No one ever mentions my eye. No one ever asks me if it bothers me, if I particularly mind that I lost half my vision. I suppose it's because they're always so worried about my other Visions—the kinds that could hurt or deceive them, the kinds they could actually be thrown into and experience for themselves, the kinds they expect are coming their way any minute now, any given time they're looking at me. Because they've already marked me as an enemy, judging me simply by the shiver I send running down their spine.
I suppose out of fear of my Talent, they forget I could ever be the same as them, underneath.
Am I the same?
I pull the strand of hair out of my face. Away with the curtain and there it sits: pale and blind and useless, broken beyond repair, proof that I am mortal after all, that I can be destroyed. A sightless eye, a speechless actor on the sharp white stage. A disappointment. Ah, what does it mean? Why should I go blind when I see so much? It is irony, maybe, or it is fate's wicked smile. It is a pain that goes unnoticed, a suffering that goes unconsoled. For I have lost something that is more precious to me than perhaps anyone expects, and though I dare not correct them or confess it, this hole and this mild agony in me is all the worse for my loneliness. Hush, darling—loneliness? That is going too far. I smile sympathetically. I think I am simply feeling the distance drawn by my dishonesty; a lie that makes other parts of me feel like a lie too, when I am in the company of others. And of course, there is this unaddressed fear, a bit irrational, yet as natural as shivering in the rain, that I will go blind in my other eye, that I am destined or deserve further misfortune in the same vein as what has afflicted me already. I wonder if this cruel and colorless scar is only a warning. I wonder if this is only the beginning—and already the beginning—of my fixed decline.
And then I will be completely blind.
And then it will just be deep darkness. And my visions will crowd in on me at last, in every shape and color and size and there will be so many sounds and so many echoes and so many secrets and so many shadows without the light of day to beat them back. Beasts will leap at me with their too-sharp teeth and the birds in their boastful beauty will repeat the movements of my defeat, gouging nothing, gouging holes that will bleed nonetheless, hot and thick pouring and pouring down my cheeks. I will seek out my friends and my friends will turn against me. "We know how you played with us, you silly little fool," they sneer, "back when you needed something from us and didn't know how to properly ask for it. We know everything now that we're here inside your head, and we aren't happy with what we've found here, not at all." Their faces are twisting up, are all wide smiles, are red glowing eyes, are all matted hair in faceless faces after all, eaten by the blackness of their thoughts or of mine. I can't enter their minds because they're already here in mine. I can't control them because they know everything. From these humans who were once so delightful or pitiful or lovely or amusing, there is no escape. There is only revenge.
A smile that spares no one this time, not even myself.
I do not deny that many people are playthings to me, and that I bend others to my will because it is so very easy. And who else, if given the same chance, would not do the same? Do not think I am such a unique threat, or that I care so very much about destroying you. I just want to have some fun on occasion. It's rarely a personal matter. I could care less where you end up. Usually. I am all about the basics: I enjoy things as they are, for their own sake, in the moment they come to me. I find little use for instruments when my end is my means and I have no means and nothing ever ends.
I must admit, though.
If things are destined to end, a companion in the meantime would be nice. And concerning this particular companion, I suppose I shall refrain from playing with him, at least as best as I can. It seems if I am to do it properly I ought to leave the man's head alone. And if I can win his affection without—some would call it underhand tactics, but I frown at their shallow understanding of what is really a complex and sophisticated art—then I shall not have to worry about being unable to control him, even in madness if it takes me and I see him there, for I had never controlled him from the beginning, and yet he wanted me.
One last look. And I wonder if with time—with skill and patience and no small amount of endearing words—I can get Alcibiades to be my friend, all on his own. Perhaps we will share all kinds of secrets? Perhaps we will tell all sorts of jokes imaginable? Perhaps in the course of our adventures we will even save each others' lives! How delightful and remarkable the bond that would be formed between us then!
Perhaps... I will even be able to tell him that I am afraid. Though I dislike the word. Perhaps I can prove to him that I am not just my Talent. I am something deeper and darker, smaller and less powerful, fragile and more miserable than ever he thought on first glance. I am wilder and emptier, younger and wearier at the same time. I can love without harming, I can trust without trespassing, I can tread gently even where the floorboards are stiff and the men that walk them unyielding. I crave his friendship. And I can win it fairly.
But afraid of what?
In the end the answer, as I turn away from my reflection, is myself.