Tell Me What You See

“That is not what you see.”

“That’s because I can’t see anything, goddammit.”

“Shh-shh-shh. Just tell me what you see.”

“That sound is not soothing, you know. There’s nothing soothing about someone fucking hissing at you. That shit only works in the movies, you shh at someone and they calm the fuck down. In the real world they get more pissed off and then they deck you.”

“Okay. I got it. Shh is bad. Got it.”

“You should know these things, is all I’m saying. You should know.”

He touches me and that works. It calms me when he rests a hand on one of my shoulders and gently pats the other. He touches me and the stress and the anger just kind of oozes away. It leaves my body at the very spot where he’s got his hand on me. I hate this. I don’t want to be soothed. I don’t want to feel better. But nobody ever touches me anymore so I don’t pull away.

“Fine. Fuck you. I see… I see the neck and throat of a statue of some Greek god. I see a plume of smoke rising from a volcano. I see a wadded up piece of paper.”

He paces the room and I can feel him bouncing on the balls of his feet. I hate it when he does that.

“That’s awesome,” he says, and I want to punch him for sounding like the idiot surfer dude in some bad ’80s teen sex comedy that he’s probably never even seen.

“Really? Really awesome? Is that what this is? Because none of that shit makes any sense, and anyway what I’m really seeing is the bottom of a bowl of what used to be ice cream. Or something like that anyway. The smeary bits that you put down for the cat.”

James had hated this shit, although I guess he never really just came out and said so. He hated the whole stupid thing. This guessing game. The asking and the answering and the figuring things out. I don’t think he really believed, which is maybe why he’s gone now. Because he didn’t know if what they did was the best thing to do, or the right thing, or what it was exactly. They took my eyes so I could see better. I see for them only now, and not ever for me. I think maybe James did that too.

When you think about losing your sight, the things you think about not seeing? Not the half of it. I mean sunrises and rainbows and your children frolicking in the yard, yeah, of course you should put those on the list of things you won’t see, although how many fucking sunrises and rainbows did you see before, anyway? And weren’t you too busy telling your kid to quiet down all that fucking frolicking to enjoy the sight of it? Anyway, that’s not my point. My point is that when you think about losing your sight you think about all the pretty shit you won’t see again, and you don’t think about the real stuff, like newspapers and the location of the buttons on the television remote, or the label on that bottle of vitamins – or is it some other pill? No telling until you take it. You can ask someone, of course, but then you have to decide whether to trust his answer. There’s no profit in it. I just take ‘em and see what happens.

The passage of time is the thing. Without your eyes, you can’t see it. That’s dumb though, right? You don’t see time passing. Yes you do. You do. It’s me that doesn’t see it. When you can’t see, when you haven’t got eyes any longer, you don’t see your face in the mirror, gradually aging. You don’t see anyone’s hair turn gray. You don’t see your kids get tall and grow into their faces. You don’t see the seasons turn. You can press your hand against the window and feel whether it’s winter or summer, but it’s removed. It’s removed from you. It’s not personal.

I try so hard not to feel sorry for myself, not to allow that anger to bloom and swell up inside me until it grows too large for my skin to contain it all and I have to let it out. This is all real. My life is real. I believe this. I didn’t see the assassin pull out his gun, point it at our president and squeeze the trigger. I didn’t see the bullet leave its chamber and land with a hard wet punch in the flesh of the man we elected to save us. I saw a fork. The fork was on the floor and had a smear of sauce along the tines. The bit of food that had fallen from it lay there too and eventually the others who work and live here identified the design on the butt of the fork and when it was all over and everyone was okay they took a photo of that fork, the real one, and they gave it to me in a frame. I don’t let myself wonder if maybe that frame hangs empty, or if there’s a picture of somebody’s dog or something. I believe that this is true because I have to.

“It’s not an ice cream bowl. It’s something else.”

“Okay. Tell me what you see.”

“I see the moment the poured milk hits the bottom of the glass. That very instant.”

That’s what I see. I believe it.

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Cynthia Lugo

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