20:20 Vision

Laser eye surgery has never been as appealing as it was at midday today when, during an important work conversation with a colleague, my contact lens decided to make its way around the inside of my eye and separate into two distinct parts. I managed to retrieve one of these parts (the other is still AWOL somewhere in the back of my eye socket-nice), but my vision with one contact in and one out was so distracting that I had to go all the way home to get a replacement lens.

After months of being nagged about his squinting at the TV my boyfriend also recently signed up to a three month contact lens contract. Unfortunately, however, he’s finding it too difficult to overcome his body’s natural reaction to fight against alien objects being forcibly put into his eyes, and is now considering cancelling the contract and looking into laser eye surgery himself.

I’ve always thought I was too squeamish to have lasers directed at my corneas, but now I think about all the times my contacts have dried up, popped out, scratched my eye and started hurting at inopportune moments I’m beginning to wonder if it might be worth it after all. My prescription isn’t even that bad (-2.5 and -2.25 for my fellow contact-wearers who might be interested), but once the gift of 20:20 vision has been restored it’s hard to give it up and go back to a life with fuzzy edges.

The only problem is the cost of it – laser surgery does not come cheap, at least not in this country. It’s therefore looking like my only option for contact-free perfect vision might be to rob a bank – providing I can find my way to the safe…

My earliest memory

If memory serves it was a summer’s day, the kind that has us Brits rushing for the strawberries and cream and slathering on the high factor sun lotion. My recollection doesn’t stretch to what I was wearing at the time but common sense would suggest it was some form of seasonally appropriate attire. For the purpose of adding colour to this story let’s say it was a yellow dress with white trim, matching white socks and shiny red shoes with gold buckles.

We were standing in front of a big grey house, my mother and I. As I looked up at it in wonder I thought I had never seen anything so gigantic in all my life. It had creepers growing up its walls, and large, foreboding windows which, despite their size, revealed nothing of what was within. We walked down the gravel drive and followed the path around the side of the house until we reached the garden at the back.

It was a large garden, with neatly kept flower beds containing multi-hued sprays of chrysanthemums, roses, bougainvillea and clematis (am I overdoing my artistic license here?). The air was thick with the scent of lavender, and busy little insects tended to the flowers like nurses to the sick. Dotted around the garden were other visitors like us, drawn by the fine weather and the prospect of tea and cake.

But there was another reason why they came – why we had come. Inside the house, on the upper floor, was a long landing. It wasn’t just any landing, it was also a gallery. Lining its walls were portraits of long dead ancestors of the house’s owners, the kind whose eyes follow your every movement, waiting.

We stood on this landing, my mother and I, and I felt a sudden stab of fear. I clutched her hand tightly as we began to walk, the floorboards squeaking underneath our feet. Slow and tentative steps I took, conscious that I was pulling back, not wanting to proceed – but she didn’t notice, or at least seemed not to. I remember trying not to look at their eyes, those soulless black holes that demanded attention but offered nothing but sinister stares in return.

Halfway down the corridor I stopped dead. A chill ran right through me as I looked up into the eyes of one of the paintings. Nothing happened, per se, but to this day I can remember that sensation of abject fear.

I know it sounds far-fetched and I imagine those who don’t believe in ghosts and such like will be scoffing as they read this. All I will say is that when I recounted this story to my mum a year or so ago she couldn’t believe I remembered our visit to that country house – because I couldn’t have been much more than two years old at the time. Now how’s THAT for spooky?


I took this photo whilst walking around the beautiful gardens surrounding Sydney Harbour. It’s blurry background seems quite fitting for this mysterious and slightly chilling (but true!!) story.