By Helen Lemus
The measure fell out of the carpenter’s hands. He trembled from head to toe. His hands clenched and unclenched, and then they went to grasp his head. His eyes rolled and twisted like the globes that we made for staircases. He grabbed the sides of his head by his ears as if he was hearing a loud unbearable noise that neither of us could hear. His face contorted.
Isaac ran to the carpenter’s side and asked him what was happening to him. The man pushed Isaac away. I went to the timer. The carpenter would ring the bell when it was time to stop our work and rest or conclude for the day. I rang the bell. I winced as it made everything worse. The carpenter began to yell. The yelling was a high pitched screech like that of a frightened child.
He screamed until he doubled over and fell to the floor. Isaac ran again to him and grabbed his arms because the man was tearing out his own hair. Isaac pulled at his hands to keep them from the man’s head. Isaac pulled something out from the man’s head and suddenly the man stopped screaming. The man’s face softened, and we saw that there was nothing but peace there.
Isaac held a slithering, skinny snake in his hand. It was bloody. He held it tightly by the neck. It was not long enough to wrap around him. It looked sightless and had no eyes.
I ran to Isaac’s side. He placed it on the floor, still holding it by the neck. I crushed its head beneath my boot. I did not know about the dark world. I was an innocent as was Isaac. The carpenter had chosen to be a host for this being. He had been its eyes. In exchange for what? What could the thing promise?
I looked at the carpenter at our feet. He was almost dead after the struggle. He had a successful business, many friends and was well respected. He had never married and was only seen with us when we went out. He had been like our father. We knew less about him than we thought. Isaac looked at me and stomped on the snake again. He wanted a certainty. I was aware of the mystery.
I touched the carpenter’s face and his eyes fluttered. We smiled. He was still our father figure. I would ask him about the snake when the time came.
“It promised me that I would no longer hear the thoughts of those around me, child. That’s why,” he said. I understood him.