Mother’s Eyes

Death is something people fear, but Death himself fears nothing, having already seen the worst. By contrast, beauty is what people love, they yearn to get close to it and will cry when it is taken from them. The funny thing is, Death can reunite them with what they lost. I guess that’s the beauty of it.


My mother died when I was eight years old. I ran downstairs to find her leaning heavily against the kitchen counter, her hand to her chest. She looked like she was trying to rip her own heart out. When she saw me, her bright blue eyes grew wider and her lips moved like she was trying to speak. No sound came out. She had taken two stumbling steps towards me, then slowly sank to the floor, her hand still grabbing at her heart. All the while, there I stood. Little eight-year-old me, watching my mother struggle on the floor. I didn’t move or speak, I’m not even sure I was blinking. I was breathing though, in, out. Something my mother was struggling to do at that moment. Then, after years or just minutes, her hand fell from her chest, followed by her body. My mother landed with no more than a soft thud on the floor.

My father came home not long after, he dropped to his knees and put an ear to her silent corpse. He turned to me slowly with glossy eyes. Taking in his daughter, still standing in the kitchen doorway.

“Why didn’t you do something?” He picked up his wife’s still hand.

“Call someone?” He squeezed it tightly and didn’t let go.

“Get help, save her?”

I never answered him.

He then gently kissed my mother’s hand and whispered something I could not hear. I remained standing there, as silent as I had been watching my mother die.

My father never forgave me. He blamed me that night, blamed me for her death. At my mother’s funeral, I sat in the front row, next to a father who wouldn’t look at me. All I heard that day was the whisperings of condolences while I stared at my mother’s coffin.

“What a beautiful person she was.” My mother was closing her eyes and facing the sky.

“Absolutely beautiful.” My mother was folding her hands neatly in front of her.

“Beautiful.” My mother was dead.


I moved out as soon as I could, two years ago. Now, I was walking to my apartment just a town over from my childhood home.

I was admiring the overcast sky when my eye caught a dead squirrel on the road. Walking over to it, I lean down and study the 

little thing. After a second, I pick up my camera, always hanging around my neck, and took a quick photo of it before continuing home.

I opened the door to my apartment and found my roommate, Bethel, sitting on the couch and sifting through a small box filled with envelopes.

“Hey! Something came in the mail for you. It’s from your grandparents.” Bethel waves, not looking up. I disregard her opening my mail and I plop down next to her and look in the box. 

“What is it?”

“A bunch of letters.” Bethel says, stating the obvious.

I pick up a letter at random and read the back. It was sent to a ‘Bella Par’, also known as my mother. The letters were all from my mother’s best friend, Sylvia.

“It looks like they were writing to each other when your mom was away for a while.” Bethel says, leaning back on the couch and inspecting yet another letter.

I open the one still in my hand, it’s from 1973. My mother would’ve been twenty then, the same as me now. 

Bethel continues talking, “You know, if your mom still lives at this address you should totally visit her and give her all these.”

I don’t look up from my letter, “That’s my old home, my dad still lives there. My mom’s dead.”

There’s a silence before Bethel speaks again, “Oh, I’m sorry. When did she die?”

“I was eight.” I grab a new letter.

“Oh. That’s rough, sorry again.”

I looked up this time, I never understood the reason for that kind of apology, “It’s okay. I was there when she died. It was beautiful.”

I stare at Bethel’s face for a second, she has some leftover food on her cheek.

“I mean, she was beautiful.” I correct myself and watch Bethel’s face fall back to a smile.

“I’m sure she was.”

The conversation after that lagged, so I headed to my room. Bethel had mentioned that I should visit Sylvia, who I used to call Auntie Syl. I had ignored Bethel and took the box of letters to my room. 




I let the word circle in my mind. It had been so long since I had it on my lips. I try to ignore it, turning to start putting up my newest photos on my wall. My mind, however, began to wonder.

I pin up the picture of the flattened squirrel. 

Auntie Syl loved my mother.

