2020-12-02 | Goggles | Bat Aqua
When Gear was two, his eye would wander. It drifted so far that most of his left eye showed white, while his right eye would look straight at you. On the school bus, Gear would watch trees in double as they approached, merge to one as the bus passed them, and then split off into pairs again as the bus drove away. It made baseball difficult, because Gear couldn't tell how far away the ball was. When Gear was tired it was the worst. Almost everything was double. When Gear woke in the morning, his eyes were almost normal again.
Gear's mom took him to see the doctor, and the doctor suggested that Gear watch Television, alternating eyes with a special TV that had two screens, one for each eye. He wore special glasses that would only show the left screen to his left eye, and the right screen to his right eye. Gear would watch with one eye on one screen, with the other screen off. After a half hour he would switch eyes and screens. This was supposed to strengthen his eye muscles.
While Gear strengthened his eyes, his mother would make dinner and watch his baby sister, Wind. Gear liked to watch Batman. He would play different games while watching the shows. Every time Batman and Robin walked up a wall or got in the Batmobile, he would switch eyes and screens. Gears eyes slowly got stronger.
One time Gear forgot to switch the screens correctly, and Batman showed on each screen. When Gear switched the channel, only one side switched, and it showed Super Friends, a popular Television cartoon at the time that featured the superheroes Superman, Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman. Every evening when his mom was making dinner, Super Friends was on one channel, and the old Batman show was on the other. Gear would watch both secretly, one with each eye. It was so much fun.
Gear did this for two solid years, until the doctor said his eyes were strong enough that he didn't need to do it anymore. The family celebrated by taking Gear out to his favorite restaurant, a place where you could feed your french fries to the seagulls. Gear showed off his eyes to his parents, tossing a french fry and watching it without moving his head. His eyes moved together in unison as the seagull grabbed the fry off of the top of the water.
On the way home, Gear was looking out the window of the car at the dim signs that passed. He was starting to go to sleep, and his left eye closed. He saw water rise up between the street signs and Aquaman sending radar signals at them. Gear sat straight up and shook his head. The signs were just regular signs, dim flashes of street names and mileposts. He started to go to sleep again, but this time his right eye closed. He saw a black Batmobile weaving back and forth between the signs with the cone shaped flame in back. He watched it until he fell asleep. His dad carried him to his bed and tucked him in.
The next day was Sunday. Gear played in the woods with his sister Wind and brother Sticks. They lived in a housing development on a gently slopped mountain covered in giant Fir trees. The houses in their neighborhood wound around the side of the mountain, and Gear, Wind, Sticks and their friends would often play in the woods at the center.
Wind wanted to play cowboy and posse, so they gathered their nearby friends that lived encircled around the woods, and started a game. It is kind of like hide and seek, but the posse works together to find the cowboy, and the cowboy gets a head start and three tricks. A trick might be a magic lasso that can capture two of the posse so they can't try and catch the cowboy. Another trick is "freeze time" that gives the cowboy more time to escape while the posse closes there eyes. There were twenty total tricks that Wind had listed in a small green book she kept in her dinosaur bank. Their friends would borrow the book during the week sometimes, but they always gave it back to Wind.
When enough children had gathered, they started their game. Gear was "cowboy", so he got a 10 minute head start on the posse. In the clearings between the Fir trees were vine maples. They looked kind of like a spider on its back. Gear closed his left eye and could see a giant sea of vine maples spread across the forest like a giant, single ocean. He could see a flow of squirrels, all at the same time that were jumping between the branches, using the branch as a spring to launch to the next branch.
This shocked Gear. He closed his right eye, and could see dark tunnels going between the giant Fir trunks, with the leaves of the vine maples creating a roof. Every tunnel had tracks from raccoon and deer that had used the tunnels to move back and forth between the clearings where grass grew, the back yards of the houses that had garbage cans sitting against the houses, and vegetables growing in gardens. Gear had memorized Wind's book of tricks, and he ran through the different ways to fool the posse.
"Ten minutes up!", yelled Sticks, and Gear could hear all of the kids run towards him. Gear yelled,"freeze time", and the sounds stopped. Gear only had a few minutes to think and decide what to do. He had revealed his position with his shout, so he needed to move fast. He closed his left eye. He saw the ocean of maples again, and ran to the closest one, grabbed the lower branch and scrambled on top. He mimicked the squirrels he had seen earlier and jumped off the branch to another, then another, until he bounced to a neighboring vine maple without touching the forest floor.
The kids had started to run towards him again, but the sounds were fainter. Gear continued surfing across the tops of the trees with the giant Firs above his head and the maples below, keeping his left eye closed. It was hard to tell how far the tree branches were, but he was able to guess by looking at the shadows the branches made. He turned his head and could hear the echoes of his friend's voices. He could make out Wind's higher voice shouting out directions,"Go right, George. Go straight ahead with me, Sticks. We'll trap him near the rocks." Sound traveled up here on top of the maples differently. He didn't remember ever hearing the voices so clearly before.
To win, he had to get past the rocks and curve around back to where they had all started, and that was where Sticks and Wind were heading. He was almost to the rocks. Gear closed his right eye and opened his left. Everything was very bright, and he couldn't see. He fell to the forest floor. He should have waited before he switched eyes, but he didn't hurt anything too bad besides he bruised his bottom. With his left eye he could see the forest as a tunnel that led past the rocks and around the outside, bouncing off of the garbage cans and gardens, following the path of the deer and raccoons.
He raced past the rocks, past the garbage cans and gardens, and back deep into the forest. The leaves seemed to suck in behind him as he ran, and everything became quiet, like he was in a tunnel of dark cotton. He could hear the other kids, far away, as he burst into the clearing where the game started and shouted, "I win! Posse come home!".
Wind came back first. "How did you get back so fast, Gear?".
"I had to use both eyes", Gear said, and winked at her. Wind remembered how her older brother had sat up watching the screens when she was a toddler. It was one of her first memories.
Wind and Gear held hands and skipped down to their house for dinner. Sticks followed behind. One of the kids that was still in the clearing yelled, "See you next week!".
"Yeah. Next week," Gear yelled back.