Times Before Lockdown #5

My doctors think they know all they need to know.  

But I’ve pulled the wool over their eyes. They think I have something called ‘anton syndrome’, you see. They whisper the medical phrase to my relatives, who stand just outside my hospital door talking about me… next I should complain that I can’t hear anything, or rather that I can hear everything, from dust motes settling on the shutters to the electricity in the walls. Lucy came today. She doesn’t hang out in the hall with the others. She sits on a chair in the corner of my private shuttlecock room. She’s like a hologram, a frozen Harrison Ford, who, whenever she comes to life, animates that right-hand corner of the room. I won’t go into the details as to how I lost my sight. It’s rather boring. Anyway, there are bigger and more important things going on. Outside my window, for example, the crowd are making themselves heard – they’re on the campaign march and they’re singing for ‘Stop the War!’. “We’ll give no more brave young lives… Bring ‘em home, bring ‘em home, bring ‘em home… For the gleam in someone’s eyes… Bring ‘em home, bring ‘em home.” They’ve barely got their boots on though. I smile to myself as I hear the song being drowned-out by other random chants: “Chicken Hawk Two, Off you Goo,” “Son of a Bush!”, and the less imaginative “Liar, Liar, Liar!”

‘Anton syndrome’ – when you’re blind, most definitely blind, but you think you’re not. Sometimes, you’ll complain that it’s too dark! – “Turn that light on!” Sometimes, however, and this is what I’ve elected for – for the more extreme version – you’ll claim that you can see with perfect clarity no matter what. I’m faking it. I know I’m blind. The real thing is probably more of a self-induced hallucination than an eye-tumour. As I’m faking the real thing, this probably means that I’ll have to be careful. No doubt there are doctors out there who fancy themselves something clever and want to open up their chemistry sets, have a look inside my brain, and see what they can do. While I don’t want them slipping into my head and making my machine more useless than it already is… there’s also my imagination to consider. I’ve a good imagination. If I don’t use it, then what’s the point of the machine? I’m a natural liar. I told tiny lies as a child just for the fun of keeping track of them. Admittedly this one might not be an innocent lie – I’m sure the doctor’s time is very valuable, and, more to the point I suppose, I’m sure my family are very concerned about the thought of me living with this condition. Then again, they’d be concerned either way, and I’d go insane if I wasn’t doing something. I sound unsympathetic. That’s because not many people understand just how blind I really am. When I open my eyes I feel my muscles working out wide as if to prise open an immoveable lid. It’s scary. It’s worse than that. It’s the feeling of being vulnerable to the dreadful world; it’s straining to look inside your own head over and over again; it’s really coming to know that some people are special.

Lucy has come back into the room. Her features solidify as she checks in to see me, clear as day, clear as if I really did have ‘anton syndrome’. She starts talking to me and asking me how I am and have I seen the news (whoops) had I heard the news? “The doctors say you can’t see, remember?” There’s a tremor in her voice that makes me feel guilty for having asked the question which had prompted her question, but I’ll never give the game away. Sure, I’d tell her if I trusted her not to tell doctors that I was just a boring old blind boy. They’re the ones I’m really trying to get to. They’re the ones I’d like to keep tormenting like I did yesterday when I asked the doctor if he wouldn’t pass me the magazine peeking out my rucksack. He hadn’t replied, which made me wonder if I’d have gotten away with asking more specifically for my Hooters mag. Next, I’m planning to ask them whether they couldn’t convince me – just “show” me – that I couldn’t really see. Much fun to be had. Lucy was talking to them now, so that game would soon begin. The world down below my window was still going mad. People were still chanting in the streets. I turned over in my bed and carefully brought my i-pod up to my face as if I could see it. I smiled as the song came on, wishing they could all hear it too, as Toby Keith said that he wanted my mother, my brother, my sister and me, to grow up and live happy in the land of the free.

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