Short Subjects on an Eye: A Conversation with Milo (10)

Milo holding a sign with a word bubble and pictures sketched in it so it looks like he's talking

Milo adored precise things. Milo adored a lot of things, like clothes and shoes and park benches and happy music. He even liked hugs. But he had difficulty expressing these things when he was Milo. (And hugs were just impossible. Scared the hell out of him.) His love of precision was one to which he could fully surrender himself. He expressed it by purchasing two tablets of paper (one blank and one graphed) a new box of pencils and a large coffee on the way home, and setting himself up in the basement without even letting anyone know he was back. When Hyacinth found him down there, surrounded by various permutations of eyes and gears and magical notation affixed to the walls with soft-stick charms, she felt it necessary to comment.

“Milo… Milo, people have been making eyes for a long time. I think if we look around enough we can just find some instructions.”

He shook his head.

“Honey, I know you like this sort of thing, but it really isn’t necessary.”

He looked up at her and frowned. He shook his head again. He motioned her to the worktable and tore a blank sheet off the pad. Hyacinth sighed. They were going to have a conversation about this.

She stood next to him, not looking at him. They both looked at the paper.

“All right, Milo. Tell me why it’s necessary.”

Milo drew a nightshirt.

Hyacinth groaned. “Oh, gods, Milo. Why is it always clothes with you?”

He ignored her and continued adding detail until she got which nightshirt it was.

“Okay, that’s Erik. And?”

He drew a line, start point at the shirt, end point an arrow. This continues. Above it, he made a series of pie charts. He shaded in the first and marked it 45%. The second, 65%. The third, 85%. The fourth, 100%, though he added a question mark to that one.

“He’s getting better and that’s going to change how he uses it.”

Milo nodded to that. He drew a quick eye (a round, mechanical one, not a scary real one). He pointed from the shirt to the eye, but then back from the eye to the shirt. He did this a couple times.

“And it’s going to change how it hooks into him.”

Milo gave her a thumbs up on that one. He was also reasonably certain that having a new eye was going to change how Erik recovered. He wanted to be sure it wasn’t going to harm how Erik recovered. If he wanted to be sure of that, he needed to know what every little bit did, how they interacted with each other and how they were going to interact with him. But that was all a little complicated to draw, and Hyacinth had the basic idea.

Moving on to the next concept, he drew a cupcake with a candle. He drew another continuum and labeled it 6 through 12. He added a question mark to the 12.

Hyacinth nodded. The eye might go that long, barring some catastrophe. Indefinitely, with a little luck and good care. “He’s growing up, too.” Erik wasn’t some old soldier with a war wound, he was a newly-minted human being in flux. “Okay, Milo. I get it. But can you handle it?”

He gave her a double thumbs up on that one.

“Need anything from me?”

He drew a metal ingot and some tiny gears.

“Well, yeah, the work. But it looks like that won’t be for a while. Anything else?”

He drew a clock. He labeled 3, 6, 9 and 12. He drew a paper coffee cup and labeled it 20. He indicated every hour.

“You want twenty ounces of coffee every hour on the hour? Milo! You’ll have all that but you won’t even take one tranquilizer?”

He shook his head and offered a shrug. What did that have to do with anything?

Hyacinth altered the clock. “I’m cutting you off at four PM or else you’re going to need a tranquilizer. And you’re going to sleep at night.”

He shaded in the expanse of four hours and drew a question mark.

“Try six.”

He shuffled his feet and folded his arms across his chest.

“You wanna throw down with me about what you need for your health, Milo? I will add time.”

He sighed and nodded.

“That’s better. You want coffee now?”

He nodded.

“All right.”

The coffee pot was, of course, still missing the strainer, but there was a store that sold coffee about a block down. Not good coffee, but Milo didn’t seem to mind about that.

She stopped at the stairs and turned, “Hey, wait, Milo. Cream and sugar or what?”

He mimed adding two spoons and stirring.


She was back in the kitchen and taking money out of her purse before she realized she wasn’t going to be able to send Ann.


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