The light dimmed momentarily as the refrigerator clicked on, casting a brief, exasperated shadow across the sleeping form of the young man who was sleeping on the small bed beneath it. He stifled a yawn, stirring in the bed before reaching up to the wall and switching the light off. Outside, traffic crept across under the noonday sun.
He stayed in bed for another several hours. He shuffled slowly into the bathroom, relieving himself and then staring into the mirror. A frown crept across his face as his vision blurred. He rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and picked through the clutter on the counter until he found eye drops. A few drops fell into his red eyes, and he blinked rapidly. He shambled back towards the bed and sat down, looking at the alarm clock. He lay back down and closed his eyes. When he got up twenty minutes later, his vision was clear again.
His cell phone rang while he was in the kitchen, cooking over the stove. He walked across the studio apartment and answered with a slow, quiet hello.
“Steven, it’s your father.”
Steven rubbed his eyes slowly in quiet frustration, before betraying a sigh into the phone: “Hey, Dad.” He walked back into the kitchen.
“Did you get the money your mother and I sent you? You didn’t call. Your mother wanted you to call after you got it.”
“Yeah, I got it. Yesterday. I haven’t cashed the check yet.”
“Ok. Anything new?” His father’s voice rang in his ear, as Steven thought back through his memory, searching for an answer he knew that he didn’t have. He could see his father’s face, sitting in the living room of the family home, the look of hopefulness spread across his face as his mother stood looking on from the kitchen, her face as expectant as his father’s. She was probably holding a magazine or book in her delicate hands, her usual afternoon ritual. He knew what her reaction would be.
“No. Nothing new,” he stammered, as he heard the audible sigh coming from the other end. He could see his mother’s face in the kitchen doorway, her head hung low as she returned outside to the patio. He hurriedly told his father he was about to eat, to general silence. He hung up the phone, returning to the simple meal overcooking itself on the stovetop. As he sat down in the overstuffed chair to eat, his vision blurred over again.
The shadows expanded across the street as cars sped past in the evening, the distant sound of engines coming steadily from the freeway. Steven sat in the chair adjacent to his bed, staring at the television across the small, single room of his apartment. He stared at it, in near disinterest, but slouched down the in chair in near immobility, his eyes blinking slowly, near a dead stare. The early summer sun bore down through the apartment’s one window, sending heat radiating through the small space. It was not yet hot enough to demand fans or air conditioning, but hot enough to draw the small beads of sweat across Steven’s forehead. He turned absentmindedly from the television set and stared out the window. He squinted against the harsh, orange light of the sun as it began to descend across the buildings. His sight went black, a bright afterimage burning through his retinas as he rubbed his eyes before readjusting to the television in front of him. The sound of dull laughter echoed from it, the studio audience reacting to the sudden jape flung from the portly protagonist. Steven sighed, checking the time on his clock. It was only a bit after five.
It was a life completely devoid of purpose. The sullen looks out the window to a larger world that he only dreamed of while laying alone in his bed at night in the tiny apartment only served to further push his mind further down the spiral of despair that seemed to grip him at every passing. He barely ate, slept too long, and routinely did absolutely nothing, leaving his apartment for a small amount of time each week, to cash his check from the government and pay his rent. All through this, he occasionally found that his sight was deteriorating, but he paid it no real mind at all. His father wore glasses, and his father had as well, so Steven expected that someday soon, he would also be forced to wear something to correct his vision. He did not expect that when he woke up one Saturday afternoon that he would be blind.
Panic immediately set in after Steven figured out that he could not see. The downtime was fairly considerable, as his mind raced along. When he had gone to sleep, the sun was barely coming up above the buildings outside of his window, but when he woke up, there was nothing but darkness. He flailed around in his bed as he could feel his blankets thrown away. He yelled and thrashed for what seemed like an eternity, before falling off of his bed and crawling to his knees: it didn’t provide any orientation, and as he attempted to crawl to a phone or to the door, he slammed his face into the wall, feeling the throb of his cheek before he collapsed on the ground crying in dismay. He did not get up for nearly an hour, curled up on himself sobbing quietly, the entire time his mind racing as he pleaded for an answer to what happened. He never received a response.
