Floaters, swimmers, squiggles, everyone sees them in their periphery. I always tried to study them when I was bored. A useless endeavor that's taught me more than I assumed it ever could.
My obsession with them started out as many do, with innocent youthful observation. I quickly discovered that moving your gaze to them scares them back to the edges of your vision. This is where most people give up. I had a plan, though. I would stare at a fixed point and try to observe as many things without averting my gaze to them.
My technique slowly improved, and I saw that the little things were a little like the planarians from my high school biology lab. For the longest time they never did much more than what most people see. One day during a class which I had no interest in, one suddenly developed what I can only assume was an eye spot. I assume it was an eye of sorts because now it would speed across my field of view and slam into other unsuspecting swimmers. I named him Raging Red.
Red kept ramming the other couple of floaters until he ripped it in half. A cloud of black puffed into my vision. Red's outline turned from the translucent silver to an inky black. After weeks of observation this color did not fade. After the fatal incident, Red left the remaining floaters alone. Now he preferred to ram at the edges of my vision, like it contained him. He was persistent, and I find it important to note that I never felt anything from all of his activity. I also would like to note that with his darker outline it was considerably harder to lose track of him. As far as I could ever tell, he would flatten himself to the edge of my vision and hide there when not in view.
Eventually during his frequent escape attempts, I felt a sharp prick near my tear duct. Red was gone from my vision once I opened my eye. I ran to the bathroom, and saw drop or two of blood running down my cheek. Red was also slithering down my cheek, I could tell because I moved my gaze around but he stayed fixed. After a little squirming, he settled on my cheek. I tried to brush him off, but it was like ink had dried onto my skin. He was about the size of my thumb.
Later that evening, my college roommate didn’t say a word about my new marking. I happened to have a Skype call with my conservative mother that same night, but she didn’t say a word about it. I noticed in the feed from my laptop that it wasn’t showing either. I excused myself to the bathroom for a moment, and sure enough he was still there, maybe even slightly bigger. I went to bed, thinking maybe I’d let my imagination run a little wild with this floater thing for a little too long.
I woke up to my eyes crusted shut. I brushed it off as allergies acting up, and went about my day. Day after day when I’d wake up, my eyes were crusted shut. On the third day, I took the time to look at what I was wiping out of my eyes. Dark brown. I went to the bathroom, red was writhing in my skin. It was painless, but the sight made me weak. It brought me to my knees. I looked up, and saw a floater sliding around the holes of an electrical socket, slithering in and sliding out of a different hole.
Writing, slithering, slinking. They were all over the bathroom, and all over me. I could just barely feel the delicate movements all over my skin. All those little silvery translucent bodies, sticking on the walls, hanging from shelves. A particularly large floater flopped from the light fixture on the ceiling and landed on my head, covering a good portion of my face. Any calm or collectedness I had left me. I pulled myself up on the sink, and almost fell back to the cold tile floor.
Red was growing. I pulled my shirt up, and his inky form stretched down my neck and almost to my waist. My skin lost all color, something inside me told me to run. I ran for the front door. Floaters were slithering all over our small apartment. As soon as I hit the hallway, not a single one in sight. I sat outside on the steps, trying to reconcile what had happened. My roommate walked up the building while I was sitting outside, I started to say “Hi” when I saw the floater clinging to his face. I couldn’t choke a word out, and just nodded through his questions about my well-being.
Every single morning my eyes are sealed shut with that dark brown gunk. It took a few years, a couple of short stints under professional observation and some booze, but I can almost tolerate it all now. I keep bowls turned upside down so they don’t fill with floaters, cups too. I can’t stand to see them writhing together like mass of snakes. I keep a picture on my wall. It’s from my last psychologist, he took it to try to prove what I see in the mirror isn’t so, but he doesn’t see what I do. He can’t see that Raging Red has grown so big that his black lines cover the vast majority of my skin, and he can’t see his pulsing red eye on my cheek, watching over his young. I can’t bear the sight of him, or his grotesque eye squishing around in my cheek.