Everyone was curious how Miles would react after Austin shot his eye out with a BB gun. It was Miles’ own gun he used.

I was hoping for vengeance. Austin used to throw bullet pine cones at me after church while I waited for my mom to stop visiting and come out to the car. Their parents hoped they would remain friends—even Miles’ parents, who said forgiving was the natural Christian thing to do. I think Austin, who genuinely seemed to feel remorse for the first time I’d seen, wanted the same.

Instead, Miles brushed it off. He told Austin there were no hard feelings, but then he just stopped talking to him. He dyed his hair bright red a week after being released from the hospital. In church, he would walk away from his ushering responsibilities and go outside. I followed him once to see where he went. He just stood there and looked out at the sunny parking lot.

Miles was much more popular with his glass eye than he had been with his previous one. His mom told him not to take the eye out, but every once in a while, when in a crowd of girls, he would.

I never saw it up close until one night our mothers arranged for me to come to Miles’ house for dinner. He said, “Check this out,” and I followed him into the bathroom. He took out his eye and started polishing it. He used a soft-looking cloth that reminded me of the rag I used to clean the slide of my trombone. “If your right eye offends,” he said, while polishing the eye, “you know what to do.” It looked like he tried to wink with his empty eye socket.

Michael Palmer recently finished his MFA at the University of Utah and is currently working toward a PhD at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. His recent work has appeared in The Collagist, Sunstone, Dialogue, and other journals.