by Tony Domaille
The darkness is crushing. It isn’t so much the total absence of light that weighs so heavily upon me. It’s that I can hear, feel, taste and touch everything around me but see nothing. There are no shapes, no shadows. When I hear a sound, I turn my head towards it but see nothing.
It is hard to remember when I had sight, though the pictures still run in my head. I wonder if it is worse to never have had sight or to have had it and lost it. What pictures do the blind from birth have in their heads? Do they have pictures at all? Do they miss what I miss?
I hear the rustle of clothing as someone moves towards me and cannot stop the instinct to turn my head to what I cannot see.
‘How are you feeling?’ Her voice is even and without concern.
‘I’m okay,’ I lie.
I can smell her perfume and I feel the starchiness of her uniform brush against my arm. Then she is touching the bandages that are wrapped around my head.
‘These still look like they’re doing the job,’ she says. ‘No need to change them. Maybe you can have them removed tomorrow.’
‘Really?’ I say.
She laughs. ‘It’s amazing, isn’t it? Ground breaking surgery, and yet we still use bandages much the same as Florence Nightingale might have done.’
She’s right. Calling the procedure ground breaking doesn’t really do it justice. I imagine I look like some casualty from the Crimean war, yet the history I am part of making is very much twenty-first century. No one thought it would ever be possible, but it is. The whole idea of being able to see through someone else’s eyes was the stuff of science fiction until today, but now the first eye transplant surgery has been performed.
She takes my pulse and I know it is high. The pain is starting to build again, and I ask her, ‘Can I have more morphine?’
She sighs. Somehow, I know she is nodding and then I feel a slight pressure with the cannula that is fitted to my arm as she adjusts the dose. It is only seconds before I feel the drug begin to take effect and I say, ‘Thank you.’
‘The pain will go eventually,’ she says, but once again her voice is matter of fact rather than caring.
I lay back on the bed and let the relief run through me. The pain subsides quickly and I feel a strange euphoria. The pictures run in my head again and, as I feel myself falling into sleep, I wonder what it will be like when the bandages are gone.
When I dream I have sight. The euphoria the morphine brought me feels like nothing compared to the joy of this. I keep my eyes wide open in my dreams and consciously avoid blinking. I don’t want to miss a nanosecond of what I can see. I know I am dreaming, but it doesn’t matter. Surely when you have vision it shouldn’t matter whether it is real or not; only that you can see at all. And I can. I see those I love and those who love me. I see the places I have been and the sights that have astounded me. I also see sights that I once would have taken for granted, but now appreciate for their remarkable complexity of colours and shapes and light and shade.
I always run in the dream. I run towards all things that I know I cannot see in real life. And it doesn’t matter whether those things are good or bad. When you are blind you miss every sight, whatever it may be.
I hear a voice calling me. At first, I think it is part of the dream and then I realise it isn’t. I feel an almost physical wrench as I know the voice will pull me from my sighted dream.
‘Alan, wake up now.’ It is the even voice of the nurse again. ‘Wake up. It’s time,’ she says.
‘How long was I sleeping?’ I ask.
Her hands are on my bandages and she says, ‘Twenty hours.’
Her perfume fills my head as the dream vanishes and I cannot fathom how so much time felt so little.
‘I’m going remove your bandages,’ she tells me, and I feel the pressure around my head immediately ease as she begins to unravel them.
‘A big day,’ Alan, says another voice and I know it is him. The doctor who did the surgery.
‘For me or for you?’ I say.
He laughs. ‘Definitely both of us, wouldn’t you say? Your life is changing beyond all recognition, and I…’ I interrupt him and tell him his fortune.
‘And you will become famous for being the first doctor to ever complete a double eye transplant.’
I feel the last of the bandages fall away and know there are only the two sterile pads that remain to be removed. Once they are gone my new life begins.
The nurse’s perfume fades as she moves back, and he moves in. He touches around my forehead and cheek bones, around the edges of the pads. ‘All as we would have hoped,’ he says. ‘Are you ready?’
I nod my head and he peels at the tape that holds the pads. Then, one by one, he removes them, and I feel the temperature change around my eye lids.
‘There,’ he says, stepping back. ‘I’ll get the nurse to wipe away some of the stickiness that is keeping your eyelashes together, but otherwise you are done. How do you feel?’
I start to cry as the full enormity of the situation hits me.
‘Oh, come on, Alan’ says the doctor. ‘No tears, please. You got what you wanted. A quarter of a million pounds is a lot of money.’ He puts a hand on my shoulder. ‘And it’s not just me who is going to be famous; you are the world’s first eye donor.’
About the author
Tony has written a number of award-winning plays, published by Lazy Bee Scripts and Pint Sized Plays, that have been performed across the world. He has also had many stories published in anthologies and magazines. You can follow him here -https://www.facebook.com/tonydomaillewriting/