Saturday, February 15, 2014

Icon “C”

By Susan

Elliot was on his way home. It would have been an understatement to say that he was in a good mood. He was in high spirits. He could have embraced the whole world. Within the next three weeks his most ardent desire would come true at last.

Today was Friday afternoon, and was a warm and sunny day. Actually it was the longest day in the year because it was summer solstice. He would take his girlfriend out to a dinner tonight to the Atlantic Point, the most elegant restaurant in town. They would sit outside and enjoy the magnificent view over the ocean and the sun plunging in the water as a big red ball. It would be time to let her into a secret that he had been carrying around with him for about a week. And it would be time to carry out a plan that he had borne in mind for months. This was a secret, which he could never tell her though it was mostly the reason for his effusive joy. She must never find out the truth.


After lunch break today Meg had arrived in his office. She was his assistant and had started working for him well over a year ago. She was in her mid-twenties but very much a professional in her job. Because of the recent hot weather she was wearing a daringly low-cut blouse and a mini-skirt. The colour of her lipstick matched the colour of her blouse perfectly. As she was standing in front of him, with her long blonde hair hugging the frame of her strong glasses and her soft cheeks, and flowing down over her shoulder, he wondered why he had not wanted to have a sexual affair with her. Admittedly, she was engaged to that guy who worked in the new graphics and design studio five kilometers down the road, but he had also noticed that she had scrutinized him with a lascivious smile in moments when she believed he was not looking. He loved that look. Meg was a real temptation.

When Elliot had started his surgery, a year and a month ago, after the bank had finally consented to giving him the necessary loan because he had been able to persuade them that he would earn good money and would be able to pay it back easily, he had advertised for an assistant. As he did not expect too many patients during the early stage, he planned to start with one assistant. Later, when business was improving as planned, he would employ several assistants and perhaps a second specialist. His surgery was laid out for that size at least.

He had received eleven letters of application. All the applicants had sent perfect applications and had perfect qualifications. So he studied their photos. Three of them were wearing glasses in the photos they had enclosed. He was sure that the others did not all have perfect eyesight but they were certainly wearing contact lenses. They were not interesting for him. He only invited the three glasses wearers.

Sandra was very tall and spoke with a terrible accent. She did not look too bad, however, and appeared to be a friendly person. And, what he thought very attractive: her glasses looked fairly strong. He asked her for her prescription – not an unusual question for him – and it was -8.50 D and -9.50 D. Not bad, he thought, but that accent was just too much. He decided to wait with his decision till he had seen the others. Perhaps he could convince her that she had to give up that accent.

Next came Diana. The moment she came in he knew that she would not get the job. From the photo he had thought that she had something unapproachable about her. But photos can lie. Her answers came so curt that he knew that this girl was not the type of assistant that he needed. The patients would be afraid of her or at least think her unfriendly. Just for the sake of completeness, and natural curiosity, of course, he asked her for her prescription, too, and she said, “About -4 D in both eyes but loads of diopters in addition for astigmatism. About -6 D, to be honest.” He had seen that from her glasses. Unfortunately he had to tell her “Don’t call me, I’ll call you.”

Then things developed unexpectedly well. He had already considered inviting some of the other applicants or advertising once more, if the third applicant should prove just as impossible. But then Meg came to the interview, and before asking her a lot of questions he knew intuitively that it was her and nobody else but her. Her looks were good though she was not made for the catwalk. Her manners were decent, not too shy and not too insistent. An aura of friendliness and attractiveness surrounded her. He did not forget to ask her the invariable question, and the answer was -12.50 D in both eyes. What more could he ask. He gave her the job there and then. And it proved to be a good decision.

Today, however, when she had appeared after lunch break, she had given him a somewhat depressed impression. He could see that something was wrong but she did not seem to dare to tell him what it was. She looked sadly at him. And how sexy she appeared. Still he was determined not to make any advances. First of all, it was nothing new that sex and the job did not go together, and second, he loved his own girlfriend too much to be unfaithful to her. Though there was one thing he would have liked to change.

