“Open,” the optical technician says, “open wider.”

  I press my face against the forehead rest, trying to lift the skin above my eyes and mold my face into a state of extreme shock. In the last year or so, I’ve noticed that after I scrunch and relax my forehead, the wrinkles stay.

“Wider,” the technician says. “Even wider.”

I cannot open my lids any further. When I close them, red dots are spinning in circles.

The tech calls for back up. A woman comes in, snaps on rubber gloves, and pries my upper and lower lids open while the other takes the images. By the way they talk over the machine, I sense this is not a standard procedure.

My need for special accommodation feels like a personal deficiency, or, I reason, some kind of systemic prejudice against people with epicanthic lids. My grandma, who died with lipstick on, once told my sister and I that her gynecologist said she looked Asian. This made us wonder if she had an Asian-looking vagina.

“Beautiful,” the woman with the gloves says. “Just beautiful.”

“Thank you,” I say. I like being called beautiful, even if it’s in reference to my corneal topography.

“Don’t turn the lights on,” the first tech warns the other, “she has very large pupils.”

Is this a good thing or a bad thing? The tipping scale of my confidence vacillates.

“Fantastic work,” the tech says to me, after I blink when instructed. “Great job.”

I find it amusing when people provide encouragement for small achievements. It makes me think of my dog, who gets a treat every time he poops.

When we finish, I meet with the clinical coordinator who tells me my corneas are very thick and that I’m a perfect candidate for laser eye surgery. She says I can’t wear makeup for three weeks after the surgery. Without eye makeup, people often tell me I look tired. Once I was asked if I’d been punched in both eyes.

“But you don’t need makeup,” she says, before I can respond. “you’re so pretty.”

Thick corneas. Perfect candidate. Don’t need makeup.

The scales shift, just a little bit higher.



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