There is something wrong with my eyes. Everything seems blurry, like I've forgotten to rub the sleep out of them, or I've left my contacts in too long, or I'm battling ragweed. Except I did rub it out, and I don't wear contacts (at least, not anymore), and I don't have allergies.
Allergies. I used to cluck my tongue at my husband when he'd start rubbing his nose in April and sneezing in May and walking around with watery eyes until October. Good God, I'd say, can't you take a pill or something?
I keep my pills in one of those plastic cases, on my nightstand. It has letters for the days of the week across the lids, one row for morning, one for evening. The mornings are so full that the lids no longer close. I laughed when my doctor first suggested it. Those are for old people! I said. I think I can keep a few pills straight! I said. The alarm goes off at 9 a.m., and again at 6 p.m. It's one of those high pitched, intermittent buzzes, but in my head it screams, Take your damned pills! Take your damned pills! My daughter always comes in after the alarm goes off to make sure I've taken the pills, and taken the right ones. Like I can't figure it out.
You mess up one time and all of a sudden, people think you're a fool.
I spent years bent over the desks of children, making sense of the numbers they'd scrawled on the papers in front of them. Picture it in your head! I'd say, but most of them couldn't see it the way I did. Most of them didn't see the numbers stretch out on a coil, wrapping around each other, spinning and dancing in space. Math was like music for me, I could positively hear equations being solved! I tried to teach those children, and my own, but too often got nothing but blank stares in return.
My children still look at me like that, sometimes. Sometimes I will catch them staring with furrowed brows and sad smiles. What was that, Mom? My son said to me this morning, wearing that face. I'd said nothing, and told him so. He squeezed my hand and kissed my forehead and left the room.
What the hell was that all about?
When I first started taking all those pills, I drove myself to and from the doctor. Then one Sunday after church, they all cornered me in the living room and accused me of keeping information from them. I hadn't not told them anything, as far as I could remember. But they didn't let me go alone after that. Then there was the business with the car. I've always been an excellent driver, anyone would tell you that. But the girls were worried, and I guess didn't want me busted by the fuzz for driving while hopped up on pills. I've never been arrested, and it sounds like something everyone should do once, but I kind of understood. Plus, that was right around the time I was getting tired, and who doesn't want to be chaffeured around like Miss Daisy, or Beyonce?
Now they have a nurse come to me, which is just fine. She comes in and calls me Mrs., and rubs my feet with lotion, and refills my box of pills. It's quite fancy, actually. One time, my husband paid for a woman to come and give me a massage at our house. She brought a fold up table and warm blankets and even a CD of what sounded like whales, or Taylor Swift. I don't remember exactly. I was a little nervous at first, because she did it in the living room, and the oversized photo of my children when they were just little ones was staring at me from the mantle. They hadn't seen me naked since they were about that age, and here I was having some strange woman rub me down in the middle of the house. It's not like we were having sex or anything, but still. It was kind of weird.
About two minutes into the massage, I totally forgot about the picture, and the fact that I was naked in my living room at noon on a Tuesday, not having sex. I melted under her hands, under the warm blanket, the sound of Taylor/whale songs in my ears. When she was done, I pointed to a check on the table, stumbled the seventeen steps to my bedroom, and slept for the next twelve hours.
The home nurse isn't quite that good, but she rubs my feet and hums, which is nice.
I haven't told her about my eyes, either.
I gave up contacts long ago, when they started scratching my eyeballs like sandpaper. You have very dry eyes, the doctor said. A thirty dollar copay for Mr. Smart Guy to tell me what I knew before I left the house. So I started wearing the glasses again; wore them until they started hurting behind my ears and I had to wear them perched on the tip of my nose, arms pointing straight up. You look like a bird, my husband said. I showed him a bird, the one located between my index and ring fingers.
I wore them to watch my favorite television programs and read my books, even when I started forgetting what was happening on the shows, and reading the same page two or three times. I wore them until there was nothing left to see, then I sat them on my nightstand next to the pill box.
When I noticed somethng was wrong with my eyes, I put them back on. Nothing changed, so I took them back off. I got nose to nose with myself in a hand mirror and looked for a long time at my eyeballs.
They say that the eyes are the windows to the soul, but I am telling you - I looked for an awfully long time, and all I saw were the tired eyes of an old woman.
And I am tired. I am tired of doctors and sad smiles and foot rubs and I am tired of that damned pill box. So I won't tell them that there is something wrong with my eyes, because I am too tired to do anything about it.
I think I'll just close them for awhile, instead.