I can't see anymore. What a gift! Vision has never agreed with me. I hate looking and always have. If something is in front of me, why should I know? What does it matter what is going on? Smell is a minor annoyance, taste too. Touch is easily avoided. Hearing is honestly up there — but no sense aggravates me quite like sight. Last Friday I had my eyes removed by Jared Padalecki.
The procedure took just over three hours. He’d modified the left wing of his manse, turning it into a makeshift operating theatre. All of the attendants were like-minded; most met through forums and darker channels. Despite the secrecy and violence required it was a joyous event. Some desire eye removal themselves and found deep satisfaction in mine finally leaving their sockets. It required them to watch, which is bittersweet but one of the rare moments where vision felt nearly at home in their spirit. The remaining witnesses, a smaller group, were aspiring surgeons. You could tell them by their notebooks and fervent stare.
Nearly all of us met on Sclerabee. Their message boards are a place where connections are made, research is shared and plans take shape. There are other sites dedicated to more searching questions on the need for deprivation, many generous communities invested in the why and how come. I grew up there. Sclerabee is where you go for final care, a community no longer examining their instincts, one invested only in direct action and facilitation.
When Jared directly messaged me it was with the screen name Tittybyebye. Initially, I was put off by his crass handle. But finding a surgeon is rare, especially somewhere late-stage like Sclerabee. After some back and forth I found him very knowledgeable and well-prepared. His writing to me was also peppered with a humor and good nature rare in our group. I am not funny, but I admire it in other people. Eventually I warmed to his screen name and appreciated the lightness he brought to a process that, while vital, becomes dead serious in its urgency after years of desperation.
Histories were not discussed. There were no origin stories or reasoning. We did exchange some personal information. I sent him photos of my eyes with big red X's on them and my latest bloodwork from a lab at home. He provided a research certification notarized by the moderators at Sclerabee and an image of him palming a basketball to show what those hands can do. Jared offered to host the surgery and provide every tool needed . He declined my attempt at pitching in. I knew from this that he must be well off but did not pry. I trusted all other crucial information to Sclerabee's rigorous vetting process.
I arrived at his house the night before the operation. I came by taxi, which was harrowing. I could not wear my blindfold while hailing it, nor my protective earmuffs in the car since I needed both senses to ensure safe travel and communication with my driver. It was with great relief that I stepped on to his driveway.
Donning my limiters again, standing at his front door, I knocked and waited. After a moment Jared greeted me with a hand on the small of my back, and I was guided inside.
I was surprised by his touch. It was different somehow. Not pleasurable, but not intolerable either. That was quite the upgrade from my usual experience. I tend to wear chain mail when forced into the outside world — it dulls anything I may brush against accidentally. The weight and pressure can distract from sudden sensory events. His handling of me was necessary: I was incapable of finding the operating room on my own. I did not protest. I felt him press against my armor as he led me through his home. The sensation was queer, there but not fully, somewhere fresh and in between. There was also no apology in his hand on me; if any information beyond direction was present it was simply his understanding. Recalling that now could make me cry if I had the ducts.
In time we came to the table where my surgery was to take place. He took one of my gauntlets and placed it on the headrest, making it known to me. I hoisted my body upon the platform with some effort until I was flat on my back. Suspended slightly in my layers of thick industrial padding underneath the chainmail, drained by the day's unwanted stimulation, I fell asleep.
* * *
I woke the next morning to a soft ticking in the left ear of my protective earmuff. Very soft and small, like ant communication, tender chitters that wove in and out with gentle volumes. A foreign experience but not alarming, the sound moving eventually to my right ear before rising and drawing me to consciousness. I may hate hearing less than seeing but consider it a close second. But you could find no hate in my body at that moment beyond the memory of it. Like his phantom touch, Jared Padalecki had found another way around my aversions. How strange to be engaged in hearing but remain untriggered. I do not know what apparatus he used to create this little choir. I do not know how he calculated their performance in such a way to ease me awake and hold me there without discomfort. I was so stunned that I did not notice as he removed my earmuff.
Not a whisper, not loud enough to be full voice either.
I had no sense of where he was, he sounded close, but I felt no breath on me.
Today's the day
I am being talked to and it's fine?
I felt him drawing nearer somehow. He had provided such a careful sensory ramp, created with such care and patience, that I felt no need for my limiters. Fully present and none the worse for it, I dared to speak even though I may have tasted the air:
"How are you making this OK?"
I'm an actor
I felt pressure on my eyelid over the blindfold, his fingers grazing
Let me see them
Everything was progressing rapidly but I was caught up. I nodded, and he pulled the scarf from my face.
I hate them
I nodded again, tears welling.
This was almost too much. But I was so bare already and still free of tension even with multiple senses blazing. Cautiously, I opened my eyes.
His face was plastered with a flesh-tone putty that blurred his features. Every part of him was covered in a taupe fabric that, upon inspection, matched the putty in color and gave the illusion of sameness from head to toe. His hair was a tight bob of dark brown, the only thing off-palette. It seemed to hover in mid-air. Looking beyond, I saw the room was painted the same hue. The nearby workstation, its tools and instruments painted as well, discernible only by the shadows they cast.
