by Dieter

My boyfriend stood, shook the hands of the gentlemen, and thanked them for dinner. It had been a wonderful evening. Though they were Belgian, the two men spoke the most eloquent English and had been gracious hosts. The older man made a special effort to attend to my farewell and shook my hand with both of his.

With the most gorgeous accent he said, “It has been my pleasure in meeting you, Brianna. I sincerely hope to be honored by your presence at some time in the near future.”

I smiled and thanked him. As we left the restaurant and traversed the plush hallways of the hotel, I excused myself to stop in the ladies’ lounge. I entered the lavish room in awe of its stunning beauty. Being the newest of the large executive hotels in downtown Chicago, no expense had been spared in its construction even in the restrooms.

Upon finishing, I dried my hands with the lushly thick paper towels that had been neatly placed in a decorative metal tray. As I gazed into the mirror I noticed something reflecting on the table in the lounge area. I dropped the towel in the waste can, then stopped to inspect. It was a pair of glasses like no others I had ever seen. They were as stylish and chic as everything else in the hotel. I quietly looked around and concluded that no one else was in the room. Sitting on the plush couch next to the table, I pulled a compact from my purse and began to touch up my makeup. There was no need for that, really. It was already quite late on a weeknight, so I knew that Keegan would take me straight home. But for some reason, I felt the need to linger.

I was fascinated by the glasses. Why had the owner left them? The lenses appeared to contain a considerable amount of strength and complexity. It simply did not seem imaginable that she could have walked away without making the realization that she was forgetting something so important. Was it possible the owner had replaced the glasses with contact lenses then left them behind in haste? Possibly, but then I could think of many scenarios. The glasses seemed rather expensive to have been lost so easily. There had to be some explanation. But what was it?

I began to envision the owner. She would surely look as elegant as the glasses themselves. I visualized a tall, slender woman with dark hair and eyes. She would be wearing a navy-colored jacket and matching skirt. On her feet would be stiletto-healed pumps with long pointed toes. Her slight cleavage would be exposed by a silk blouse with no visible buttons. The woman would walk and move as gracefully as she appeared.

My watch revealed that it had been five minutes since I entered the lounge. Soon, Keegan would be sending a search party for me. And yet, no one had entered the room to claim the glasses. My breathing had become short, my heart was pounding, and my hands were clammy. As blood pressure rose, I felt as though I might explode. If I left the glasses behind, the next lady to enter the room surely would want them. I just knew it. They were that elegant. I put away my compact then softly dabbed perspiration from my brow with a folded tissue. I couldn’t fathom the idea of someone else having the glasses. I hastily snatched them from the counter, put them in my purse, and left.

“What took you so long?” Keegan inquired.

“Oh, you know. Girl stuff,” I replied as casually as I could muster.

Since my heart felt as though it was in my throat, I could barely speak. I just could not catch my breath. I simply wanted to leave the hotel before Security demanded to search of my purse. After all, it was only a small clutch and I could feel the glasses within it. I knew I should return the glasses or give them to someone at the front desk. But I couldn’t make myself give them up. By the time the valet delivered Keegan’s car, it was too late. The glasses were mine.

After we had traveled a few blocks, I relaxed. My vital signs were getting back to normal though I felt pretty guilty. Discussing the events related to the evening, Keegan was concerned as to whether he had made a good impression upon the two gentlemen. But, he had been disappointed by their presentation and was not particularly pleased with them. I pretended to be interested but I really only wanted to fiddle with the glasses. I kept checking to make sure they were still inside my purse. I gently caressed them and needed assurance that they were not broken or getting scratched. The glasses were sensual to the touch. I had an extreme desire to try wearing them, but of course I couldn’t. Not yet.

The drive home was excruciating. Why did I live so far from downtown? When we finally arrived, I gave Keegan a quick kiss and told him I could let myself in. He waited at the curb until I unlocked the door and disappeared inside. At last! I was alone with the glasses.

