Amy Shearn
The Optometrist
New Prose From the USA
 
 
      The optometrist’s daughter has a name like Lou and pupils of extraordinary girth. Never need to dilate that one he tells me chuckling. Then he gets serious. She dreams of astronauts he tells me. Alright I say. Me, I’d rather hear about my eyes, my own luscious corneas. Why won’t the optometrist hold me the way I want to be held? Why won’t he say what I want to hear, that darling darling the greens of your iris are matched only by the gold, which is to say, are unmatchable?
      But he continues with the exam, waving around a tongue depressor. He flips down the next set of lenses, glass clinking somewhere within the iron goggles I lean into. I see the wall chart in excruciating detail. My vision is perfect, better than his. We revel in my excellent optic health. Lou he says has this dream where she is on a spaceship watching a fellow astronaut dangling out there, attached by one of those long ropey things. A cord I say. Yes he agrees a cord. TPEOF, the chart says. He adjusts the lenses. LUV U, the chart says. Um I say. Something’s funny with the chart but unstopping he reaches his long spice-scented fingers. Anyways so Lou tells me that she’s watching and all of a sudden the cord snaps and the astronaut begins to float off into space. FUCK ME, the chart sputters inarticulately. Better? asks the optometrist. The astronaut knows what’s happening but he tries to do a funny dance, to make light of it you know, he clicks his heels and shakes his hands around. I am driven mad by desires I tell him. Is that so? he continues so the astronaut dances around and makes her laugh and than she notices a few tears rolling around in his helmet, steaming the thing up until she can’t see his face and he just floats away. Lou is six years old, twenty-twenty. How about that?! says the optometrist, releasing a small chart just in front of the lenses. Do you see the picture he asks me. Sure I say an astronaut floating off into space. He just laughs and says well, it’s supposed to be a sunny field but what the hell.
      Now the goggles inch away on their mechanical arm, folding up close to the corner of the room. I am embarrassed here in the small dark. Now just look over my shoulder he says leaning in close so close. This is the best part every time. He shines the light directly into my eyes and I see only darkness then only his ear. Alrighty he says stay with me here but I can’t help it the light hot in my eye as he shrinks, floating away, my cord severed.