. He felt the developer wet his fingertips as he pushed the print under its surface. As the image of Alesia changing emerged from the blank page, he felt himself stir and harden. He was so focused on her bare breast in the picture that he didn't noticed the teacher approaching until it was too late. Grabbing the print, he ran outside into the light, mourning as the print turned instantly to black. He would never get another chance to sneak up on her from behind again.
The heat lamp cut out and the vanity lights above the mirror came on.
They showed his Mom sitting in front of the mirror. The sleeves on her white, silk robe billowed as she put on her make-up. "You're such a little angel, Eddie, I can't believe you don't have more friends," she droned while preening in front of the mirror. The open bottle of diet pills had been knocked over again, spilling them unnoticed across the counter. Her saccharine words washed over him unheard as he jumped up and down behind her, screaming for her to notice him. Even though she never looked. Emotionally spent, he slumped behind her, burying his face in his hands and crying.
Finally, mercifully, the main light came on.
The bare, corkscrewed bulb slowly came to life. It started dimly, but with enough light for him to see the room was now empty. As its intensity rose, so did Eduard's spirits. There was nowhere to hide in the little white paneled bathroom, so everything must be gone! Eduard looked around. His confidence renewed, he pulled aside the shower curtain with a dramatic flourish as a relief to his obvious delusion. Laughing, he looked behind the toilet for the Boogey Man. Giggling, he checked under the sink for evil goblins. His raucous laughter rose as he made merry of his own imaginings and old embarrassments.
He caught his reflection in the mirror.
His face was sallow, almost bloodless. His hair was in tattered, mussed patches and his cheeks were cavernously withdrawn. Even his nose looked pinched and corrupted. But the worst was his eyes, or, where his eyes should be. He looked right through them, right through his head to the door. It had closed. Again. Trapping him inside the mildewed walls of the bathroom. Again. Thrusting him back into the endless nightmare of memories.
Eduard's soul had died long before he had.