I hurried to my vanity, sat down, and gently removed the glasses from my purse. In my hands they felt flawless and perfect. The frames were sturdy yet delicate. They had a rectangular shape with neatly squared corners. Their look was bold and of a slightly larger size than the more recent frame styles. My fingers glided effortlessly against the smooth dark navy plastic that was so rich it was like looking into a bottomless pool of water. It was an unusual color for glasses. The lenses, though flat on the front, had a significant amount of shape and depth that could be seen on the back side. With edges highly polished to a glossy sheen, they had been tinted in a striking shade of azure. The hue seemed to obscure the strength of the prescription. The overall effect of the glasses made them seem as finely finished as a piece of jewelry.

With both hands, I carefully placed the glasses on my face. My first impression was that I had been correct. The prescription was rather strong as the lenses seemed to twist my vision in a dozen directions. As the muscles tensed, a sharp pain shot deep within my eyes. But I marveled at how wonderfully elegant the frames felt. The plastic was warm, soothing, and inviting. The glasses were perfectly weighted, not too light. They fit my nose and ears without discomfort. I had a sensation of wearing something especially made for me.

Surprisingly, my eyes relaxed as the pain vanished. They adjusted enough to allow me to view myself in the mirror. What I saw was amazing. The glasses were utterly perfect on my face. The shape and color could be no better. I gazed upon my features with pleasure. My dark hair and eyes had never shown so much color. I felt sexy beyond description.

Continuing to wear the glasses, I tried some tasks around my condo for a while. I had to deliberately concentrate to maintain vision. One thing I discovered was that it was easier to see through the lower portion of the lenses. Eventually, however, I began to lose focus. I could struggle no longer to make my eyes see through the lenses. I wanted to wear the glasses so badly. Perhaps I could have the lenses replaced with some of my own? But then, I had never needed glasses. I had no prescription of my own.

I removed the glasses and placed them carefully on the dresser. As I prepared for bed, I noticed that the numbers on my alarm clock were unfocused and smeared. But, I could read them after taking a few steps in that direction. That was odd. Had I hurt my eyes by wearing the glasses so briefly? Surely not, it had been less than an hour. I got in bed and turned off the lights. In the dark, the only thing I could see was the red glow of light emitted by the digital numbers. They were still unfocused and smeared. I reached for the glasses, put them on, and saw that there was no longer any blur around the numbers. The red rays of light were perfectly focused. But I could not discern the numbers because they were too small. It aroused me and I began to wish that Keegan was sharing this experience with me. But then, what would be his reaction to me wearing these glasses? I doubt he would have been as excited as me. But I was panicked by a thought. What if I had damaged my eyes already? Would I have to start wearing glasses? I fretted briefly until I fell asleep.

In the morning when I awoke, I was relieved to be able to read the numbers. A good night’s rest seemed to have restored my eyesight satisfactorily. I began considering my actions of the previous night. Why had I been so compelled to take the glasses? They were evidently quite expensive. Had I left some helpless woman to be deprived of her corrective lenses of which she had a significant dependence? What had I hoped to accomplish? Though I wanted badly to wear them, it didn’t seem realistic. I had never felt an attraction to glasses before. Why now? I’d seen men that I thought looked nice in glasses. But that was about as long as I considered the thought. Why had I stolen the glasses? Really, what had I been thinking?

I wrapped the glasses in a soft rag and carefully placed them in my handbag. I wanted to keep them near me. On my way to work, I stopped at a drug store and bought the best fitting case available. The glasses were too lovely to be left unprotected. As soon as I arrived at work, I logged onto my PC to check Email. The first message appeared to be spam until I took a closer look at the sender’s name. It was from u.c.better@myopia4u.net. I opened the note which contained the following message.

“Brianna, I know you made a discovery last night. I hope it was an enjoyable experience. You must return the glasses very soon unless you desire consequences that are permanent. The decision is yours to make.”

I suddenly couldn’t breath. How did someone know what I had done? When did he see me? How did he get my Email address? How could I have been so stupid? It was difficult to concentrate at work for the rest of that morning. All I could think about was the note. Was someone going to charge me with theft? Had it been an elaborate trap to test my character? What did the sender mean by the phrase “permanent consequences”?

