Plastic Eyes

by Brandon Thomas

I don't know why I keep this. Maybe to remind myself I have them. Every time I run across this receipt, it feels like I'm screaming at myself from deep parts of me. I think it's why I bought them. The paper has faded and the words and numbers are nearly illegible. If my fingers couldn't read the feel of the paper, I might not know what it is.

I can't hold it long. The screaming starts to get loud enough that I can make out the words and I have to hide the receipt from myself again. The paper is so soft. I must have held this a thousand times. I must have wasted hours here. This piece of paper is the only thing that lets me know I didn't always have them.

Plastic eyes were like a secret. They looked so real. That was the point. The directions were clear and the side effects seemed minimal, but they told me to keep the receipt. Not to return them, but they have a way of becoming part of a person, so much so that a person may forget they have them and make them permanent. People have died that way. That's what I hear. I guess the receipt reminds people they have them.

I start to drift into the past and remember needing plastic eyes. Mine felt leaky and defective. They told me the plastic would seal everything in. They wouldn't leak. Guaranteed. They told me to call the help line if I had any questions.

After I got them, I was impressed at how real they looked. I was smiling and it looked awkward. They said my new eyes would adjust. The plastic eyes looked real and only I knew. Even the people who knew me best couldn't tell. The only people who knew were the other people with plastic eyes. It was our little secret. We'd smile awkward smiles at each other and retreat into our well sealed lives. My eyes had stopped leaking completely. I thought I'd be really happy about that but it was more of a neutral feeling. I thought it was strange, but nothing to get excited about, which I wasn't really capable of anyway.

I realized I was only capable of muted emotion. A small price to pay, I thought. I was so used to feeling so dramatically horrible that I was mildly happy with a break from the exhausting task of feeling. I remember running across the receipt. I awkwardly smiled at it and put it in a place where I could look at it and feel a subdued sentiment I might relate to pride.

My plastic eyes continued to serve me well, but people started to think of me as slightly chilly. What I must have confused for glamour and fortitude was coming off as icy and arrogant. I wanted to want to care, but nothing leaked out of my plastic eyes.

The eyes never adequately adjusted to smiling and I stopped smiling except when absolutely necessary, or to pose for uncomfortable looking pictures.

I became embarrassed, a feeling which slipped past my plastic eyes like they were organic and I started to isolate myself. A small price to pay, I thought. No one would understand anyway. I wanted to find others with eyes like mine, but that involved running into so many people who noticed my awkwardness.

I called the help line and the line had been disconnected. I felt alone as strong as I felt embarrassed. It was all I felt. I started taking the receipt out and staring at it. I needed some help. The kind of help I needed when I got the plastic eyes in the first place.

I went out only at night and did night things to support myself. Nothing too bad, just what I needed. While out at night once, I saw a flyer on a telephone pole. "Problems with Plastic Eyes? We can help!" it read. I was almost excited. I called the number and heard a recording. The voice was simple and direct. "You just have to be willing to have no eyes rather than plastic eyes." Then it disconnected.

I called the number everyday and heard the same thing. I wanted the eyes out, but nothing happened. I would look for clues on the receipt and the ink started to fade. I lost hope. I haven't called that number in years. I assume it's disconnected.

This receipt is so soft. I really wish I didn't have these eyes. I'm so alone. I haven't seen myself in years. What do I need to do? I've tried everything. My eyes feel so heavy.

I go to the kitchen and grab pliers from the tool drawer and a half empty bottle of vodka from the freezer. I pour the rest of the vodka on the pliers and prepare myself.

"It's only going to hurt for a second. It'll only hurt for a second. Just do it quick and don't stop until you get both of them," I tell myself.

I open my eyes wide and looked up. I can see the dripping pliers coming towards my plastic eyes.

There is a searing pain and I drop the pliers on the carpet. I see nothing but red in both of my eyes and an intense pressure followed by excruciating pain. My eyes are being forced out from the inside. I start screaming. I panic and can barely breathe. I feel blood spilling onto my face and my heartbeat accelerates and blood pressure rises and the blood isn't stopping. It is totally dark and I am terrified. I think about dying. My throat is scratched and sore I am still screaming and choking on stomach acid and blood. The pressure around where my eyes used to be is intense and I can feel something else pushing out of my head. I start screaming for God to please help me.

Everything gets dark and that's the last thing I remember.

I wake up the next morning and I am lying on the floor. My throat hurts and I can feel the dried blood on my face and I'm afraid to open my eyes. I think I can feel something where my eyes used to be. I lift my eyelids and I see the ceiling. I start crying and tears start flowing from my eyes. Years of tears sealed in by plastic.

Years of mourning and grief and happiness and pride and jealousy and love and hate flowed out of me in tears. I lie there for hours, just crying. I am so relieved everything I was afraid of is happening. All the reasons I got the plastic eyes were real and unavoidable and draining from their plastic prison. All the reasons I hated myself and all the things I was so afraid to see about myself are saturating the carpet.

I finally sit up and look around. I look down and see the plastic eyes lying on the floor. I want to smash them. I want to burn them. I pick them up and look hard at them. They were just choices I made. I couldn't blame them. I throw them into the trash and go into the bathroom.

I look at the person looking at me. I smile and it looks awkward. Not because my eyes didn't match my smile, but because the person in the mirror is out of practice.

I start washing the blood off my face and neck and hair. I take great care of how I wash my face, especially around the eyes. I stare at myself. I am beautiful. I never realized that before. I touch my face gently and say "I'll take care of you."

I feel a bond with the man examining me in the mirror.

I walk out of the bathroom and see the room I had slept in. The carpet is soaked in tears, vodka, and blood. The floor is littered with broken glass, pliers, and eyes. I take a deep breath and start cleaning.

There goes my security deposit.

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