To make it easier for her, he asked her jokingly, “What’s wrong, Meg? Has your convertible had a puncture?” 
She smiled a little. Her red Mercedes convertible was something that she was really proud of. It had cost her a considerable sum of money though it was a second-hand car. But she thought that had been worth it.
“No,” she answered. “That’s OK. It’s just that Greg’s boss told him today that after they have finished their big project now, the company has a gap and cannot start the next project before mid-July. So it will be best for him to take his annual holiday now.” 
Greg was Meg’s fiancé and they often met during lunch break.
“And you and I have agreed,” Elliot said, “that you take your holiday in September.“ 
“Yes, it’s so awkward,” she replied. 

Suddenly Elliot had a flash of inspiration. Yes, that was it. His heart started pounding when he became aware of the chance that was opening up before him.

He smiled at Meg and said, “Do you know what? You know that we have only scheduled a few patients right now. The weather is just too good and everybody wants to go on holiday instead of hanging around here. I think we can postpone them all. Then you can have your holiday. And don’t I deserve one, too?”

She looked at him incredulously and then she did something that she had never done before. She flung her arms around his neck and said, “You are a treasure! Thank you so much!”
She wanted to pull out her mobile phone and ring up Greg immediately, but Elliot had to stop her. First they had to make sure they could really postpone their patients.

It took him twelve phone calls, and contrary to all expectations, two patients proved to be rather persistent and did not want to give up the dates that they had been promised. But finally Elliot managed to convince them that a later date would be best for everybody. He and Meg tidied up everything, wrote out all the bills that could be done at short notice, closed the shutters and activated the alarm before they left, half an hour early.

So Elliot was a decisive step nearer his aim now. When he had started dating girls in his school days, he had observed that he preferred girls with glasses. Some of his friends said they did not want handicapped girlfriends. Others just thought girls with glasses did not look good. But Elliot could not get rid of the idea of marrying a girl with glasses one day. However, none of those glasses-wearing girls at school that he would have liked to go steady with were interested in him for a long time.

At university things were different. Among his female fellow students many wore glasses or at least contact lenses. There really seemed to be a connection between higher education and wearing glasses though he himself had perfect eyesight and did not need glasses. He studied to be a doctor and specialized in ophthalmology. By the time he graduated he had had a number of affairs with other students and in one case even with the wife of one of his professors: all glasses wearers. But he had not found the one woman that he was looking for.

Finally, much to his surprise, he fell in love with a woman who was the exact opposite of what he had been looking for all the time. She had perfect eyesight, even better than his own. Pattie’s visual acuity was more than 110 %. She was 28 and there was no chance of her needing any glasses for the next 20 years, except for reading glasses one day.

Elliot was in a real dilemma. Pattie was the woman he loved and ironically the only “defect” that she had, in his opinion, was her perfect eyesight. Should he go on looking for a shortsighted woman or should he put up with the most wonderful woman he had found?

When he had finished his time at the hospital and acquired a number of additional qualifications he began to put his other big plan into reality: his own little clinic that offered special eye treatment and eye surgery after accidents or in other difficult cases, with out-patients and in-patients. Now he was on the verge of making it big. Only recently had he signed a lucrative contract with “Lens & Amp; Tech Ltd.”, a company that distributed intraocular lens implants and lens injection systems. Within the next few years he would expand his clinic and earn a lot of money.

Elliot arrived at home, took a shower and put on his best summer suit. He phoned Pattie and told her that he had a surprise for her, that they would go out tonight and that he had to tell her something. He went to the Flower Place and bought her a beautiful bouquet of flowers before he picked her up at seven. On their way to the Atlantic Point she tried to convince him to betray his secret. But he remained steadfast.

They watched a magnificent sunset from their table. The oysters and Chablis tasted wonderful, and after dessert Elliot told Pattie at last what his secret was. He had found a superbly situated mansion with a beautiful view over a tiny sandy bay, an even better view than the Atlantic Point could boast. In secret, Pattie had been waiting for this proposal. Elliot had detected that wish in some remarks of hers a while ago. So now he asked her officially if she would like to marry him. And how much she did.

