Jacquelynn Rasmenia Massoud
The last time I ever left the house was the first time I wore the eye patch. I still had one eye that almost worked. It wasn't an eye that could focus or discern, but it let some light in, which usually kept me from walking into a wall.
My son and his wife came to take me shopping. I felt Debra's hand brush something off the shoulder of my blouse. Her wrist jingled. "You've decided to give the eye patch a try," she said. "It looks great, Nancy." It didn't feel great. The cancer had eaten enough of my skin away that no matter how much I played with it, the eye patch felt crooked and awkward on my face. But, I preferred it to revealing the damage underneath.
Roy hugged me and gave me a kiss on the cheek. He smelled of coffee and cigarettes. "You said you'd quit," I reminded him.
"I know," he said. "Sorry, mom. I will."
I know my son. He winced, I am sure of it.
Roy walked me through the store while Debra pushed a cart with a squeaky wheel. I was glad when I heard the sound of the sprayers and felt the cool air of the produce department. It was my favorite part: picking up a piece of fruit, the dimpled oranges, fuzzy kiwis and bumpy avocados. Food that didn't come in boxes with labels that must be read - food I could choose myself, without Roy or Debra's assistance. I would listen to the Muzak and enjoy my little moment of independence.
At the checkout line, Debra and I chatted while Roy dealt with the cashier. The eye patch was irritating my skin, so I lifted it and rubbed my face.
I heard a tiny gasp come from below. "What happened to your eye?" It was the voice of a little girl.
"Tina, don't be rude," a woman said. "I'm sorry." The sound of feet shuffling and bags rustling quickly grew distant.
I lowered the eye patch. My face grew hot, my entire chest pounded. I turned to leave, but didn't know where to go. My knee smashed into something hard.
"Nancy," Debra said. "It's ok, let's go." She put her arm around my shoulders and walked me to the car. As if she'd read my mind, she gently set a bag of fruit in my lap.
BIO: Rasmenia Massoud is a writer from Colorado currently living in France, where she spends her time speaking French badly and writing fictional stories about what fascinates, confuses and infuriates her the most: human beings.
Motivation: There are too many victims of cancer in the world. My grandmother was among them, losing first an eye, then her dignity... and finally, her life.