Blink and Rub

I rub the inner cor­ners of my eyes, very care­ful­ly at first, using only my fin­ger­tips, then fierce­ly, back and forth over the whole eyes with my clenched fists. What­ev­er is going on beneath my eye­lids responds instant­ly: the feel­ing of spiced grav­el returns. I close my eyes, will­ing myself to do so gen­tly (for clench­ing them shut only increas­es the pain), wish­ing — yet again — that I had not rubbed my eyes just now. After a long painful pause I open my eyes part­way, to test the pain, then begin to blink, hop­ing that maybe this time the flow of tears will move out some irri­tant, some phys­i­cal object or sub­stance, and I will be sud­den­ly and joy­ful­ly free of this. No such luck. Even­tu­al­ly my watery eyes are a lit­tle less angry and I can start to use them to see again. I dab some of the tears away with my sleeve, ever so gen­tly.

This cycle is set to repeat.

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