Antimetropia {flash nonfiction}

monocle

Antimetropia

When my younger brother got glasses for the first time, I pitied him. The glasses looked so silly on his first-grade face, too big. They had zigzag, glow-in-the-dark lines along the sides and he thought they were cool. I didn’t.

My freshman year of high school I worried that my eyes were slowly going blind. Words blurred, lights smeared, and I couldn’t read the digital clock in the kitchen from the couch anymore. Entropy, it seemed, would serve fate on a silver platter and I wouldn’t even be able to see it coming. The future depended upon my ability to counteract the inevitable, so I went to see the optometrist.

After submitting myself to the air-puff retina photography machine, and a tedious game of lens-swapping—1 or 2, 3 or 4, 5 or 6—I sat in an office awaiting my verdict. Guilty. It had to be guilty. Poetic justice for thinking my brother looked dorky when we were both in elementary school. Dorkdom called and they want you to come to lunch. I sat on the sticky teal examination table and closed my eyes in resignation.

“You have an unusual pair of eyes, did you know that?” the optometrist said, straightening the papers in her file.

“I do?”

“You have one near-sighted eye and one far-sighted eye, a condition called antimetropia.”

“Is that bad?” An image of having to carry around two monocles filled me with dread.

“In your case, no. You have a very light case of antimetropia. Some people have operations done on their eyes so they have what you have naturally.”

“Really?”

“Your eyes compensate for one another. That’s probably why you didn’t notice much until high school. You don’t have to have glasses, but they will help you see more clearly. You will need two pairs of glasses, one for near activities, like reading books or using the computer, and one for far activities, like driving or reading the board in class.”

There it was. My sentence. Not to merely be a four-eyes, but to be a six-eyes.

When my younger brother saw me wearing glasses for the first time he smiled. I think he guessed at my secret pride and reveled in my newfound humility.

“Nice glasses,” he said. His sarcasm tasted like strawberry lemonade, sweet and biting.

“Nice glasses-es,” I corrected him, pulling the second pair from my pocket.

“I’m so grateful you won’t be bumping into the walls at night anymore.”

“Me too,” I said.

“It’s about time you saw the light.”

Yeah, I thought. About time.

-M.M.

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