My body is not robotic, I do not speak with a metal twang, my mouth does not open and shut on the command of a program created by a genius who formed me into myself.


I am borne of the earth.


I am borne of a hospital in Ohio, too early, covered in a purple paste. When I look at myself as a newborn I only see death and restricted breathing and the worry lines on my mother’s face, because she is too young and my father wants to hold me, but the doctors must check my vitals to make sure that I will not face death.


Wires sprout from my limbs like roots and tie me to this world. They attach to my mother too, and we wait in the muted glow of streetlamps for someone to cut us loose from each other and the hospital room.


A machine displays her heart rate, beeping in pattern, assuring the doctors that everything is alright.


I am five.


My mother places me in the bathroom with the shower on hot and tells me to breathe slowly, but I can hardly breathe at all and I do not understand her directions. The air suffocates me, though I know this is not her intention. I wait for her, for somebody, to release me. The steam covers me, my glasses, and the mirror, but slowly I feel the air enter my lungs again. I will not have to go to the hospital to be hooked up to wires and have a mask over my face that pushes medicine into my lungs.


I hate wearing the mask which is connected to a machine which dispenses medicine into my airways to clear them out.


She knocks on the door and comes in without asking. She has her stethoscope with her and listens to my breathing.


She turns off the water and pulls me by my wrist to the kitchen table where she has set up the machine. The Breathing Machine, because I cannot breathe on my own, because my body does not work properly, because I need to take steroids that put me at risk for brittle bones and easy fractures.


I take the mask from her hands and place it over my face. The machine turns on with a loud whirring noise and I can’t hear anything, so I just sit here, holding a book close to my eyes because I had to take off my glasses and now I cannot see.


Now, I can breathe. Or, the machine allows me to breathe.


Am I still human?

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© 2020 Orris Root

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