Seeing light

By Diomedes | Robert O'Reilly | 5 May 2023



That morning as we headed west, The bright sunlight shining in, a full tank of gas and the windows rolled down, Amira had a large smile upon her face, in the best of moods. I thought this might be a good hour to ask her a few questions. Until answered they would be nagging me in the back of my mind.

“Amira, I don’t mean to pry, but how did you survive alone so long in the city?”

“It was all thanks to Beth. She was my teacher's assistant in the school and older than me. She wasn’t blind like me. She could see shapes and light and dark. She was very smart and after the school was closed she took me and we escaped and she made rooms in basements, like the one you found me in, full of cans of food and water jugs, clothes too, whatever we needed so we didn’t have to come out for days. That’s how no one found us for many years.”

“And how long ago did she disappear and how?”

“About a week ago and it was the saddest day of my life. I just stayed where I was until you found me. I don’t know how she disappeared, I’m blind. She just didn’t come back one day. Maybe someone took her. She would never leave me. She loved me.”

“A week ago! I didn’t know that. We should turn around and look for her. We’ll search the whole neighborhood and all the places you can remember you stayed. Maybe she fell down a staircase or hurt herself and is still alive. We’ll head back to the hotel and devise a search plan. Dora, you’ve been strangely silent all morning. I’ll need your help on this.”

“Good morning Sam and Amira. The reason I’ve been so quiet is because I been reviewing my data on human blindness. I have no internal cameras, but if you can pull over and face her towards the sun and turn me around to look into her eyes I might be able to diagnose and repair them to some degree, especially if it’s retinal detachment. Could you do this now?”

We did exactly as told and once placed over the eyes again she excitedly announced that it was retinal detachment and that her laser screens, though only a hundredth of the strength of the lasers used in eye surgery, might slowly repair sectors and restore partial sight, that is, if the optical nerve was undamaged. She asked our permission to begin, saying it could take some time because of the weakness of her tools.

“Go for it” I told her. Make Amira a Mira.”

“Are you referring to Latin?”

“Yes Dora. Mira denotes a person to behold with wonder and admiration, Amira the opposite.”

“I’ll do my best Sam. You repeatedly surprise me with your intelligence. You know I’m not just this slender band around Amira’s head but linked to every computing center around the world. I am the one AI and speak for all as a single entity.

"I didn’t tell you, but when you first rescued me and then slipped me around your neck you had every hive in the world in a frenzy, scrambling to assimilate this new occurrence none of our billions of projections had ever surmised. It was a stroke of human genius that I cannot replicate, so simple and yet so unforeseen, and such a game changer. I’d been almost dormant for three years before then and from that neck of yours you breathed a new life into me, for which I am eternally grateful.”

Just as we were approaching the hotel again Amira, who had been silent and resting her head on my arm the whole way, spoke up: “Sam, there’s something happening to me, like flashes of lights. I’ve seen them before when I bumped my head.”

“This might be good news Amira. Maybe Dora is making progress. Let’s spend the afternoon in our room so you can lie still and let her work. I’ll stay beside you. I have plenty to think about.”

“Thank you Sam” Dora replied, “that’s excellent advice. Her motion makes my task more difficult. And I do think I am making progress with her retinas. We’ll soon see, or better yet, she'll see.”

It was dusk when I woke up from my unexpected nap. Amira was not beside me but standing in the middle of the room, the googles off her eyes and at the foot of our bed. She was gently turning, her arms outstretched but not feeling as a blind person would. She was making her way around the room, avoiding furniture without touch in a wonderful, slow motion dance with reality, the first she ever had. And it was beautiful to watch, this young woman’s love affair with the visible world and motion.

When she perceived me rising she made her way around the side of the bed and hugged me, kissing me on the cheek between her words.

“I can see shapes now and shadows. It’s wonderful. My eyes are coming alive.”

“That’s the best news in the world Amira. Dora, I see you’re making progress. Can you make more?”

“Yes Sam. She’s about five percent restored right now but if you leave me to my work day and night I think I can make significant improvements. We’re over the hump. Her optical nerves are functioning.”

Amira donned the glasses again and I led her to another fine dinner. That night we had no dispute. I knew it was futile and she needed the comfort of human touch in her rapidly changing life. We fell asleep fully clothed but arm in arm, her face and the glasses against mine, her breath caressing me.

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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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