In Her Eyes
By Ellie Cameron
12 ½ times.
That’s how many times I was in the hospital the first 4 years of my life. I know, I know, you’re probably thinking I must have been in some serious accident or born with some terrible disease to be lucky enough to spend that much time in a hospital room where your only source to the outside world is the TV remote and the Kit Kat bar your mom buys from the Walgreens. This is not true. I was not born with a terrible disease or in a serious accident. In fact, I was a perfectly healthy baby. Well, except for one thing. My left eye would keep wandering off when I tried to look at something. The doctors called it a wandering eye and it was so severe that when I was first born you could already see the problems I was having focusing on one thing. The doctors told my parents not to worry, because there was (and still is) a surgery that would fix this problem entirely. My parents asked, like any good parent, how early this procedure could be done without serious side effects. The lead doctor said about two years and the surgery would be ok to do. So my parents waited two years, and my condition worsened. One fine summer day, my parents packed me up and said we were going to the park.
“Flutterfries?” I gurgled in my cute two year old voice.
“Yes Jenny, there will be butterflies.” My mom said.
“Yes Jenny, there will be geese.”
“Jenny, YES there will be flowers.”
“Yes Jenny, there will be…wait no, I mean-”
“We’re here!” my dad says.
We pull up to a tall white building. It was 2-3 stories high and was one of those ugly buildings that was an off- white puke color and with so many corners that you’re afraid you might poke your skin so hard you’ll burst. My parents took me inside. It was just as ugly inside as outside, the walls covered in smudged flowers and butterflies with the smell of antiseptic looming heavily in the air.
“Park?” I questioned.
“Yep Jenny, it’s a… indoor park. See, there are butterflies AND flowers.”
My parents gave each other a satisfied look, relieved my two year old mind could be tricked so easily. Soon I was taken into a doctor’s room and the last thing I remember is a mask hovering over my face. After that day, my life changed forever. Something about the procedure went horribly wrong, and I ended up losing my left eye. (So I guess I did end up in a serious accident. Huh.) My parents were so mad! They basically spent the rest of that year trying to get me treatments and suing doctors. That year was 5 times in the hospital.
Losing my eye wasn’t the weirdest thing to happen; it’s just it happens so rarely that the doctors never really knew what to do. Ever since that surgery, I sometimes got a bright flash in my missing eye’s socket. My parents looked it up and said that that was normal (they no longer trusted doctors and knew they probably wouldn’t know what to do either.) So I spent most of my time at home with an ice pack over my missing eye socket. Fun. Then something strange happened. After those bight flashes, I got pictures showing up in my eye socket. It was like a mini movie screen, and I never knew when the next matinee would be showing. I never told this to anyone, especially my parents. Who knows how they could have reacted? They could have put me in the looney bin for all I know. I still kept complaining about the flashes though, because they made me dizzy and a little nauseous. Eventually we went back to the doctors. Add 2 trips to that lonely number 5. They gave me pain meds for the flashes, but they never really worked. I had no problems or pain with the movies that appeared in my eye socket, except when I thought about why I was seeing them so much it sort of freaked me out, even as a little kid. The longer I saw them, the more it seemed like all the visions were connected. A story about a young teenage girl who lives in the U.S. like me and gets teased a lot seemed to be what all the visions were about. I saw a lot of the girl riding her bike with tears rolling down her bruised cheeks with a sign on her back saying some words that I do not want to repeat. Who would hit a girl? What is my brain trying to tell me? That I’m a bully? I hope not. This really confused me when I was 3, but in hindsight I understand it now. The more I asked these questions, the more the story seemed not like it was not in my brain, but that it was someone’s life. This creeped me out big time. When I was 4 I tried shutting the stories out, resulting in eye socket twitches that got me 5 more hospital trips. There’s your 12 folks. Now where does that ½ come in?
The stories were getting REALLY graphic. I saw the punches by her boyfriend being thrown in her pretty, innocent face, the talks with her mother, and the nights she spent thinking about suicide. I wanted desperately to reach out to that girl and help her, but then I remembered these were only stories in my head (or eye socket to be more exact), and being little I didn’t exactly know what was happening. One day I even asked my mom what suicide is. Her eyes bulged out of her head and she decided she would let a therapist talk about it with me. That’s the ½, since it was in a hospital, one of the worst places to have a therapist talk to you about suicide.
When I got older, I noticed the girl in my visions aged the same way. For example, when I turned 4, she turned 15. An 11 year age difference. Creepy, isn’t it? One day when I was older, I was walking down a busy street where someone caught my eye. Before I could get a look, the brightest flash I’d ever seen bursts into in my eye socket. All of these visions exploded, along with stars and darkness. Now here I am in another hospital bed, writing all of this on the back of the papers they need me to sign to pay my hospital bills. Apparently, I and one other person fainted at Boswin Corner.
“Looks like you and your friend are ok.” The doctor says. “Probably just heat stroke or something. I recommend that you both stay awhile longer and get some rest, just to make sure.”
The doctor leaves the room, and I turn to see once more the women next to me. She wears a tailored suit and high heeled shoes the color of a tangerine. Her red hair is pulled back into a tight bun. I look at all of this, but not her eyes, I don’t need to. Finally I meet her gaze.
“Hello, Samantha.” I say, and my bottom lip begins to quiver.
“Why, Jenny, how nice to finally meet you in person.” She says this in her business voice, but I hear it falter when tears spring into her eyes.
I am leaving this note on the hospital bed. Hopefully, no one were think I’m crazy. Samantha and I walk out, hand in hand, and look at the world around us. We both smile, knowing that we share a secret that no one else does and no one ever will share again. We are different, more different than any other human beings on earth. Because in this world, for most people, their eyes are what they see the world through. For Samantha and I, we saw it all through someone else’s.
Seventh grader Ellie Cameron, Severna Park Middle School, Anne Arundel County, enjoys exploring the outdoors along with writing and playing with her siblings.