Without being able to see the light of the sun outside, or the lack thereof, only being aware of a relative time when he felt his stomach grumble with hunger. He remained against the wall until that point, trying to regain his composure but failing miserably. His hunger stirred him to action and Steven decided to try once again to figure a way to somewhere. He could barely picture his apartment in his mind, the image already distorted from the panic and fear of losing his sight. He did not know exactly where in his apartment he was as the thrashing and disjointed crawling was clouded by that fear that he was still trying to overcome. His stomach turned; what if this is permanent, he thought, and inadvertently wailed slamming his head back into the wall, feeling the drywall give way. His head throbbed in a rhythmic pattern, breaking his concentration on his condition due to the pain. He reached his hands up, running the palms along the wall until he felt the hole he had just created. The rough edges of the drywall greeted his fingers as his attempted to pull himself up, tearing the edges of the hole and making it larger. He immediately wished that he had stayed on his hands and knees crawling. From the new angle, he was even more disoriented than before.
The phone rang, and in the darkness, or perceived darkness, Steven flailed around, attempting to find the phone. He wept, crying in frustration as he slammed his head into the end table, feeling an oblong, plastic shape fall onto him as he groped about. He heard the phone near him, but the ringtone died and he knew it had gone to voicemail. He wailed in emotional agony, curling back up into a ball against the end table, and cried. As he lies on the ground, Steven heard the phone vibrate slightly as the voicemail alert went. He groped slowly in that direction, his hand moving deliberately in a wide fan-like motion across the carpet, trying to find the small cell phone. He felt out, moving towards the wall and swinging both of his arms out before his fingers brushed across the phone. He let a gasp out, jerking his hand back and sliding the phone open. He carefully felt across the face of the keypad, straining his mind to try and remember the order of the keypad. Why did I have to get a phone with a full keyboard, he thought, as his finger gently traced the keys. After what seemed like an eternity, he believed he had figured out which of the small keys were the number keys. He held his breath, and pressed three in a slow, methodical manner. The voice on the other end told him he had guessed correctly.
“I’m going to hold your eyes open and shine a light directly into them, alright?” The voice came on suddenly, after Steven had been sitting by himself for what seemed like an eternity. He jumped, and the doctor put her hands on Steven’s shoulder reassuringly: “Sorry, I didn’t mean to frighten you.” Steven felt her pull gently at his eyelids, and he tried to hold his eyes steady. He didn’t feel anything, and heard no sound other than the doctor sounding like she was experiencing something peculiar. “Your pupils are dilating appropriately. And you can’t see anything?”
“No. I can’t.” Saying those words drove the reality of the past few days home to Steven, and he swallowed hard, deep into his throat, the words almost getting caught in the process. He felt tears roll down his cheeks, and ne did not care that the doctor could see it. He was still terrified. He felt her hand rub his shoulder again, but he found no real comfort in it.
“We’re going to have to run some more tests. MRIs definitely. I’m sure we’ll be able to find the problem. You’re going to be alright.”
“Ok. Thank You.” The doctor told him she would go schedule the tests immediately, and Steven heard he leave the room. He was once again alone with his thoughts. The near silent hum of the fluorescent lighting mingled with the smell of a hospital: the sanitary, scrubbed clean smell that reminded Steven of the proclivity of disease and reinforced the fragility of his entire existence. His loss of sight had taken something from him that he didn’t even know he could lose; it ripped away any semblance of normalcy that he still maintained, replacing it with the cold, lonely darkness. Steven sat, feeling a complete sense of terror, that same feeling that had not stopped in the time since he woke up to discover his affliction. It welled up in the depths of his stomach, causing a feeling of nausea. He attempted to endure to the best of his ability, but the quiet sobs still echoed through the room when a nurse entered. She gently rubbed his back, and helped him into a wheelchair. Her voice carried a sort of sing-song quality to it, and Steven found it incredibly comforting as he was wheeled slowly through the halls of the hospital towards radiology. The nurse pushed him into the room, where another doctor explained the procedure in the quiet inflection of his soft voice. He directed the nurse to help Steven into the MRI machine, which muffled their voices and Steven was left alone inside the metal cylinder. Without seeing his surroundings, Steven could envision the machine holding him close inside its metal exterior. His mind flashed backwards to his childhood, and the last time he was trapped inside the magnetic embrace of an MRI machine.