I pick up the picture I took of a little bird with its wing twisted all wrong, laying belly-up. 

Auntie Syl misses my mother.

I place my favorite of the week- a deer laying half in the road, blood still flowing from its neck- closer to the center of the wall, and step back to admire the whole thing.

I call it my ‘wall of beauty’ or ‘wall of death’. Both works, both mean the same. The pictures spiral out across the entire wall, mainly of animals, and right in the center, my mother. The only picture not truly in its most beautiful state, but I don’t have that picture of her. Instead, I just put a picture of her smiling.

As I keep my eyes on the picture of my mother, the only thought that came to my mind was Auntie Syl’s teary eyes as she looked at her best friend laying in her casket.

I reach out and remove the picture directly next to my mother, leaving a blank space on the wall. I stare at the bare spot in the sea of photos.

Well, I guess I’m going to visit Auntie Syl.


After a very silent two-hour drive to my hometown, I’m knocking on Auntie Syl’s door. A woman with long black hair all tangled in braids opens the door.

“Yes?” She asks, her voice slightly raspy.

“Hi, Auntie Syl. It’s Bella’s daughter.” I try to keep my voice light and smile with my teeth.

Her face looks like she’s about to break into tears as she wraps me in a hug, I drop the bag holding the letters.

“Of course! Gosh, it’s been so long, I hardly recognized you! What are you doing here?” Auntie Syl says through my shoulder, her voice is muffled in my dark hair.

I slightly push her away and she lets go, I smile, “Oh, I’m just visiting. I’m in town to work on an art project.”

“How wonderful dear! Come in, would you like some water?” She sweeps her arm in a dramatic gesture as I walk in. I continue answering her small talk questions (how have you been? Where are you living now?) as I inspect her house. Almost all the walls are a bright yellow, the few that aren’t, have a flowery wallpaper covering them.

We walk into her kitchen, Auntie Syl pouring the water as I looked around. Her house is pretty neat; no dishes in the sink and the only thing on the counter is a cutting board.

She hands me my water and that’s when I start asking about mother.

“You must miss my mom a lot, right?”

“Oh, yes dear. I think about her all the time.”

“If I’m honest, I came here wanting to know more about her.” I guess that’s true.

“Of course, dear. Your mother was wonderful.”

I look at my water, fidgeting with it in my hands. I glance back up to Auntie Syl, she’s smiling.

“She was one of the best people I’ve ever met. What a beautiful person.”

I pause, I can hear Auntie Syl still talking, but all I see is her crying at the funeral.




“Beautiful.” I say aloud.

Auntie Syl stops mid-sentence, “I’m sorry, hun?”

“She was, wasn’t she?” I take a step forward, “Beautiful?”

Auntie Syl smiles, but she’s not looking me in the eye, “Of course she was.”

I look to my left, the cutting board on the counter is placed neatly underneath the knife block that every kitchen seems to have. Such a large knife, so easy to grab. So, I grabbed it, taking two steps closer to Auntie Syl.

Her eyes shot to the side, her body beginning the motion to flee, but I’m already too close. I take the knife and quickly drag it across her neck, causing blood to sputter out and ruin her lovely blouse. Auntie Syl’s eyes go wide and her hand reaches for her neck, I shove her hand away, my fingers tingling. She falls back against the wall as I stab her again, pushing the knife into her heart.

Blood splattering on the bright yellow walls, blood spilling over into her long black hair all tangled in a mess of braids. Death was taking Auntie Syl away. He was taking her back to my mother.

I take a step back and look at her as I did my wall of beauty. I slip the bloody knife into the bag with the letters and, slowly, I lift my camera, thankful that no blood got on the lense. The click as the photo takes is all I hear for the whole drive home. It didn’t even occur to me until I got back, that I never even showed her the letters.

I fill the bare spot with Auntie Syl’s perfect picture, smiling as I look at her next to my mother. They’re together now.

My phone rings, ruining the peaceful moment. I grab it and clear my throat, “Hello?”

“Hey. It’s me.” His voice sounds tired. My father never calls me.