At lunch time, I found a pay phone to call the hotel. Do you know how difficult it is to find a pay phone in this world of cell phones? But I didn’t want the hotel to be able to identify the source of my call.

“Royalty Hotel on Brookmoor - front desk - may I help you?” a clerk answered.

“Oh . . . hello. Did anyone report some missing eyeglasses last night?”

“Please hold, while I check.”

I waited.

“Maam? We have no lost glasses reported, currently. Did you find a pair?”

“Uh, no,” I stammered, “I meant to ask if anyone reported finding some. I misplaced mine.”

“Please, give me your name and number and we can call if any glasses are found.”

“No, that’s ok. I’m certain I left them elsewhere. Thank you.”

I hung the receiver on the hook. Even while telling a lie, it sounded strange to be discussing “my glasses” since I’d never had any. Nevertheless, since nothing had been reported to the hotel, it didn’t appear that anyone else was too concerned. So, who contacted me and why?

I left work early that afternoon. My attention was shot. I was confused by everything. Since I had gone home so early, there were very few passengers on the train. In fact, as soon as the doors closed, I realized that I was the only person in the car. Alone, my thoughts turned back to the glasses. I opened the case for the first time since storing the glasses there that morning. I stared at them admiring their beauty. How could something that was actually a medical device seem so alluring? The answer to that question was in the simple fact that they were as exquisite as jewelry. Glasses, in general, are perhaps the ultimate “body piercing”. They demand notice. They are worn on the face over the eyes. Those are typically the two places on a person’s body that attract the most attention. First impressions most often are made by the face and eyes. Glasses cannot be overlooked and they can’t be hidden by clothing. They add style, color, and may even make a statement about the wearer’s beliefs and moods. Glasses can definitely be much more about fashion than they are about function. That choice is made by the wearer.

Though I knew I was tempting fate, I could resist no longer. The glasses felt entirely too familiar to me as I touched the frames to place them on my face. I struggled to see the world that was flashing past the windows of the train. Within minutes though, my eyes relaxed and focused. I couldn’t see well, just well enough.

The train ride home seemed refreshingly long. It was the first time I had been able to experience wearing the glasses for any length of time. Looking into the great expanse of the city was stimulating. I began to realize that I didn’t care who was watching me or who I saw; I wanted to wear the glasses. As we made stops, other passengers joined in and departed from my adventure though they were never aware of it. Eventually, I began to understand that no one was concerned about the fact that I was wearing glasses. It had little relevance to them. To them, I looked no different than a lot of other people in the world. In fact, they may actually have felt a certain familiarity to me because many of them were wearing eyeglasses of their own.

I gazed into the landscape and began to experience a soft sensation of glare from the lenses. I felt the flashes of sunshine as objects temporarily reflected light that was more intensified than my eyes were used to seeing. Colors seemed more vibrant. Shapes seemed more distinct. There was a sense of distortion in objects when I moved my eyes or head. I began to realize that you see things differently through glasses. There is a certain overhead with which your eyes must fight. I enjoyed the additional effort that was required. It began to feel wonderful and new. Perhaps I was no longer taking my vision for granted. Why had I never felt this way before? I had never worn glasses before that day, that’s why.

By the time I arrived at my stop, my eyes were focusing rather well. While window shopping, I wandered through the downtown streets of the small town where I live. I decided to stop at my favorite coffee house. As I drank my mocha, I realized that I was able to read a newspaper that had been left on the table where I sat. Even though the lenses still felt strong and required some effort of concentration on my part, I was able to read things up close more comfortably through the lower portion of the lenses. Why did the strength of the lenses seem different in that area? Almost everything about glasses was a new experience for me.

When I removed the glasses to compare my ability to read without them, I was suddenly shocked back to reality. My vision was off . . . . . badly. It was the same thing I had experienced the night before, only now it was much worse. Everything was entirely out of focus. Even objects fairly close, like the newspaper, were unfocused without correction. How could I have been so stupid? Why had I not listened to my eyes? They warned me the night before when I went to bed. Why was I so fixated to wear the glasses even when I knew I shouldn’t?