His father gripped his small hand firmly but with a sense of tenderness. He smiled down at Steven in an attempt to be reassuring, but the young boy was still terrified beyond all belief. He was disoriented and dizzy, his mind racing at a hundred miles per hour but also sluggish and his thoughts hard to concentrate on in a wicked dichotomy caused by the fastball sent straight into his eye. The bruise over it was substantial, the eye swollen shut behind the purple sheen the skin had adopted; tear streaks were still visible across Steven’s cheeks, especially the left one, which was clearly too tender to be touched. Steven’s baseball cap was slid far over his face, and his father kept shaking him at intermittent intervals to ensure that he was responsive: he was, but barely. The nurse ushered them into radiology. The minute that Steven found himself inside, panic began to grip his young mind, forcing its way through the muddled thoughts. He tried to thrash viciously against the restraints, wailing in a pitiful cry for his father to help him. The man stood on the other side of the window, listening to his son crying inside the metal tube and feeling a growing sense of impotence within him, unable to do anything due to the machine running and the potential intervention of the hospital staff. He chewed his lip viciously, blood beginning to form in the corners of his mouth as he heard his little boy cry in terror. The tests were finished, and proved that nothing was wrong with Steven past the concussion; the problem warranted intervention of more in-depth testing, but no additional problems were discovered in the young boy. His father feared that he would not be the same after that day, and he was correct in that assumption. In his concussion-addled state, Steven had experienced a level of isolation and fear he was not prepared to deal with at the age of ten. Inside the darkened sarcophagus, Steven felt every doubt his young mind could conjure up, even in the few brief minutes that he was encased inside. As he sat once again inside one of the machines, his mind drifted back to that day thirteen years ago; and although blind, his mind’s eye re-conjured the horrific images that he had invented all those years ago.
It was loneliness that struck him first, deep within the MRI machine. Despite being spoken to only a few moments earlier, Steven knew full well that the doctors and his father were behind the glass in the other room, leaving him alone inside something he did not understand: in the rush and explanations, no one had explained to the boy exactly what was going to go on inside radiology. That uncertainty left a level of anxiety in an already disoriented mind, which did nothing to calm his nerves. He remembered the baseball, and his father getting him into the car, as well as vaguely waiting in the hospital. All those were blurred, and coupled with the blank spots in his memory, caused the young Steven to be forced into the machine in an already damaged state of mind. Inside the machine, time slowed to a crawl as the isolation began to creep inside, sending a spike of anxiety deep into the center of his mind. Every sound the machine made around him was a symbol of imprisonment and an impending doom that crept across his skin, forming goose bumps so intense that nearly every muscle in his body shuddered along with his skin. Formless phantoms crept into the darkness of his peripheral vision, concepts of fear that only a ten-year-old boy could adequately understand. That sense of abandonment was the chief anxiety, as Steven remembered every time he turned around in the grocery store to find his parents missing, was left at soccer practice late due to a miscommunication; the only real difference is that this time, he felt like that abandonment was intentional, especially knowing that his father was right behind the glass with the hospital staff.
He assumed he was sitting in another examination room following the MRI, bathed in that familiar fluorescent light despite not actually being able to see it. It was easier without seeing anything this time, Steven thought, fidgeting in his seat while he waited for someone to come back into the room. The nurse had left him here, saying that the doctor was going to be with him soon in her sweet, reassuring voice. I wish they would have left me a magazine or something, thought Steven, before he chuckled for the first time in the two days since his mysterious affliction began. He felt actually content, sans his inability to see. Following the MRI, the nurse had brought him something to eat; he hadn’t been able to, and his hunger pangs were a great discomfort to him. With a full stomach and feeling adequately hydrated, the fear gnawed at him less. The isolation remained, but not nearly as terrifying as he remembered earlier. He held his quiet contemplation until a knock at the door made him jump up in his chair; he had fallen asleep.
