“Shall we begin?”
A suave voice pierces into the silence. I wish I had a face to the name. A wish I’ve made for as long as I can remember. He’s close enough for me to touch. His warm breath smells like mint. Spearmint. His voice sounds vibrant. Too young to be old. Attractive. I could reach out and maybe run my fingers over a beard or stubble. I don’t. That would be rude and weird. He smells fresh with a hint of cologne.
He clicks open a briefcase, I hear the rustling of papers and the notice the smooth sound of fabric-expensive-brushing against the walls of the briefcase. I jump a little when a sudden rush of air and a heavy stack of papers and one thick book drop onto the glass table in front of me.
“Let’s do it.” I reply.
“Good. We’ll start by filling out some paperwork. Personal information, waivers, and a non-disclosure agreement. Those sort of things.”
“I’ll read them out loud and you can answer. All we need is your signature, which I will guide your hand to the line to sign.”
“Nice to meet you, Prisma. My name is Rod Jones- Dr. Jones here at Iris Industries.”
“Date?” He says.
He doesn’t laugh but his voice is smiling when he answers the question for himself. “August 10th, 2030.”
“303 —Avenue, Brooklyn, NY”
“Not much of a walk for you. But then again, isn’t everything a long walk for you?”
“Not anymore.” I feel indignant for some reason. Heat rises to my cheeks.
Sign here to consent treatment to a trial use of a psychotropic substance.”
He takes my hand and glides it across the form. It is warm but not clammy. And he places a heavy pen into my palm. I scribble my signature. It must look shaky.
It must have taken three hours to cover form after form. Dr. Jones read each line with great importance. Different from any other Doctor I’ve visited who droned on and on asking me medical and personal questions.
Their eyes, “glazed over”. A term I had heard many times before. But Dr. Jones’s eyes must be clear. For he asks each question and makes each statement emphatically.
“Cause of blindness?”
“Blunt force trauma to the visual cortex.”
“Not the organs themselves?”
This means I don’t see anything at all. The concept of sight is as foreign to my brain as it would be to a steering wheel. I don’t know what light or dark is. White or black. For as long as I can remember, just the void.
“When did you lose your sight?”
“When I was three.”
He gasps softly. And I notice the click of wire frames clap against the tabletop. His sleeve rustles as he lifts his arm to rub his eyes. He sounds suddenly tired.
“The goal of this experiment...is for you to tell me...what the color is of that book I placed in front of you.”
Now I gasp and shake my head. Is he kidding?
“Before you get up and go, let me remind you that the reward for naming the correct color is the considerable amount of $1.5 million.”
I settle down again. Head spinning. I don’t understand how I can possibly do that, but the hope for the money I desperately need keeps me in my chair.
“Okay Prisma. Are you ready for your treatment?”
“Now I'm going to administer two droplets, one in each eye. You may feel a slight sting for a moment, but that should be it. Then I want you to tell me everything you feel after that.”
We both wait in silence. The clock ticking is the only sound I hear. After ten minutes or maybe an hour, he asks, “Would you like some water?”
“Yes please.” I’ve suddenly become very thirsty.
He places a sweating, plastic cup in my hand. I aim for my mouth but hit my chin instead. The icy water is a waterfall down my chest. I start to shiver and shake. I am a tambourine and my teeth, tiny maracas.
“Prisma? How do you feel?” His voice booms in my ears. “You look cold. Can I give you my coat?”
Starchy. Crisp like an apple. Apples are red. Red is alive. Red is my heart beating and pounding in my frozen chest.
“Why are you smiling, Prisma?” he asks.
“Because...red! It’s hot. It keeps me warm...Too hot!” I shriek and pull the doctor’s lab coat off of me. I begin to weep as I remember somehow. Flamenco dancers in the parade with juicy vibrant roses in their hair. As hot tears fall onto my lap I recall the sight of blood. My blood. The last thing I ever saw. “Red is blood. I tasted it. I smelled it. I saw it...for the last time. A long long time ago.”
The doctor didn’t say a thing. Just scribbled madly on paper. The paper crinkles and pops. The pen bursts. “It’s all popcorn. The sunshine made them pop, Yellow!” I cry.
As the effects continue to strengthen, I think to myself, my dog we named Old Yeller. My parents turned off the movie before the tragic end. So I named my yellow lab after his namesake thinking we would always hop and skip together in the sunshine. “Bad dog!” He peed on the carpet and my dad pounded Old Yeller on the snout. I would eventually find out the fate of both the dog in the movie and the one in my heart. Yellow teeth. The stink of urine. Bad breath. Red fades to yellow. Yellow means the beginning of the end. Fall leaves turn.
Evergreens. I can smell christmas! Fresh clean grass tickles my toes. I’m Going green. I’ll take care of the shoots of life. But the pine needles poke my soft skin. And I’m bleeding once again. I can’t stand the pain. Green shoots from my mouth. The smell is the opposite of fresh and the taste makes me puke again and again. “Green is gross!” I shout.
I feel arms around me. I think I’m carried down a tunnel. Plunged into a pool. Not too hot, not too cold. My evil Green washes away. Crystalline, clean blue. “Once upon a time, blue was my favorite color.” I say to the arms surrounding me. Keeping me afloat. Somehow Dr. Jones knows I can’t swim. Or does he? My heart skips as I begin to sweat though my body is submerged. I panic. “I can’t swim!” I shout and flail until I wrestle myself from his reach. I’m submerged. I’m floating to the bottom.
Down there is a star shooting from the blue. Twinkling. Brilliant. I get closer to this light. And suddenly there they all are. Waiting for me. Cosmic bursts. Laughter, tears, pain, joy, hopelessness, hope! Rainbows that exist and always will whether I remember them or not!
I’m pulled away from the colors. The doctor is calling my name. I breath the sweet air once again. Towels soak me up. Every smell is a color. Every sound. Taste. Touch. The doctor is a dark rainbow.
Everything is dark as the effects begin to loosen their hold when I find I am seated back in my chair in the room. I begin to cry. I know what light and dark mean now. “Prisma! Time’s up. You have to tell me now. What is the color of this book?”
I cry out, “Black! It’s all black!”
He is quiet. All is still. It’s over. All over.
“Congratulations.” He sighs overwhelmed. “You did it!”
Then he gets down on his knees and lays his head in my lap. Sobbing.
“You have no idea what this means for me. My real name is Jeremy Cone, CEO of Iris Industries,” he cries.
“Why are you crying?” I whisper.
Amazement in his voice, gasping through hot tears he replies, “Now I’ll see again too.”