My eyes hurt the moment I get out the pool, so I rub them thinking it’s the usual chlorine sting.
When I get home, my wife takes one look at me and says: what have you done? I say nothing. I’ve done nothing. But she replies: well you must have done something, have you seen your eyes?
I go and look at them in a mirror, and they’re red and bloodshot and feel like someone is pricking them with pin after pin.
My wife comes into the bathroom just as I rub them again. She says: don’t do that. You’ll only make it worse. I drop my hands and say, I know, I know, but not rubbing them doesn’t make them feel any better either. I go to rub them again, but she pulls my hands away from my face. I ask her what she’s doing, and she says just what I do when she picks at her eczema.
I walk past her and out of the bathroom, but she follows, saying, you didn’t wear goggles again, did you? How many times have I told you to put them on? I head to our bedroom, her still following, and tell her I lost them. She asks if it’s that hard to buy some new ones, and I say, no, but I forgot. That’s all. I lie down on the bed and tell her I just need to close my eyes for a bit. I need a nap anyway. When I wake up, I’m sure I’ll feel better.
The pins now feel like knives. Only when I close them does the pain stop.
My wife comes into the room and asks how I’m feeling. I pretend to be asleep, and eventually she goes away. I reach over to my bedside table, take my Ipod off the top, and put my headphones on. I hope the music will relax me, and for a while I drift in and out of sleep.
After what feels like ages, I feel my wife sitting on the bed beside me. She’s shaking my shoulder gently, saying my name, wake up, wake up. One of my headphones has fallen out, and I hear her clearly.
I say, what? And she says, come on, you’ve got to get up now. We’ve got dinner with Jenny and Phil, remember? I say, right, sure, I forgot, and sit up. I can’t open my eyes. I try but even a little slip of light makes them hurt.
My wife tells me we need to go to hospital. We’ll cancel dinner. They’ll understand. I say, okay, but what about Jenny? She’s been planning it for ages. We never see them anymore.
My wife rests her hand on my thigh and says, you won’t be seeing anyone at this rate.
At the hospital they wash both my eyes, ask which swimming pool I’d been to, and tell me to invest in some goggles. The doctor tells me to go home, rest, and keep my eyes shut.
On the way home we stop at a mall and get some goggles. When we get back in the car, my wife leans down to scratch at the eczema on her knees. She looks at me. I don’t say a thing.