Sitting here exposed, naked, vulnerable with my face hanging out in the aftermath of a Clockwork Orange exam with all the prying and haunting images and none of the eye drops – for the sake of contacts.
For more than ten years vision has been an obstacle course of dirty lenses and plastic frames. Open Eyes. Pause. Glasses. Pause. Vision. REM. Better Vision. Memory. Rewriting happens later.
The minute I stopped smashing the thin plastic half-moons into my calamity eyelashes and let them settle on my actual eye I knew that nothing would ever be the same.
The first hours of perfect vision felt like waking up in Oz, except instead of dodging tiny people pushing me too aggressively towards a yellow brick road I stepped out the way of a sunglasses and helmet adorned security guard motoring away on the plastic equivalent of a Segway, and into a fog of tiny green insects that settled all over my arms.
Beyond the brick road that wasn’t Oz turned into disenchanted forest fucking fast. Every endless encounter between unfortunates happened right on my face.
Scene one: a couple tapped fingers and bobbed knees and scanned menus and pushed lips into constipated not-smiles before both reached for cell phones fancier than mine and pushed buttons and told far away others about how something was supposed to be great before it wasn’t.
Scene two: a woman stared off from the holes in her jeans before the bathroom called her forward, and she grunted the first fart out before tossing her paperback like she was aiming for the burning pile.
Scene three: a man looked over at me and down at his computer screen and over at me again, then his fingers started tapping and he was frowning and I can’t imagine what he harvested.
Suddenly I’m sorry for vampires who wake up with too much to do and an entire evening to do it wrong.
Now: the candles in this coffee shop trigger the soft light setting and my human eyes turn phantom.
Not that long ago a phantom terrorized my television, raising the volume and switching channels and arguing with me about the likelihood of my day turning productive if the damn thing exploded, leaving television guts all over my world. His voice emerged from what some might mistake for static. Inside the static was whisper, in the whisper words, and in the words desperation.
Even before we shared vision this phantom didn’t scare me, I know what he’s up to and what I’m in for. He’s as trapped on this planet as the rest of us until a trumpet sounds and our ears bleed and we suddenly have instructions.
Other than cockroaches we’ll outlast them all. The phantom and me.
Hands over my eyes, I think that if with the next blink the whole palette could change I’d color my contact-world sepia tone. In the cooling bath of yellow and gray pores magically close and dark circles are banished and we’re all ancient and endless remembered. We’re star gazers with parasols trading sideways looks and smelling single flowers on park benches. Our top hats are full sized, just like our skirts. No one smiles with teeth. Teeth don’t exist. Crying is single tears. Cheek kisses replace hand shakes, and both are traded for hand kisses and agreement that people don’t do enough loving things with hands. This is why they bungle contact lenses.
Then Sepia World fragments and I wake at a bus stop littered with human casings, tanktops and tattoos and too many children. Overgrown crows peck at remains before they return to Odin, feathers flecked with message. The bus never shows.
As I abandon coffee shop for bike I want my eyes to communicate questions, blink their own code so I don’t have to say anything anymore. I can just look and wait.
What are you doing what are you thinking what are you wearing underneath your clothes are you hoping you get caught?
Is it all you ever dreamed of do people run into your nose when you kiss them?
When you’re holding someone’s hand do you ever kiss the palm and let the person’s fingers uncurl over your face like a spider? Do you turn your nose into this and giggle or wonder what a hand is doing over your face and do you get scared and wonder if they’ll push you and break your nose and the spell forever? Do you think it’s possible to love someone without hating them first?
When you met my eyes did you know in an instant what the phantom knows?
I am the albatross, I’m the accident, I’m the elephant in the room.