You read right. Thank you for patience with me as I power along through this YA novel for my thesis…and hopefully for publication one day! Enjoy!
July 31, 1998
I hate having my eyes dilated.
I fidgeted as we sat in the cushioned chairs that smelled like they were drenched in perfume. Mom sat quietly reading Oliver Twist. My twin sister, Emma, played with a piece of thread that had come off her jean shorts. I looked around at the art. Blue flowers directly in front of me, a pretty garden next to the window, a sea-side view above another chair. I wondered if they bought the paintings from a store that specifically sold art for doctors’ offices. Were the shelves labeled for each office? I imagined signs announcing, “50% Off All Teeth Art” or “Buy One Get One All Random People.”
Emma grabbed my knee. “Please stop, you’re moving my chair.”
“Sorry,” I whispered. I had been bouncing my foot up and down as the paintings around me slowly blurred out of focus. “I don’t know why, but I feel like I’m losing my mind when I can’t see things clearly any more. I hate this part.”
Emma scrunched her eyebrows at me. “You’re thinking about this too much.”
“Emma? Sophie?” A lady in a white lab coat came to the sitting area where we waited to for eyes to dilate. She looked down at her clipboard, then back up at us and smiled.
Mom slid her bookmark across the page as she closed the book and dropped it into her purse. “That’s us.”
The lady took us back to the same examination room we had just been in to get the drops put in to dilate our eyes. Even though I hated the sensation, I found it fascinating eyedrops could do something like that.
“I’ll go first,” I said. I slid into the chair before Emma could answer. I wanted to get it over with.
Dr. Mattu walked into the room as Mom and Emma settled into the extra seats. He was tall and thin with a slight Indian accent. He greeted us with a smile and asked Mom how the family was doing as he pulled a small flashlight from his pocket.
“Glad to hear all is well,” he said to her. Then he turned to me. “Okay, we are going to check your macula now.”
I gripped the chair, tilted my head upwards, and sucked in a breath.
Dr. Mattu held a small, circular magnifying glass over my left eye. He shined the flashlight through the magnifying glass.
I knew the drill, but every time I wanted to slam my eyes shut against the light. My head pressed into the headrest as far back as possible, and my eyes watered. The light bored into my skull in the phases of the moon. The shapes blurred from the crescent moon, to the full, to the final waning; back to the full, then crescent. The light seared the images into the back of my head. I briefly wondered how Dr. Mattu could think this was acceptable when staring at the sun wasn’t. It felt pretty much the same.
He finished examining my left eye with a happy sound in his throat. “Your macula looks great in this eye!”
I could barely see Mom pumping her arms with happiness.
Dr. Mattu waited patiently as I wiped my eyes and prepared myself for the right. I held my breath and endured the pain in my right eye. The lunar phases grew and shrank across my vision again. Back and forth. Back and forth the shapes danced.
Once Dr. Mattu finished, I rubbed my eyes.
“There are no signs of it. Your macula in both eyes are healthy!” Dr. Mattu announced.
“Wonderful!” Mom exclaimed at the same time Emma cried, “Awesome!”
Despite the squiggles of light dancing all around me, I smiled.
Dr. Mattu swung the lens phoropter out of the way so I could get up. “I’m sure you’re happy to hear that news.”
Emma jumped up and bounced into the seat after me. I didn’t want to watch him stab the light into her eyes, so I studied the phoropter. Such a funny name for a funny-looking device. I liked it because it looked like a panda mask. I enjoyed the swishing noise of the lenses as they switched. It was like a game, “Which lens is the better?” Except the annoying times when they switched back and forth between two that had no difference and asked, “And this? How about this one? This? Now this?”
On second thought, it wasn’t really that fun.
Dr. Mattu’s genuine smile lit his dark eyes as he straightened and look at Mom. “The twins do not appear to be presenting with Stargardt Disease. Both have healthy maculae.” He wheeled his stool around and sat so he could look at all of us. “I believe since you two haven’t presented with Stargardt Disease yet, and you are now thirteen, you won’t get it. This is an interesting case of study as you are fraternal twins and I thought it may present differently in each of you as it has in your older sisters. I wanted another screening because this is a rare disease with not much research, but we may beyond the window of onset now.”
Mom let out a long sigh of relief.
Emma and I shared a knowing look. We were going to be able to drive to the beach!