“I’m sorry to wake you, Steven,” the doctor said, Steven recognizing the soothing voice almost immediately. He heard her walk across the room, rubbing his shoulder again as she sat down next to him. He nodded slowly, wanting to say something but his voice caught in his throat when he realized that she had the results of the scan. He felt himself trembling, and the doctor noticed it too, rubbing her hand gently across his back. “The test results came in, and I have good news, but it’s coupled with some perplexing news. Luckily, the scans were all inconclusive; we didn’t find any tumors, nerve damage, or anything at all. Unfortunately, that means we don’t know why you’ve lost your sight. I’m going to assess the situation with some specialists, and we’ll figure out a course of action to take, ok?” She kept her hand on Steven, noticing the tears forming in his functionless eyes. “Now, until all the details and a few more examinations performed, there’s no guarantee of what exactly we’re going to do next. You gave the emergency personnel your father’s phone number, and he’s been alerted. In fact, he’s downstairs right now filling out your discharge papers because you’re going home with him. We’re going to try to get you all the assistance you need until we figure out what’s going on, ok?”
Steven nodded, thanking the doctor for the help. He heard the nurse again in the hallway, right before feeling her hands helping him back into the wheelchair. On the walk toward the elevator, she stopped talking just long enough for Steven to ask her name and how old she was. Her name was Joan, and she was twenty-six. Steven swallowed hard, and continued to make small talk, trying to quell the uncertainty in a different way. When he heard his father’s voice, he knew what was about to happen.
“Are you faking it?” His father first spoke in the car, long after the hospital. They rode in silence for what felt like an eternity, but Steven still could not adequately tell the passage of time; every minute felt like hours and every hour, only a few minutes.
“No. I can’t see anything,” replied Steven, in a cold, almost distant voice. He swallowed hard, and felt himself blinking back tears as rapidly as he could. The admittance of his blindness caused more despair to well up inside him, but he desperately wanted to keep it at bay. He did not want to let his father see him cry. As he tried to compose himself, his father reached out and slapped him across the face. Steven let out a shriek, and began to sob: “Why did you hit me?”
“I had to be certain. Sorry.” His response was gruff and unapologetic, and Steven knew he still didn’t believe him; he also suspected that at some point, his father would try to disprove his condition again. There was no helping it, despite anything Steven would say: his father believed in empirical evidence in nearly everything Steven did, and would not be content until the tests performed by the hospital proved the blindness was real or that he had successfully gotten a confession out of his son. Steven knew that if he could see, he would notice that telltale sign of his father’s mind at work, with his jaw set forward in a rictus smirk and his nostrils flaring with each rhythmic breath. He said nothing the rest of the drive home.
Adjusting to his new sightless world proved to be easier than Steven expected after a few initial hurdles. He found himself enjoying the senses that remained more, requesting silk sheets from his mother and sitting in the dark of his room with noise-canceling headphones connected to an outdated mp3 player. He would do this for hours when not in therapy: the player on shuffle, running through his large catalogue of music. His father had agreed to a monthly music budget despite his no-nonsense attitude toward music in general; despite being a hard man, he knew his son needed something until the braille lessons progressed. Music was his sanctuary from the world of darkness, as his memory preserved the image of the world around him: the soft colors of spring became even more vibrant as he remembered them when he first could smell his mother’s lilacs blossoming in the warm breeze as he sit out on the deck. The scans had long since stop, and other than learning to read with his fingers instead of his eyes and learning to walk with a cane and a seeing-eye dog, Steven had little to do with the medical mystery that had unfolded. There were no signs of a tumor, he learned, and his optic nerves continued to function, even to continue to allow his eyes to dilate when exposed to light. Enough tests had been ran that the doctors attending him recognized that his lack of vision was legitimate, but, fearing as doctors often do, they perceived that it may be a symptom of a deeper psychological issue instead of physiological. This did nothing to help his issue with his father, a man who refused to believe in therapy and other “bullshit” as he eloquently put it one evening during dinner. Either Steven had a tumor or he was faking it for attention.
