Dan Ruebens reached for the glass entry door and took a deep breath. "Here goes nothing."
Looking through white-stenciled letters that read, “Dr. Gomez, Optometrist,” he could see Mary, the blond haired receptionist.
Pulling the door open, Dan stepped inside and smiled, “Hi, Mary.”
“Hi, Mr. Ruebens, I’m surprised to see you back so soon.”
It was both a statement and a question, but not one he wanted to answer. At least, not yet. Dan would feel better if the laughing started after he left.
“Is Dr. Gomez in?” he asked, discretely wiping moist palms on his jeans.
Mary looked amused. “He generally does try to be around for his appointments, silly. That’s kind of why we make them.”
“Right. Sorry.” Blushing, Dan took a seat. Grabbing a magazine off a side table, he nervously thumbed through it. He’d reached page sixty-two before realizing it was Cosmo. Deciding he didn’t need to know, “10 Steps To A Bigger Bust,” he dropped the magazine back on the table with a disproportionately loud slap.
Mary’s slitted eyes were drawn to the sound. Dan’s gaze met hers briefly, the receptionist’s disapproval obvious but unstated. Behind her, though, Ruebens saw Dr. Gomez approaching. Bounding to his feet, Dan met the optometrist and followed him back into the exam room. Sitting heavily into the exam chair, Ruebens’ damp palms clutched the leather armrests as if they were a life ring.
Gomez pulled up the ubiquitous doctor’s stool, pushing his white lab coat out behind so he wouldn’t sit on it. Taking a seat just three feet away from his anxious patient, the balding, pinch faced optometrist glanced at the file then looked up in confusion. “Having any trouble with your eyes, Dan?”
“Well, you were just in five months ago. I figured something must be wrong with your contact prescription.”
Nonplussed at the less than informative answers, Gomez asked, “Okay, that’s fine. Can you tell me why you’re here?”
Dan’s eyes darted searchingly, trying to think of a safe answer. He’d been trying to come up with one all day. Failing again, he blurted out, “I’m going to see God.”
There, he’d done it.
“I’m sorry?” Gomez asked, thinking he’d misheard his patient.
“Very soon, I’m going to see God.”
“Dan, are you saying you’re dying?” Concern filled his voice.
“No, everything’s fine. An angel spoke to me in a dream. I’m going to see God, and I don’t want to miss anything. Please, make my vision as perfect as possible.”
Gomez chuckled. “You’re kidding, right?”
Ruebens just sat there.
“Look, Dan, be serious. I can help your vision, but seeing visions is a bit beyond the scope of optometry.”
“I am being serious,” he replied, Dan’s voice sounding calmer than he really felt.
Gomez’ eyes widened. He leaned in, apprehensive. “Are you doing okay, Dan? Is there someone I can call for you?”
“I’m fine,” Ruebens replied in frustration. “Please, forget it. Just update my prescription.”
Half an hour later, Dan wrote a check to cover the bill. Mary smirked while handing him a receipt, but didn’t say anything. Turning, Ruebens walked out of the office. Before the glass door closed, he heard the laughter begin.
Driving home, Dan decided he needed a run to rid himself of the nervous energy percolating within. Parking the car, Ruebens went into his apartment and changed into a blue jogging suit. Grabbing his keys off the counter, he jogged out the door and down the street.
Rapidly picking up speed, Dan barely noticed the passing scenery. White trunked poplar trees lined his route, green leaves casting long shadows on the sidewalk. Feet slapping rhythmically on the pavement, Dan was in his element, focused, purging the anxiety from his system. He was just entering ‘the zone’ when the heavens exploded with light.
Thrusting his hand up to shield his eyes, he tried to look into the sky but couldn’t. Unable to see clearly, feeling his feet transition from the sidewalk onto loose dirt, Dan’s pace came to a stumbling halt. Vibrant hues overwhelmed his vision, a wondrous rainbow of reds, yellows, blues, and greens. Feelings of love, awe, and holiness flooded his mind.
Ruebens trembled as a voice thundered across the heavens.
Feeling his legs turn to jelly, Dan fell prostrate on the ground before the God of the universe. Unable to lift his eyes, his face pressing into the loamy earth, Dan realized he hadn’t needed the optometrist visit after all.
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