“Oh no, this isn’t supposed to be happening to me,” I thought as I fell to the floor with my hands clutching my chest. The pain was so intense I just knew I must have been having a massive heart attack.
“Call 911,” I heard someone shout as I drifted into unconsciousness.
I came to briefly long enough to realize that I was in an ambulance, obviously on my way to emergency, and then I passed out again. I don’t know for how long I was out, but I remember waking up, but not coming fully conscious. Silly, but the only thing on my mind was Debbie, a young lady who I had been conversing with for almost 5 years on the Internet. Debbie was 21 years old, and she had started wearing a pair of glasses that she had purchased at a thrift shop when she was 10 years old. Now, after 11 years of wearing glasses that were much stronger than she really needed, Debbie had managed to recently begin wearing a pair of glasses that I had sent her with a prescription of –17D. And this wasn’t the first pair of glasses I had sent Debbie over the past 5 years. We had been having a long-standing struggle, as Debbie didn’t want me to buy, and send her glasses. But, I persisted. Every time she told me that she was getting used to the glasses she was wearing, I would purchase a pair that was about –2D stronger than the last pair. And then I would write Debbie, send her a picture of the new glasses, and tell her that they were available, no strings attached, if she should want them. She would send back a note saying no, but then I would suggest that she merely borrow them for a while. And, so far she had accepted a new pair every year, starting 5 years ago with a –9D prescription and jumping –2D per year. Neither one of us knew how long this would go on, but Debbie had expressed a desire to reach at least –20D. Now here I was, not knowing if I was going to live or die, and all I could think about was that I might not be around to find out if she ever reached her goal.
I didn’t make it through the night. I remember waking up with a floating sensation, and I remember looking down on my lifeless body as I floated towards the heavens.
Soon I was in Heaven. After I was there a while I realized that Heaven and Hell were the same place. In Heaven no one needed food, so no one worked. There was no need for a roof over your head, because you were a spirit. If it rained, you didn’t feel the rain. And it was always the right temperature. But the Hell part of it was that there was nothing to do. While each spirit waited for the memories of their past life to leave them, there litterly was nothing constructive to do. Oh, there was a golf course, where golfers could play endless games. There was billiards, and shuffleboard, and bowling, and all sorts of things to pass the time. However, I have never been much of a person for time wasting things like this. I wanted a good book, but there were no books. Our minds were to be cleansed, so we would return to earth with no memories of our past. And, the population of Heaven was down to only around 10 million or so, because Earth was growing so fast that they needed as many spirits returned as possible.
Finally I was pronounced ready to return to earth. I passed the blank mind test, although I am not sure how I did it, because I still had some memories. But instead of returning me right away I was asked if I could stay for a while and become a greeter. All a greeter had to do was ask some questions about the new arrival’s former life. The answers were recorded. Every few weeks the greeter would ask the person the same questions, and when the new arrival could no longer remember the answers, the person was scheduled to return to Earth. There was some pressure on us to get them in, and get them out, but we could only work with what we were sent.
One day a spirit arrived at my desk. At first, when a person has just arrived there is an aura about them that shows us what they looked like on Earth. This spirit had been a pretty young lady in her early 20’s. She had what I called auburn hair – dark brown with a tint of red in it. Her eyes were a pretty shade of green, and she had a darned good figure. But wasn’t she a chatterbox! I could hardly make heads or tails of what she was saying.
“I can’t be here, this isn’t right. Where are my glasses? Why can I see without my glasses? I don’t like this. I want my glasses,” came an endless stream from her.
“No one here wears glasses young lady.” I replied.
“Well, I can’t stay here then. I have to wear glasses. I am an optic obsessive person, and I need my glasses. This is a terrible time for this to happen. I just ordered a new pair of glasses. What is going to happen to my –20’s now?” she asked.
Optic obsessive triggered something in the recesses of my mind. I had classified myself as an optic obsessive person in my last life. I glanced at the form she had handed me. The name on the form was “Debbie”. I gasped, and I groped in the dark recesses of my mind for my earthly pseudonym. Finally it came to me.
“Debbie, did you ever know a Specs4ever back on Earth?” I asked.
She looked at me with a quizzical look. “ Yes, why?”
“I think I was him.” I said.
“Oh Specs, thank goodness. You have to help me. After you died I managed to get a pair of –18.50D glasses, and then just last week I ordered my –20’s. I have to get back to wear them. Help me please Specs.”
“Debbie, I can’t. You will never be able to return to your old body. Your spirit has to stay here until you have forgotten everything about your old life, and then your spirit is returned to earth as a newborn baby.” I answered.
“You mean I won’t remember a thing about loving to wear strong glasses? And is it possible I will never again wear glasses?” Debbie asked.
“Not only is it possible, but it is highly probable.” I replied.
“I can’t do that. I would rather be dead.” Debbie said.
“You are.” I told her.
It was against the rules but I managed to spend a bit of time with Debbie. What I was supposed to be doing was interviewing her, and writing down the answers to her questions. But what we were actually talking about was how we could get together back on Earth.
