The Light that Shoots Out of My Sister’s Eyeball

"Beam," a short story by Ao Omae, translated by Emily Balistrieri

The Light that Shoots Out of My Sister’s Eyeball

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A beam shoots out of my little sister’s right eye and won’t stop. It’s because during a meteor shower, the two of us wished on a shooting star to be cool. I called an ambulance, but the doctor said nothing could be done. With no other choice, I just hold my hand over her eye. For whatever reason, my hand is the only thing that can block the beam. We can’t be apart. When we got home from the hospital, we practiced walking and other daily-life things.

Unlike me, my sister has a lot of friends. They all come over after work late at night. My sister and I quit our jobs the day after the meteor shower. We went together to each other’s offices. When we said, “I’m her big sister,” or, “I’m her little sister,” our bosses welcomed us, but things soon grew awkward. Why was the other sister at this sister’s work, and why was the older one holding her hand over the younger one’s right eye?

“It shoots a beam.” My sister told the truth. My boss stared blankly at us, while her boss laughed, but both were angry in the end, so we thought that we’d like to burn their lockers with the beam sometime.

My sister’s friends know about the beam, so they’ll be like, “Hey, hey, can you do the thing?” I say, “Okay, okay,” and move my hand slightly away from her eye. Just the tiniest bit. And then a red light extends from my sister’s eye to my palm like rubber. Five centimeters, that’s as far as I can go, the farthest from my sister’s eye I can take my hand. Inside those five centimeters, the red light expands like it’s exploding and makes the whole room glow. “Whoooaa,” say her friends. They pull out their phones and snap a zillion pictures, but the light is too bright for anything to show up.

After her friends go home, my sister shakes. She breathes hard and retches. Even that five centimeters puts a lot of stress on her system. She does her best. She hopes the fact that a beam shoots out of her eye will just be taken as a sort of joke.

“Someday I hope I can just fire this beam,” she says. Someday we want to climb a mountain. My sister will face straight up into the darkness, and I’ll remove my hand completely. The red beam will climb into the sky and gouge through the clouds.

“Is it reaching outer space?”

“Yes, people light years away can see it.”

The light of her eye is so bright, I won’t be able to see her face, but I would hope she’d be smiling. After we’d done that for a little while, I would cover her eye with my palm, but the light wouldn’t disappear. Tens, hundreds, hundreds of millions of light years away, people would be able to see my sister’s light. I hope they’ll smile with us.

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