“Oh, hi. Why are you calling?” I can’t even remember the last time I heard his voice.

It’s his turn to clear his throat, “I have some news.”

My father tells me that my mother’s best friend has very recently passed. When I remained silent, he tells me she was murdered and asks me to come visit as soon as I could.

This is why I ended up driving nearly the exact same road I was on just two days ago. This is why I knocked on his door, passing the lake just behind his house- one that was my mother’s favorite to go to. And this is why I was now sitting on the couch of my childhood home, looking at a father who hates me.

“I’m sorry that it took- um, this, get us together again.” He speaks first, probably hating the silence I was letting grow. He’s looking at my camera, still around my neck. I’m not looking at him either, instead, my eyes follow the rows of pictures seemingly on every surface available, all of my mother. Right now, I was studying one of her and my father when they were younger, around my age now. Her bright blue eyes filled with laughter as my father stood next to her, just looking at her.

My hands are fidgeting with the bag that held the letters, I had brought it in on impulse. My eyes are racing to find something else to look at, anything but my father.

My father speaks up again, “She was murdered just two days ago. Not far from this neighborhood. That’s a bit scary right?”

I’m looking at another picture of my mother, knee-deep in the lake she loved just behind the house, trying to tune out my father’s words, “I guess she’s with mom now, though.”

“Yes, but much too soon.” There was a pause, “What were you doing two days ago?” 

My eyes flicker up to his, “Just working on an art project. Photography and stuff.” I gesture to my camera.

“You miss mom, right?” I keep eye contact.

My father ignores my question, “Where were you working?”

I look back towards the photos of him and mother, “All around.”

“Do you think of mom often?” I attempt the question again.

“Of course, I loved her. Her dying was the hardest thing I have ever had to go through. Now, however, her best friend has just had a very -not natural- painful death. Do you have any idea why someone would do this, or who?” 

I can feel him looking at me now, “No, I don’t know many that have such confidence with a knife. I didn’t know Auntie Syl that well though.” 

My father looks back at my camera again. Part of me realizes what I may have just said, but I keep talking, “You loved mom, right? You never talked about her after that day though. I hardly even knew mom either.”

I squeeze the handles on the bag tightly as he opens his mouth again. I want to hear what my father will say.

“She was my world. Bella was perfect. She was kind and she was beautiful…”

He keeps talking after that, I’m sure I should be listening, but an image has suddenly popped into my mind.

It was her, Bella, my mother. She was dancing with my father as I lay on the couch- about six years old. My father spun her around and she laughed, her eyes closing. He then pulled her in saying, over and over again,

“My beautiful.”



And he looked at me smiling, I had slid off the couch and joined them dancing, tripping over my feet. My mother still laughing, laughing.

I blink, my father had stopped talking to me. I look around and found he wasn’t even sitting in front of me anymore. I start to get up, but then I hear his voice from the kitchen.

“Yes, I’m sure. She knew it was with a knife, but- uh, yes she’s here.”

I turn back to the bag I’m gripping it tightly in my hands. I reach into it. I had dumped all the letters out, all that remained was the knife from Auntie Syl’s, a bit of blood staining the blade. I wrap my finger’s around the handle. 

I don’t think. My father loved my mother and, just like Auntie Syl, he would do anything to see her again. He missed her. I could reunite them. I take the knife, walking silently into the kitchen. Between one breath and another, I plunge the knife into my father’s shoulder. He drops the phone and stumbles forward, leaning heavily against the kitchen counter, his hand going to his shoulder. He whirls around, looking at me with wide eyes that are dizzy from shock. I take the knife and pierce his neck, right above his collar bone.

He staggers back, “W-wait, let me help you.”

He said it like he wanted me to talk to him, after all these years of course. I stay as silent as I’m sure he remembers. My whole body has started shaking, this wasn’t like when I killed Auntie Syl, or when I watched my mother die. Something was off, I can’t focus. I guess this invited my father to speak again in slurred words.