Steven, however, had come into his own in his sightless world. He was no longer the introverted homebody that he once was, even despite his blindness. The opposite had occurred, where he relished the time he spent walking outside with his seeing-eye dog, Chase, at the lead. The park seemed more vibrant and alive when he perceived it through his other senses. He had reconnected with old acquaintances, with whom he had no real contact with since his days at college. During one particular outing, he had run into the nurse who he had met during his initial hospital visit, right after he had lost his sight.
The relationship between the two blossomed from coffee meetings and walks through the park into an actual romance. Steven found that his blindness had eased his anxiety in dealing with others, calmed the words of fear that echoed through his head during conversations. His thoughts became much easier, and he was able to accept Joan easier without seeing her with his eyes: his hands conferred that she was beautiful and soft, and her voice calmed him in ways he never had experienced. He felt an innate connection to her, like he truly understood her.
These feelings of ease and comfort still spread a darkness through his thoughts, deep into the recesses of his mind that psychoanalysis were attempting to tap into. He knew it when he woke from fitful sleep in the middle of the night; he knew his new fear the bred through his thoughts at night and had begun to poison his waking mind. He feared that if he had regained his sight, that connection to Joan, and ultimately to the world, would fade. The words of doctors, meant to be encouraging, cut through his mind like a knife. It began to burden him, burden his recollections of the world around him; colors drained from flowers, kind voices became condescending, and even Joan seemed distant and away. He could not escape it, which meant that the day his eyesight inexplicably returned was thought to be the worst day of life, even far worse that the day his eyesight disappeared.
He woke in the morning with an eye flutter, where he expected nothing but darkness. Instead, he saw the familiar paint scheme of his childhood bedroom, the light blue intensifying in the bright morning light. He gasped and closed his eyes before he quickly opened them again. The room was visible. He could plainly see the off-white of the paint on the walls, bathed in a cool glow of light from the morning light cascading in through the uncovered window. It was fuzzy at first, as he focused in and out on the meticulously organized albums lying in their milk crates. He blinked, rubbing his eyes furiously, as the room around him came in clearer and clearer focus. He felt nauseas and dizzy as his eyes adjusted; he stood up, and felt a rushing sensation in his head as his brain adjusted to the flood of new information. Silent tears fell down his cheeks. When his head cleared, Steven carefully picked his way downstairs without his cane, but with his seeing-eye dog carefully following him with a sense of concerned loyalty. The abundance of light caused his head to throb slightly with the beginning formation of a headache.
It was his mother who first noticed what was happening. Steven was not being led by either a cane or Chase: instead, the dog followed closely behind carrying a look of concern on his face, or as much as a dog’s face can betray a sense of concern. Steven moved effortlessly to the table, sat down, and stared into his mother’s eyes. She stifled a gasp, as he nodded slowly. He did not even want to utter the words that were flowing through his mind. He wanted to eat his breakfast in peace and quiet, to try and finish the abstract thoughts of the new evolution of his predicament that had been forming in his mind all morning.
The silence lasted a mere 30 seconds, before his mother began crying in happiness, rushing across the side of the table and embracing his head in an awkward hug. She began calling for Steven’s father, who soon entered from the garage: “What is it?”
“Steven got his sight back!” The words, finally articulated and out in the open for Steven to hear ripped through his chest like a gunshot. Was I happier with my sight gone, he thought, his mind racing as to what his father would say. His father stood in the door leading to the garage, rubbing his glasses with his shirt.
“Good. Should probably call up that doctor. They’ll probably want to run a few tests or something like that.” He turned in the doorway, and, as per usual, Steven could not read the emotion his father exhumed. “I have to get to work,” was all he said before closing the door. Steven and his mother could hear the car pulling slowly out of the driveway, honking good morning to one of the neighbors.