“But it will take anywhere from 16 to 18 years before we are able to get to know each other back there” I said.
“Silly, we will find each other on the Internet by the time we are 8 years old. All we have to do is remember Eyescene.” Debbie replied.
Of course, that would work. But my memories, while gradually returning bit by bit were not nearly as strong as hers were. So I told her that she would have to do her best to find me. She agreed, and we decided that the term optically obsessed would be our buzzword. Finally I pronounced Debbie as having had all her memories erased, and she was placed on the waiting list for a return to Earth. I had managed to have my name placed on the list shortly before I put her name down. I still had some idea that I would return as a man, and if we were to meet each other again, and have things develop into a boy girl relationship I wanted to be older, even if only by a day.
Not only was I not born as a man, but also I was born a twin. My parents named me Amber, and my sister was named Ashley. The first couple of years of our childhood wasn’t too interesting, probably much like any other child’s first couple of years. Our mother spent a lot of time with us, teaching us different things like letters, and colors, and how to use crayons. Our joke was that she taught us how to walk and talk, and then she told us to sit down and shut up.
One day I heard Ashley muttering some words under her breath.
“What are you saying Ashley?” I asked.
“Nothing important Amber, just some words I thought of.” Ashley replied.
“Tell me.” I demanded.
“Optically obsessed are the words, but I am not sure what they mean.” Ashley said.
It hit me instantly. “ You are Debbie.”
She looked at me and said. “You are Specs4ever.”
Now that we knew the memories came flooding back to Ashley. We both had the desire to wear glasses in our new life, so Ashley told me that we were going to have to do everything that we possibly could to maintain our near point vision, and not look off in the distance at anything. So, we started to do that. By the time our third birthday came our parents were discussing our apparent poor distance vision with each other, and we were happy when a visit to a pediatric eye doctor was suggested for us.
And, after the visit to the eye doctor Ashley wore glasses that were –2.00D in each eye, but I was only prescribed glasses that were –1.25D in each eye. Ashley’s glasses were stronger by –0.75D. I suppose I had not followed her instructions as well as she followed them.
Ashley was the one who had the idea. We were scheduled to go back to the doctor in 6 months. So during those 6 months I wore Ashley’s glasses most of the time, and she wore mine. When we had our next examination, Ashley wore her own glasses and I wore mine. I really could tell that things were much clearer when I was wearing Ashley’s glasses. Ashley got a new prescription of –2.50, but my new prescription was only –2.00D, so Ashley still had the stronger prescription.
We had our next eye exam scheduled for a year away. As the time for our exam drew closer, Ashley came up with the idea to have the one with the strongest prescription as the only one who was examined.
“But Ashley, mom will know.” I said.
“No way. Mom can’t tell us apart. We are identical twins you know. If I go in first as you, wearing your old glasses, then I will come out with a new prescription. Then if we go to the bathroom, and switch places, I can go in as me, wearing my glasses, and have the examination, and we will both get the same prescription.” Ashley said.
This sounded a bit risky to me, but it worked. Ashley had her eyes examined twice, and we both got identical prescriptions. At age 4 ½ our new glasses were –3.50D.
Our Mom was a little concerned that our eyes were bad, so she did a lot of reading on the Internet. Some idiot suggested that we should be wearing a plus lens for reading. So Mom bought us both glasses with +1D lenses, and tried to make us read with them. But it didn’t work very well, so finally she gave up on the idea. Then she made us take our glasses off to read, and do close work. Ashley had the solution to that.
“Don’t take your glasses off until she notices that you still have them on. When she says something to you, take them off, but a few minutes later, stop reading, put them back on, and go off to do something else. We have to make sure we leave our glasses on all the time, and we have to do as much close work as we can with glasses on for this to make any difference.” Ashley told me.
This seemed to work. Mom didn’t seem to notice if we were wearing our glasses all the time or not, and if she did notice, we just told her that we forgot, and she accepted that. When we were a little older than 5, we were taken for an eye examination just before school started. Again Ashley managed to go in twice for the examination, and we both ended up with glasses that were –4.25D.
That seemed to start a pattern of us having our vision checked every year before school started. Every year we managed to go up between –0.50D and –0.75D from the previous year. By the time we were 10 we were both wearing glasses that were –8.00D.
“Tell me again why we are doing this Ashley, I forgot.” I asked one day.
“Amber, you know that in our previous lives we both wanted to be extremely shortsighted, and have to wear thick strong glasses.” Ashley said.
“But when I take my glasses off now all I can see is a big blur. Why do we want to get any worse? Anyway, my nose hurts from wearing them all the time.” I whined.
“Don’t be such a baby. We agreed that girls who wore strong glasses are unusual, and are a rarity in life. Anyway, it really doesn’t matter anymore if your glasses get stronger, because you can’t function without them now.” Ashley said.
She had convinced me again. Ashley was right as usual. My vision was toast without glasses. And, most of the time I did enjoy wearing them. It was just that today was very hot and sticky, and my glasses had been sliding down my nose all day.
