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Michael Dermansky

Intraocular Pressure

I've stared at her so hard I have her imprinted on my iris. My optical nerve endings have adapted to the shape of her body. The pupils in my eyes are supposed to be relaxing in a soft fluid aqueous humor. My desire is over-dilating. The normally tranquil aqueous humor is spinning like a '70's hot tub and everyone's jumping in for the orgy.

"You have developed acute angle closure glaucoma. Something is creating extreme pressure within your eye. Your IOP level is off the charts." IOP means intraocular pressure, and I really do want to sleep with Hannah Alexandra. I'm an actuary, which in itself shouldn't make it impossible to hold a woman's hand, but the thing is, you don't ask women to hold your hand. "Do you want to hold my hand, as an expression of world peace?"

My mother's optometrist gave me strict orders not to look at Hannah anymore.

"That's easy for you to say."

He thanked me for coming to him. "You're going blind from staring at a woman. It's going to be a landmark case for me. I'll publish articles in the Rainwater Optometry Review and Playboy ."

I told him, "Don't thank me. Thank my mother."

My mother told me don't stare at a full solar eclipse. If you do, you must remember to have a piece of cardboard with a little hole, yet in the spur of the moment you might flat-out look at the full solar eclipse. I saw Hannah every Tuesday and Thursday night at Bergen Community College's continuing ed Guitar playing seminar.

In the first class we had to sit in a circle with our guitars strapped around our necks and say why we wanted to play guitar at this point in our lives.

"Well," I said, "I lost my life fifteen years ago. Life. I meant wife. Wife. I always told her I'd play this old guitar for her at a picnic at Rison Field, sing 'Sweet Baby James' to her but I never did. It's not that I think I'll win her back. I'm an actuary, for god's sake."

Everyone looked at me as if I'd just flown in from Mars, a place where there are actuaries.

Hannah said, "I never know what I want, but I want to play this here guitar." And then she strummed a chord. I'd learn it was the G minor chord. Hannah has rich Irish red hair and red polka dot freckles. She reminds me of my sister's friend who ran away from home. The police found her trying to hitchhike with two suitcases on Route 4. Route 4 is the highway that leads to the mall and no one will give you a ride to the mall. My family laughed at the foolishness of her plan but I so admired her courage. Hannah's skin may be pale and she may me small but under the surface is a dense super rubber. Her body is made of the same stuff super balls are made of. I can just tell that no matter what happens in her life she'll bounce back. The first bounce of a super ball is fast and true. The second bounce is darting, fast and practically uncatchable as excess spin gets logged in.

I knew I'd have to drop the class, because I'd never stop staring at Hannah. The plus side of going blind is I wouldn't mind being lead around, guided by a Seeing Eye dog or a woman with a guitar who'd strum the G chord to tell me turn left, the C to turn right. I don't think there are any Seeing Eye guitarists, so I went to one last class to drop out. As I stared at Hannah, white light poured into me. I told myself, look away, for god's sake. She was wearing a red vinyl mini skirt, so I told myself just deal with the pain. Maybe if I put a tiny hole in a piece of cardboard.

I walked up to Hannah at her car after class. "I can't look at you anymore because I look at you so much I'm going blind."

She says, "That 's the sweetest thing a man has ever said to me. Do you want to go Rison Field and have a picnic? I can play this song I've been practicing."

I blinked my eyes. "I'll bring some chicken salad sandwiches."

Michael Dermansky studied writing with Heather Lewis and Janice Eidus at the Writer's Voice in New York City. He is currently writing and performing stand-up comedy at clubs such as Stand-up New York, Don't Tell Mama, New York Comedy Club. He is also developing a one person show.


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