Pattie was overwhelmed. She did the same thing that Meg had done nine hours earlier. She flung her arms around Elliot’s neck and said, “You are a treasure!” She gave him a kiss in front of all the people, who had become aware of them and who met Pattie’s kiss with applause. Pattie blushed, but then she gave Elliot another kiss before they paid the waiter and left.

Out in the car park it was darker than in the restaurant garden. Pattie was already sitting in the car when Elliot suddenly remembered something. He apologized to Pattie because he had to get out once more in order to fetch something from the boot. In the boot he turned a switch slowly so that Pattie could not hear the sound of ether pouring out of a valve that Elliot had fixed under the cover of her headrest.

Within seconds Pattie sank down in her seat, unconscious. When Elliot rushed to Pattie’s door he was wearing a special surgical mask that prevented him from inhaling any ether while he was giving Pattie an injection that would keep her unconscious for about an hour. What he was going to do now would not take very long anyway.

Being aware that he was now getting to the delicate part of the plan that he had conceived in many a restless night, he was almost going into ecstasies. He ran over to the driver’s side because now he had to be quick. He jumped into his car and drove north as fast as possible. Still he obeyed traffic regulations on the ring road because what he did not need now was a road accident or a police check. But as soon as he had left the ring road, he started speeding because it was all a race against time. By now the sky had turned completely dark.

After eighteen minutes he saw the sign “Dr. E. Lane, Ophthalmologic Clinic, Out-Patient and In-Patient Treatments”. He turned right and a moment later he stopped in front of the clinic. He switched off the alarm by radio control, got out of his car quickly, unlocked and opened the side door and came back to carry Pattie in. In his OR he laid her on the operating table. Then he walked back to the door and locked it.

First Elliot took Pattie’s pulse. It was regular. Then he prepared the syringe with the injection. Finally he pushed Pattie’s left eyelid up and fixed it professionally. Her eye did not move. Elliot seized the syringe and injected a solution into the inner lens of Pattie’s left eye. After eight minutes he had finished both her eyes. The injection would make the protein molecules in Patties eye lenses coagulate slowly within the next two hours.

Elliot ran to the side door again, opened it slightly and peered out. Nobody was to be seen. Not at that time of day. He took Pattie back to the car and drove to Pattie’s condo, where he arrived exactly 49 minutes after he had made Pattie inhale the ether. Now he gave her another injection to wake her up.

Pattie opened her eyes a little and said: “Are we already there?” 
Elliot answered: “Yes, you nodded off right when we were in the car. Must have been a hard day for you.” 
Pattie wanted to get out of the car but felt too weak on her legs. Elliot helped her out. 
“I’m so dizzy and drowsy,” she complained. 
“But you only drank two glasses of wine,” Elliot replied. 
And she went on, “I can’t understand what’s wrong with me.” 
“I’ll take you to bed,” he offered.

He took her arm and walked her into the house and into her apartment. There he made her sit on the edge of her bed. As he switched on the big lamp, he could see Pattie open her eyes wide, then squint and then open them wide again. 

Then she said: “Something is wrong with my eyes. Everything is in a haze.” 
Elliot came over to her, sat down beside her, put her arm round her neck, pulled her cheek to his, and said: “You are pretty tired tonight, aren’t you? Have a good night’s sleep and tomorrow will be a better day.”

Elliot stayed for the night, as had been his original plan

By the time Pattie and Elliot awoke in the morning all the effects of the anesthetic was gone and at the same time the coagulation of the protein molecules in Pattie’s eye lenses was increasing. She tried to look at her watch and could not see the figures. The haze was turning into a fog. Pattie got into a panic.

“Elliot, I’m going blind,” she cried. “I can’t recognize anything. Help me. Pleeeease!” 
She burst out crying and he embraced her and pressed her against his chest. He knew that there was nothing he could do. The process was irreversible. He had destroyed the lenses in Pattie’s eyes.