I had been the one who devised a method to see if and when our eyes were getting worse. I had printed out a snellen chart from the Internet, and we put the chart up in our bedroom at the proper distance. Then I had taken the earpieces off our first 2 pairs of glasses; my –1.25D pair, and Ashley’s –2.00D pair. Of course, for the first few weeks after we got our new prescription we could both see all of the letters down to the 20/20 line wearing our new glasses. And, over the past few years, I had been the one who experienced overcorrection all the time. I had never suffered from the myopic blur that indicated to a myope that they needed a stronger prescription like Ashley had done. So, this year it was a revelation to me when I discovered that I was unable to see the 20/20 line before Ashley couldn’t see it. We tried the –1.25D lenses in front of my glasses, and I could see the line pretty good. It had only been 8 or 9 months since we had previously been examined.
I stuck it out until it was time for our usual annual eye exam. The previous day Ashley and I had checked our vision, and I could barely see the 20/20 line with the old –2.00D lenses in combination with my own glasses. Ashley didn’t have any problem seeing it with the –1.25D glasses in front of her own glasses. So, this year, for the first time in many years I was the one who got to have my eyes tested twice. And when we both got our new –10.50D glasses at age 12, this time Ashley was the one who got to exclaim, “Wow, these are strong!” That had always been my line.
Since our eyes had gone up –2.25D since our previous exam, our doctor decided that he wanted to see us every 6 months. Ashley was excited about this. She had dreamed of being a –20D myope ever since we returned to earth, and we discovered who we were. She began to do everything in her power to increase her myopia, including reading for hours in our room with the old –2.00D glasses held on under her own glasses. I didn’t do anything differently than I had previously been doing. But when it was again time for our exam, we discovered that Ashley could see the 20/20 line with the –2.00D glasses under her own glasses. However, I couldn’t. With the –2.00D glasses under my glasses, I was barely able to see the 20/40 line, and without using the –2.00D glasses, I was having trouble reading the 20/100 line. Ashley went on the Internet to see if she could find out how much of an increase that might give us.
“-3.00D!” Ashley exclaimed. “You need another –3.00D to see from 20/100 down to 20/20. That’s fantastic.”
Well, maybe it was to Ashley. However I didn’t really want to have my glasses –3.00D stronger. But this time I didn’t have any choice. And, when my eyes were examined my new prescription was –14.00D. I know this was correct, because I had my eyes examined twice, and this is the prescription the doctor came up with both times. When the doctor gave mom our new prescription he told her that it was likely that we had such a large increase because we were right in our prime growth period. And, since I was growing a little faster than Ashley, I was surprised that mom hadn’t noticed that I had gone in twice. I was almost a whole inch taller, and I was a cup size bigger than Ashley.
I had absolutely no trouble getting used to my new –14.00D glasses, and I was surprised that Ashley didn’t have the slightest problem with hers. But Ashley was the one who so badly wanted a –20D prescription I doubt that she would have complained that her glasses were too strong.
We went through our 6-month exam with no change. When we had our one year exam, again there was no change given to us, although I probably could have used another –0.25D. But as our 14th birthday approached we both knew we needed stronger glasses. And by now Ashley had caught up with me in height, and in bra size. When we checked our own eyes, we discovered that we could both see exactly the same line on the chart with the –1.25D glasses. And that is what both of our new prescriptions were. We each went in for our own appointment, and we each came back with –15.25D as our new prescription.
Over the next few years our prescriptions climbed slowly, but steadily. Ashley was right on track for having a prescription of –20D for her 18th birthday, and I was following right behind her. We went for our appointment, both of us knowing that we would be right at the –20D that Ashley wanted so badly to be. And we were just slightly over –20D. I was –20.50, and Ashley was –20.75D.
We went to the optical store, and Ashley and I chose new frames for our new lenses. It was going to take a couple of weeks for our new glasses to come in. So we headed for home, with Ashley giggling happily that she had finally reached her goal.
That night Ashley went to a movie with her boyfriend Jeff. I woke around midnight, and I knew deep inside me that something was wrong, very wrong. I lay in bed unable to get back to sleep, with a feeling that Ashley was dead. About 1:30 the doorbell rang, and mom and dad went to the door. I got up and went downstairs as well. There was a policeman at the door who proceeded to tell us that Ashley and Jeff had been involved in a car accident, and Ashley had not survived.
After mom and dad and I had cried for hours, I finally went back to my room, and lay on my bed sobbing for my sister. And then the irony of it all struck me. Here was Ashley, who wanted –20D glasses so badly, having them stolen away at the last minute, just like the last time she died. However, this time there would be no Specs4ever to greet her in Heaven, and help her return to Earth to go through the process all over again. This time she was on her own.
My own prescription continued to climb until it reached –25.50D. I became a school teacher, and every time a young child wearing strong minus glasses comes into my classroom I can’t help but wonder if it is Ashley back for a third attempt.