Steven excused himself back up to his room when his mother began to make a number of phone calls to friends and family. He could here snippets of her conversations carrying through the vents up to his old room. He rubbed the back of his hand against Chase’s back as the dog lay on the floor next to the bed. The thoughts that had been plaguing him all morning continued, drawing his mind in dizzying circles. Chase will probably be gone, he thought, still stroking the dog’s fur. He’s a Seeing Eye dog, and I don’t need him anymore. There’s probably some sort of waiting list, and someone on it needs him. He stifled back a sigh, as he heard his mother hang up the phone. She called up to him, and told him that he had an appointment scheduled for tomorrow. He did not respond, but his mother did not press the issue.
The rest of the morning was surprisingly difficult. Steven, while seeing at full function by his reckoning, was so used to being without sight that menial tasks took a tremendous amount of concentration to perform. He found himself tripping over his own feet as he walked, staring down at them so he could ensure that he moved the way he remembered seeing in the past. However, it was his depth perception that caused him the most confusion. He still walked with his hands outstretched, as his mind attempted to process the distance between himself and the objects around him. By lunchtime he had managed to get a somewhat competent grasp on his movement, and at that time, he knew he was supposed to meet Joan for lunch. He took Chase with him as a knot of fear crept into the pit of his stomach.
The daylight was brighter than he remembered it, the tyrant sun beating down upon the ground which caused Steven to remove the sunglasses from his pocket and put them on. He knew that he looked blind still, but the light was overwhelming. He was not prepared for it. As much as he was relieved to see the colors of the world around him again, he kept everything behind the shade of gray from the sunglasses. He grimaced, wishing his eyes would adjust faster back to normalcy so that he could attempt to enjoy the view on his walk, and try to take focus away from his anxiety. After walking for roughly ten minutes, eyes up and watching everything around him, he arrived at the small restaurant. He had never eaten there before losing his sight, but he remembered passing by it: the sight of the squat brick building on the corner of two busy streets, it’s outside area ringed in an iron fence. He felt Chase pulling him towards it excitedly. The dog pulled him towards a table occupied by a single young woman, who, predictably as Steven would have expected, had her back turned to him. He knew at once that this was Joan, but that feeling of fear intensified, as he realized he was now going to see her for the very first time.
She reacted immediately when Chase came and put his muzzle across her lap, wagging his tail at a frantic pace. She petted his head carefully, and looked around to see Steven walking towards the table, moving slowly but deliberately. Her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open as she noticed why he had let Chase run ahead of him. Steven sat down at the table across from her, and looked at her face for the first time. She reached her hands out to cradle his, rubbing the base of his thumb in comfort, while tears held in the corner of her eyes.
Neither sad anything for a long time, just looking at each other. Steven knew that Joan wanted him to say something first, but he could not bring himself to say anything as he studied her face, drawing in each detail to paint the whole picture of her as he knew it. There was a blank space on the canvas that he was busy filling in. He had already had a rough idea of what she looked like, based on what his fingers had told him shortly after their second date. After what felt like hours staring at each other, Steven finally uttered three simple words: “I can see.”
Joan’s reaction was sudden and expected from anyone who knew the emotional young woman. Her mouth, which at that point was already turned upwards in the corners, broke into a huge, joyful smile as the tears she was holding back cascaded down her cheeks as she reached her hand up to Steven’s face and traced her thumb on the top of his cheek. Steven instinctively reached his hand up to hers, and smiled as he looked into her eyes. At that point, he felt, deep down in his core, that things may actually work out. For the first time in his life, he felt positive going forward, and barely registered placing an order as he could not help himself from staring into Joan’s eyes.
The hollow MRI chamber was just as he remembered it as a child, sterile and confusing, but without the fear caused by the concussion. He stared up at the sterile white above him, as the machine hummed around him. He closed his eyes and let the humming grow in intensity until it felt like it was vibrating his brain, the magnets of the imaging machine sensing every thought, what few there were at that moment. This is what being Zen must feel like, he thought, before he realized that by acknowledging the moment, it had passed and filled his mind with a thousand thoughts that branched off of the trunk of Zen that his mind had created. He stifled a short laugh, feeling an immense grin cover his face as his initial thought of the machine reading his mind as well as scanning his brain crept back. He thought of the technicians standing behind the glass laughing at the absurdity of his thoughts about Zen. His optimism was startling, and could not help but continue smiling after his doctor continued to tell him that it was still a mystery as to why he had lost and then regained his eyesight.