“Pattie, I can’t do anything here. We’ll have to go to the clinic where I have all the necessary equipment. Come on, we’ll go there as fast as possible,” he said. 
She was unable to walk alone, so Elliot took her arm and helped her into the car.

Another hour had passed when they arrived at the clinic. First he asked her to look at the wall straight in front of her and to tell him what she could see. She could not recognize anything. The only thing she could distinguish was a lighter blur when she looked at the lamps above her and a darker blur when she looked at the far end of the room.

He made her sit behind his various optical appliances and checked both her eyes. What he saw satisfied him deeply. 

What he told her was: “Pattie, I don’t know how to tell you. This is a severe thing. All symptoms indicate that a virus is destroying your eye lenses.” Pattie started crying again. “So I am blind,” she sobbed.

Elliot walked around to her, led her to the operation table and made her lie down. Then he leant over her. His cheek touched her cheek. 
He kissed her and said: “There is some hope. Do you remember that I told you about this company called “Lens & Amp; Tech Ltd.” some time ago. They produce artificial lenses that can replace natural lenses that have defects. There is just this problem: your eyes have some very peculiar characteristics, and I don’t know...” He did not finish the sentence, as if he did not believe himself that he could help her at all.

Pattie stayed silent. She was so shocked that she was not able to think clearly. Then all of a sudden she said in a resigning voice: “So you can’t help me?” 
Elliot answered: “You will be able to see. It’s just that your eyes are so weird that I can’t guarantee you won’t need glasses.” 
“But I will be able to see, won’t I?” 
“Yes, you will,” Elliot confirmed. 
And Pattie burst out, “Please, Elliot, help me. Do as you think best, but please help me.”

Elliot explained to her that the operation itself was not a risk. He had done it so often and he could even do it without the help of his assistant. Normally these implant lenses were designed to produce excellent distance and intermediate vision along with useful reading vision. Only the unusual characteristics of Pattie’s eyes posed some difficulties so that the implant lenses that were on the market would all be pressed together a little too much. As a result the light rays would focus in front of her retina and she might be a little, or maybe even very shortsighted after the operation. That seemed to be an unavoidable fact. At least, he said, there was no better method.

Now they were close to noon Saturday, but there was a 24-hour emergency number that he could call and where he could order anything he needed. Pattie implored him to do that.

In reality there were artificial lenses, of course, that could replace Pattie’s destroyed natural lenses perfectly. She would be able to see practically without glasses. Even her accommodation would be there with those lenses. The odds were that a tiny bit of myopia could arise, myopia of -0.25 D at most. Elliot calculated a bit and then placed his order with the guy who was on duty.

He drove Pattie to his own home and gave her a sedative injection. She slept till morning, when she woke up from the sound of the doorbell as a courier was delivering the implant lenses and all the necessary equipment. Pattie implored Elliot again to operate on her as soon as possible. So he drove her right to the clinic and prepared everything for the operation.

He had done this operation so many times before. First he prepared the injector cartridge and loaded it with the first implant lens. Then he loaded the cartridge into the injector. Now he had to be quick because the implant lens was suppose to be injected within two minutes.

He started with Pattie’s left eye, made a tiny section and removed the opaque natural lens that he had destroyed. Next he introduced the injector tip into the anterior chamber, injected the lens, positioned it, withdrew the cartridge from the eye, and sealed the edges of the section by hydrating them. Everything went fine. He did not even have to suture the section.

Normally he would have waited till the eye had healed and till he was sure everything functioned. But firstly he was so excited and could hardly wait to see the whole job done, and secondly he did not want Pattie to experience the effect of the operation on one eye before the other would be operated on. And after all, Pattie had been urging him to make her see again as soon as possible. So he operated her on her right eye immediately after the left eye.

After three quarters of an hour Pattie was lying in the ward for in-patients to recover. Postoperative inflammation had to be expected but that was normal. Elliot would care for her as best he could. Finally he arranged Pattie’s own two natural lenses in two little vials with alcohol for Pattie to see later on, once she could see again.

