The 7 Stages of Having Something in Your Eye

1. Hopeful blinking

Something is not right. You absentmindedly blink, a subconscious attempt to avoid the coming battle.

2. Nervous rubbing

You’re still hopeful, but now there is an undercurrent of fear. This could be more than a momentary discomfort. You massage your eye socket with grubby desperate fingers, hoping to dislodge the debris.

3. Seeking a Second Opinion

Maybe you’re imagining this. It could all be in your head. Better ask Steve. But when he says he doesn’t see anything, it’s not relief you feel. It’s despair. There is something there. You just know it.

4. Splashing water

Sweet water, the elixir of life, from whence all existence came. You duck into the office bathroom and douse your whole face over the sink. Fighting every instinct, you strain to keep your eyelid retracted as you toss handfuls of water at your poor eyeball.

5. Mirror Inspection

After your impromptu shower, you turn off the water and slowly raise your head to look in the mirror. Can that really be my face? you think. It drips at the nose and chin. Your hairline is matted and wet. And one eye is ringed by red skin irritated from the rubbing. Fighting disgust, you lean in closer, focusing on the battered eye, searching for something you hope is now gone.

You see the abyss of your pupil, the fractalized hues of your iris, and the white, now shattered with tiny capillaries. You see nothing that is not a part of you.

But you feel it. It’s still in there.

6. Repeat Steps 2–5

By now, you are questioning your every perception. Maybe there’s nothing there. Maybe this is a psychosomatic response to stress at home. Maybe you don’t even have eyeballs and this is all some feverish nightmare. But you’re not ready to admit defeat. Not yet.

7. Acceptance

Now you’re ready. At some point you have to get on with your life. This is your new reality. You dab the water from your cheeks, still gazing in the mirror at a face you don’t know. Gingerly, you close the eye. It’s a lost cause, and you its doomed servant.

You leave the bathroom and stumble back to your desk. You can work without depth perception. Maybe you’ll get a stylish eyepatch.

Writer, musician, improvisor, recovering pessimist.

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