unplugged

‘And how long have you been having these hallucinations?’
Alisa blinks rapidly and turns the corners of her mouth down.
‘Years!’ she says. ‘Ever since the eyes started to go.’
Alisa suffers with Charles Bonnet syndrome – a fascinating condition something like a visual processing error. Alisa’s macular degeneration, compounded by cataracts, means that her sight has been steadily growing worse. Her brain does what it can to supplement the limited information, resulting in vivid images.
‘What kind of things do you see, Alisa?’
She looks up.
‘Lines of people, descending from the ceiling!’
‘What kind of people? Do you recognise any?’
‘No. All strangers. But they look old time, if you know what I mean. The woman have got big flouncy dresses on, and the men have got tall hats. And they all come down in rows, man, woman, man, woman. And they’re all of ‘em dressed in pink.’
‘Pink?’
‘Even the men.’
‘What else do you see?’
‘Sometimes the whole window’ll blow in, chunks of brick and plaster all over the place, just like a bomb went off in the garden. But without a sound.’
‘That’s pretty scary.’
She shrugs.
‘You get used to it,’ she says. ‘Oh yes – and then there’s the fire.’
‘What fire?’
‘Well – sometimes I’ll look in the kitchen and there’ll be huge flames coming out the cooker. I don’t worry about it.’
‘No? I’d be terrified! But then I suppose you’re so used to seeing these things they don’t bother you any more.’
Ye-es. That and the fact I know the cooker don’t work. I only ever use the microwave.’

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