Eye Exam by Amelia Morand

I pushed my forehead down until it fully depressed the wide button, until the bridge of my nose fit snug against the plastic indent and my eyes peered down at the rows of symbols that had been clicked into place.

“Read the first line,” the administrator prompted as she swiveled back and forth in her seat, clicked the top her Bank of Los Alamos pen.

“F… Square… L… G… Seven… …. Alabama.”

“Good,” said the administrator. “Now the third, a bit quicker.”

“Five.. Star.. H.. Dog.. Fox?”

“It was actually Fox, Dog,” said the administrator. “But why don’t you try the seventeenth.”

“I, I, I, I, I, I.”

“I’m afraid those were all carrots,” said the administrator. She was not unsympathetic. “Perhaps if you just look down to the shapes at the bottom. Can you tell me which one appears closest?”

“The stop light,” I said, haltingly.

“Right,” said the administrator. “And which one makes you feel the most alone?”

“The mother?”

The administrator sighed. “We were actually going for the sneeze.”

“I’ll tell you what,” the administrator said. “I think I can pass you if you can locate the subtext of the test.”

“The subtext?” I asked.

“Well, yes, the hidden moral, the takeaway, as it were, perhaps filtered through a Post-Structuralist lens?”

“I see,” I said. “Perhaps there was no test?”

“There was a test all right,” the administrator swiveled forward, capping her pen. “Its proof is in your failure.” She stood to stand.

“Wait!” I cried. “Just give me one more chance!”

The administrator hesitated, though her scarf was already wrapped tight around her neck. She was not unsympathetic. “Fine,” she said. “Close your eyes.”

I complied.

“Now read through the last line.”

I tried to cock my head, but it was locked in place by the mask. “White light,” I said. “Smoke. Screams.”

I felt the administrator’s hand encircle my wrist, her thumb resting on on my pulse as her pen traced my palm. I raised my head. She’d written “Pass.” She was not unsympathetic.




Originally from Santa Fe, New Mexico, Amelia Morand is pursuing her MFA in fiction at the University of Montana.



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