I looked at Em, hunched over the new batch of eye-drop formulations we were going over. Em has had myopia her whole life, and by the time it stopped getting worse, she was already a twenty-nine year old. I remember the conversation we had once, very distinctly, like it were yesterday.
“I’m so tired, Sean,” she’d told me, “Of being the only one in the family that’s not yet married.”
“That’s okay, marriage isn’t a big deal, you know,” I’d told her.
Em had shaken her head and said that she was Indian, and being as old as she was, and unmarried to boot wasn’t considered a good thing in her family. I told her I failed to see logic.
She’d sighed and explained, “It’s a thing. An actual thing. Indian parents don’t understand you, it’s true. You could be doing well career-wise, but you aren’t doing anything till you’ve actually gotten married to a nice guy and made a few babies. And I keep getting rejected. My parents are worried.”
That had sparked my interest. Em was beautiful: she was tall and stately, had dimples when she smiled (which wasn’t very often), and also had one of the sharpest minds in the lab. She was a brilliant scientist. Sometimes I considered her my competition, my only competition.
“I’m sorry I’m being nosy, but why would you keep getting rejected?”
She’d pointed at her eyes and said, “Proptosis and high myopia. They won’t even do LASIK on me. My eyesight is really bad. Minus eleven diopter.”
And she’d cried a little. I’d passed her a tissue, patted her on the back and gone back to the lab.
Present day, she would still get upset over her eyesight but she tried to shove it under the rug and pretend to be fine. But I could see through the façade. Strong Em had reached her breaking point. I’m trying to not be too intrusive but I notice Em pick up a of couple eye-drop samples that weren’t meant to be there, which she then proceeds to pocket casually. I know exactly what those samples are. I look down at my notes and smile to myself.
Two months later, Em walks in and she no longer has proptosis. No longer has myopia. She also has a shiny new ring on her finger and new veneers.
She’s hugging back everyone who’s congratulating her.
I’m at my station, working on my patent. I’ve decided to call it AntiPropt and it’s my baby. It’s my brainchild, my new eye-drop. It essentially penetrates the eye to slowly absorb and dehydrate the eyeball over a course of few weeks. Oh, but not too much, so that fluid loss from the aqueous and vitreous humor happens over a span of time, and doesn’t happen too drastically because having a shrunken globe is again, messy. And once the process is completed, this leads to a shortening in the actual axial length of the eyeball, making the images form on the retina like it normally should, thereby curing myopia without any invasive procedure. This drop had taken me years to perfect and Em has been my first successful test subject.
She comes over and hugs me.
“Thank you, Sean,” she says, “for my new eyes and my new life.”