I returned the glasses to my face and walked home. It was the only way I could see. Without eating dinner, I prepared for bed. I was too upset to eat and exhausted from fear. To say the least, it had been a curious day. Had I ruined my eyesight this time? Now would I be forced to wear glasses? How would I explain that to my family, friends, and co-workers? What would they say? What would they think of me and my ability to make decisions? I took one last look at my alarm clock before drifting off to sleep. The numbers were nothing more than a faint blur of red light.

Upon awaking on the second morning, I was pleased to be able to read the numbers clearly. What a relief! A good night’s rest seemed to have restored my eyesight once more. Well no more funny business. I was not going to make that mistake again. After arriving at my office, it dawned on me that I had not resolved the issue with the mystery Emailer. I had been so frightened the night before that I hadn’t checked my mail. Sure enough, I had received another message.

“Brianna, this is a friendly reminder. You are responsible for your actions. You must return the glasses very soon unless you desire consequences that are permanent. Please follow your heart and chose what you feel is best for you. The decision is yours to make.”

The second note seemed much less confrontational. It sounded as though I was being given a chance to choose something. What were the “permanent consequences” to which the sender kept referring? What was he planning to do to me? I felt as though he wasn’t looking to prosecute me for theft or something like that. Strangely, I felt relieved.

The most remarkable thing about that day was when I met Keegan for lunch. We were in the habit of meeting once a week at noon. It was our way of having a chance to feel a part of each other’s work day. What was unusual was the conversation we had. Our waitress was wearing the most striking glasses that had zebra-striped wide temples with lenses that magnified her eyes slightly. I was contemplating how fun it must be to work someplace so casually attired. Her glasses would never work at my office.

After placing our order, Keegan made the statement while watching our waitress walk away, “I hate glasses on women. It really detracts from their looks. I’ve never seen an attractive woman wearing glasses.”

For some unexplained reason, the fight was on.

“I thought she was really cute, Keegan.”

“She could be, but not with glasses.”

“How can you say that? She can’t help it if she needs glasses.”

“She could wear contacts, or get laser surgery. There are options.”

“Some people can’t, Keegan. Some have no other options.”

“It doesn’t matter because I wouldn’t be attracted to her, anyway.”

“Keegan, she is everything that you do like. She’s tall, pretty, and blond. What’s not to like? Would you dislike me if I had to wear glasses?”

“That’s different, Brianna. You don’t. And I wouldn’t have been interested if you had.”

“What?! I might have to someday. Almost everyone at least needs reading glasses when they get older.”

“When we’re that age, I probably won’t care. Can we change the subject?”

The new subject was solitude. As in complete silence. We ate our lunch without further discussion. The good thing about that conversation is that I had learned something about Keegan that appeared to be life altering to me. It seemed like a good time to begin considering my options. On my walk back to the office, I took the long way. I had resisted the glasses all day. I had checked on them a few times but had not removed them from the case. After the lunch time discussion, I had an incredible urge to wear them.

I sat on a park bench for a few minutes and contemplated that decision. I knew that the outcome might change me forever. Hesitantly, I took a deep breath, opened the case, and touched the glasses. I remembered how comfortable they felt to wear. With my heart pounding, I placed the glasses on my face and exhaled. I looked around the small park and let my eyes relax. Then I walked slowly back to work enjoying the view with every step. What if someone I knew saw me? What would I do when I got to the building?

When I arrived, I was feeling brave. I walked through the lobby and entered the elevator. No one particularly noticed me. On the ride up, though, I lost confidence and removed “my” glasses. But when I stepped off, I headed towards my desk still carrying them in my hand. I placed them on my desk as though that’s what I had always done. Though I wasn’t wearing them, at least “my” glasses were in the open for everyone to see. Perhaps that way they might provoke conversation. I fully understood that my actions were intentional.

My vision was somewhat off having worn “my” glasses for about twenty minutes. I struggled to see well for the rest of the afternoon but was too cowardly to wear them. However, when it was time to leave at the end of the day, the last thing I did was retrieve “my” glasses from the desktop. I wore them as I walked out of the office. It caught the eye of a few acquaintances but nobody spoke. I was taking baby steps and that, too, was intentional.

