Patient Profile: The Girl Who Accidentally Killed a Child With Her Car

I teach her how to place the contact lens carefully
on the tip of her finger. To examine the flare of its
lip, make sure it curves in, not out. The lens is
lightly tinted blue for visibility. To make it easier
to see the small thing.

I know who she is. I imagine she knows I know, is
used to being the girl who looked at her phone for a
tragic instant. Read the internet comments saying
she deserves to die. Her pale lashes are salt-slippery
with saline, stuck together in tiny blond mountain
peaks. They escape her grasp every time she brings
the lens to her eye.

“It’s the nature of the eye to close when something
is coming toward it,” I say. “You have to override
your body’s involuntary defense mechanism.” I
show her how to pry her eye open by holding the
lid, not the lashes. Still, her eye squeezes shut
when it sees her finger approach.

“Sometimes it’s easier not to look,” I say, and show
her the trick of glancing away at the last minute,
the necessary distance her sensitive cornea needs.
It works. She adheres the contact to the white of
her eye. Air bubbles collapse with audible gasps.

The smallest of graces when she looks toward it, the
transparent shield slipping between her pupil and
the rest of the world.