Elliot checked her eyes twice daily. The healing process made good progress, better than with many patients that he had had before. Pattie tried to see with her “new eyes” and was shocked. She realized that the fog had gone but she could not see clearly. She held her hands in front of her face and saw them very blurred. As she brought them nearer, she could see them become clearer and then, about five centimeters in front of her eyes she could see the broken edges of two of her finger nails extremely clearly. For the first time in her life she was experiencing what it was like being highly shortsighted. She was so disappointed and started crying again.

Elliot told her that unfortunately, due to her tricky eyes, no better solution had been possible and that she could consider herself lucky because things might have turned out worse. And he had to confront her with another piece of bad news. Her eyes, he said, were too dry to tolerate contact lenses. They would become inflamed in less than no time. So the only solution was glasses.

Elliot made Pattie sit behind the refractor. He started with her right eye and a weak lens and slowly proceeded to stronger lenses. Actually, he knew approximately where Pattie would end up. But it satisfied him how Pattie said, at the beginning, that the lens hardly changed anything. Later she was able to read the upper line with the biggest numbers, and then, finally, Pattie said that now the last line was clear. Her prescription was -13.50 D. Her left eye needed exactly the same prescription.

Now came the most exciting moment. Elliot fitted his trial frame with two -13.50 D lenses and gave it Pattie to put on. She looked through, turned her head and looked at the clock at the far end of the room, then at her hands, her watch, her fingers right in front of her: everything crystal clear. Only one thing was very strange: everything was so tiny. It seemed to her as if she was looking through binoculars the wrong way round. She said so to Elliot but he replied that this impression was normal and she would get used to it very soon.

The same day Elliot drove Pattie to an optician. Pattie tried on frame after frame. The optician was equipped with a “lens frame assistant”, which took her photo while she was trying on a frame and then virtually fitted the frame with lenses. She got another pair of trial glasses to be able to look at the photos. So she could see, before her glasses were made, what they would look like. Her face seemed so strange with the glasses with strong lenses. She realized that this would be her face from now on.

Finally she had to decide for a frame and Elliot persuaded her to choose three very different ones so that she could change glasses according to occasion. In reality he knew that it would arouse him to see her with different pairs of glasses.

Pattie had to wait for two days till her first glasses were ready. It was terrible. She tried to wear Elliot’s trial glasses but had to give up after a few minutes because they were rather bulky and very inconvenient. Therefore she found herself confined to her bed most of the time, with nothing to do. For she could not see any further than a few centimeters and could not even read without the trial glasses, which she had to take off quite often.

Then, at last, that Wednesday came when her glasses were ready. Elliot drove her to the optician. Pattie put on the first pair, then the other two. They all felt wonderful, much better than the trial glasses. In fact, she hardly felt them on her nose. When they left the store, however, she staggered and would have fallen if Elliot had not caught her.

The feeling was so funny. Everything seemed so small again and the world seemed to be swaying whenever she moved her head. It seemed she could not walk with glasses on. Taking them off, however, she could not recognize a bit. So she had to put them on again. Elliot explained to her that she would soon get used to it. Then he told her that she looked just fantastic with glasses.

He felt deep satisfaction. At last Pattie was a glasses wearer. He could hardly take his eyes off her: those thick lenses that he had talked her into, those tiny eyes behind the lenses, that wonderful cut-in. Gorgeous! Pattie would never be able to function without glasses anymore. And he would enjoy this sight every day.

At the corner of the street he stopped and gave Pattie a long, sensual kiss. His eyes were closed but he could feel the frame of Pattie’s glasses, which aroused him a lot. He decided to drive home as quickly as possible and have sex with Pattie. As they walked towards his car, she asked him: “What was that implant lens called again?” - “Icon C,” he replied. And Pattie murmured: “That’s true.”


End of the story as written by Suzanne, and edited by Specs4ever, Jan 2007

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