The egg, fresh from the refrigerator, feels cold as it passes over my face. Instinctively, I scrunch my eyes closed and lie still, flat on my back, ramrod straight, on my little twin bed. The room feels hushed and dark. The world has fallen back, away. I hate this, but I submit; I know there is no escaping it.
My mother holds the egg in her skinny brown hand and whispers prayers as she makes the sign of the cross with it over my face, my hair, my chest, my belly and even my legs. She takes her time, doing it several times over before moving on to the next spot. It tickles as she dawdles over my ribs, but I press my lips tight to keep from laughing.
Annoyed, I wonder. Where are my bratty sisters and brother? Why aren’t they making noise, making trouble? Why aren’t they distracting her so she will leave me alone?
I can’t make out the words she is whispering; all I can hear is the susurrant voice, the S’s seemingly magnified within the darkness behind my eyelids. She is intently focused on her task. For she believes I am the victim of the evil eye. And this evil eye must be exorcised.
Once done brushing me with the egg, she gingerly breaks it into a bowl of water, careful to keep the yolk intact. This she sets beneath me on the floor. It’s to stay there overnight to draw the evil out of me, through the mattress, while I sleep.
In the morning, before I’m allowed up, she reaches under the bed for it and keenly scrutinizes its contents. Tempted, I rise up on my elbows to peek into the bowl she holds reverently in her hands. The egg appears like any other egg to me. The floating yolk, surrounded by its albumen, resembles an eye. I think that’s funny, an eye for an eye.
But, she doesn’t see any humor in it. Her face is serious as she looks into what, to her, is no longer just an egg. It has become an entity suffused with mystery, an enigma that only she can decipher. Again she takes her time as she peers into this golden eye. And once her scrutiny is completed, she declares me cured. I am freed. Free of the malevolence someone dared lay upon me with the power of a glance. This visual curse has been successfully cast out, lifted, disarmed, rendered harmless. It is safe for me to go out into the world once more.
I stay up on my elbows and study her face while she studies the egg. I don’t move or say anything when she tells me I can get up now. I watch her as she turns and shuffles out of the room, a woman already shorter than me. I know the never-ending chores and my rowdy younger siblings await; yet still, I lie there for a while and think: My mother loves me.