“I didn’t know what it was like for you… Y-you just wouldn’t respond.”

I still don’t respond. Instead, I rake the knife across his chest, his blood running down my arm. He grabs my wrist, pulling me away from him.

“P-please, look at what you’re doing. You know you d-don’t have to do this.” His words mumbled and his eyes lost focus. I take this chance and clobber him in the face with a closed fist. He stumbles to the floor, dropping my wrist. A glob of bloody spit rolls down his chin.

For the first time, I speak, looking directly at him, “I have to do this. You can be with her. With your beautiful Bella.”

His eyes bulge and he gurgles as I push the knife to his heart. His lips moved like he was trying to form words. Eventually, after a cough that ended with more blood on his shirt, he manages to speak.

“Y-y-you never had your mother’s eyes.”

I don’t move or speak, I don’t even know if I was blinking. I was breathing though, in, out. Something that my father was struggling to do at the moment. Ragged breath, ragged breath. Then, after years or just minutes or even within the space between one breath and another, his head lolled to one side, going limp, then followed by his body. My father landed with no more than a soft thud on the floor.

I stand there, staring at the corpse on the kitchen floor. I would’ve stayed there forever, if I wasn’t snapped back to life by the sound of the dial tone from the phone still on the floor. I needed to leave. A killer shouldn’t stay standing over their victim. First, however, I slowly lift my bloody camera, sighing when I have to wipe the blood from the lense, and take the perfect picture. I then step over the body and head out the back door, the knife still warm in my hand.

I head down the path that led to the lake, the same path my mother and I took the morning before she died. My jog turns into a run as I start sprinting down the path, blindly running towards the water, which is shimmering with the setting sun. I almost run straight into a girl, before she stops abruptly in front of me.

“Oh- sorry!” The girl says, startled. Her voice is soft yet high pitched, she looks about the same age as me.

Then, she makes eye contact with me. I feel my whole body shiver, my fingers tingling.

“You have such bright blue eyes.” My voice is raspy- it feels like my throat is full of blood.

The girl smiles, but takes a slight step back as she looks at me, “Uh, thanks.”

I reach forward and grab her wrist, she flinches at my touch. Her bright blue eyes landed on my arm, stained with my father’s blood. She follows it up to my shirt and camera, equally bloody. I watch her begin to squirm away from me as she finally focuses on the knife, just barely peeking out from behind my back.

“Oh-h uh-.” She stammers over her words.

“My mother had such bright blue eyes. Too.” I didn’t want my words to fall over themselves, but I’m distracted by how much she reminded me of my mother.

You never had your mother’s eyes.’ My father had told me. Well, this girl has her eyes. Doesn’t she?

“Um, I have to get going.”

I look back at the girl, still squirming in my grip. I bring the hand holding the knife up toward my mouth, putting a finger on my lips.

“Shhhh,” I smile, not moving my eyes off of hers, but not focusing on them either, “My mother was beautiful.”

I pull the knife away from my face, slowly making its way to her. She keeps pulling against my hand, trying to claw me with her fingernails. Then yelling out, but her cry was cut short.

I force the knife into the base of her throat, dragging it down as far as I can. She tries to scream again, but it was a ragged, strangled sound, followed by a spew of blood from her mouth and more blood oozing from her throat. I step back again, watching her body fail to comply with her final movements.

I back away, my camera to my eye, patiently waiting for her to go still so I could get the shot, when I hear a yell from behind me. I turn to see two figures on the peak of the hill before the lake, they pause for a second then start running the other way. I hear sirens nearing. Turning back to the girl, I watch her shudder as her body went completely limp. I quickly take the picture and kneel down to her.

Her eyes are half-open, but I can no longer see the blue in the dimming light. She’ll be with my mother soon; the beautiful girl she always wanted.


“I’m sorry mother.” I say as I take the girl’s hand. The same way my father did with my mother’s corpse on the kitchen floor.

“I just wanted to be more connected with you. When I saw Auntie Syl, I knew she must miss you a lot. But, all I could think of was you laying there in that coffin, all alone. How could I just leave you like that? Again.”

