The Boy in the Bubble
by Leona Lee Cully
Today they want me to leave the bubble and crawl through a narrow tunnel and go into the space suit. The Mobile Biologistical Isolation System they call it. I want to try it but I am terrified that there is a germ in there that will kill me.
In my dreams the King of the Germs sends his hundreds of wives to kill me and somehow I manage to kill them before they kill me. But the King just marries more wives and sends them to murder me with their bony, white hands.
Last week they told me one of the Doctors had a heart attack. One by one they all abandon me. I saw purple and got so angry I could hardly breathe. When I could see clearly again the walls of my bubble were brown. The nurses were mad at me and it took three days to clean my shit off the plastic.
There is a photographer here, and lots of nurses and doctors, and they are all waiting for me to crawl through the tunnel and into the suit.
I have to be good and behave myself. They can see everything I do. I have no walls to hide behind. Once a nurse swore she would turn off the motors if I didn’t do as I was told. I hate her. I hate them all sometimes. They don’t like the weird questions I ask, especially the Doctors.
Why do I even have a life. What is it for. When will I die. What happens if I live to be old inside this bubble. Will I ever touch another person’s skin. Smell fresh air. If they find a cure, will I die as soon as my foot touches the earth because they have made a mistake.
The Doctors make a lot of mistakes.
I wish I could burn down the hospital and my home where they bring me sometimes. I prefer the hospital because at home my mother is like a ghost. She haunts me. Her eyes look through me like she is afraid of me, or ashamed of me.
I am invisible to them all. They cannot really see me or hear me or touch me. Almost as bad as the my fear of dying is the fear that I will go mad. That I will sink into that purple light again, and never come out.
I think one person can see me – the lady with the leaf. When I was four she was the one who showed me that a tree was not just a flat shape. She went outside and snapped off a twig and held the leaf up close to the plastic. I like her but I don’t trust her either. I know she will find some trick to get me into that suit. And part of me wants her to trick me and part of me wishes that she would let me go.
I wish she would tear open the walls of the bubble and pull me outside into the air and hold me as I die on the grass, under the blue of the sky and the yellow of the sun, breathing the smells I can’t even imagine.
They are all waiting and coaxing me. I see the lady with the leaf come into the room and she has a bowl of water in her hands. She places the bowl on a table beside the suit. Bright orange fish swim in the water. I cry because there are so many things I want and can’t have.
The lady with the leaf has lost her smile. She’s one of the King’s wives now, her fingers white as teeth, her eyes blind to me. I don’t like her anymore. The suit waits for me, hungry, eager to swallow me whole.
I stop crying because right now all I want is to crawl through the tunnel and see if the fish are flat or round, alive or just living.