The cello hums a warm melody through the laptop speakers. I am no stranger to this sound. My lungs move with the instrument’s faint swell-drop, characteristic of its hollow, wooden body.
The ocean undulates ferociously. Waves crashing against the rock-hard barriers that keep water away from the shore.
Meanwhile, on land, all is dry. The villagers have no embellished tales of fish, extravagant beasts washed to shore in the night’s storm. They know the legends of mermaids and sharks as large as ocean liners, fictitious feathers of hope that something interesting might happen, if they pray hard enough. They gaze at the black clouds above them: perhaps tonight is the night.
The floods come hard and fast, spilling jellyfish and bottles and unanchored ships onto the sand. They bury themselves beneath the dust, sculpting homes of the wet, grainy clay. The salty ocean swallows them before dawn.
Bluish laser lights cannot penetrate the thick, graphite brick that rests somewhere inside my skull. They can blind me all they want, but they will never disrupt the safe, neutral mass of minerals I have allowed to accumulate between my ears.
…or so I think.
The artificial sun is hot enough to form crevices where there was once a flat expanse of gray. Heated rays spread lonely particles across the wasteland to where they, too, will transform this uniform object into something unsightly.
All the earth’s work, falling to waste. This brick took years to form, fitting the mold just so. At this rate it will never form a house; it will see the sad day where it is mechanically separated into slender cylinders and divided equally among the wood.
The percussion of pots and pans affects me more than the steepest high note, the loudest shout to leave my lungs. My vessel-lined alveoli shrivel into their pink mothers, asking why this chaotic noise has to happen to them.
Iron lungs are no longer iron, for iron rusts too fast. They are bricks laid around a wooden frame, massive twelve-by-twelve squares too heavy to be mobile. The patient must lie inside, wrapped in the safety of the oxygenated cocoon.
“What a sad way to live,” the villagers say. “What a lonely way to go.”
There comes a time when the patient must choose how or if he or she wishes to communicate, to know the humans outside without choking on their pollution. To leave the lung would spell danger.