I do not think I'd ever allowed my gaze to be so full and wide. I could regard every detail without strain. He had truly rounded every edge. I sat up, bristling as my chain mail clanked and rattled against the metal table. I nearly covered my ears and called out but Jared let out a soft groan that stabilized me, and with a sound no less. I looked down at my armor for a moment before returning my eyes to him.
He moved toward me and began the process of undressing. Somehow I kept watch, noticing his hands as they unlatched the heavy belt around my hauberk. With great care he placed it on a side table. Gauntlets removed, my arms above my head, I braced for the removal of my remaining armor. Fully expecting an overload of stimulus I was surprised as the entirety was pulled off in one breezy motion. Aided by his height and practiced hands I was quickly left only in my enormous padding. This, too, was removed with grace and efficiency, no small feat considering its industrial thickness and sturdy bindings.
Nude, every limiter and any covering far from me, I stood before him. Opening a cabinet I failed to notice before he took out a big old bucket. I watched as he placed a huge hand inside and snatched a glorb of taupe putty. I outstretched, offering myself, understanding. On his knees he began to cover my feet and lower legs. Every movement was exact and steady, his thoughtful application of putty beginning to creep up my inner thigh. For a moment I wondered why I did not don something similar to his gray-brown robing, but his choices had been miraculous so far. I had a startling urge to run my fingers through his bob. Startling not just for the want of contact, but to touch the part of him that wasn't covered and blending in. The part of him that wasn't masked to nothingness, the very thing I thought I so desired in every way. Maybe I just wanted to soothe the thing required to hang on. To thank it for the enormous weight it carries, the burden of wanting to leave but needing to stay for survival. I promised myself to him then. Promised to reward his generosity in kind, to provide any removals tugging at his spirit. To cultivate my own small choirs for him, to rehearse and perform any touching that answered his own complex formula.
Could he feel my new devotion? He had intuited so much already. With upward strokes over my abdomen and climbing to my chest and neck I was nearly all puttied. Jared took one last scoop from the bucket before bringing his hands to my face. It was here I noticed the smell, confusing and sweet like an alien fruit. My brain searched for a memory to attach to it but could find nothing real, nothing experienced. With what had he seasoned this goop? A divine recipe for sure. It smelled safe, like home but deeper. A candle that burned in the place you lived before you were born.
I have never wanted to die, only to exist less. That is how I've always thought of it. But here I am touched and talked to, sharing a space I've considered fully, existing more than I had in years and savoring each moment. A sacred thread was running through me, part of a grand pattern to which I longed to return. My only dream was to be close to the principle substance, whatever absolute we were all plucked from. I had always imagined the portal there being found through reduction, but in that operating theater I glimpsed another way. Room, friend, bucket, putty. Intention, care, understanding, allowance. Infinite hokey thoughts rattled in my mind. I was about to yell that this was all just a big design problem when I saw the first spectator arrive.
Soon they all filed in. Every witness caked in blessed taupe. With the viewing rooms full and the lights becoming bright and sanitary, I knew it was time to get my peepers removed. Still reeling from the rush of new concepts, confusion and protest coursing through me, I made a sharp chirping sound. The audience gasped, some covering their ears and others more surprised than unsettled. Every reluctant eye was on me. I folded, whatever boldness I'd mustered over the last few hours ate itself. Jared's magic handling of me faded from brilliance. It took only an instant to bring me back to a more familiar aching, the shock of their stare returning every aversion and old idea.
Mike, lie down
Slowly, being careful to muffle my steps, I walked back to my metal bed. I lay down and looked up at him, still devoted. This room, its taupe instruments, his bearable caress, his voice the only one I'd been able to endure — I was beyond grateful for it all. But it could not be sustained. It was a most tolerable arrangement but each part could not harmonize forever. Jared Padalecki would eventually be needed for a new television role. Ants and other bugs could find a way through cracks in the walls, their varying colors breaking the illusion. Thunder and other weather stuff could cause great booms, leaks and erosions. There was no restroom, no area to make sissy. I could only list a few taupe foods, and their combination did not create a balanced diet. Beyond this I did not build his needs into my fantasy. I remained dedicated to them, but they were a mystery nonetheless.
I took one final look around the room. The commotion I caused with my outburst had dissipated, and everyone sat still in their pews. I could feel them watching and knew the discomfort it caused. I returned every stare, hoping the pain it brought me would meet theirs. This sharing filled the room. Sorrow rang out but a kind of joy too alongside it. In just a few hours I would no longer be able to see. I tried to conjure this blessing in the air, making it something they could tear a small piece from. Jared approached:
Count down from 10 sis
He placed an inhaler over my nose and mouth. I woke later, sightless. Tactical earmuffs and armor back in place. My recovery was easy and manageable. I felt no closer to my spiritual goals but knew it would come in time. He came to my room only once as I convalesced. I felt him remove a headphone and whisper: