Smiles. Tilts his moppy head. Gazing with mixed wonder and amusement at the audience before him. His finest moments are on stage, among a crowd. These are the hours he feels his purpose jiggling through steel mesh and fibrous veins.
His darkest days are confined to a stuffy box. His coffin, he thinks. One day, they’ll forget about him and he’ll be trapped forever. No small hole where the light on the other side can sneak through. He’ll never feel the sun. Preservation, they say as they lower him to his grave.
“We want you to stay this way forever.”
He wants to roam free. Bounce along sidewalks, peering into storefront windows at those poor mannequins forced to stand all day in one pose. He wants to be like the frog on TV. The frog that’s in movies and who everyone loves.
His soft purple hands will never be green. He can’t speak with a noble nasal voice. Deep down, he knows he can’t only be the puppet he was made to be. With a big smile and round eyes. Rosy indigo cheeks and skinny arms that know how to hug a sick child and make her smile again.
“Well, who do we have here?Is this the Sally Jensen? Oh, my, I’ve heard about you, Miss Sally. The nurses tell me you’re the bravest girl in the whole wide world! Is that true?”
“It is, Bennie. I’m the bravest girl.”
“Can you teach me to be brave?”
“Okay, Bennie. I can teach you.”
“Yay! I was hoping you’d say that. Merlin, you don’t mind if we stay with Sally for a while so she can teach me, do you?”
“Not at all, Bennie.”
“Okay then! Sally, where do we begin?”
“Well, Bennie, we should start with doctors, who come into your room with long needles so they can take your bad blood away.”
“Wow, Sally, that sounds really scary.”
“It is, Bennie, but I’m very brave.”
“That’s right! I’m so glad I have a great teacher like you!”
Bennie sees Sally glow from inside. Another child made to feel like she can conquer the world. And maybe, maybe she will.