His parents agreed that the transformation after the blindness was profound and unseen. Joan could not comment on the issue, because she only knew him as the blind patient in the throes of despair immediately after the affliction began, or the sweet, gentle man who she had begun seeing following his affliction. Steven returned to the workforce, his years of depression melting away. He did not particularly enjoy his job, but he viewed it as necessary, working in a distribution warehouse. He had a grip back on reality, but his new optimism was no longer lingering. It had faltered and begun to fade with each passing day, as he slipped back into reality with everyone else. He once again began to withdraw from the world around him, and almost as quickly as his newfound happiness arrived, it seemed to fade.
The grey, late winter sky reflected the light of the ice and snow that covered every inch of the ground, but without the sun, it just added a faint, somber glow to the world outside of Steven’s bedroom. He had the shades drown, letting barely any of the ambient, natural light of the outside world in. He was lying across the width of his bed, his legs standing up against the wall as his head hung upside down. His eyes were shut tightly, listening to the sound of his telephone ring. He had refused to answer it in several days, and knew that it was his parents, Joan, or his supervisor. He did not care, and that listless energy carried itself through the entire apartment. A few weeks ago, the trash was cleaned up, and the kitchen was full of food; he had given up on both shopping and cleaning, and the empty takeout boxes were a timeline of his despair. It had been months in the making, shortly after his sight had returned, he had lost his way again, brooding for a time like he had before his temporary blindness. He perceived that as the future, the cyclical nature of his existence had become very clear to him. But his vision remained unchanged through his descent back into his depressive state.
He did not change his position on his bed until he felt that all the blood had successfully rushed to his head and he felt dizzy. He turned his body and sat up, and his vision blurred as if a fine grey mist had crept into it. He heart leaped into his throat as he stood up and walked deftly to the kitchen, reaching his hand out towards his phone and pressing the speed dial. It rang only once before he heard Joan’s voice call out his name frantically, just as the blurriness faded and he saw everything clearly around him again. She kept repeating his name, but he did not reply, just simply hung up his cell phone and placed back in the same spot. He drummed his fingers impatiently before walking out of the apartment and down to the mailbox.
He held the brown cardboard box in his hands as he stood in front of the mirror in his bathroom, studying his eyes carefully. He switched the light on with the back of his hand, never breaking eye contact with himself as he inched his face closer to the mirror. He looked into the black of his pupil, past the hazel of his iris and into the nothingness at the center of his eye. He knew that was the answer to the puzzle he had been turning through his head recently. He had the answer. It had finally arrived in the brown cardboard box, carrying the stamp of a medical supply company. He began to open it, just barely breaking eye contact with himself, before setting the sterile sleeve off to the side. He opened the nearest drawer, removing a vial of liquid and a small syringe. He carefully filled the syringe with the liquid, tapping the needle carefully and squirting out a bit of liquid to remove the air bubbles, just like he had seen Joan multiple times before. He drew a deep breath, staring back into his eyes after he filled the syringe. He slowly brought his hand towards his eye, grasping the syringe with a sense of grim determination. He paused, before sliding the tip of the needle into his tear duct and sent the liquid into his eye. It was almost immediate. His eyelid dropped slightly as all feeling left his right eye. He quickly moved the syringe to the left and ejected the rest of the liquid within, experiencing the same feeling. His eyes felt strange, mainly numb, like he had taken for granted that he had felt his eyes his entire life until now. He ripped open the sterile packaging and felt the handle of the scalpel, the cold metal causing his reluctance to send Goosebumps up his arms. He paused, staring at the instrument through numb eyes. He knew this was the only way. He had seen it as the only return to normalcy after he had regained his sight the few months before. He knew it was the only. He carefully placed the scalpel on his eye. He felt nothing but pressure before the darkness returned.