During the train ride that evening, I was enjoying the same activities as the day before. Of course, there were more passengers since I was going home during the normal rush. In time, a man with a familiar face sat across the aisle. We had spoken and exchanged head nods several times over the past months.

“I’ve never seen you wearing your glasses before,” he said smiling. “The colors compliment you. I’ve never seen prescription lenses in that shade of blue.”

I thanked him and we began our first conversation, ever. I invited him to move to my seat so we wouldn’t have to speak loudly. By the time we arrived at my station, I knew his name was Mason and he knew my name and phone number. I waved to him as the train rolled away. I was enjoying myself so much that I decided to do some shopping. I stopped for dinner as well. After conversations I had at work, I now realized that “my” glasses contained progressive lenses. That’s the reason I was able to read a menu in the darkened restaurant even though I still had to work a bit when seeing in the distance.

While trying on clothes in the dressing room at one of the stores, I caught a reflection. There was the beautiful and elegant lady that I had imagined two nights before. She was tall and slender with dark hair and eyes. She was wearing the navy-colored jacket and skirt, and stiletto-healed pumps with long pointed toes. Her slight cleavage was revealed by a silk blouse with no visible buttons. She was wearing the glasses that looked so elegant. It was me. I was the woman in my daydream. My reflection made me feel so sexy.

I had been wearing “my” glasses for several hours. Upon arriving at my condo, I went straight to my PC to see if I had received any new notes. In fact, I had.

“Brianna, this is your final reminder. You must return the glasses by tonight unless you desire consequences that are permanent. The decision is yours to make but please understand that it will be final. The consequences will not be reversible. Good luck with your decision.”

I looked at the clock. There were no more trains departing for the city this late. Without getting someone to drive me to the hotel, I had no way to return the glasses by tonight. In the excitement of the afternoon, I had never considered stopping by the hotel on the way home. But if I had, I would not have been able to experience another evening in the way that I had. It had been most memorable.

I was now convinced of what was meant by the consequences. Still wearing “my” glasses, I caught up on the rest of my Email notes. I changed into my sexiest negligee just because it felt like the right thing to do. For the next few hours I finished reading a novel. That got me so energized that I stayed up to watch several late night shows on television. When I finally turned off the lights and went to bed, I had been wearing “my” glasses since I left work. I laid them on the nightstand and went to sleep comfortable with the decision I had made.

Though the night had been short, I awoke refreshed. My eyes opened to a beautiful morning. The sun was shining through the windows and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. When the sun, disappeared, I discovered the truth. I couldn’t see any of the clouds in the sky. I couldn’t see much of anything. I groped for “my” glasses on the nightstand and put them on. Everything came into focus. I stayed in bed for a bit and watched wispy clouds float across the sky. Some were fairly dark and contrasted considerably from the white clouds. At times, it looked like it could rain.

Slowly, I came to the realization that what had seemed theoretical and experimental the night before had become my reality. I made my choice and was experiencing the consequences. The good thing was I could see perfectly well as long as I wore “my” glasses. Of course, I understood it was probable that the “consequences were not reversible” and from now on I would have to rely entirely on wearing glasses. Is this what I had wanted? Had I left myself any choice?

While I walked to the station, I considered my fate. Did I need to be prepared for questions from my co-workers? Did I care how Keegan would react? I tried a few times to go without glasses but I simply could not see. As utterly perfect as the glasses had looked on my face two days before, I was now utterly dependent on their purpose. There was no turning back now.

When I boarded the train, I saw Mason and sat beside him. His warm smile gave me reassurance.

“Good morning, Brianna. You look nice today. Love your dress. Hey, I was wondering if you would join me this Saturday. They are having the Blues Festival in Springhill. Great music and lots of food. It’s the one and only big event that we have in my town.”

And it hit me. There was no turning back because I didn’t want to turn back. I had made the correct decision for myself. Consciously or unconsciously, it is what I had wanted. In fact, I had several chances yesterday to reverse the outcome. That is if you believe the contents of the notes that I received from “u.c.better”. Frankly, what other explanation could I believe? There was nothing about this that seemed based in reality. Yet like it or not, without glasses, I was practically blind now. I relaxed, told Mason “Yes”, and enjoyed the ride to downtown.

