September 2011

A Test of Visual Acuity

A Test of Visual Acuity[1]

William Henderson

 

E[Z1]

F  P[Z2]

T  O  Z[Z3]

L  P  E  D[Z4]

P  E  C  F  D[Z5]

E  D  F  C  Z  P[Z6]

F  E  L  O  P  Z  D[Z7]

D  E  F  P  O  T  E  C[Z8]

L  E  F  O  D  P  C  T[Z9]


[1] An eye chart is a test of visual acuity, of your ability to make out fine detail. If you can read the 20/20 line (which is eighth line on this chart) from a distance of 20 feet, then you have the ability to resolve fine detail. But to understand the fine details of a broken relationship, you measure the distance in time. Eventually, you can make sense of what went right and what went wrong. A committee created the standard eye chart. The letters are the same size, depending on the distance away from the chart you stand. The numerator is the distance away from the chart you stand, and the denominator is the distance a person with 20/20 vision (or “perfect” vision) can stand and still read the line. Twenty feet away, or two-hundred feet away, you would still look like the person who wanted to marry me. Twenty feet away, or two-hundred feet away, you would still look like the person who got high every day, started snorting pills, and told his friends that he was tired of dating someone who wouldn’t do drugs. Twenty feet away, or two-hundred feet away, you would still look like someone I was meant to love.


[Z1]20/200

Two hundred days after the end of our affair, I learned your mother had died of cancer. I sent a card. Unsigned. I included two poems your favorite poet wrote. You had shared this poet with your mother. Then you had shared this poet with me. I wasn’t surprised when you didn’t acknowledge the card. You had told me that when you sever ties with someone, you sever ties with someone. No take-backs.

[Z2]20/100

One hundred days after the end of our affair, Ani DiFranco cancelled her concert in Boston. She was sick. I hadn’t wanted to see you, even though I knew you’d be there, but I had wanted to see you, if that makes sense.

[Z3]20/70

Seventy days after the end of our affair, a man I knew only through Twitter came with me to events you and I had planned to attend together. He slept on my couch. He lives in London.

[Z4]20/50

Fifty days after the end of our affair, my son had been three for nearly two weeks, and I still expected you to tell me that you had made a mistake and still thought we were meant for each other.

[Z5]20/40

Forty days after the end of our affair, I slept with a man who wasn’t you. He was the first. Since, there have been 118 others.

[Z6]20/30

Thirty days after the end of our affair, I moved into a new apartment. I live alone. I haven’t lived alone in more than 12 years. My wife and I have a condo together. She kept it.

[Z7]20/25

Twenty-five days after the end of our affair, you left on your porch my belongings, including the toys and clothes you had bought for my son. I hadn’t realized how much of me and my son you had had.

[Z8]20/20

Twenty days after the end of our affair, I kissed someone who wasn’t you. Later that same night, I sent you a link to my suicide video. It was nearly 12 minutes long. I’ve always been long-winded.

[Z9]20/15

Fifteen days after the end of our affair, I completed a two-week partial hospital program at a psychiatric hospital. I had no choice but to check myself in. Who I am today depended on it.

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