MWC Semi-Finalist

What Do You See When You Close Your Eyes?

The unexpected results of laser eye surgery

Elizabeth Dawber
10 min readAug 24, 2021
Illustration by Anna Ismagilova. Purchased and licensed via Shutterstock

I don’t recall ever having perfect vision or anything close to it. I’ve needed glasses since I was a child. Not that I wore them. Glasses don’t mix well with roundabouts and swings. And when I grew up, they most certainly weren’t suited to kissing boys. There are far too many things to worry about as a teenage girl without the possibility that you’ll poke your crush’s eye out mid-snog with your puke-green, square-framed, thick-rimmed glasses.

And when I reached adulthood and suddenly became aware of how I was supposed to look to the world as a woman. That attractiveness comes in small and pretty packages, and the chubby face I was told would disappear still clings to my cheekbones and hangs off my jaw. And this makes buying glasses for my increasingly deteriorating vision impossible because they only make glasses to suit small and pretty faces.

But I don’t know this yet, so at the age of eighteen, I skip into the store with six months worth of part-time wages expecting to finally get a pair of glasses that complement not exaggerate my features. But, as the “how about these” trill from the sales assistant becomes less and less convincing, I realize I’ve learned an early lesson in money not buying happiness, or beauty for that matter. Eventually, I’m told that maybe I should “lower my expectations”. Unfortunately, this won’t be the first time I’ll hear those words in my life. So, with tears prickling at the corners of my eyes, I settle on a pair of polished black square frames with a wide bridge.

My “lowered expectation” glasses rarely leave my bag after that, and when I do discover them on some deep rummage for an old lipstick or a runaway bookmark, I’m shocked to find them still sitting there, waiting, reminding me I’m not perfect. And when I put them on because there are times when beauty must come second to being able to see, I’m very aware of the fact that I look like the latest painting at the modern art gallery — the free one on the edge of the city that no one visits.



Elizabeth Dawber

English literature & creative writing grad | MWC semi-finalist | Former editor @ The Startup | I write about this thing called life | Human | Pen for hire |🇬🇧