The leaves are red and green and gold and brown… and mud-colored on the ground. And the sky is blue, or gray. I used to imagine people’s eyes were all natural colors too–not red, of course, but green, gold, brown, blue, and gray… Then there were mine, the ones that didn’t fit in, like a murky muddle of everything rolled into one. I’d write “gray” on one application, “blue-gray” on the next, then on to “gray”; rarely green or brown because somehow that sounded presumptuous in a family where everyone’s eyes were clear and bright as the skies above. When I moved to the States there were so many applications to write my eye-color on; I’m sure one day someone will declare me illegal because I can’t have eyes in two colors at once, but I never know which color I used last time.

Then I had coffee with Sharon, a friend in our local writers’ group. She took one look at my eyes and called them “hazel.”

“But they’re nothing; they’re mud-colored,” said I.

“They’re a bit of everything,” said she, “with flecks of gold” (hey, that sounds cool!), “and hazel can be more green or more brown or more, well, anything…” She liked my eye color! She named it! And the name’s kind of cool.

But will I have to change the eye color of Lydia in my novel now? In Divide by Zero, like me, she couldn’t work out what they were and called them mud. Still, I could always introduce her to her own Sharon in one of the sequels. Meanwhile, I’ll introduce you to Lydia in this excerpt from the book:

It’s time… It’s here… It’s a boy. You’re a mother of three! Lydia struggled to open her eyes and gazed at her baby son’s face. A lifetime seemed to have passed in a flash, while everyone else assured her the world would go on. No way. No way. Warm lips sucked leaking milk and Lydia asked herself, Do all mothers close their eyes when they feed their babies? Somehow eyes, hers, the baby’s, seemed more important than anything else. The baby’s eyes were fastened shut, damp arcs of lashes on his cheeks. She didn’t even know what color they were.

Mother of three? No way. She wouldn’t think about that.

If anyone asked about Lydia’s eye color, she’d refuse to answer. Yucky and mud-colored maybe—not an option on forms—or greenish brownish bluish gray. She could never remember which box she’d checked on driver’s license or passport application. One day someone might collect all her data on computer and decide she was fake, because the answers disagreed.

Occupation: mother of three. Open your eyes. Close them. Feed the child.

Lydia’s oldest son had beautiful blue eyes, like his father’s and grandmother’s. “They’ll change,” they told her when he was born, but they didn’t. Nearly seven now, blue-eyed, red-haired, narrow-faced Jeremy was the image of his Dad, apart from the hair—he even loved the same subjects in school. Daddy’s boy, for sure.

Lydia’s second had deep gray eyes to draw you in and trap you like bottomless pools. His chin was square not pointed, hair dark brown, wide nose, flat cheeks. “You’re not him,” she’d say as she changed his diaper, but it wasn’t Troy she meant. JC was the image, though nobody noticed, of Lydia’s deeply resented grandfather, who passed away before she was pregnant. She didn’t dare believe in reincarnation. “You’re not him. I know you’re not, and I love you little guy.” Then deep gray eyes would gaze up into sky.

This third infant, contentedly sucking her breast, was unique—

but of course, we’re all unique, and so are our eyes, even hazel ones.

Sheila Deeth’s novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released by Second Wind Publishing. Watch out for Infinite Sum, coming soon, Subtraction, still being written, and Imaginary Numbers, almost real…


Filed under books, Excerpts, Sheila Deeth

5 responses to “Hazel

  1. I always called my eyes “eye color” because they aren’t really a recognizable color — sort of bluish greyish with spots of brownish. I now call them hazel for lack of anything better.

  2. Congratulations, and best of luck with Divide by Zero!

  3. I love your attention the little details of the story. All the best for you and Divide by Zero!

  4. Thank you! I’m going to be at the Oregon Historical Society Holiday Cheer event in December, encouraging all passersby to Divide by Zero. Maybe I’ll encourage them to describe their eye-color too.

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