It’s been a few days. I haven’t done much but scroll on my phone. Sometimes something funny would come up, and I would smile. It was nice. I don’t think I need much else. Old sitcoms, let’s plays, a cute little cat up to no good. Sounds like a nice world to me. Why be greedy? Having a friend or two might be nice, but it’s not worth the risk. Too unpredictable. I don’t need anyone upsetting my world.
I’m not lonely, though. I have my own trouble-making little bundle of grey joy right beside me. He’s my cat. I found him and brought him in. I named him Leo.
I don’t need any other people, or animals for that matter. I can work and support myself. I have means of entertainment. Hell, I can even socialize online under a pseudonym if I really wanted to. I’ll go to the park when I need fresh air, and take myself out to dinner once a week. Not one of the gross places on 17th street, something a bit... nicer.
I opened Twitter on my phone for the eighth time in the last hour. I’m not following enough people to get updates that fast, but I still refresh it to see. You never know! I mostly follow cute animal pictures, anyways. Endless content.
I thought about sending a message to one of my, uh… questionable contacts. I have seventeen drafts, automatically saved to my phone; each one with a different set of questions that would be incomprehensible to anyone else. I’m probably not going to send one. Writing them out was more for me, anyways. And as long as I don’t get a text from either of them, everything should be fine!
Of course, I received a notification at this exact moment.
It’s a text.
“This is a reminder: You have an appt. for an optometrist visit in our office at 3:15 PM. Please arrive fifteen minutes early for check-in. If you need to reschedule, please call us at…”
That’s okay, actually. I forgot all about that. I’m pretty sure my eyes have been getting worse, so I made an appointment to get a prescription for some glasses. I guess… I guess I can go?
After throwing on some mostly-acceptable clothes and refilling Leo’s water, I left for the doctor’s. It wasn’t a long bus ride, about fifteen minutes after I got on. The office was inside the mall. I didn’t know stuff like that could be inside a mall. But yeah, I’m looking right at it. It’s right between a Hot Topic and a Great American Cookies place.
I walk inside, give the kid at the counter my name, and sit down. It’s one of those little waiting rooms with plastic chairs and magazines on the table and stuff. I always get anxious in this breed of room. The anticipation of an unpleasant experience is almost torture. I don’t even think this trip will be all that unpleasant, but I’m still nervous. I remember the toys that they had for kids to play with in Pediatric waiting rooms. The ones with the little colored blocks on metal wires that you could rack around. Why were those there? Their purpose was probably to keep kids occupied away from what I’m feeling right now. I guess the better question is: why are they only there? Is there no other place where children feel anxiety? I was a nervous wreck as a kid, I could have used one in my house.
After a minute or so, my name was called and I moved into the back of the office. Before I saw the actual eye doctor, I had to go through the game show portion of the visit first. Can you guess the number of blinking dots? Can you stare at the square until your entire vision goes black? Can you withstand a blast of air from one millimeter into your open eye without an emotional breakdown? With that out of the way, I was allowed back into the room with the big chair, followed shortly by the doctor.
“Good afternoon Mina. So, you’ve been having trouble seeing lately?”
He wasn’t an elderly man, just old-ish. Seems very nice. I bet he did drugs in college. Like, the cool kind.
“Yeah, just a little. Things far away are pretty blurry sometimes.”
“Spend a lot of time sitting in front of a screen?”
“I have a physical therapist I can recommend as well, when it gets to that.”
I immediately fixed my posture, accented nicely by a loud pop from my back. Lovely.
“It’s okay, feel free to recline in the chair. One problem at a time, right?”
God, I wish.
He opened his laptop and set it on the counter beside him. It was a mess of menus and text fields that seemed as if they should have been obsolete decades ago. I would have spied a little more, but it was turned away from me, mostly.
“Alright, time to take some pics of those bad boys.”
I put my eyes up to the machine that swiveled in front of my chair. He turned a light on in its back. Immediately, my vision was blinded.
I could feel myself starting to sweat.
“Hold still while I take these, okay?”
Even on the other end he could sense that I was nervous. Intermittently, darkness filled my eyes. I don’t think it was the machine doing that. I wanted to stop. The black flashing in my eyes was so much brighter than any bright I’ve ever seen. My hands were trembling, tips of my fingers going numb. I started to catch glimpses of rings. White rings as dark as the night sky in the center of endless black; blindingly bright black rings on white. I wasn’t thinking about anything. The rings grew larger, revealing smaller rings inside them; like matryoshka dolls the size of my entire word.
“Okay, all done! It’s over, you did it!”
I closed my eyes and leaned back into the chair. I’m fine. Nothing bad happened. That was all I have to do, after this, I can just go home and pet Leo. I’ll be alright.
“Just let me go process these real quick, I’ll have your results in a moment.”
He was gone for a while. I finally felt like I could open my eyes. Things were a bit blurry, but thank God they weren’t strobing. I don’t know how this day went south so fast. My eyes must be like Achilles’ heel.
Suddenly, I saw a tiny flash out of the corner of my eye. Shit, is it happening on its own now? Oh, it was just his laptop on the counter. The images on the screen changed. I couldn’t see it well, but it was white and black. I saw circles.
I got off the chair. Hesitantly, I turned the laptop to face me.
On the screen was a giant picture of my dilated right eye’s iris. In the middle were about a dozen thin white circles. It looked like a bullseye. My eyelashes got in the way of a few outermost rings. Could he see what was going on inside of my head, through my eyes? I leaned in a little closer. I counted the rings from the outside, to the smallest inside. It was exactly twelve. They were, as far as I could tell, perfectly uniform. Each one was a perfect copy of its parent, further towards my pupil. Except for one. The center circle, the smallest, wasn’t a circle at all. It was a lumpy shape that I was having a hard time seeing. I brought my face closer to the screen, nose almost touching. What the hell was that in the middle of my eye? It was jagged and rough, with jarring corners and angles that didn’t seem to fit at all. The general shape was taller than it was wide. The upper portion was wider, while the lower portion was smaller. Kind of like a skinny triangle. It reminded me of a skull. It couldn’t be that, though. Skulls don’t have two huge swirling S-shapes coming out of the top. If it was a skull, it would look more like a goat’s.
I turned the laptop back to its original position, sat back on the chair, and pleaded to God for salvation.