Before I hit the revolving door at my office, Susan, a coworker commented, “Nice glasses, Brianna. You should wear them more often. Are your contacts bothering you again? I saw you squinting at things, yesterday. I have problems with mine all the time.” And without even fabricating it, I had my explanation for everyone else for the rest of the day. No one acted wiser. They either made pleasant comments about “my” glasses or said nothing at all. Not one person said anything about the strength of “my” prescription. They simply didn’t know or didn’t care. It really didn’t matter.

I received a final message from the mystery Emailer. It’s content revealed information concerning the mystery.

“Congratulations on your decision. Life is most often about consequences and you have chosen wisely. I feel certain that you will not regret our encounter. Please consider the glasses as my gift. They are yours to keep. It has been my pleasure in meeting you, Brianna. I sincerely hope to be honored by your presence at some time in the near future.”

Keegan asked to meet for lunch so he could apologize for ruining lunch the previous day. He was unquestionably surprised when he saw me in glasses. I could tell he was completely put off by my new look. He “bought” my explanation that I had always worn contacts. But he made it clear that he was very disappointed that I had never shared that secret with him. It was apparent he considered me to be quite damaged. That was the last time I ever had a date with him. No matter. Mason was much better looking, nicer, and found me attractive with or without glasses.

The first thing I had done when I got to my desk that morning was to make an appointment for an eye exam. When I went to the optometrist that evening, I explained that I had worn glasses for longer than I could remember. I couldn’t find my current prescription and had forgotten to get a copy of my records from my previous doctor before moving. None of it mattered to him. After a thorough examination, he said I had perfectly healthy eyes. It was a bit unusual in that I was quite young at 26 to need an “add” for reading, but considering the strength of my prescription that was probably a good decision especially since I was accustomed to it, already. Wouldn’t he have been surprised to know my true story?

After checking the prescription in my glasses, the doctor said the lenses were nearly perfect and there was no reason to get new ones. He suggested that I might like to get glasses made for reading only. That seemed like a good idea, so I did. As I scanned his selection, however, I found the most striking frames with zebra-striped wide temples. Hmmm . . . . . that seemed like an appropriate selection to be used for a second pair of progressives to be worn with more casual attire.

On the ride home that evening, I was able to reflect on the events of the previous days. The exam eased my concerns about the health of my eyes. I don’t know exactly how I got where I was but at least I had an idea about who was responsible. But I had no regrets and was happy to have made the decision that that I made. What was I going to do or say that could possibly change my situation, anyway? It all started when I decided to steal . . . . .

Later that evening in a hotel in downtown Houston, Gillian stood, shook the hands of the gentlemen, and thanked them for dinner. The two men spoke the most eloquent English and had been gracious hosts. She had been trying to get her business jumped started for several years, and the Belgians had some excellent ideas for her.

With the most gorgeous accent, the older one said, “It has been my pleasure in meeting you, Gillian. I sincerely hope to be honored by your presence at some time in the near future.”

As she stepped into the ladies lounge on her way out, Gillian noticed the most extraordinary pair of glasses lying on the table. With a stylish oval shape, they were made of a very modern metal material in a silver color that looked like chrome. The lenses contained a substantial number of power rings, had highly polished edges, and were so clear that they glistened like jewelry. The lenses flashed in the light as Gillian reached for the glasses. Admiring them in her hands, she wondered what it would be like to wear strong lenses like these. Perhaps then clients would take her seriously when she made business calls in person. Gillian had always been envious of smart looking women who wore strong glasses. How could the owner have forgotten them?

Gillian began to envision the owner. She would surely be as stylish as the avant-garde glasses themselves. Gillian visualized an intelligent woman of medium height with short brown hair and blue eyes. She would be wearing an oversized turtleneck sweater, a plaid pencil skirt, and natural leather pumps with four-inch stacked wooden heals. For some reason, Gillian felt the need to linger . . . . .