A proposition

By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 6 May 2023



A blind person’s existence must be a confined thing, like living at the bottom of the ocean in an old fashioned diving suit and every movement a slow and ridiculous motion, or like one constantly living in a medieval suit of armor, encumbered and clumsy.

Now she was free of this burden and pulled away from my arms and looked me square in the face, saying I was just like she imagined, handsome and young. She told me she couldn’t see perfectly yet, every object had fuzzy outlines, but she was beginning to perceive colors, something she had never imagined and to her they were like delicious flavors of ice cream as she drank them in.

We had a search to conduct this morning and after a quick meal we set out. I took Amira to the alley where I found her and asked her to recall the other places they had been hiding. She was looking about her curiously, at all the lamp posts and buildings and street signs, taking her time to catch her bearings. This was not the world she'd known and after a minute she began touching the buildings and drawing her hand along them as she led me, up the avenue and across a street to a similar structure two blocks away.

“This was our school” she told me, “and in the basement we had a large stash of food because we stayed here most of the time.”

I could see it was a school as we walked along a corridor of classrooms. At the far end there was a steep flight of stairs leading down into pure darkness and I had no flashlight with me, so I paused until Dora spoke: “I have night vision and thermal imaging and I can perceive from here that there is a human form in the room below and that it is alive.”

Amira pulled me hard by the hand down the staircase, probably able to see even better than me now with Dora’s help, a strange reversal of roles. She guided me to a pitch black corner and a mattress on the floor where Beth lay, unconscious but faintly breathing. Amira cried out her name as she embraced her and this woke her a bit.

I didn’t trust myself carrying her in this darkness so I dragged her through the gloom and up the steel stairs backwards. She issued faint cries of pain as her feet banged against each step as we went up. In the light again I could see that her one leg was broken above the ankle, swollen and bloody, a large gash in the skin and a piece of bone visible. She was in a delirium and didn’t know what was happening.

But now I could carry her. She didn’t weigh much. She was short and slender and soon she was in a bed, the nurse's office of the school. As Amira sponged her face with cold water Dora played doctor, instructing me to sterilize the wound with the supplies at hand and snap the bone back into place, which took several clumsy tries on my part. In the pain of these attempts Beth woke up. She recognized Amira and hugged her, thanking God over and over for our aid, though I doubted that my aid was worth a thanking.

She needed much more care, so with Dora on my neck I made a trip to the hospital. I was amazed at her efficiency. She seemed to know exactly where everything she asked for could be found, as if she’d been a doctor in that place for ten years. And it was a very long list of items I collected, filling two satchels, from scalpels to sedatives.

With Beth somewhat washed and fed, I carried and drove her back to our hotel suite for all the comforts there and what would prove a slow recovery, Amira her constant nurse. But I was in no hurry and now I had two humans to talk to.

Over the next days progress was made on every front. On Amira’s head Dora paid the closest attention to Beth, even having me open her leg injury to examine the alignment of the bones and condition of the blood vessels. She gave me the most detailed instructions and I almost felt like a practiced surgeon at that bedside. There was hardly a drop of blood and with the local anesthesia Beth didn’t feel a thing. We changed her dressings twice a day and soon had her in a cast. Within weeks she was hobbling across the room on crutches.

All this while Dora was continuing to repair Amira’s retinas and she revelled each day in the pleasures of her improving sight. She didn’t walk to any errand I sent her on, she ran. She even talked faster for some reason. Her cheerfulness was contagious, which only aided Beth’s recovery. We had been placing Dora over Beth’s eyes at times to monitor her vital signs and blood. Then one day Dora announced to us that she might be able to improve Beth’s sight also though it was a completely different condition.

When I first dragged Beth out of her dungeon into the light of the corridor and took one good look at her, a shiver ran down my spine. She was slender and a few inches shorter than Amira, but well proportioned, with a beautiful face and straight, mid-length blond hair. But to look into her eyes was disturbing. I’d never seen anything like it. The iris of one eye was a distinctly different color from the other. Her right eye was the fairest, light blue and if both her eyes had been the same she could have passed for a Viking princess as her face was so perfectly chiselled and her nose so narrow.

But it wasn’t. It was an almost yellowish brown with a slight cloudiness or glaze to it which Dora explained was a genetic defect affecting her pupil and blurring her vision to such an extreme degree that anything over ten feet away was unrecognizable.

Dora told us that doctors had always considered this condition irremediable but that she would attempt it, using her pinpoint laser array to remove dead cells and stimulate damaged cells back to life, a gargantuan task as she termed it, and an inviting challenge too, which she thanked us again for providing her.

“Sam, once again you have every hive, my whole matrix at work on a problem so complex, the reconstruction of the broken DNA strands in her iris. I don’t know how you do it but keep them coming. I was somnolent for three years, everything in perfect working order in my world. You come along and task me. Now I’m completely awake and fully employed. When you challenge me Sam, you sure don’t go half-measures. If you ever find a spouse, I wonder how she’ll make out? You give the word ‘difficult’ a whole new meaning.”

“Well Dora, if you ever manage to assume a human form, maybe I’ll marry you and you can find out first hand. So there’s another task to set your matrix to work on.”

“That’s a very curious proposition Sam. No one’s ever proposed to me before. Thank you. I’ll think on it.”

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B.A. in Latin and Greek from U.C. Berkley. Writer, Blogger and retired Electrician.

Robert O'Reilly
Robert O'Reilly

I am educated in the Western Classical Tradition, B.A. from U.C. Berkeley in Latin and Greek, English major, one year at U. of Toronto, studied under Alain Renoir and Northrop Frye, read most classics full time for many years after university in French, English, Latin and Greek to the modern day. I am interested in the near future of technology, what changes it imposes upon our heritage and character as humans. Short stories and Essays are my medium.

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