I chuckled to myself at the terrible joke. One of my gloved hands is gently clutching at your little safe house, the other is knocking it with one end of a double pronged tool. It took me awhile before I could muster enough courage to knock harder. I spoke to you, telling you a bunch of lies on how cute you would look in a few weeks when in fact it would never happen. I told you lies so I would feel better.
People sent me judging looks as I apologized to you. They thought I wouldn’t do it. Time was running out. I was going to be the class failure.
I’m so sorry.
I concentrated my force onto the tool I was holding and broke open your safe house. I forced the real me into the back of my mind. I let the mechanical body do the work. It pulled your haven apart, bit by bit, with careful concentration. I told it to be gentle, to do it slowly. Grip, twist, dump. Grip, twist, dump. Rhythmically, it tore up what was once safe to you. It was careful not to hurt you, though. However, it couldn’t see behind one of your walls.
Oh no! I cried out. I saw blood starting to spread on the surface. The amount of it startled me because even though we haven’t met, I knew you weren’t huge. No, you were tiny. I pushed myself back behind the curtain. The show must go on. The robot took over once again. Grip, twist, dump. Grip, twist, dump. Soon, it was done. It asked my friend where you could be hiding, even though it knew that I knew. “There,” she pointed at a dark spot beneath your translucent sheets. It picked up another tool and inserted it through the hole it cut through a moment ago.
Out you came, soaking wet. I instructed the robot to tug harder to get you out, but I knew there was no escaping the menacing silver tool that commanded me to pick it up. I asked my friend how to do it. The pain was apparent on my face.
“Do it quickly.”
The light shone on the robot again, with its stunning mechanism. With one quick stroke, you were completely detached from your safe house. It laid you down gently on the dish filled with liquid for you to swim in. I popped out and looked around desperately for an unoccupied equipment. I needed to take a good look at you. I needed to make sure you were still alive.
Finally, someone left. I cradled the dish gently, careful not to spill. I set you down above the bright light. For a split second, I manically wondered how to turn down the brightness so you wouldn’t be uncomfortable. I looked through the looking tube and there you were, in full glory. I watched you for what seemed like a long moment. When nothing moved, I was crestfallen. You were dead. Another part of me comforted myself. It’s all for the better, it said. I agreed, but then something happened. I saw your heart clench and release. I hate to say this, but during that short moment, I only felt joy. I continued watching, waiting patiently for another beat. Sure enough, it came.
I did what I had to do, taking pictures and all that, then stayed by your side to watch you. I was determined to remain there for as long as you lived. I felt so sorry for you, sorry that you wouldn’t grow up to see the world. At the same time, I felt like a hypocrite. What was I doing, feeling sad at your fate while I played a part in the killings of your species?
The instruction went out that we had to clear up. You had to be put into a bag, together with all sorts of things that people didn’t want anymore. It was then that I wanted you to die. If you didn’t die soon, you would be crushed to death anyway. I told myself that I had to at least do the honor of watching your heart stop beating, after all that I had done to you. You wouldn’t have lasted long, but you did.
“Hey, I need to take some pictures.”
Someone was behind me. I told the person to hold on for awhile for I needed to see something. Luckily, she agreed. As if on cue, your heart clenched and released in quick succession. I was sure then that your time had come. I couldn’t see the redness of your blood anymore as your heart forced itself to get the oxygen circulating. Then suddenly, it relaxed into its rest position and the redness returned and I knew its job was done.
“Okay, I’m done,” I said, smiling to the girl behind me.
“Thank you,” she said in return.
I brought you back to my table. I scooped you up gently and placed you back into your half-destroyed safe house.
Goodbye, I said as you drifted slowly to the bottom. The lights dimmed and the curtain closed.
The show has ended, but I know what you’ll fear the most in your next life:
The knock of a stranger at your door.