I can’t tell if my voice was booming or a whisper.

“Auntie Syl, my father, they all knew how beautiful you were. All they needed was to be reunited with you. And this girl…” I pause, the girl’s clothes are now soaked with blood.

“This girl was all you wanted of me, wasn’t it? She’s more like you than I ever was.”

A shuddering sigh escapes from me.

“Those photos were for you. To let you be surrounded by such beauty whenever I see you. After all, if you didn’t believe in how beautiful Death was, then why would you let him take you away from me? You must’ve seen something too, like I did that night. You were struggling but he was there to guide you to peace. Just like the people I sent to you.”

I open my mouth, wanting to say something more, but the police sirens are much louder and I hear yelling not far from me. Dropping the girl’s hand and turning around, I see the two figures from before, followed by the police.

Would they kill me? Wouldn’t they realize I didn’t deserve to meet Death? I quickly scan the area around the lake. The lake was basically in a huge ditch in the ground; there are cliffs to each side of me, mainly used for cliff jumping, the only other way out is the path to my father’s house, but I would never be able to run there and not have them catch me. Instead, I take a shaky breath, drop the knife, and sprint toward the lake. My camera was still thumping against my chest when I dive in.

The yelling still grew louder, despite trying my best to swim away. I stop and turn around to see people at the edge of the shore, most going up to the girl. Others are pointing, pointing at me. I am bobbing just to the right of one of the cliffs surrounding the lake. I swim closer to it.

My mind races on how to get out. Could I even? Should I even? Without making up my mind, I breathe in, drinking in the air and enjoying the taste. Then, I plunge myself into the depths of the water. I kick forward, reaching out until I can feel the jagged rock of the cliff. I follow it, hoping to be able to find the edge of the wall and possibly get out. The water wasn’t on my side and I had doven too far down. My lungs start to burn.

I need to get to the surface, swimming up, up to the last remaining light of the day. My outstretched hand was only a few feet away from sweet air, when I was jerked back. My lovely camera, always hanging around my neck, has wound itself around one of the many rocks jutting up. This really wasn’t a safe place for cliff jumping.

I try to kick off the rock but my camera is too tightly attached to it. I try to pull the strap from my neck, but it got tangled in my wet hair. Blindly, I swim to the rock holding my camera, tugging desperately at it. I’m moving frantically now, pulling my hand back as I cut it on the jagged rock. My lungs beg for air and the water feels thick. I clench my jaw to stop from gasping for air, but I know I can’t hold my breath for much longer. My lungs burn more as water finally floods into my mouth. My mouth was open, I think I’m screaming, but no sound is coming out. My heart is in my throat and I start coughing, causing more water to rush into my lungs. I start thrashing, pulling at my hair to try and untangle myself, my legs are scraping themselves against the rock beneath me. Ears and eyes burning, tortured lungs, and pain filling the water.

I’m dying.

I‘m not good enough for Death to take me yet. I slow in the water, my frantic movements becoming spasms. All around me I hear the word that has always followed me.




The word that never found me. For all the beauty my mother had held, it was never shared. All the times my mother was rightfully called it, no one looked at me. ‘You never had your mother’s eyes.’ The statement that only hurt from the truth it expressed. Death found people who were ready for peace, that’s why my mother must’ve left with him and why he took the others I killed. All of those on my wall, always deserving of Death’s warmth. Who was I to have earned the same treatment?

   My whole body shuddered and my thoughts moved to my wall of beauty or death. Some of the best pictures I have will never make it there. My father, laying where mother had. The girl, her eyes like my mother, finally meeting someone equating such beauty.

I stretched my eyes open and gaze into the depths surrounding me. Suddenly seeing in the dark waters. Death. He is here. The darkness engulfs me, but Death was there. The chant of that word swelled in my ears.




Then here he was. Death. Taking my hand, just as he did my mother all those years ago. He pulls me into a warm embrace. 


Death held me in his arms and he called me beautiful.